Motherhood, or Becoming Canadian

canadian mother.png

Motherhood never seemed relevant to me, like being Canadian. Canadians are lovely, Canada is fine, but it didn't have anything to do with me, personally. And the whole process of making babies seemed bizarre to me, frankly.

But then, my husband and I decided to try to have children. And I remembered how babies are made. Like, after the sex part. Holy shit, that’s MY job! It’s not even negotiable.

So, I put on my big girl panties – my big, BIG girl panties – and made a baby. It was awkward and inconvenient and often painful. Hormones swirled and edema set in and weight was gained and the body made demands for the child’s sake and I waddled around and somewhere in this transformed body was me, trying to work and play and live life as me and not be subsumed by this pregnancy.

And I was wildly successful.

And then I breastfed, becoming a part of a system so tightly integrated that if the baby was eating something somewhere, I had to be pumping wherever I was. Hormones swirled and schedules were juggled and the body continued to make demands for the child’s sake and somewhere in this transformed body was me, trying to work and recover my life as me and not be derailed by this labor of love.

And I did a great job.

And then I did it again.

Now I've weaned my second, my last baby. I’m finally stepping away from indentured maternity after four and a half years of nearly constant pregnancy or breastfeeding. My body is my own again. And yet I have been redefined.

I know I’m paranoid, but like a neck tattoo, the “mother” label carries certain implications. I hide it during interviews. I feel like people make judgments about my priorities and compatibility with things like offices and pinstripes, fairly or not; judgments that don't get made about fathers.

Or to put it another way, it feels as if I became a Canadian citizen. You can’t really even tell by looking. But once people find out, I’m afraid that they’re going to think that I can’t work here anymore.