Being a parent isn’t the most interesting thing about me

If you found me via my piece on Scary Mommy, welcome! I’m so excited to have you here, and for us to get to know one another.

One thing I’ve learned in the past year is that parenthood can be all-consuming. It’s undeniable that from the moment those two little lines fade in, life begins to slowly redefine itself … but is that all there is?

We started telling people I was pregnant around this time last year. The first thing I noticed was that once people knew, many of them stopped asking about me, except as it related to the baby. “How are you?” was quickly replaced with “how are you feeling?”, as though this one thing was the only thing about me that mattered. Never mind that 2014 was probably the best year of my professional career so far – the year I successfully orchestrated multiple high-profile, large-scale events; presented at a national conference; and was even quoted in a magazine. I was at the top of my game, but somehow what was going on in my uterus took precedence in nearly every conversation. It’s weird going from being a whole person to just a vessel, so I started answering the question with things like “I’m feeling happy that it’s sunny out today!” or “I’m feeling excited that it’s almost the weekend!” or “I’m feeling tired because work has been really busy but listen to all these great things I’ve been doing!” (my fear of confrontation makes me a wee bit passive-aggressive sometimes).

Don’t get me wrong, I was over-the-moon excited about this pregnancy, but it wasn’t the only thing I wanted to talk about for nine months, and it definitely wasn’t my favourite conversation opener. I was also keenly aware that the offspring’s birth would mark an ending, in a way – not the end of having anything interesting to talk about other than kids (though I’ll admit a small part of me was afraid it might be), but the end of this version of life I’d grown pretty fond of, and the end of my identity as a non-parent.

Now that the small one is here, it’s only natural that people ask about her a lot, and honestly I sometimes find it hard not to talk about her (please tell me that’s normal). This new life is a lot to process, and it’s easy to let the existence of this tiny person take over everything. Being a parent is an enormous part of who I am now, and I love it. That said, there is and always will be more to me than that.

Here are a few things about me that are more interesting than the fact that I have a baby:

  • I’m a language buff and have studied 6 languages (with varying levels of success, or lack thereof), not including English.
  • I have an MA in Italian from University College Cork. Yes, I studied Italian in Ireland.
  • In Cork, I once modelled for a fellow grad student’s art project. This involved breaking into an abandoned asylum and swanning around barefoot among broken glass while he took pictures.
  • In 2005, I moved to Toronto without ever having been there before. I stayed for 3 years.
  • I met my husband when he yelled “WOOOO!” at me from his balcony after Canada won the men’s hockey gold medal at the 2010 Winter Olympics (we lived in Vancouver, so it was kind of a big deal).
  • I’m very good at Trivial Pursuit, and even better at Balderdash. Nobody wants to play with me anymore, and that makes me sad.
  • I’ve visited 20 different countries on 4 continents – even though I’m terrified of flying.
  • I’ve hiked the Inca trail to Machu Picchu, cycled through the Cambodian countryside to Angkor Wat, taken a vaporetto along the Grand Canal in Venice, ridden a motorcycle down the Oregon Coast, sailed on a junk through Halong Bay, and climbed a volcano on East Java. I’ve even been to Burr, Saskatchewan. In February. My extremities are still recovering.
  • I have my PADI Advanced Open Water Diver certification.
  • I used to know how to drive one of these.

As parents, it’s important for us not to lose those bits of who we were before, who we are now, and who we want to be – those parts that exist independently of our children. These are the things I’m holding on to as I white-knuckle it through my first year of this incredible new reality. After all, when it comes down to it, parenthood is pretty commonplace.

What are some interesting things about you aside from your kids?

I've spent years honing my peekaboo skills.
I’ve spent years honing my peekaboo skills.

7 Comment

  1. This is sooo true. I am more than my child, I am an accomplished person who happens to have a child. I love my baby but he shouldn’t be my defining characteristic. What an incredible life you lead 🙂 I’m also terrified of flying, good for you for not letting it hold you back.

    1. Hey, thanks for your comment! I’m glad this resonated with you – it might seem counterintuitive to some people, but I actually think that refusing to let parenthood be the only thing that defines us can help make us better parents. Or at least that’s what I’m hoping 🙂

      I feel pretty privileged to have led the life I’ve had so far! I see flying as a necessary evil – for me, takeoffs and landings are bad but turbulence gives me heart palpitations. I find it helps to have a spot to focus on inside the plane, and a hand to squeeze (true story: a plane I was on hit some pretty gnarly turbulence over Greenland once – like, wine hitting the ceiling turbulence – and I held on to the stranger next to me for dear life! She was thankfully very nice about it).

  2. Cassidy says: Reply

    I’m a cardiac specialist and cardiac ICU nurse. I worked in the Cath lab where I saved people’s lives daily and cardiac ICU–managing ventilators, intra-aortic balloon pumps, potent life sustaining medications, chest tubes, open chest cavities, saving people and comforting families of those I couldn’t. I have two associates degrees and was making double than my husband with a masters degree!
    I am a stickler for spelling. I also love balderdash, I proposed to my husband and we’ve been married 13 years, I have a soft spot for fine cheese and wine, and I am a closet Art History buff. My three month old consumes my every moment and I always wanted to be a mom, but since we moved from New Mexico to Montana when he was three weeks old, no one knows me as anything else. I left behind a career I built to go “home,” to raise my new son in a better life and I just hope that I can go back someday as confident as I left.
    I also feel super accomplished as a mommy. First baby, we’re in our 30s, exclusively breastfeeding successfully, sleeping through the night effortlessly, feeling fulfilled in my new found role as a mother and housewife. It’s quite a ride.
    p.s. “how are you feeling?” Question pissed me off too. I’d say, “great, how are YOU feeling?!”
    Now, no one asks me how I’m feeling anymore, it’s, “how are you sleeping?” Really?!

    1. Wow, Cassidy – you have so many accomplishments to be proud of! My mother was a nurse (she’s now retired) and I’m in awe of anyone who can do the incredible things you do as health care providers.

      You make a great point about celebrating our accomplishments as parents, too. Sleeping through the night at 3 months is a huge one! I might need to get some tips from you. Also, the fact that you managed that big of a move with a three-week-old is mind-blowing. For me, sometimes just getting through the day feels like an accomplishment in and of itself, but looking back over the past few months makes me realize I’ve actually come a long way as well.

      I did the “how are YOU feeling?” thing a few times too, actually. We need to think of some new conversation openers for new parents – sleep seems like an easy one but it’s a bit of a quagmire since either you’re getting it and don’t want to seem like you’re bragging, or you’re not getting it and straight up want to clobber anyone who asks!

  3. Michelle says: Reply

    You are extremely good at Trivial Pursuit. But there’s no violence or lying in Trivial Pursuit….lame. We can play Fibbage again. Or Dutch Blitz! No Trivial Pursuit.

    That’s right, that’s the comment I’m leaving.

    1. Wait, which game has violence?

      I feel like I should know what Dutch Blitz is, but alas, I do not. I make a mean Dutch baby pancake, though, so that’s something. It’s something, right? I’m counting it as something.

      1. Michelle says: Reply

        Oh, we are going to discuss Dutch Blitz. That’s it 🙂

Leave a Reply