Day Three

What I really want to do is tell you the story of how Chinua and I got engaged, because it's a good one and it's Day Three of him being gone and I just really want to think about him. But it's late and I'm too tired to do it justice. I will soon, though.

What I'll tell you instead is that today YaYa did what I had hoped that no child of mine would do. She stuck a bead up her nose, a big round bead. And I didn't even notice for probably an hour or so. We were sitting and watching Little House on the Prairie, while I worked on her dreadlocks, and she turned to me and very mildly said, "Uh oh," pointing to her nose. So mildly that I thought that she was maybe slightly distressed over being a little snotty. It took me a minute to notice the big purple bead wedged in her nasal cavity.

So I did what every parent would do, after freaking out for a moment over the possibility of a trip to the emergency room, I worked it out of her little nostril with patience and much snot-touching. It was one of those moments when I saw myself from the outside and thought, "Who are you? And what have you done with Rae?" Similar to the moments I spent cleaning glass out of the toilet or poop out of the bath or even, the other day, standing in a parking lot wolfing ravioli out of a can in the rain. (That deserves more explanation... I was starving like a nursing mother can be, and all I could find was a drugstore. My superstar husband could tell you that I don't make the best judgement calls when I'm hungry, and I didn't want to smell my friend's car up with canned ravioli smell, so there I was, in the rain eating nasty cold ravioli with shaky hands. Who is that person?)

It was probably the hardest thing about becoming a mother--losing some pieces of identity that were important to me. And it was possibly the most important thing about becoming a mother--learning not to be defined by what I do. I used to be known as an artist, a painter, and after I had Kid A I really struggled with the fact that a lot of people I was working with had no idea that I even painted at all.

I don't really struggle so much with that stuff now, it seems that the edges have been slowly worn off me. I'm like a piece of beach glass, now. Motherhood has softened me, and I don't even really care about my identity anymore, or how people see me as much. Not to say that I don't care about art, I still care as much as I ever did. But I love the absurdity of taking care of small children, of having no more than moments for yourself in a day, of doing totally disgusting things because being a parent means plucking a bead out of your daughters runny nose, or straining poop out of a bathtub.