Summer of Introspection

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sum2k15-2It’s been a difficult summer. There, I’ve said it. This is my second summer with Soren, and although in many ways our family faced greater struggles last year (the adjustment to parenthood for two newlyweds fresh out of their self-indulgent 20s was sobering to say the least), but I felt more alive and joyful. I felt more in tune with motherhood. More ~gratitude~, more #blessed. Andrew was on paternity leave and we had little to do besides parent and try to figure out what our marriage was with this new little charge. We had just moved to a new (old, to me) neighbourhood, and we put a lot of focus on keeping home and planning our lives. We went for a lot of long walks through old-money, heavily wooded neighbourhoods and peeked at stately pre-war mansions, we visited the farmer’s market weekly and experimented with paleo cooking. I started the process of gradually eking out my independence from the mother-baby dyad by going to the gym as much as I could manage and taking trips to the salon. I had grown my hair really long and was slowly shedding all the encumberments of a post-baby body. I got really into knitting again!In November, Andrew went back to work and I began my career as a Stay-at-Home-Mother. In many ways, I love it. I have a front-row seat to the Soren Show, and I haven’t missed a milestone. I’ve been able to maintain our breastfeeding relationship well beyond a year, and I know it’s best for him to have me close in these early years. But. But. It is a grind. Gruelling. I have gone almost totally feral, and I completely forget how to have a social interaction with someone in my peer group (an aside: I guess the peer group I know and love is no longer my peer group at all and my new peer group is actual moms; a brand new social minefield which I am completely ill-equipped to navigate!!). Stay-at-home-motherhood (in complete isolation, with no support network, no less) would put anyone through their paces, I’m sure.

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I have found myself gradually losing grasp on my identity. Or maybe grappling with my changing identity. In fact, it’s been a reason I’ve been cautious to start blogging again – I have to find a new voice. Which really boils down to figuring out who I am now, which is totally unclear.

Earlier this year I cut my hair off. Which always precipitates some kind of identity crisis or push for change. At first, I was ecstatic and felt free, and now every day I mourn my hair. Chest-length, it had taken me two and a half years to grow. When I think of it now, I associate that long feminine hair with motherhood and finding my new identity, it was a pain to deal with, but I would pile it up in an Edwardian bun and it felt good. I think now cutting it off was a rash decision and symbolized my anxiety with settling into this new role when the ante was upped on motherhood challenges, and all I wanted was to be an impetuous young woman again. Now I sort of feel like hiding myself until my hair and the scary-but-good new identity I tried to cut off along with it grows back again.

So yes, this summer has brought about a lot of introspection. Considering relationships, considering career, considering… I arrived at writing this post because in a fit of inspiration, I managed to put my portfolio back online (however slap-dash an effort that was). Wanting to keep the momentum going, I set up this blog again. And I noticed how the aesthetic I gravitate towards when putting this together no longer matches how I feel, and how weird is that. And it got me thinking about just how much of myself has been lost in the interim (of course I know that, it’s practically all I’ve been talking about for at least the past year, once the delirium of the newborn phase died down). I don’t know if dissociating is the right word, and I definitely don’t want to get pathological, because I so strongly feel that my experience here is so normal, but I feel so far away from myself, and I’m trying really hard to winch myself back in and reframe the debris and scratches I’ve collected as new and welcome parts of me.

Complete madness, then, maybe, to start writing a blog again! What do I even write about? All I know is that I can’t not any longer.

I suppose another thing is that more than ever, I am aware of just how messy life is. There’s a certain dishonest romanticism that goes along with aspirational lifestyle blogging, and the sharing of these heavily curated images of lives, and heavily edited sharing of our stories. I think maybe part of my struggle with blogging has been my fundamental inability to keep hidden the dark, the boring, the untidy. But then, along with that, a lifelong obsession with aesthetics and longing to have one of those highly curated lives that I know don’t exist for anyone. It’s a frustrating dichotomy.

Despite all of that, It is my privilege to be this child’s mother. And to be a founding member of a brand new family. I just have to figure out how to integrate old me and new me together and accept it, I suppose.

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4 Comments

  1. Diana Ramos says

    I missed reading you Leah. Welcome back.

    PS:. One of the things I’ve always liked about you is exactly that, that you tend to show your true self and not just the good parts like pretty much everyone else. I like your honesty, it’s refreshing.

    • lnilson says

      Thank you Diana!! I am glad my honesty is appreciated amongst those I respect most :)

  2. i’ve missed your writing + am so glad you’re back. your honesty about the brutalities and beauties of being a new mother have been really inspirational to me as dave and i talk about starting a family of our own. i really appreciate your candidness, and your willingness to talk about the struggle, and i really do feel like it’s helped me mentally prepare for what might be in my future. and for that, i thank you! <3

    • lnilson says

      Thanks Lau!! It means a lot to hear that from you :)… I’m excited for you and look forward to hearing more about your journey to motherhood! And despite all the hardships, it’s worth it. Kids are amazing, and however much of a struggle it is to forge your new identity, you respect yourself so much more and become so much stronger (in many ways).

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