Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Fighting my inner wimp

Motherhood is not for wimps.

And aging is not for sissies. Or something like that. You know what I mean. We’ve all heard variations of this sentiment many times and I admire the message: defiant, strong, and powerful.

I’m just not sure that I agree.

In fact, I think in my case aging, and maybe even motherhood, has made me more reticent, more cautious, more worried.

Wimpier.

And I don’t like it. Not one little bit. But I’m not exactly sure how to combat this steady loss of nerve, this diminishing of fire that I feel just as keenly as the aches and pains that now accompany the everyday exertions that once invigorated, rather than exhausted me.

I’m been thinking about this since last night when, at a pub night for this terrific group of writers, I struck up a conversation with this woman, a blogger I have long admired as funny, edgy and fearless.

She said that she had always been a huge horror movie fan, but right after her daughter was born she sat down to watch one and found it no longer appealing.

“I don’t know if it was because all of a sudden I had this little person that I was supposed to protect,” she said. “But it just didn’t seem as entertaining.”

I hear that. Horror movies lost their appeal for me even before I had Graham. Once I emerged from my teen-aged years and realized that there was enough real-life horror in the world, I no longer sought it out as entertainment.

And it’s not just horror movies that aren’t appealing anymore.

I used to think it would be thrilling to skydive one day. Now? I just don’t want to. Ever. I used to boldly traipse across the city from late night party to late night party. Last night I felt a little (just a tiny bit) nervous coming home on the subway by myself at midnight.

Maybe I worry about nothing. I fly small planes after all, something most people consider a rather gutsy endeavor. But I do worry. Because I know I have changed. I have softened. I have shrunk. I have retreated from that edge where I was once convinced the very best parts of me could be found.

What happened to that bold, confident young woman who itched to kick the world’s ass? Would she still exist if I hadn’t moved out of downtown? Hadn’t stayed for 11 years in the same job. Hadn’t gotten married? Hadn’t had a child?

I guess I’ll never know. Ultimately I do not regret my choices, even if each one has brought me closer to the very model of conformity I once disdained and further from the risk and excitement of my younger days.

I love my house and its large ravine lot. I love my job and the people I work with. I adore my husband and the freedom that his love has given me. My son is my heart.

But every once in a while I mourn the pure power, the fearlessness, that age and time seem to have stolen from me.

And on days like that – days like today - I know that I must, absolutely must, force myself outside my comfort zone more often.

Because life is not for wimps.

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26 comments:

sky girl said...

Bravo! Great post. Funny you should mention the horror movie thing. I've found the same thing even before Chicka. 5-10 years ago there wasn't a horror movie I hadn't seen, now, I am just plain not interested.

motherbumper said...

It's the sudden change in thought processes that I found the most shocking when becoming a parent. The "her" before "me", the what-ifs that were so easy to ignore, the comfort with the "safe" choice. I never thought I'd become that woman but here I am.

Oh and if Bumper even tries half the stuff I did as a single childless woman, I will probably have a heart attack.

Great post DMD ;)

Kristen said...

Terrific post!
I have to admit that I was not ever a fearless young woman, sometimes too dumb to know better, but never fearless. I am just now, after 4 children and 13 years of parenting, beginning to find my power. Breaking down walls and barriers that stood in the way of my becoming who I wanted to be. It feels amazing. Having kids has made me step out of my comfort zone in innumerable ways, and I am so thankful that I have had to burst through the tiny shell I had put around myself and become a whole woman.

Beck said...

Yeah, I'm a complete coward now that I'm a mother. I have way too much to lose to be brave/foolhardy.

Family Adventure said...

You are such a talented writer, DMD, I am so happy to have found you (and envious I wasn't back in TO to join you last night...cool).

This post totally speaks to me...the desire to stay within my comfort zone, and yet there's a need to push the boundaries. It gets harder to push beyond, and in many ways that's because my children are now pushing my boundaries for me. They carry my heart with them wherever they go, and their ups and downs become mine. Parenting demands a lot of fearlessness. To steal your excellent line - it's not for wimps.

Thanks for a wonderful post.

Heidi

Mac and Cheese said...

My husband rented Sin City shortly after Pumpkin was born, and I had to keep pausing the movie to go up and look at her to ensure her safety. I'm ok with this "wimpier" side of me. I was never too wild and crazy to begin with.

It was great meeting you last night.

Thursday said...

I don't even have the excuse of being a mother for this wimplike behaviour. I am ashamed, truly ashamed.

Amy said...

What a great post! It was great to meet you last night. I hope I didn't talk too much! :P

Kellan said...

Great post! Life is not for wimps - that is so true. I too, have mellowed since having children and after aging a bit - but I still get in the water and water ski and up on those now covered mountains and ski down with my children - I go into the ocean and snorkle and I sleep out under the stars with the crickets and skunks. We are still alive - our boundaries have just changed and I think reasonably so. Take care. Kellan

GoMommy said...

I don't think it has anything to do with losing your nerve- I think it's coming to your senses! I can watch horror movies, but not ones with senseless violence-ala Saw or Hostel. There are still lots of adventurous things out there to do-without risking your neck. Being a pilot IS pretty gutsy. The gutsiest thing I've done lately is maybe wear white after Labor Day.

Karen MEG said...

Great post as usual!
And you are certainly not a wimp, that's for sure!
As far as risk-taking endeavours, which I was not huge on before I had children, they certainly have become even less of a priority for me now. But the amazing thing I find is that for some reason I'm willing to try to experience life a little more since I've had kids. Perhaps just to set an example for them that it's not so scary to try something new... as long as that "new thing" doesn't involve life-threatening consequences! And although fairly timid before kids, well, if anyone ever messes with them... uh, can you hear this mother lion ROAR?!!!!

Tot's Mom said...

FOr me, I used to love all those roller coaster rides. The scarier they look from the ground, the better. Nowadays, it just doesn't excite me anymore. Wonder why...

OHmommy said...

Ahhh, good points and a great post. I can't watch a Lifetime movie without some tears - this would have never happened before having three children.

I love Lifetime.

Laura said...

Amazing! I loved the post! Thanks for stopping by my blog. :)

Laura said...

WOW - this is a great post! I love how you live in my closet and can put words to my thoughts...

Kudos on a great post that gets us all thinking.

Queen of My Domain said...

What a great post this is. I think we all end up changing a bit after motherhood. I know I am definetely more mellow now than I used to be. Unless it is when I am protecting my children from something. Then I see glimpses of that young "take the world on" girl. But like you, I wouldn't change a thing because I love where I am now.

Laural Dawn said...

I totally understand this.
I've been going to counselling for a pre-natal anxiety study (long story).
But, it's been really interesting to compare myself before Matthew, and before this pregnancy to me now.
I guess part of it is growing up and maturing, but part of it is this huge responsibility.
I think it's a trade-off. In some ways I am way more fearful, but in other ways I'm fearless.
But, like you said, it's worth it.

petite gourmand said...

great post and can totally relate.

I felt the same the other night while walking down a dark street to meet up with everybody.
In the past I wouldn't have thought twice.
I agree it is good to move beyond our comfort zones and try new things from time to time.
Oh and for the record, I can barely watch the news anymore now that I'm a mother- never mind actual horror moives.

nice to meet you in person.

Badness Jones said...

Great post - and it's not just you, I think that we all become a lot more aware of our own mortality...and what that means to those around us that we love.

Horror movies? I don't even watch the NEWS anymore. I just can't take it!

Jen said...

It's a funny dichotomy isn't it? After I gave birth to my son, I was amazed at the power of my body, what it could do on its own without my directing it. But I've also been struck that life is too short to put energy into that which doesn't make me happy-whether its scary entertainment, the play by plays of real violence on the news, or even piece of clothing that doesn't quite fit the way I want it to.

Rachel said...

Thanks for your compliments!! I'm glad you discovered me and I hope you return!!
This was brilliant! I know exactly what you mean and how you feel! I was a totally fearless female who loved horror movies, and all things wild and 'crazy'. Now, not so much.
It's good and it's bad.
I don't want to go quiet into that good night. (bad quote, I know)
I shall return! Your blog is darling!

Leslie said...

You are such a great writer -- you take what might be considered mundane issues - and turn them into thought-provoking, captivating stories.

We've never met --- but I get a sense that nobody would ever call you a whimp!!! Great post.

linds said...

Hey Don! Thanks for the comment on my blog.

My goodness, you are so far from a whimp!

Mommy Cracked said...

I can agree on so many points you made. An excellent read! Kudos!

Tiffany said...

For me it's not just scary movies. I can't watch any movie or show where a child gets hurt or abused. My husband likes Law and Order SVU and I just can't watch it. The other day we were talking about how when we were younger we would walk to the store by ourselves and not think anything of it, but I can't imagine letting my daughter walk down the street by herself.
By the way, thanks for reading my blog. I guess we kinda have the same taste in blogs. I read Motherbumper and Mac and Cheese all the time.

Barrie said...

Parenting changes you forever. I bet we never go completely back to our fearless selves...even when the kid(s) have moved out.