A resource to inspire, inform and empower parents.

Threads Weaving Meaning for Everyone Else But Me

Abby Theuring, The Badass Breastfeeder, and her son.

I have always struggled to connect one part of my life to the next. I was a pretty wild teenager and young adult. When I graduated from college and began working it was like I just dropped the former life completely and started a new one. There was little of the previous life to find when the new one established itself. Now I am a full time Mom. There is little of my previous self to find nowadays. I love my new life as a mother. This phase is my favorite one so far and I doubt anything will top this. I don’t feel like anything from my previous phases in life matter now, help me now or apply now. It’s like the other parts of me died to make room for this life. Like there is no room now for anything else.

I still see the friends I had before I had Jack. I see them less and things are quite a bit different between us, but we are working on it because we care about each other. We were recently discussing the difficulties transitioning to the new life. I have always been a loyal friend and passionate supporter. One friend said “you are a fierce woman, you were a fiercely loyal friend to us and now you are a fiercely loyal mother.” She means now 100% of my life is about Jack. I leave very little if anything for anyone else and I make no apologies for it. This has been difficult for them to handle as I am no longer there for them on the level I was before. They have had friends enter the world of mommyhood, but it seems my transition is sitting a bit different for them. I don’t think I am a better mother than their other friends. I think that when I transition from one phase of life to the next I do it in black and white, not shades of gray. There is little of the former me they can find today.

My husband on the other hand says that he feels like his whole life was like random puzzle pieces that finally came together with the birth of our son. For example, my husband learned to juggle when he was a kid. This was always a useless talent until Jack came along. Jack loves it. My husband will start to toss the tennis balls around and Jack’s arms and legs start to flail as he giggles. Juggling now has purpose.

I feel that each phase of my life were very full periods of time. I am an intense person. No matter what it is that I am doing I put my whole self into it. This was true as a wild child in Amsterdam, a workaholic Social Worker and now a mother. My husband feels like each part of his life has built on itself to finally come together as a whole with Jack. I feel this phase of my life has swallowed all the others and nothing that happened before exists now.

This concept has bothered me before. I worry about it less now. Maybe simply because I have so much less time to think about it. Maybe the issue is that I struggle so much with transitions that the process of mourning the end of one and accepting the new closes a door more firmly on the past than it does for my husband. Sometimes it feels disjointed. Actually it always feels this way as we can never separate from our past. It seems like there should be more of a thread weaving this all together. My life before my son now seems like a dream more than memories.

Do you remember Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger? He was the pilot who safely landed that damaged airplane in the Hudson River. I remember an interview with him where he was talking about his long history with flying. He had flown in wars, all types of aircraft, his career was highly celebrated, his talents well respected. He said that he felt like his whole life was one big preparation for that crisis. He said he felt like everything he had ever done contributed to his successful landing of that airplane. Without one piece of his career it would have ended very differently. I remember watching this interview with my husband and getting that feeling again like my life didn’t have that thread that other people’s life seemed to have. I felt jealous. I felt nervous. I felt the way I feel when I hear people say “I wanted to be a police officer since I was 5 years old and now I am a police officer.” How in hell do people have things so figured out? How is it that people just know where they are going and get there on time? As I absorbed what Captain Sully said I shouted with fear “Oh my god, I hope my life isn’t one big preparation for a terrible crisis!” Maybe I feel so disjointed because it hasn’t all come together yet and it will in an awful tragedy!!

In my search for what my past means to me I never stop reaching for my future. We are now trying to have another baby. It’s exciting. Especially since we know so much more than we knew before. It’s so exciting to think about all the things we value and can do differently now that we know what kind of parents we want to be. And even now, as I move forward, still looking back over my shoulder once in a while, just to see what the hell it all meant, my husband’s thread comfortably weaves through his life for him. A man’s biggest fear is that he will climax too quickly during sex. Well, now that we have about 3 minutes to have sex these days it’s a welcome problem. The holding back he had to do all his adult life no longer applies. It’s like his difficulty holding out was just waiting to be given meaning in this moment. Bent over the couch for lack of somewhere better to go while Jack sleeps on our expensive Tempurpedic we hurry to attempt conception before Jack wakes up. He usually has no problem with the time limit (since this is also coupled with infrequent hook ups). And the thread of my husband’s life weaves another piece together.

Abby Theuring, MSW