Having a baby has been one of the most rewarding tasks I have ever had the pleasure of taking on. But identifying as a mother has been more of a work in progress. I work in advertising and advertising is all about branding. And since I had a baby on the later side, I have spent a long time cultivating the 'single career woman brand'.
The first crack in that brand came when I got married three years ago. To this day, I feel a little funny using the word 'husband'. I think it's because of two things— 1) it feels too grown-up, even though I am well aware I am now in my thirties and 2) it feels like I'm admitting that I wasn't entirely happy with the 'single woman' brand, even if that's probably true.
The second crack came when I got pregnant. I remember walking around those first few months like I was carrying a big secret. It made me nervous that soon my personal choices would be on public display. But as my belly started to grow, I realized I didn't feel exposed, I felt special. As if my whole life I had wanted people to think I was destined for something greater and now that I was wearing a tent dress and toting around a plastic baggie of saltines, the proof was right out there for everybody to see.
And then the baby was born. During delivery, I didn't scream or cry. My husband can attest to this— I couldn't stop laughing. It just felt so monumentally ridiculous that it was me in this pushing scenario that I've seen played out in the movies a billion times. All of a sudden, instead of motherhood being a concept that I'd digest some time in the future, it was a right there in my arms wrapped in a blanket.
I live in the East Village of Manhattan so people around here talk about the invasion of the stroller mommies as if it's the end of everything cool and interesting. The first time I walked down the street with the stroller I felt unnervingly conspicuous. After seven years of people seeing me out and about in the neighborhood, I was now outing myself for what I had really been all along— a mother whose sole purpose was to use more than her fair share of the sidewalk. To the casual passerby, the stroller said I was Mom first, person second. I have used a sling or a baby carrier almost exclusively ever since.
Before I got pregnant, I was very active on facebook. I wrote updates that were mostly random things I found funny. I thought the people who were constantly updating with stories about their kids as if there was nothing else going on in their lives were a whole other breed. But when I got pregnant, talking about anything else as if it mattered almost seemed like lying. So I stopped status updating all together.
Of course, when the baby arrived, I shared my happy news with my corner of the online world. And then for a while afterwards, all I did was share pictures and anecdotes about my incredibly adorable, smart, precocious, personality filled little girl. If I had a funny update, it was about diapers, If I discussed a problem it was about lack of sleep. If I posed a question it was about feeding solids. In short, I was becoming one of THOSE moms! So after a few more baby centric updates, I made a pact with myself to talk about something else. The gym, the weather, The Bachelor. Anything.
But then I realized that the baby WAS what I wanted to talk about. It's not the only thing going on in my life but it's certainly the most important and the most entertaining. And the moms I know on facebook not only seem genuinely interested in sharing experiences, but they also offer a ton of great advice. There are no judgements.
And so, Mommy Shorts was born. The most uncool mommy-updating-baby-saturated thing EVER. Initially, I thought I was going to do this somewhat anonymously. You know, to retain my street cred in the non-baby world. But you know what? Love me or block me, this is my life now.
As we say in advertising, it was time for a re-brand. After all, the only person hanging on to the old brand was myself.