Thursday, November 11, 2010

On joining the club

When I was about to get married, I had thought a lot--okay, some--about how marriage would change my relationship with my soon-to-be husband.  I hadn't thought much about how I was about to acquire this whole new set of relationships, with in-laws, great-uncles in Shanghai, and more cousins than I ever knew was possible.

In a similar vein, I thought having a baby would primarily involve ONE new relationship--you know, with the baby?

I hadn't counted on my sudden initiation into the vast, powerful, and not-so-secret society of Mothers.

The pushing of a stroller with a very small human being in it is like the secret handshake that starts conversation with utter strangers, garners respect (and perhaps a modicum of pity for those sleepless nights) from older women, and sparks friendships with no more basis than a mutual intimate acquaintance with breast pumps.

My fear, of course, is that since there are just so many fascinating things to talk about in the realm of diapers, tummy time, and how-many-hours-does-baby-sleep, that I may never talk about anything else ever again.

So, when the occasional awkward guy who doesn't have any idea what to say about babies and their ilk asks me about my research, or teaching, or a recent trip, and completely ignores the fact that the dominant theme in my life the past few months has been BABY--I am sort of amused but also very, very grateful.

Because ultimately, as lovely as the Society of Mothers is, you do want to be a person, too.

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