Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Take Me Out

Last week I spent Monday night high in the stands of Safeco Field with three friends, watching the Mariners lose to the Angels. At least, compared with a game I went to last summer, one that the Mariners ultimately won, there was some actual scoring throughout the innings. At that previous game, hardly a man made it to first base throughout nine innings, and it wasn't until the second extra inning that anyone made it safely to home plate.

More significantly, though, I was out... with friends... without the baby.

It was the first time, exactly four week's after Julian's birth. It felt good, on a beautiful evening, to feel normal again, just to be someone hanging out with friends enjoying a game, some conversation, and garlic fries. Parenthood, something I'm still trying to get a grasp on, felt far away.

I'm not sure when the feeling of being a parent kicks in for most people, but most parents I've spoken with can remember the early days as a whirl of wonder, confusion, and frustration. It's a sudden leap into new responsibilities beyond the magnitude of any most have previously experienced, and it comes with a label that all too often becomes the predominate lens through which others view us: we are now parents. Mothers, in particular, can get lost behind this new title. The world still tends to view us as the primary care providers, the ones most emotionally and physically invested in our children. And frankly, in the early days of breast feeding, we are often the sole provider of nourishment for our babies, something that occupies the majority of a newborn's waking hours.

It can be hard to come to terms with this new role and the pull it exerts on all other areas of my life, of my identity. I don't want to lose the friends I've had, spending all my nights at home with my child, trading adult socializing for the company of an infant who can't yet crack a genuine smile. As a mother, I am determined that I am adding to my identity, not taking away from it, and the occasional night out provides just the confirmation and respite that I need.

Of course, all bets are off when that baby does start smiling. I definitely want to be home for that.

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