Sunday, October 10, 2010

Changing the Filter

When I walked to the park the other day, here's what caught my attention in this scene, in order of appearance:

After sitting there for awhile, it occurred to me that I didn't even look at or acknowledge her baby. 
Without thinking, I applied filters to the scene, like this:

* * * 

I love family, I love the idea of marriage and children. 
I'm single, in my 40s and I don't have children. 
Not having those in my life, I can see now that I've learned to apply filters. Too painful otherwise.
These filters are like lenses. 
I think back 10 years ago, when I was more interested in detachment and self-protection.

One thing I love about getting older is caring less about being cool. But as I consciously become more open and less cool, I notice some losses from trying to be cool.  An easy one? When I was younger I wouldn't do the electric slide at weddings -- too lame. Now I'm taking a hip-hop dance class that I adore. But I'm the only one who still doesn't know how to do the cool-down. 
It's the electric slide. 

* * *

The same day I noticed the baby blocker filters at the park, I made an effort to not avoid baby and family scenes. I watched a dad teasing his baby adoringly. My heart tugged.

But I was okay. Next I waited in line behind a father holding his child, being ever so tender.

While he was sweetly attentive to his baby, I made sure I didn't apply the jaded detached filter of cool. But my eyes watered. When I got to my car, I sat and cried. 

But I was still okay.
Even though I felt sad, it was a genuine, direct sadness based on the heart of the matter (possibly still wanting to mother). I was being a better listener to myself. 


thisisyourwife said...

I am not single, but I do not have children and sometimes feel pretty isolated when surround by women my age with kids and babies. My husband and I are childless by choice. Also, it is so hard to be friends with a woman once she becomes a mom and I am not. There is a big detachment there. I started my blog as a response to Mommy Blogs, but I still have a hard time getting an audience. I think sometimes a genuine feeling of sadness followed by a good cry feels so much better in the long run than numbness. Keep up the amazing blog.

eileen said...

Hi thisisyourwife,
thanks for the note. I agree with you on the genuine sadness and a good cathartic cry -- it helps locate what i call the 'front door yes' as opposed to the backdoor yes. That might be an upcoming blog post. Thanks for coming back and reading!

Anonymous said...

You have great insight. As a single, over 50, introvert who loves to draw, I'm hoping to see more of your posts.


Danielle said...

eileen thank you for directing me to your post! I have always enjoyed your perspective on things. As a mother I will say that when my boys were really young it was harder to relate to other women my age who didn't have kids; how to explain why I hadn't showered in 3 days and had food on my shirt. As my kids have grown older and are becoming more autonomous young men, my social circle/net is increasing by leaps and bounds. I still have dear friends from pre-school groups that I haven't "outgrown". There are others, however, that I simply can't relate to anymore. Not because I don't care for them, but because the only thing we had in common was our young children. I also have newer and/or rediscovered friends that are directly tied to my personal interests. (It's wonderful when there is an overlap!) I love this "new" independence. I have to say though, anytime I see a new mom or dad with their baby I also get very weepy. Not for the same reasons neccessarily. I am nostalgic for that intense closeness. I miss my children needing me that much. I do like being able to shower everyday though! I look forward to reading/following more of your posts!

Anonymous said...

This is powerful and amazing stuff Eileen. We adopted, so I have mixed reactions to parents with infants. I wonder if it matters that I never held mine as babies or changed diapers. I don't think so, but I don't and won't ever know.
Thanks for sharing this and keep it up.

D. Bethel said...

Absolutely wonderful.

eileen said...

Love all the comments, friends. Ogle, it's interesting that I wrote this from the perspective of mothering but that guys have commented that this struck a chord with them too. Danielle, thanks for your perspective about the community of mothers and that you get emotional seeing infants too. when i took care of my nieces when they were younger, i quickly realized there is a window in which to shower each day -- miss it and you don't shower. D. Bethel and Sherry, thanks for leaving a kind note. Or as D. Bethel says to'keep a good thought'.

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