“Looks who is there! It’s mommy!”
Feng, who is carrying Mark in his arms, turns around so that the baby can see me (or not—I never know what babies can actually see!). He stops crying, Feng breathes a sigh of relief (the little guy is loud!) and I freeze at the doorway.
Me, a mommy?
For some reason, I didn’t feel like a mommy-to-be when I was pregnant—I was too busy being miserable. Suddenly it feels like my status has been upgraded without warning. It’s like being a videogame character: one minute you are Juliette, and then you fight the dragons doctors, experience some pain, live through an intense experience without magic mushrooms, and bam—welcome to level II, you are a mommy.
I guess this is the second time in my life that I get such a sudden social status upgrade. Technically, when Feng and I got married in 2005, I went from being a “miss” to being a “Mrs.”. But 1) we eloped 2) we didn’t make a big deal of getting married 3) I kept my last name instead of taking Feng’s. Therefore, this status upgrade was somewhat less obvious. I didn’t even inform the French administration I had gotten married until a few months ago!
And now, I am a mommy. Gee, just a few weeks ago, I was giving birth wearing a Metallica t-shirt (I almost wore one of my Chinese communist propaganda t-shirts, but between two contractions I ultimately decided it may look weird). I sing Mark anarchist songs (yes, they calm him down). I have a collection of Winnie The Pooh stuffed animals, and even a couple of Zhu-Zhu pets because we found the name funny. I can act silly, I can swear like a sailor and I can cry like a little girl. Mommies can do that do, can’t they? Being a mommy is not a downgrade but an upgrade. I’m still me, “Juliette”, in good and bad.
Yet, people call me “mommy”. Non-stop, actually—the healthcare staff especially seems to enjoy reminding me that yes, I am a mother.
So Feng and I are daddy and mommy (or papa and maman, or even爸爸and妈妈).My parents are grand-parents. And my grand-parents are great-grand-parents.
Mark is like a little earthquake, he changed the status quo of everything!
So, what does it feel like being a mommy? Well, I certainly feel I have been given new powers, and by “new powers” I don’t mean just the ability to produce breast milk on demand. I have been given the “mommy power” ith Mark: he generally calms down when I put him against me and he loves my breast milk. Instead of putting his fingers in his ears when I sing (a reflex most people have when they hear me—let’s face it, singing is not one of my strengths!), he stares at me and listens as if I was Madonna in her prime. He holds me fingers tight when he goes to sleep (which can be a bit of an issue when I put him back in his bed). He sleeps like… well, a baby, when he is nested in the crook of my arm.
With being a mommy comes some “mommy instinct” I didn’t even know I had. Mark and I were never strangers, most of the time we understand each other even though it takes some adjustment. I can feel when he is hungry, tired, when he wants a hug or when he is just being fussy. And I’m sure I sound really silly when I talk to him, the way mothers of newborns do (I am also fairly sure baby-talk and lack of sleep are linked—I mean, who can make complex sentences at 4 a.m.?).
Being a mommy is cool. I’m embracing it. Yay for the status upgrade!