ENG 363 – “The Argonauts”

I’m stuck on one line Maggie Nelson wrote on page 37.

I cannot hold my baby at the same time as I write.”

This is something that I feared when I became pregnant, when I decided I wanted to have children. I wanted more than one before I had one; but having one has made me realize that, mentally, I cannot handle more than one. And I think it is because of this sentiment I share with Nelson.

I cannot be a proper mother while being myself.

Nelson references her quote of D. W. Winnicott that echoes how I felt with “I had nearly four decades to become myself before experimenting with my obliteration.”

I don’t think I had that. I think I was still striving to find who I was before I had my child, while I was pregnant, and even after he was born.

Women struggle with identity in ways that men will not understand. We have feminists telling us to be ourselves, to make our own decisions, to do what we will, to find our own truth of life. We have the patriarchy telling us to be good and start a family while we can, before complications arise from age, before whatever. Before we’re whole. Be a mother before you’re human.

That’s what I struggled with. Be interesting to a partner so that you can get a partner, continue to be interesting to that partner so you can have a child, then be a mom. I think we’ve go too many moms and not enough human mothers. Maybe this is why we’ve got so many depressed women, so many self-medicating under the guise of “wine mom”. The hidden alcoholics.

But why judge those that are mothers? There are plenty of moms out there that found their identity in being mom.There’s nothing wrong with that. What’s wrong is if they were never given an option to be anything other than mothers.

While I struggle with my identity and with the outside judgments that come from picking an identity, I still am “Mom” My twitch stream is named “Your Mom Plays Games.” Jonas calls me “mom” and I prefer it even though I despise what society associates with the word. I don’t like the other moms on my street sometimes because of how they define “mom” and thus define me. I’m not 100% dead to the world except for caring for my child. I’m not that mom. I can’t be. I’m a human mother. I’m a human. I can hold my child. I can write.

  1. avatar
    • Lucy Biederman
    • July 2nd, 2018

    This is such a beautiful post, Amanda. The way you take that one profound line of Nelson’s and explore it is just *lovely.* As you’ve expressed throughout this course, there is feminism in openly discussing and writing about these multiple identities and conflicts in womanhood, motherhood, and women’s lives. This post gives *me* a sense of support.

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