10 September 2007

Moments of Hyper Self-Awareness

There are these moments in my life that are different than the rest. Tiny slivers of time in which I feel like another person - an older one, or a younger one, a more confident, brighter version of myself, or a shadow, invisible. There is a self-consciousness about these moments that sets them apart from the rest. I am aware, in the moment, of how unique it is, how different I feel.

Most of the time I'm just living - doing my thing, putting the kids to bed, doing laundry, reading, working, blogging, watching TV - but there are these isolated moments, not noticeable to anyone but me, they hold an extra layer of self, as if I become two selves - the one that is talking, gesturing, making appropriate facial expressions, and the one that is watching like a sports commentator, saying, oh, that's odd, why did I do that? or yes! perfect comeback, nice one, self, and making observations about how I feel as I am feeling.

Here are a few of these moments:

A few days ago Steve and I each had a meeting in the evening - mine was for Freya's school, his was for work. We called his sister to come babysit and as I explained the new school-night routine (no TV, lights out at 8) I was suddenly transported backwards in time, only now, instead of being the babysitter, I was the grown-up. I felt old, but not in a bad way, just in a way that I had never understood until that moment.

Many of us have shared this experience - taking a home pregnancy test and discovering that it is positive, confirming what you already know. Six years ago, when found out I was pregnant with Matilda, my first thought was, "Oh God, I'm an unwed teenage mother, I've become a statistic!" My future life as a deviant flashed before my eyes for what felt like forever before I remembered that I was twenty-three, and in a strong and supportive relationship, and not alone or teen aged at all.

We need a new car. One car and a family that must be driven all over the county is not going to work. So on Friday I had to go and ask for money from a bank. This used to freak me out, and for good reason, my credit is terrible. But I made a choice. I am done feeling guilty about my debt, I am doing the best that I can.

The representative sent me to the manager, because there was "nothing she could do for me." I maintained my guilt-free attitude and inner pep-talking. It went great. The manager was about my father's age, he laughed at my jokes, was warm and straight-forward. He worked with me for almost forty-five minutes trying to figure out a way to approve either Steve or I or both for a car loan, and he did it. I felt like I had won something - not through luck or by pretending to be something I'm not, but by maintaining my confidence in myself.

There's group of moms in a town where I lived for a long time. Separately they seemed like nice people, busy, like most moms, but easy enough to talk to, to be casual with. But when they were all together it became clear that I was not one of them. I can talk, I'm a talker, just ask Steve, but when I was surrounded by these other women, whose children rode in fancy strollers and whose husbands had real jobs and whose children played soccer and took ballet lessons, I felt suddenly less worthy. I would stand to one side, an observer - of them, and of myself.

Reading back over these capsules of hyper self-awareness, they seem mundane (except maybe the pregnancy one) and I don't think I described them very well, but I'm curious; do you have these? What are yours? I want to know. Tell me right now! Please.


Jen said...

I have moments like that when I'm just doing the most mundane types of things. I'll be wrangling two kids and a full cart of groceries through the store and I catch a glimpse of my reflection somehwere. I think "That's me? When did I become a grown up with two kids? I still feel like I'm 14!" Or I'll be sitting in my living room thinking about how it needs a new coat of paint and maybe yellow would be nice. All of the sudden it will occur to me that it's my house and I can paint it whatever color I want and I don't have to ask a single living soul if it's ok.

Queen of Shake-Shake said...

My moments of hyper self awareness...

One time in bed with the King, I farted SO long and SO loud that I woke him up and he said, "did you say something?" The power of my farts awed me in that moment.

I'm sorry, that's as deep of a inner reflection as I'm capable of in this moment.

WorksForMom said...

I have the same moments. ometimes i think too often. they mostly always end with ... "what were you thinking"

Jessica said...

I have these exact moments--I think you described them pretty well. One I can think of right now happened in the end of April. We had just moved into our new house and were having a little cookout with my husband's family the first weekend we were here. My mother-in-law and aunt-in-law brought over some food and were setting up the kitchen how they thought it should be for the party. I said something like, oh--maybe we should move the food over to the table and use the counter for drinks. No one really paid attention, and I started to walk away. Then it was like I saw the situation from outside me--I was doing it, but also seeing it. And I realized that this was MY house and MY kitchen and just because my mother-in-law put things the way she thought they should go didn't mean that was the way they should go. And I said--I'll just move these things where they belong, and I set up the kitchen how I wanted it, and I could still see myself the whole time as I was rearranging things. I felt completely like I was a little girl playing house and pretending to be in charge, except it was real. Is that what you mean?

andi said...

I've had those. The moments where I've realized, "Holy crap! I'm an adult. And one who has 2 kids". Seriously. That still freaks me out.

I've also had the one with the moms. Mine sounds very similar to yours. This is why I don't do playgroups.

Jennifer aka Binky Bitch said...

Yep. Have these moments all the time. When I have to get everything together for an outing without help, I realize that Holy Sh*t! I'm a Mom. I'm in charge.

I feel this way when I go grocery shopping with my kids.

I feel this way when I go to Babies R Us. I have babies! It still boggles my mind.

I could go on and on.

Stepherz said...

I can so relate. That's so funny that you wrote about what flutters through my mind so often.

I listened to some 90's music today. I suddenly felt myself at 20 again. I miss that feeling of not having been weighted by reality and the monotony of life. I was always so optimistic and enthusiastic about everything. I miss that, even if it were nieve. I think a decade has made me more rough around the edges. More confident, more well spoken, smarter, more experienced. But definitely rougher around the edges. I wonder what another decade will do.

But yes, I'm a grown-up. I can go to an interview and feel confident. I can talk with elders without wondering if I said something stupid. I am more in control and my voice is stronger. I don't feel as insignificant as I once did. And I don't take shit off of anyone anymore.

I took a break and read some of the other responses here to see if mine was stupid. I got 3 things from this pause: 1. I'm obviously not that confident or I wouldn't be wondering if my comment was stupid compared to the others. 2. Queen of shake-shake is freaking hilarious and I wanted to cry when I read her post. 3. Farts are as funny as they were when I was 20.

Ewokmama said...

I usually experience moments like this when my mom is visiting and I am taking care of Jack - usually because I am imaginging what it was like for her to take care of me, and realizing that I'm now in a role that my mom once had.