Mom Talk: A Eulogy For The Woman I Was Before The Baby Came
Written by Jessica Delfino
Photography by Photographed by Vanessa Mona Hellmann
There’s a lot of heavy stuff going on in the world these days, so we thought this week would be an ideal time to share a funny Mom Talk from comedy writer Jessica Delfino, in which she mourns the life of her former child-free self—the one who enjoyed long brunches, lounging on the sofa with an Aperol spritz and a good book, and was known for leaving the house for the day with nothing but a single tiny purse. Jessica lives in New York City with her husband and 4-year-old son, and her work can also be found in McSweeny’s, The Atlantic, HuffPost, and more. Read her homage to life pre-kid below, and prepare to lol.
We are here today to celebrate the life of me, before the baby came. The old me left us too soon, though her mother and mother-in-law would agree that it was not soon enough, and were always chirping into her ear that she “wasn’t getting any younger.”
And her husband, if pressed, after a couple drinks, might confide that it was too early. Though he’s obviously crazy about their son and can’t imagine life without him and all that business, he surely would have stayed up into the wee hours drinking IPAs, eating nachos, and watching The Godfather with her and her alone until they were senior citizens and he would’ve been just fine with that. But the old me felt pressure to start a family, and no one could stop her.
My husband would never say it, but the new me knows he misses the old me so badly. I bet he misses her availability, and her unrelenting patience for his underwear, which he might casually have dropped on the bathroom floor from time to time before a shower. He misses how she would practically sing, “I made you breakfast!” while delivering a plate of pancakes to him with the panache of a Hooters waitress, and most of all, I’m certain he notices the decrease in sexy stuff, and the lingerie padded into a ball in the corner of a dresser drawer, dry rotting into oblivion.
Don’t get him wrong, he likes the new me, too, and adores our son, but what he wouldn’t give for the old me to walk back through the door and breathlessly say, “Make me a martini with extra olives, stat!” or “What are your pants still doing on?”
The old me was a bright, ambitious woman with a vibrant future ahead of her. Alas, in 2016, she left behind her mortal coil. Technically, I am alive and well, but I’m not the same person anymore. How could I be? I’m too tired to do things like, “have a life.” And after becoming a mother, the new me knows too much.
The old me used to love to do crafts, perform stand-up comedy almost every night, take classes, and meet up with friends on a whim. The old me used to enjoy brunches and “having nice things.” The old me liked to sleep 7-8 hours a night or even longer, then rise much later than the sun, and leisurely wade into the day the way an alligator slips into an uncovered swimming pool.
The old me liked traveling and being adventurous. Sometimes the old me would leave the house for the day with only one small purse. When the new me leaves the house, it looks like I’m moving out. The old me wanted a dog, and loved her cat. The new me couldn’t imagine life with one more creature in my home, and hasn’t seen my cat in months. The old me would often rearrange the furniture in the house, take on small home improvement projects, or lie down with an Aperol spritz and read a book. The idea of “projects” leaves the new me wrought with anxiety, and the new me’s books wear fur coats made of dust. In fact, the new me hasn’t finished a book in years. Don’t think the new me hasn’t picked up a book with the intention of reading it. It’s just that now, more than four minutes of adult book reading shuts off the new me’s brain and I fall into a deep slumber.
The old me’s house used to be clean-ish. Now, if there’s only an enormous pile of dishes and just one big bag of washed, unfolded laundry haunting an ottoman, the new me considers the place pristine. Sometimes in the early evening, the old me would lean back into the couch with a glass of whiskey, kick up her feet and exhale, peacefully. The new me can’t drink whiskey anymore, and is rarely at peace.
“I’m bored,” the old me had been known to remark, from time to time. But the new me hasn’t been bored since I thought I peed myself at Target and was then rushed to the hospital to give birth, three years ago.
The old me wasn’t perfect, or anything. She could be selfish. She didn’t particularly enjoy being around kids, and was even told by her doctor at one point that she couldn’t have children, because she hated them. But like the Hungry Caterpillar, she metamorphosed, into a mom no less, and gained a whole new identity and a whole new understanding of the world that, though part of her wishes she could give back, another side of me accepts with honor.
So, goodbye, old girl. You are gone, but you will not be forgotten. The memory of the old me will live on inside of the new me.
When the new me is asked last minute by a group of childless girlfriends to go see a Broadway show around the baby’s bedtime, and calls nine babysitters and none are available, I will remember the light that shined so brightly inside of the old me, as she said “Duh yahhh,” and then rummaged around in her closet for a cute outfit, topping it off with crimson lips.
When the new me starts to fantasize about taking a trip somewhere warm, then realizes the cost of leaving my son home for the trip will cost about as much as the trip itself, the new me will think fondly of the old me, and imagine her on a plane to Italy or Spain, magazine in hand, drink on order, not a worry or a care in the world.
When the new me finds myself wiping up a multitude of bodily fluids from a combination of cats and babies in one day, and then all of a sudden I notice I’m laughing and crying at the same time, the old me will be there, not helping, sipping a margarita in a flowing summer dress, saying, “You’re the one who wanted a kid, new me.”
So, let us light a candle, have a moment of silence and raise a glass for the old me. Wherever she is now, hopefully she is looking down on us all, saying, “You know how when you get SO MUCH sleep you wake up feeling groggy?” or “I’m on the guest list for a party that starts at 11 p.m. in Brooklyn, wanna be my plus one?”
Old me, you are missed.
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