07 August 2009

After One Month: Today

Today I turned one month old.

And I can't believe a month has passed already. Now tell me, how many people say "Time flies!"--or, even better yet, "Tempus fugit"--at the age of one month.

I don't think even Catullus or Cicero could've said "Tempus fugit" at the age of one month. Nor, for that matter, could they or Victor Hugo have said "Comme le temps passe vite."

So, does this make me the smartest one-month-old in history, or what? ;-)

OK, enough bragging. That's so unbecoming of a lady. I have to uphold what Regina says about me: that I "reaffirm femininity."

She and I had lunch at Uncle George's restaurant today. If you're ever walking (or pedalling or driving) along Broadway in Astoria, Queens, you've got to eat there. They serve real Greek food, not what you get in a diner. And the food's excellent, plentiful and relatively cheap. Best of all, on a day like today--sunny and warm, but not too--they open up the window/doors on the 34th Street side of their resataurant, and you can sit at one of the tables in the semi-open area. So, you have something like the atmosphere of a cafe's sidewalk terrace, but you can still have a conversation with whomever you accompany, or whoever accompanies you.

Regina explained, in her gentle way, that I am still really an embryonic woman. (How would the world be different if my brothers and I had spent our formative years watching a program called The Embryonic Woman instead of The Bionic Woman?) My body is still becoming acclimated to what Marci brought out from within me, and my mind is sorting out all of the new sensations in old places and old sensations in new places I'm feeling. That process, I suspect, will take quite a while longer.

And she reminded me of something she'd said months ago: I'd been giving birth to myself. Now that the new life I had been carrying within me is living in this world, she said, I am, and am becoming, a different person from what I was before my transition. "Any time you give birth, you're not the same as you were before," she explained. "You really divide your life into 'before' and 'after.'"

That, she said, is the reason why things I expereinced only a few weeks ago seem as if they happened a lifetime ago. The spring semester at the college seems like aeons ago; if I talk about the day I graduated college (if indeed I can still remember any of it!), I may as well be talking about the day Panagea started to break up.

Regina and other women I know who are or have been mothers have told me that once you give birth, your life is not only yours anymore. They all said exactly those words, or something very, very close to them. I wondered whether that made me different from, and not quite equal to, all those women who bore sons and daughters into this world.

While I am not yet ready to compare myself to my mother, Regina, Millie, Sonia or anyone else who are or have been mothers in the way most people would define the role, I can say that I have this in common with them: the sense that because I gave birth, my life is somehow not mine alone. Even though I gave birth to the person I've always known that I am, I didn't do it solely to satisfy my own ego. Furthermore, I now have a responsibility--one that I have taken on gladly--for the life to which I've given birth.

Anyone who fulfills that responsibility is a nurturer. Lots of people don't want to be seen as one because it's not a respected role, particularly in milieux that are dominated by men. Women who live and have sacrificed everything else for their careers--whether in a corporate boardroom or the halls of academia--so often look down on women who, by choice or circumstance, are mothers. They seem to think that somehow the work they do is more rigorous and demanding than what mothers, or other nurturers, do.

"Nurturing" is not necessarily synonymous with "coddling" or "feeding." Sometimes nurturing can involve those things. But to me, it's really about giving, or helping to attain, whatever that life to which you've given birth needs in order to survive, much less thrive. And, in doing so, the nurturer finds mental and spiritual sustenance for his or her own journey in the act of nurturing as well as in the life he or she nurtures.

I can't think of anything more rigorous or demanding than that. I've told my mother that no matter how hard or long I work, I will never have worked as hard or long--not to mention given or sacrificed as much--as she has in raising me or any of my brothers.

She's still nurturing me. Regina is, in her own way. Millie, too. And they all have nurtured, and continue to nurture many, many other people.

What they do makes our lives possible. Today it's my turn, even if I'm only one month old.

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