Becoming a mother is a process — matrescence, I can’t quite bring myself to call it — and not usually a smooth one. My theory is that, these days, the identity transformation begins the first time you apologize for posting so much about your baby on social media. And it’s complete the first time you find yourself jumping into a new mom’s mentions to give her unsolicited advice.
I’m reminded of this every time I open Instagram and see the feeds of women I’ve followed and admired and laughed with and confessed to for years who have recently become a parents. As I watch them make their own transitions into the role, I feel full of affection and compassion and nostalgia, followed quickly by a vexing, almost irrepressible desire to be consulted.
It doesn’t happen with the first photo, where under current conventions, you post a photo of the infant, newly born, with his or her or their name and, as if the child is a fish you caught, their weight and length. If you’re committed to being thorough, you express some sort of loving sentiment that feels revelatory to you but reads as perfunctory: “We’re so in love.” (Which we know to mean something closer to: Thank God I think I love it??) “We’ve never been happier.” (My asshole and vagina are now one hole) “We’re getting to know each other!” (My nipples look like they’ve been run through a meat grinder and I feel completely and utterly hopeless but so much so that I’m afraid to say it out loud.)