Before my first child was born, someone told me that becoming a mother was instantaneous, like having a switch turned on that was in you all along. And that is more or less what it felt like. One moment I was not a mother; the next moment, I was. Ready or not.
To take on a title like mother is to undergo a change that is instantaneous but ongoing. Titles like mother or wife or sister or friend have a long history and are loaded with expectations and assumptions. I quickly realized that I would never be able to live up to all of these expectations as a mother, so I was going to have to chart a path that was all my own. A series of choices presented themselves–do I sleep train or rock to sleep? nurse or bottle feed? diaper in cloth or disposable?–and I started to choose, thereby defining how I would play out my role. I couldn’t do both and be one mother. The role was simply much larger than I was, so I had to narrow in on how I was going to play this role.
But as enormous as this role was, it was also somehow smaller than me. When I tried to reduce myself into “just” a mother, I realized that being a mother was only a part of me, it was less than the sum total of who I was. I would always be other things, too, and would always have other interests that didn’t fit neatly under my new title.
All of this reflection came to the surface when I watched Claire Foy play the queen. Here was a woman trying to chart a course where she could uphold her various roles simultaneously. She is constantly making decisions about how to fulfill her obligations to the crown, to her husband, and to her children. I don’t know what it is like to wear a crown, but I do not what it is like to take on a role that is larger than I am and yet, somehow, smaller than I am. I know what it is to disappear into a new role, losing sense of where I end and my job begins. I recognized myself in Queen Elizabeth, found myself processing my own experiences as I watched how conflicted she was in season two of The Crown.
With the gentle nudging of a writing friend, I took a chance and tried a new form of writing: a review with a personal Christian slant. After all, the highest compliment I know how to pay a thing is to write an essay about it.
And so, I present my recently published essay on The Crown! Enjoy.