I wrote the play because I didn’t know who I was anymore. And as I realized I didn’t know who I was anymore, I started to realize that I never knew, never had a clue as to who I was. What I had were facts. What I had were feelings, ways of feeling, that I had felt before. Did these things comprise a whole person? What happens when there are new facts or new ways of feeling I’d never felt before?
I wrote the play because I had a child. I was suddenly a mother, but I didn’t feel like a different person than before motherhood became a fact. I felt like exactly the same person, only now there was a new person I got to pal around with. “Mother” brings with it connotations and definitions and expectations. There are the natural birth wars, the epidural wars, the full term hopes, the preemie realities. There’s the whole breastfeeding thing, which somehow has turned into something other than a nice free way to feed your child and an outright battle where a woman who is not nursing should expect to be publicly shamed, as should women who nurse publicly anticipate inspiring ire. Also sugar, or no sugar, or natural fibers, organic, don’t get the clothes that have been fire proofed, your doctor says to get the clothes that have been fire proofed. Also vaccinations. Also mothers should not be ashamed if they are depressed, because that’s normal, also don’t be depressed. Beauty and truth and terror and anxiety all fell into one while I, this person who I’ve always been, did not find myself redefined by the expectations, connotations, and definitions associated with motherhood. There were additional expectations, from family, from husband, from friends, from colleagues and coworkers, from the average stranger on the block, the other parents at playgroup, the nannies in the park. The expectations of my child were, in contrast, easy: nourishment, love, comfort, stability. I was a mother, I was exactly the same person as I had been before I was a mother, but all of a sudden people found it odd when I would do things that were not particularly motherly. Who told them to have these expectations? How did they not see that these expectations that are what they want mothers to be? That these imaginary mothers of theirs are not indicative of mothers worldwide? Those expectations have nothing to do with what mothers are, or what I, as a mother, was all about. I still make cookies in the middle of the night, have done for years. I still curse like a mother fucker. I still want to stay up all night and go nuts. I still want sex. I still drink wine with a fine meal, unless we’re having pizza, in which case champagne.
I wrote the play because I was not the Mother of contemporary myth and legend, because my life is not an allegory, or a fable, or an example of how a woman ought to go about being a mother, lover, artist, human, because my life is not based on a series of strangers’ expectations to which I feel obligated. Looking back at the time in which I was writing this play, in fits and starts, during nap time, between feedings, trying to figure out who I was, holding my child in one arm and typing with the other, learning to draft plays on my iphone so I could write while rocking him in his sleep, experiencing a love that can only be defined as bliss, motherhood was not what I’d expected. And it’s not what the big general contemporary society expects it to be, either. Motherhood does not result in a miserable lack of freedom, or a sudden willingness to eschew all previously held ambitions. I don’t envy my non parent friends, but I don’t not envy them, either. I respect and admire their choices, just as I do my parent friends. I am in awe of their collective courage and ability, their willfulness, in the face of every conceivable obstacle, to stride forward into each new day owning themselves and their lives, steadfast in their beliefs. Awe.
I wrote the play because all we American kids grew up with no rites of passage, wondering where to next, wondering if sex would do it, or drugs, or leaving home, tattoos, or if a spouse would do it, or owning things, or paying rent, or a bank account, or a job, or a passion, or a career, or a business, or a friendship, or a baby, or a suit, or a self chosen identity, or a degree, or another degree, or a gig, would do the trick, would make us feel grown, would make us feel like we have entered the world on our own two feet, on our own fucking terms.
I wrote the play because I needed to get all that stuff out, to try to get a handle on my own personal entrance into adulthood, which I am, today, finally willing to admit has probably happened. It probably happened while I was writing this play.
You can come check it out. All the emotions fall in on themselves when I think how glad it makes me to hear my words alight on new lips, to have the producers and director make this all happen.
I Am Not an Allegory (these are people i know)
by Libby Emmons
The Irish Exit NYC
978 2nd Ave.
presented by SoYoCo and KL Thomas
Directed by Courtney Wetzel
Choreographed by Keila Fontanez-La Salle
Stage Manager Gretchen Thomas
Ames: Karen Bray
Danesha: Kimberlee Walker
Ruby: Dina Desmone
Mary Ellen: Tabitha Vidaurri
Marcia: KL Thomas
Jess: Lindsay Perry
Lando: Clifford Berry
Severin: Conor Daniel Bartram
Dan: Eliel Lucero