Tuesday, February 9, 2010

My 4th self*

I've always thought of a person as having three parts.  I feel like I learned this sometime back in World History in 10th grade, having something to do with Greek philosophers.  But Aristotle would probably be embarrassed by my ignorance if I were to attribute this theory to him.

So, the three selves I've always pictured were my intellectual self, my emotional self, and my spiritual self.  Since I'm something of a spiritual nitwit, my spiritual self mostly sits in the corner eating his boogers because no one will play with him.  So that leaves me with my intellectual self and my emotional self.  I mostly let those two selves run hog-wild.  Especially the emotional self, she likes to streak naked through the snow.  And have bonfires 10 feet from her house.  I.e., she doesn't think much about consequences.

But I've recently discovered a fourth self.  (I also learned in 10th grade that any number less than 5 should be spelled out.  But maybe that included five, I'm not sure.  I like to mix it up so I'm only wrong half the time.)  That would be my mothering self.  More generally, it's probably my nurturing self, though I think only my baby sees the benefit of it, so we'll stick to calling it the mothering self until that self learns how to play well with others.  Ironically, I find myself capable of near-infinite patience with my child (this coming from an inpatient person, so infinite is definitely an overstatement.  There are still times.)  But I think that patience drains from the rest of my life to fill my baby-patience tank.  Meaning the presence of this fourth self drains the other selves.  I'm not upset about that, at least not for the time being: it's interesting to have this whole new self I was never aware of before.

I think those that have baby-fever are aware of this 4th self and need something to fill it.  I guess the question I'm getting to is where does this fourth self come from?  Was it always there and some women are just more aware of it than others?  Or for some people, does childbirth bring about this new self?

*I'm pretty sure this entire post makes no sense.


  1. OOoo, good post!!

    I'm gonna go with the idea that the fourth self emerges at the time in a women's life when she is either ready for children, or having them anyway. That means that some end up with that fourth self long before a baby fills the gap and, as you pointed out, they FEEL that gap and want to put something in it. Others maybe develop the mothering self once there is something to mother. Given that we were not planning our pending baby, I feel a little left behind on the fourth self, like I'm trying hard to develop it before the baby comes (hence the guilt post of last Friday).

    It seems like the mothering self is sort of necessary once a baby comes in to the picture. The three other selves are pretty egocentric - they are all about you - how are YOU doing spiritually, emotionally, intellectually? But since your baby doesn't really care about those things and you really only care about what the baby cares about, you need a mothering self to which you can devote energy shamelessly. Maybe the only real way to funnel any energy to yourself at all is through the circuitous route of your babe.

    More Tuesdays should include time to wax philosophical like this. You totally jump started my non-geoscience brain waves!

  2. I think my 4th self...mothering ways...came out when I first started dating my now husband. I wanted to take care of him....and when we got a dog his 4th self..fathering ways I guess...came out and I knew he would be a great father.

  3. I can definitely see that - another situation where you don't get to be the most important person in your life anymore. Heres to hoping that cats provide the same insight into fatherhood preparedness as pups!

  4. I'm glad to hear that my Tuesday ramblings made a little bit of sense to someone.

  5. What about your 'No Knead Bread Making' Self....you do make a very good no knead bread.

  6. Maybe your 4th self is really your spiritual self coming out.

  7. Rebecca, intriguing possibility. I'm going to have to sip on that one for a while.