“One of the greatest tragedies in life is to lose your own sense of self and accept the version of you that is expected by everyone else.” -K.L. Toth
Even as a young child motherhood was one of my greatest desires. I would gaze into thee eyes of a screaming child and see innocence. Look at little sticky hands with wonder and reach for them. Even changing a diaper was serious business. As the oldest sibling I was baby sitting at a young age. By my teen years I was certain that I would have seven kids…pure madness!
I’m not sure that anything really prepares you for parenthood! I know, that sounds so cliché. The sleep deprivation, the feedings, the screaming and oh the bodily fluids! No, those are par for the course. Surely going in most have some inkling of what comes with having a baby, perhaps not ALL of it, but some of it. It’s what comes later that can truly be frightening and I’m not talking the “birds and the bees”!
When you eat, sleep and breathe motherhood it becomes the perfect storm for an identity crisis. Your life suddenly is not your own! It has become all about these little people depending on you 24/7. You are up before the sun and in bed well after it has set. You have not showered, perhaps in days. Your new “uniform” is sweatpants and t-shirts– maybe they are clean, and maybe they have crusty who-knows-what on them! Your body, well, that just never is the same. And what is a bra, makeup or razor? Did I mention minivan?
When waking to the reality one day I found I no longer knew who I truly was. To look in the mirror and no longer see someone I recognized as myself. Yes, I am somebody’s mom and somebody’s wife but, WHO am I? What do I like to do? What goals (outside of potty training) do I have? And, is there a life after the kids are in bed?
“I’m not the same person I was before, and I am deathly afraid I will never be her again…”
― Jodi LaPalm, Still Life
The process of “finding myself” was certainly mixed with times of mourning who I once was and overwhelming emotions of who I now am. Not only did my body change but what made up my being had changed. I certainly had gone through a metamorphosis and now, a time of learning how to fly. Rediscovery, redefining and reconciling played important roles. Reconciling with myself that I am somebody’s mom and somebody’s wife, but I am not defined by those titles, [that] was one of my big “ah-ha” moments. And redefining my attitude by this quote, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” by Gandhi. After all, isn’t that what being a mother and wife should include, serving the ones you love? But make no mistake, time for self is just as important…for everyone!
Rediscovery came as I finally rejoined the world of adults and began learning who I now am as a woman and not just Mommy. The crisis has been averted, well, at least until that mid-life one comes along. As my children change (we only have two, by the way), grow and become mini adults– I find the workings of who I am also change. Not that anyone but me dictates this change, but because as life ebbs and flows, I also find myself more pliable. Perhaps it is maturity, life experience or a bit of both but, I just am and I am happy with who that is…Me, myself and I.
“Such a mysterious business, motherhood. How brave a woman must be to embark on it.”
― M.L. Stedman, La luce sugli oceani