Before I became a mom, I had lots of time to think about what I liked. I had time to dream, to ponder, to decide what I thought about things. I loved to organize and I loved to accomplish things. I often looked at my checked off to-do list with a sense of accomplishment and pride. I was confident that I would someday get to all the projects that didn’t make it to the checklist.
I dreamt of what kind of Mom I was going to be like. My journey of infertility gave me an ample amount of time to perfect my picture of motherhood. I knew that I was going to be a great mom. I would never lose my temper with my kids. I would never let my kids run around with their shoes on the wrong feet. I would never wear work out clothes all day. I would never be “that” mom. I would spend my days with my kids reading books, doing crafts, and exploring the outdoors. I was going to be super mom.
Then I got pregnant. I embraced the body changes, as it symbolized that my dreams were coming true. Pregnancy was a rite of passage for me. I read every parenting book, trying to be as prepared as possible. I purchased every possible thing that my little one might need in preparation for her arrival. I was prepared and ready to take on this new role.
Then she came early, by cesarean, and was taken to the NICU. This was not my plan. Nothing prepared me for what motherhood really meant. Leaving my baby at the hospital was one of the hardest things I had ever done. How do you walk away from your heart? My career, my dreams, my desires, suddenly took a backseat. It’s not like I made a decision to put them there. It just naturally happened. I realized that this little human being was my responsibility. She depended on me for her every need, and it was up to me to determine what she needed. Suddenly, her dreams were way more important than my own.
Now I am a mom of three under the age of 5, and motherhood doesn’t look like I thought it would. My pre-mom self was confident, organized, prepared, and was ready to take on the world. If my pre-mom self walked into my house now, there is no way she would believe this was going to be her house. My pre-mom self and my now mom self seem worlds apart. When I look in the mirror and see how my body has changed, I sometimes don’t even recognize myself. When I get frustrated with my kids and have to put myself in time out, I think “who are you? I thought you never lost your cool?” I find myself doing things and saying things that I don’t recognize. Have I lost myself? I worry that in the process of being a mom and making so many sacrifices for the sake of my children that somehow I’m losing my self.
My pre-mom self seems so distant, so out-of-touch, and in some ways prideful and selfish. I look at my now mom self and see a woman who has put her kids needs first. I see a woman who never thought she could get angry, but has now learned to ask for forgiveness and put herself in time out. I look in the mirror and see a woman who will never have her pre-mom body back, but is ok with the scars and is doing her best with the residual weight. I see a woman whose house is disorganized because a lot of time is spent playing and just keeping the day to day routine going. I see the many someday projects and begin to ask myself “will I really do that someday, or am I just being idealistic?” I once felt confident that I could handle it all, and now I see a woman who wakes up some mornings and wonders if she can make it through the day. Will I be enough? I also see a woman who is much quicker to ask for help and recognize when she needs it. My now mom self sees more of her faults and knows her limitations. I once relied heavily on my own abilities, and now more than ever I’m having to trust God.
So the question again, “Am I losing myself?” Yes, I am, but I am finding more of my true self. Yes, I have lost some of my pre-mom self, but to be honest, there are parts of her that needed to be gone. She was pretty wrapped up in her ‘self’ – trying to be perfect, trying to be independent, trying to have it all together. I can’t be perfect, so I’ve stopped trying. I am much more accepting and gracious of myself than I ever have been in my life. It sometimes catches me by surprise. Who is that? I never thought I could be this disorganized. I never thought that I could just walk away from my career and really be ok with it. But I am.
I find myself doing things that my pre-mom self wouldn’t even recognize. I’m sure there will come a day that I look in the mirror and find bits of my pre-mom self back. But I hope that they will have grown and matured, just as I have. I hope that those qualities that my pre-mom self held onto so tightly recognize that they are not my identity, they are just a small part of who I was and who I am. Motherhood has definitely made me see my identity in a whole new light. What I see is a woman who depends on Him more than ever before and recognizes her need for grace. It turns out losing myself isn’t such a bad thing after all.
Do you find that you are losing yourself? How do you see it’s for the better?