Motherhood: Learning This New Self
It has taken me time to figure out what it meant to be me as a mother. I always told myself I would never fall prey to losing “myself” in motherhood. I had goals to not let it rock my ship and be strong enough to retain all parts of myself I had spent my 20’s diligently “finding”. Looking back those were naive thoughts I had about what motherhood is and I felt it would be. They were thoughts that are natural and out of defense and fear of what lies ahead on the path. The day I found out I would become a mother felt both like a warm hug and as if I just crashed head first into a brick wall. I realized my path had been diverted and I was entering a less clear path, full of unknowns, and how the path will be unique to you. There is no prescribed way to handle motherhood. Everyone has different experiences than I ever could fathom. For some women, it fits perfectly for them, but for others it feels like fitting a round piece through a square hole. I leaned on the latter but at times I felt it fell on my shoulders with such grace I never knew was possible, but what felt the most difficult for me was that I would spend the next 2+ years rediscovering myself on every level. A journey I never anticipated or thought would take me so long. A journey that has been the hardest thing I have gone through. A journey I feel blessed to be experiencing because of who I have discovered in the process. A journey I couldn’t be more thankful to be taking now.
I thought in some way this whole journey would be about keeping my old self in tack. The misconception that the old self was the one that I would want to keep. For a while I did. I wanted to retain the parts of me that I didn’t realize were incredibly selfish. I wanted to hold on to the girl who saw the world as solely her’s to do with as she wished. I wanted to retain the girl (yes I say girl) who THOUGHT she knew what she wanted. Silly me. What I realize now was that motherhood shed that old self away in beautiful and painful ways to reveal a new self full of grace, vulnerability, sacrifice, open arms, comfort with the imperfect, and with a more open heart than I ever could have thought possible. It took time to release my old self, to let her fade away into the distance, say my farewells and to recognize that it wasn’t about retaining my old self, but learning to embrace and love this new and better self that motherhood had given to me. When women talked about not losing themselves in the process they meant that they learned to discover who they are within motherhood and the new shape their hearts have taken. That they didn’t lose the passions that make them capable of being wonderful mothers. They were talking about listening to their hearts even in the wildness of motherhood and acting on the needs they have so they didn’t lose what made them who they are all together in the journey. I realize now it wasn’t about fighting to keep my old ways but learn to be myself within the new way of life. It was about letting go and opening myself up to finding room (a lot of room) for this new role I had and wanted in my life.
There was a point I spent a whole month feeling like the world was against me. I had a whoa-is-me attitude about life. It lead to the biggest fight Mike and I have ever had in our marriage. He was working day and night on a project and I was being a full-time mom while also trying to balance my career. I resented the time he got alone to do work. I resented Hayes for “taking me away” from what my work. I resented the world for making it look possible to do it all. It wasn’t a bright spot in my life by any means and in fact, it pains me to write those feelings I had. One day it all hit a peak between Mike and I. It was all spurred on by something simple like him not doing the dishes and that was the beginning of when I realized how my perception was off. I had lost myself in the waves of motherhood and to not making room for this role in my life properly. It is easy to do when a plan isn’t in place and you don’t know who this new self is or what it needs fully to be its best. Looking back I regret those feelings and the things I said during those days. I belittled the sacrifices Mike was making and lost sight of feeling empathy I should have for him, but when you have no room for that because you have no way or understanding of how to communicate what you need to make yourself feel whole it isn’t a surprise it happens.
That day turned it all. That fight was full of tears and a deep realization of who I could become if I didn’t take the time to release that old self that was young, immature, naive, and selfish. I think we all struggle as moms to fully shed that part of ourselves. That old self has a tendency to rear her head when we aren’t healthy or have fallen out of balance with what we need to be our best. It isn’t something that happens overnight and I don’t think that old self ever fully disappears. I know because I still feel her hanging on at times when the water gets rough.
Since that day I have been working to learn this new self, my new heart, my new mind, my new soul that was awakened the day that little guy arrived in the world. I have learned so much about who this new self is and how thankful I am to find her. She is the reason the blog took this shift. She is the reason I know I want to be a part-time mom and part-time business owner right now in my life. She is the reason I find beauty more easily in the imperfect. She is the reason I can write here. It took time to see it, feel it, and embrace it, but this new self who I now claim as myself was only possibly because of motherhood. No other monumental moment in my life could have lead me here in this way and gosh does it make me thankful. Like I said, some women this happens sooner and some it takes longer, but that moment I realized I was trying too hard to hold on to what was instead of embracing what is made all the difference.
I understand now when women told me how it changes you. It took me 15 months to really understand this change in myself and to own it and stop fighting it. Maybe other moms embrace it sooner. Maybe the fact Hayes happened sooner for us than expected made it take longer to figure it out. Maybe I am just someone who fights too hard. I don’t know, but I fully believe in the journey and it all coming and moving as it should. The thing I learned though is how important it is to see when it is time to let go of what was because it is holding us back from the beautiful things that are ahead of us.