The night I came home from the hospital with my second child I stood alone in front of my bathroom mirror and wept. I remember quietly crying, “I just want things to be like they were.”
Like they were, when?
During the boys’ early years it was all about survival and meeting needs as I tried to create the most perfectly-imperfect environment for my two little humans to thrive. Who I was as a person was wrapped up in who my boys were: what they were doing, who they were becoming, and my responsibilities to them.
A Desire for an Identity
Often I reflect on that bathroom breakdown moment. What had I really been wanting? Because, I didn’t really wish for things to be exactly like they had been. One of my greatest joys is being a mom. My tearful plea was not out of worry, regret, or fear. Rather, it was a desire for an identity. I longed to be an earlier version of me, and the pre-kid me had been benched. Sidelined. She had become somebody that I used to know. That was hard. I really missed her, and I wanted her back.
My desire to rediscover me was not about trying to relive glory days. It was about wholeness, bringing an authentic joy and presence to mothering, and making a connection between who I was, who I am, and who I aspire to be.
This, I believe, is healthy for all of us.
It took some time (years!) to discover how I could let me play again. In doing so I also realized how important it is for my children to get to know her, too. Yes, as a SAHM, my life revolves around my kids. But they don’t always have to know it. So, I make the effort to share me with them. They see her or hear about her at the dinner table when we talk about our day. They get to experience my joy and satisfaction in things outside of typical family life. This, I believe, is healthy for all of us.
So, where are just a few of the places I have been finding me again?
- At the gym (the athletic me)
- Spending time with friends (the social me)
- Volunteering (the acts-of-service me)
- On the scary roller coasters (the fun me)
- Traveling with my husband (the adventurous me)
- Singing on stage (the performer me)
- Curriculum development and blog writing (the nerdy me)
- In the shower. Alone. (just me)
This is an on-going process. I certainly don’t have it all figured out, but I am making finding me a priority again while still being a full-time mom. There is a me in mother. It is possible for the two to coexist. Amidst the housekeeping, errand running, homework supervising, kid transporting, social organizing, fight refereeing, pastoral caregiving, and frustrated yelling is me. While it takes time getting past some guilt, while it takes effort and energy when already spread thin, getting to know me has been life-giving.