“I knew my life would change when I walked into the hospital to give birth to my daughter. I expected my world would never be the same and my daily schedule would look completely different. But I don’t think I fully grasped that I would walk out a changed person. As I took on the role of ‘mom,’ I felt my identity start to shift.
Motherhood started to crowd out the other parts of myself that once had been at the core of who I was. Before kids I was adventurous – regularly traveling, camping, hiking, and trail running. I soaked up time spent alone and guarded my independence. I went above and beyond at work, chasing down career goals and new opportunities. I was socially connected to friends and family. I was more carefree and took time to recharge, rest, and stay grounded. I was a learner, regularly reading or ready to sign up for a class.
Since having my kids, the role of mom has felt all-consuming. I have traded adventure and travel for the mundane tasks of motherhood and hours upon hours of breastfeeding. While I still work, I don’t feel I have time to be as ambitious as I once was. I have lost touch with friends, and rarely want to go out anymore (and definitely not if it’s later than 7:00 p.m.). I often fail to meditate, work out, and do the things that once helped me recharge.
My carefree world has become colored with anxiety as I deal with an almost crippling worry over my kids. My love of learning is now focused on things like baby-led weaning, potty training, and trying to figure out how the heck a toddler thinks. Most days I feel like I am just an extension of my kids. A life that used to be about ‘me’ is now all about ‘us’ as a family unit. My kids come first now, and everything else has shifted to make room.
Last night, I stood in the kitchen cooking dinner in my spit-up-covered sweatpants and looked around as my baby jumped in her bouncer and my toddler ran around singing ‘Let It Go’ for the 100th time that day, and I was stunned at what my life has become. It is a far cry from where I was only 3 short years ago.
In my twenties, I used to bristle at the idea of being a stay-at-home mom living in the suburbs. After college I set up a life in the mountains, relishing my freedom as my friends began to be ‘tied down’ by kids. And yet here I am. A work from home, stay at home mom living in the suburbs of Denver. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.
While I regularly get nostalgic for the person I was before kids, I prefer who I am now. I appreciate my evolving identity and am proud to be ‘mom.’ My kids have made me more resilient, compassionate, patient, present, grateful, and joyful.
Yesterday I watched my toddler study a balloon and giggle uncontrollably as she tossed it around the room. Every night she points out the moon and wonders at it. My former self would have never slowed down to notice the moon or take time to laugh at the silliness of a balloon. My kids have made me a better person.
Lately, I have been thinking a lot about how I can better unite my former self with my new self. Can I resurrect parts of myself that have been dormant, while fully embracing my new identity as a mom? I want my kids to know me as Mom, but I also want them to know me as a traveler, adventurer, and leader at work. I want them to see me fully live my life, rather than abandoning myself to be a mom.
For example, I miss my outdoorsy, more adventurous (and fit) self. This week I ordered new carriers for my kids so that we can start to go for long hikes on the weekends as a family. It is something small, but I hope it will help me to tap back into the freedom that long days in the mountains used to bring me. I hope it will also allow me to share this part of myself with my kids.
There is no going back. I am on a new journey forward into the ever-evolving role of mother and I wouldn’t change a thing. But sometimes I still miss that girl who walked into the hospital.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Latched Mama. It originally appeared here, on their blog. You can follow their journey on Facebook, Instagram, and their website. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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