I have read more than enough articles in parenting magazines that have dealt with the topic of women feeling like they’ve ‘lost their identity’ when they became mothers. I know I’ve overheard mothers say: “I feel like I lost a part of myself after motherhood” or “I just don’t know who I am or remember who I used to be”.
I never gave much thought to this identity crisis…I never really cared to, to be honest. I could never relate…I was hardly a person of my own when I became pregnant. No, 25 isn’t that young, but really, I had experienced little of life, was newly married and never really had some big fancy career. Heck, I hadn’t even figured out WHAT career I wanted to have when I started barfing my guts up.
That’s exactly when my white flag of surrender went up to this thing called motherhood. You could say I was surrounded by enemies on all sides and didn’t know what hit me. An innocent (obviously not that innocent) bystander in life and one moment I looked up and had an army of soldiers (otherwise known as hormones) holding me at gunpoint. Surrender or else…or else die of puking? Yes. That’s what I did. Threw up (in more ways than one) that white flag. My life changed so quickly and really my body felt like it was under attack. I could hardly lift my head, let alone arrange a defense. And so there goes my fight to keep life as I knew it…Sarah as I knew her. I was gone before I knew what hit me….before I really became me.
And that was a blessing in disguise I think. Oh, maybe some drawbacks to it, but none I ever knew about. When they put that little guy in my arms I had already surrendered. Another battle…this one more heated, had me raising that white flag again, with every muscle in my body aching from the aftermath of the battle. I had already, in way, been forced to be open to whatever this new life brought me.
When I thought back to those years before becoming “mother”, when I was just ME, I try to imagine what could be missing now, 15 years later. I try to relate when other women say they struggle with feeling they lost a part of themselves. I look back and think, what part of myself did I lose? Who was I before that?
When I turn around and look, I see along the years, that indeed, I did “lose” myself. If I look back on the journey, along the way I can see parts of myself have dropped off. Mostly I didn’t notice, sometimes I fought against it, sometimes I threw those parts off with joy. Parts that I needed to lose, parts that I can’t imagine wanting to hang on to. Each child has forced me to let something go that was part of who I was at that time.
I see a rockslide of losses, and they read like a Paris Hilton biography. I wasn’t a spoiled rich brat by any means…I was just ME. Like I said…I took care of ME. That’s only one person…and I had my best interest in mind. I was in charge of myself, and myself only. I had not a care in the world…because really a job, bills, and any other responsibility is nothing compared to being responsible for another human being’s life.
Maybe there is some nostaligia there…some innocence lost along the way. But I shudder to think at the alternative. To NOT lose, to NOT surrender, parts of myself. To still be the same person I was…to not replace those aspects of myself with something bigger, to not gain something so much greater. To put up a fight to remain who I was 16 years ago…so much energy wasted, how could have I anything left over to be a good mother?
My children and I…we each gave each other gifts in the end….I gave away pieces of me to be their mother, and in return recieved a gift from those who made me mom…a new identity, a better self. They continue to do that and will, I imagine, forever.