Finding Myself Again

6/27/2019



Sometimes, being a Mom means losing yourself. That's a part of the job.

In the beginning, they will tell you this is beautifully selfless and necessary. But now, looking back at these past eight-plus years of Motherhood, I believe that's not entirely true.

Starting from a young, easily moldable and impressionable age, I was told who I should be and what my life path should look like.

Speak softly, don't be so chatty and bossy.

Wear long shorts to your knees and modest bathing suits with t-shirts to cover that modest bathing suit. Don't let the boys see those shoulders and thighs!

Stay kind and sweet, make sure everyone likes you. This is very, very important. You may have to give up some parts of yourself, but those parts don't truly matter because you must be liked.

Be a good daughter, and a good sister, and a good friend.

Babysit other kids. You can earn a few dollars while you practice for the future! Here, we will show you for the church youth activity this week! The boys are building their pinewood derby cars to race, and we'll stay at the church to have babysitting classes! We'll make babysitting kits, isn't that fun?!

Shave your legs, wear mascara, cover your freckles with this foundation, straighten your hair. Here, we will show you for the church youth activity this week! The boys are going out into the woods on four-wheelers for a paintball fight, and we'll stay at the church so that, after exchanging dinner recipes, we can teach you how to apply your eyeliner and flip out the ends of your hair just right! There, now the boys will like you! But not too much, of course. Cover those shoulders. And those thighs.

Your role here on earth right now is future Mothers of America, and it's the most important job. The men, they will do more and have more and be seen more and control more and sometimes you will wonder about that. But rest assured, it is only because you are so very sacred and special. You are so divine, in fact, that we won't discuss the Heavenly you, only your Father. You are so divine, in fact, that all you have is this one, sole purpose. It is what God created you for, and that is where your worth will be. Not in you and who you were born as, but in the children you will bear.

And of course, in how well those daughters you have will cover their shoulders. And thighs!

As it turns out, even when I bravely found my own path that felt right and good outside of that world...shedding deep rooted belief systems is hard.

I am a Mom now, and I have been for what feels like both an indistinctly short and astoundingly long amount of time. Whatever it may be, I am not inexperienced or naive to the fact that being a Mother is incredible. It is a miracle! I don't deny that. And even had I grown up in some other world where I was taught that being a Mother was merely an option, a road you could take only if you were sure that was the road you really truly wanted to take, I have no doubts that even then I would have chosen this life of Motherhood. I wanted these boys. It isn't pretty and every single day I am pulling from every ounce of every reservoir I have inside of me to do it, but I savor the experience of loving these humans that I grew and brought into the world. I fight for it, for raising them and being here with them and loving them.

Evenso.

I think that becoming a Mother was the way in which I lost myself most. I thought I was supposed to lose myself, remember? I was told that I was supposed to in all of the ways that I saw life being lived by all of the women I knew.

And now I know otherwise.

We order pizza a lot. I mean, a lot, a lot. (Stay with me, this is relevant.) For the past almost decade of my life, I would cringe to know how much money we have spent on pizza! Always pepperoni. Two pepperoni pizzas and an order of breadsticks! Leftovers for the week!

A couple of weeks ago, as we placed our weekly pizza order online, I suddenly blurted out to Dan, "Do you know my favorite kind of pizza? The kind of pizza I would choose, if I had the choice?"

He looked at me blankly, thought for a moment, then replied, "........Pepperoni?"

"Hawaiian." I declared, and then I added, "I actually don't care for pepperoni pizza much at all."

I could tell by the look on his face that he truly hadn't known that. And it wasn't his fault that he didn't know, because the cold hard truth is: I had never told him. Very early on in our relationship I'm sure there was a moment where we were ordering pizza, and I'm sure that in my aim to please everyone but myself, when Dan had asked what kind of pizza I wanted I had replied with something like, well what kind of pizza do you want? And when he wanted pepperoni, I would have replied without hesitating, sounds great to me!

And that was that. The rest of our pizza ordering was history.

The two of us grew into four, the boys grew into toddlers and subsequently I had three boys who devoured pepperoni pizza at every opportunity and the next thing I knew a decade had passed of ordering the same exact thing: pepperoni pizza. I didn't fight it. It made sense. How could I eat an entire pizza alone anyway? It wasn't practical. I was doing what was best for the family by eating the kind of pizza I didn't much like.

And then on this day, the first day I told Dan what kind of pizza I actually liked best, he did a thing: he ordered one pepperoni, and one Hawaiian. The boys indulged in their pizza, and I in mine, all by myself. (Which consequently, lasted me an entire week.)

I have a lot of those moments lately. Maybe it's thirties, maybe it's feminism and being "woke"...but one day I just realized it. I realized that I was angry. I was furious that I had gone so long living a life that other people wanted me to live and in turn, putting myself on the back burner of my very own, my very short and very priceless one life.

There is no way around massive sacrifices when you become a parent. But if I could go back in time and teach myself something, it would be: it isn't your job to make everyone else around you happy first. That it will take a village to raise kids, and that you are not required to raise them alone in order to be respected. That you deserve the time to yourself, to nurture yourself and grow yourself and be yourself, just as much as you deserve the time with your children.

I didn't know it then, but I know it now, and I suppose that's enough. Better late than never! I am happier, more fulfilled, and a much better Mother because of this life I live now.

I love my children but also, I love Hawaiian pizza and I love myself as I am, and I deserve those things too.

2 comments:

  1. I feel this! I'm not a mom, but I still feel everything you wrote in some way. I'm on the path of not being a mom, and it's been the hardest decision of my life because no one told me I could make that choice. Not one single person. Sure, I have a few friends and Travis who tell me that now, but I still feel weird and guilty and like an outsider - like there are only a handful of people in the whole world who understand. I know some of it goes back to those days in the church building when every single leader told me it was my most important job. IF I raise kids - and it's a big IF - it will be my decision alone. Somehow I'll find myself too. :)

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