There was a time when I believed I would one day return to the person I was before I had my three kids. I believed wholeheartedly that one day I’d wake up, get dressed in real adult clothes again, and shake my mom-ponytail free. That I’d wake up and somehow be the same woman I was prior to having my children. I believed that one day, I’d be the “real me” again. After almost 8 years, I know one thing. The person I once was, will never reappear. For the first time ever… I’m relieved and excited to know that.
These past few months, perhaps even well over a year now, have been insanely busy for me. I haven’t had a chance to write anything about it, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t thought about it. Almost everyday I’ve thought about the things I have to say about my life as a mom, how it has changed me. The early years of motherhood were very dark days for me. Exhaustion, isolation and extreme depression made for years of struggle. I made the best of it, did what I had to do, but remember very clearly thinking, “when will I ever be myself again?” The truth is, I wasn’t myself even prior to having kids. I don’t think I ever had a chance to even know who I actually was before popping out 3 kids in 4 years. I was so young. So naive. SO OUT TO LUNCH! So my dreams of one day returning to the person I was at 26, when I had my first child? SO NOT GOING TO HAPPEN… and THANK GOD FOR THAT!!
I turned 30 just before New Years, 2013. I don’t believe in resolutions, but I wrote one anyway. I wrote and posted on my Facebook wall, “My new years resolution is to start making the changes I always chicken-out of making. Time to stop trying to fit in where I don’t, be something I’m not, and follow along instead of leading.” These past few days, as I’ve been driving around on my countless errands I’ve thought about this one sentence. Over and over. I’ve come to the conclusion that this is perhaps the first (and probably last) resolution I’ve ever proclaimed and ACTUALLY kept. Writing those words on my Facebook wall, where, let’s get serious…no one gives a crap, was the FIRST and BEST step I made for myself. Shortly after I wrote this, I trained and ran a marathon, I gave up on a lot of people I needed to leave behind…I accepted myself for who I was. I didn’t even know I was doing it. It just happened. In the past 3 years I can tell you, I’ve kept that resolution. Through and through. I haven’t wavered for one second.
As a result, I’ve become a better mom, and a better person all around. I’ve let go of so many things that held me back in my younger years. All the caring about people and things that didn’t matter…gone. It didn’t happen overnight. In fact, I didn’t even recognize any change until just recently. I had spent countless years caring and doing things that didn’t matter. Worrying about what people thought. Trying to control situations I had no right to. If something went wrong, I’d spend an eternity worrying about what I could have/should have done to fix it. After I wrote that one sentence, that resolution, I started to stop doing those things. Instead of worrying about how other people felt, I worried about how it impacted my life. I learned I cannot be in charge of other people’s feelings or actions. That saying no, was something I could and should do on a frequent basis. That trying to be everything to everyone is a massive, time-consuming mistake, and one I wasn’t making time for anymore. Letting go of so much of what I thought I had to be, so many hours trying to fit in where I clearly didn’t… It made my life so much better. It has opened doors to a ton of new friends. New experiences. A much better world. A much better me.
Long ago I cried to my husband about how unhappy I was with where I was in life. I cried about all of my failings, all of the let-downs of my life. I searched for a person or thing to blame. He said one thing to me, a thing that has stuck with me since the day he said it. He said, “If you want something, you have to take it. No one is going to give you what you want in life. You have to take it for yourself.” I thought he was insane, but have come to realize that there is nothing more true in life. As a result, I’ve thought about what I want for myself and for my family, and every choice I’ve made has been entirely about getting to where I want us to be.
I have felt much elation and complete panic about my youngest daughter heading off to school in September. This moment was supposed to be the beginning of getting back to “me.” I told myself I’d have a plan. I thought I had a really good one, and then as it came closer, things changed, I changed. It didn’t fit anymore. I spent nights awake thinking about what my next plan would be. It came, and went just the same. I ended up getting completely sidetracked by a family situation regarding my niece so that has taken up so much of my mind-space in this past year. As a family we’ve struggled to keep up. To make the right choices. To do what we believe is right in the face of complete insanity. It’s caused stress. It’s caused strain in our marriage and family. It has been hard. Regardless, somehow we’ve managed to keep it together. I’ve learned that sometimes you can only do so much before you have to tap out and take a detour back. That you can’t save the world. That you can’t fight to the bitter end, because you can’t win. That sometimes you lose, and it’s wrong, and you move on. That sometimes the risk is too great on your own family. That sometimes you just give in, and it’s totally OK to do that. That sometimes your plans are derailed and you just wait until the smoke clears and you can get yourself back on track.
I may never be that carefree 26 year old again and I’m glad for that. These past 8 years have taught me a lot. These 8 years have taught me more than I could ever write in one place.
Simply put, I’ve learned what years of sleep deprivation does to your mind. I’ve learned how to clean up every sort of bodily function without gagging but most importantly… I’ve learned what it feels like to love another person more than you love yourself. I can’t regret my kids, or the havoc they wreaked on my life in their baby years. Without them, I wouldn’t be the “me” I have been searching years for.