A good friend once confided in me that she didn't understand how women lost themselves in motherhood and had to find themselves again. As a mother she never felt like she lost her self.
I wish I could agree. I want to agree. But I'm lost.
Since having a baby I've been coming to terms with motherhood in layers. I keep thinking I will come to the end of it, that I will finally feel settled, but I peel back one layer only to find another layer there to be dealt with.
Lately I've had to redefine my own job description. I've always been overambitious and perhaps (a wee bit?) over optimistic about what I could accomplish. As a mom, my expectations of myself are much too high, leaving me disappointed, frustrated, tired and overwhelmed.
So I've re-written my job description. Literally. On paper. And pinned it up where I can see it everyday as a reminder.
I've cut out extras. I've eliminated fripperies and ridiculous egocentric aspirations. My expectations of myself, and for better or worse, my world, has gotten much smaller. I need to take care of Will, take care of myself, be nice to my husband, cook dinner (usually), and keep the house (sorta) clean(ish). That's the most important stuff. Everything else? Optional.
It's hard for me to admit this to myself. It's hard to admit that's all I can handle in this time of my life, with one, count 'em, ONE kid. I'm embarrassed. Humbled. But it is what it is.
I've had to "surrender". My same friend sent me a book called Surrendering to Motherhood by Iris Krasnow. Only now am I seeing what that means for me - letting go of my preconceived notions of what I'd be able to do, what I'd be like, how I'd feel, letting go of control, letting go of my desires, letting go of my ego. It means flowing moment to moment, in a symbiotic relationship with a needy little creature (who I adore, sometimes it seems to the point of pain). It means giving up the best of me with no paycheck, no worldly reward. Worth it? Yes! But I would be lying if I didn't say that it can be hard.
It is not a forever thing, and I know that. Sometimes it makes me sad to know this will pass, the smile on his face when I go in to pick him up from the crib, the way he plays with my shirt when he nurses, the way he hugs my neck. No, it's not forever. But for now it's so all-encompassing, that yes, I'm lost in it.
I want to do more. I want to write. Again. I picked up my pen and started working on a re-write of my novel. It came to me in a flash what I needed to do. So I picked up my pen, but it was slow going and felt incredibly awkward. My words were like a gawky seventh grader trying to write their first short story. But it's a start.
Maybe it's too early to try to find myself again, to dig out of this fleshy cocoon of motherhood. We'll see...
Early Happy Mother's Day, mamas. To those of you who have managed to do more than a load of laundry and a nap today, I salute thee.