A part of us dies when we have a child. And we don’t mind at the time because the child becomes our world and fills the gap that was formed. And me becomes us and I is forgotten. We’ll get our life back one day. We’ll get our self back on track soon—perhaps when they are toddlers, or go to school, have sleepovers, or become teens.
But we don’t. Because our life as we knew it has gone.
It simply drifted away. And as much as we tried to cling to some small part, it crumbled as we touched it with tired, busy fingers. We feel like we are never fully whole again, so instead, we learn to become someone different. A mother. Someone who will always put their child or children before anything and anyone else.
However, with that huge responsibility, a part of us—the part that was selfish or conscious of our needs—has vanished.
For a while, we don’t really notice it. We are absorbed and consumed. Every waking hour is filled to the brim with the task we have been entrusted with. To care for someone else. And that’s okay. Because we enjoy it. We relish this new role. We work hard to do our best to nurture and protect this precious gift.
We spend hours, days, weeks, and years teaching our children to suckle, to eat, to cook. To talk, to sing, to shout. To crawl, to walk, and to run. To wipe their own nose, bottom, and tears. To read, to write, to study. To play, to swim, and to dance. And as we eventually open the door to let them fly all we really want to do is clip their wings to stop them from going too high, too soon, and too far.
It’s a cruel twist of fate that we never anticipated as we pushed and pulled them through this race called growing up, holding their hands firmly until we cross the finishing line into the big wide world of independence. We are scared they’ll make our mistakes. Or worse. We fear they’ll be hurt, they’ll fail or fall without us there to catch them.
But we have no choice but to untangle the tightly tied knots and to retreat and relinquish control. And as we do so, we adjust our lives and try to retrieve our worth. And find our self.
We once yearned for this day when we would emerge from under a pile of diapers and night nursings, bibs and bottles, Lego and lollipops, puzzles and picnics, glitter and glue guns, and footballs and fairies.
But now as we close the door, there’s no cheer, fanfare, or a thank you. Instead, motherhood disintegrates as our life’s purpose just slides past us without a sideways glance, and we feel a mixture of emotions from pride to sadness.
It’s then we realize that the person we once were so very long ago won’t be returning. We have outgrown her and all we can see is the shadow that is left behind after almost two decades of being Mom.
And we mourn the loss of our self.
But life moves on. And just as our young adults dip their toes into self-discovery, so too must we now do the same. The two are no longer on the same path, despite embarking on a new journey. Both are out to create and build what they want and need. To find themselves. No longer as us but as me.