​I don’t belong to myself.
Not my thoughts.
My body. 
Or my actions.​​

All I am and all I do reflects the role of a mother.
Putting my baby first . . .
Always, before myself. 
Mostly unconsciously. 
It’s a built-in reflex. 
To protect and love.
To nurture and serve. 
I don’t think twice. 

It’s just . . . a mother’s instinct. 

But I won’t lie and say it’s always a fantasy.
Because my dreams take a back seat . . . 
While I chase away her nightmares.

RELATED: I’m Not Putting My Dreams On Hold—I’m Holding My Dreams

It’s self-sacrifice.
Without the soft music in a video montage of sweet embraces. 

It’s often silent. 
And draining.
But I keep rising. 
Day and night. 

Even with help and time for my passions . . .
It’s never enough.
And the guilt eats me from inside because I know . . .
My default role is and will always be Mama.

It’s both an honor and an anchor.

At times, I think I cannot do it anymore.
But I do . . . and I wonder to myself, how? 
How do mothers, universally, keep going?

Maybe it’s our baby’s smileit simply fills our hearts.
Perhaps their innocent voice that calls to us, “Mama.”
It fuels us to want to give them the world.
Maybe it’s just pure compassion.
Or pride to raise them in the way we wish we had been.

Maybe one day I’ll belong fully to myself again.

And have the autonomy to fill my days as I please.

RELATED: For Now, I’m Just Mama

But then maybe I’ll miss her tiny hands swirling in my hair. 
Maybe then I’ll wish she would still fit in my arms for cozy cuddles.

Maybe then I’ll reminisce about these days . . .
And realize I have it pretty good right now.

Because yes, I am a mother . . . 
And I am my own woman, too.

Originally published on the author’s Instagram page

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Sara Shakil

I'm a mom of one, wife, teacher, and mental health advocate for South Asian women suffering with PPD. I also make funny and relatable mom reels on Instagram and TikTok. My story with postpartum depression will be published in an anthology in 2022 by "Another Mother Story" in the UK. 

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