Who am I?
It’s a question that haunts me—the reason I’m awake at midnight typing this while the rest of my house is filled with snores and creased eyelids, heavy with sleep and dreams.
I’m a wife, I’m a mother. But who am I?
I was a teacher once, but not any longer. I am a friend, although at times I would admit, not a very good one.
Do these titles define me? Do they really even matter in the “who am I” wonderings of a darkened midnight house?
Once you lose your identity to motherhood, it’s a fight unlike any other to find it again.
I only know my pre-kid self from the pictures. My memories of her are cloudy and float in and out of my consciousness as if they were dreams. These two most beautiful years of my life have distanced me from the woman I used to be.
I’m desperate to find her again, and I believe that I will.
Somewhere beneath the piles of laundry and the stacks of diapers waiting to be taken to disposal, she’s there. Watching, waiting. I wonder if she approves of the new me. I wonder if it even matters what she thinks. I wonder if she hears my silent whispers at the end of the too-long hours: “Where are you?”
And so I’ll go on through the days; living, loving, laughing.
Gazing in the mirror just a little bit longer until one day, I can see her smile peeking back at me, the corners of her lips turning up in a familiar angle.
Maybe one day I’ll be singing as I rock the baby in my arms, and I’ll suddenly recognize that on my lips is a melody that she used to sing.
All at once, I’ll hear a joke and begin to laugh, but the tenor of that laughter will not be my own; it’ll be hers, ringing with carefree joy.
And then, during a night as dark as this one, I’ll slide my hand across the bed and take my husband’s, finding that the softness that was once between us has returned.
Little by little, my old self will come back to me.
And when I find her, I imagine she’ll smile and hand me a basket full of herself before turning to walk away, leaving me to carry that piece of her forward into the unknown. Merging our two spirits until I realize that I am her and she is me. Just as not all of her was good, all of the new me isn’t bad, either.
Maybe it’s not about finding the old me, but coming to love the new one.
I wipe butts, I wipe tears. I give spankings, I give bear hugs.
And I just know—she would be so proud if only she could see me now.