Motherhood has turned me into the person I was destined to become. I always knew I wanted to be a mom but I could never articulate exactly why. Now, of course, I know the answers to this question. When my daughter hugs me I think: wow, I made her. I created this love. When I rock her to sleep and her little head rests gently on my chest, I think: this is what I was meant to do — be a mom!
And that may be true. But before I was a mother, I was other. I was a yoga practitioner. A traveler. A business owner. I took language and cooking classes. I had weekly happy hours with my girlfriends and spent weekends adventuring and doing house projects. A leisurely bike ride without a Burley in tow? I did that, too.
Sometimes I think about the person I was before becoming a mom, and I miss her. There’s a small space within me where concerts and late dinners used to reside. Time with my family fills a lot of that space — and all of the other spaces, too — but there’s a jagged little corner which needs to be satisfied.
And this woman? The one who had a lot of energy and few responsibilities? She’s still here. She’s just dormant and in need of awakening.
While thinking about rediscovering the old me, I engaged in an internal debate. I like the person I am now. I don’t want to be anybody else but my daughter’s mother, I argued. The person I used to be was great, but I wouldn’t change being a parent for anything. You may feel the same way. My guess is this is normal. But I think we’d all be doing our children a big favor if we revisited the people we once were.
We need to rediscover the other because we are our children’s role models. If we want to help them cultivate a confident sense of personal identity, we had better do the same for ourselves. We must create space for the things we love outside of our family — the things within which we lose ourselves. We must find flow. We must think of nobody and nothing else but the present moment.
To you, this may look like fly fishing or wheel throwing. Or maybe you were one of those people who, before children, spent mornings meditating and evenings reflecting. Whoever you were when you were other, that person still matters.