Finding Me in Motherhood

General

All I really ever wanted was to be a mom. If I had a vision board, it would have just been pictures of babies. It was always the goal. Get married, have kids, be the Mom. End of list.

Flash forward through my 20’s, longing for a home in the burbs and the aforementioned husband and children, reluctantly spending yet another evening singing karaoke and drinking Long Island iced teas, having no idea that in about 10 years I’d have everything I wanted and wish I could go back.

I adore my family. I don’t spend a lot of time longing for my carefree days, though I have my moments. Being a mom is, in a way almost nothing else in my life has ever been, everything I wanted it to be. It lived up to the hype (and the horror, don’t get me wrong – childbirth was a nightmare). Here I am, a house in the burbs, a husband who cooks, a burgeoning middle schooler who shares a ton of my interests and all of her thoughts and feelings, and the cutest toddler in the world who says “oh dear!” like a little old lady every time she drops something. I’m happy to be serving at the feet of two very cute if demanding mistresses.

Also – I’m very tired. I typically can’t remember when I washed my hair last. I don’t answer texts in a timely fashion (and not in a cool way), and I haven’t done karaoke in like a decade. I’ve spent the last ten years trying to get here, to exactly where I am. And as backwards as it sounds, getting what you want is actually sort of terrifying. I wanted to be a mom… and here I am. What on earth do I do now? How do I integrate the person I was, the person I spent years being, with this haggard person who barely knows what day it is?

Lest you start to worry about me, I’m honestly very happy. I could easily get lost in the monotony of motherhood – wake up, breakfast, school/work/laundry, pick up, dinner, bathtime, bedtime, repeat – and be a-ok. It’s comforting, and given my propensity for FOMO, I enjoy being present for every minute I can of my kids’ days. But I also know, as a woman, as a therapist, as an adult, a partner and friend – those parts of me need tending as well. There’ll come a breaking point where I’ll wish I’d sought out some alone time, a date with my husband, book club, what have you. I need that too, and I’ll be better off if I start putting it into action before that breaking point approaches.

And so, I made an exhaustive list, at least in that moment, of life-giving activities that would remind me of me, that would energize me to go home (not that I am currently going anywhere) to my lovely, talkative girls and my sweet, probably cooking husband, and bring them the very best me I could. And given my enhanced propensity to forget things, I scheduled the hell out of it. iPhone reminders, calendar invites, texts sent out right then lest I see an Instagram post and forget what I was doing for 7-12 business days. [This was all pre-COVID too, so I had to totally rethink it again and switch gears into Zoom book clubs and Marco Polo convos with friends and driveway dinner dates, but the sentiment remains.]

And where I thought maybe the scheduling would take some of the romance out of it all, I can tell you with certainty that it’s simply a necessity of a busy, family-filled-calendar life. Spontaneity is a walk to the park, not a night out with friends. It’s a stop at Starbucks… while you’re already in the grocery store. The rest requires explicit planning with calendar invites and also reminders to send calendar invites.

The good news is, between my newly scheduled calendar events, I am happily living my best life singing Disney songs to a toddler in the bathtub while checking my tween’s homework, and crashing hard into the couch every evening with my latest book, if I’m lucky. And literally the moment it is encouraged, I’m planning a karaoke night as a do-over for my quarantine birthday. Until then, at least I’m writing again.

It’s a small thing, yes. But it’s a me thing. And reminds me that even in motherhood, in the thick of it: I’m still me, and that is important too.