I can’t remember where I first saw this quote: “Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” – Elizabeth Stone
Maybe Facebook or Pinterest? It doesn’t really matter. The perfection of it stuck with me.
Finding my identity following the birth of Little Man challenged me the most when first transitioning into motherhood. My life really changed. A lot. More than I could have possibly imagined. While pregnant with Littlest One, it never occurred to me I’d feel that way again. But I do. Like I have to build my identity all over again. It really is like a peace of my heart was broken off twice to walk around outside of me.
I never really gave much thought to my identity before having children. I mean, I knew what was important to me and the kind of person I wanted to be, but didn’t worry so much about defining myself. I knew I wanted to be successful in my IT career, I wanted to be an active, fit person, and I wanted to have a family someday. These were the same priorities that brought my husband and me together. They were peripheral thoughts as we lived our lives together, up until we started our family.
So, what changed exactly? Why do I constantly feel the need to define myself now that I’m a mother? Because motherhood transforms a woman (and fatherhood transforms a man) in a completely different way than any other major life changes. It didn’t just change my life, it altered my entire existence. My children, though individuals with their own identities, are pieces of me and, as such, they will forever be part of what defines me as a person. So, in order to hold onto a piece of the person I once was, I find myself looking for an identity beyond just “Mommy”.
That’s why I still find myself thinking about going back to work so often, despite the fact that I love staying home with my kids. The choice to stay home was a hard one, but one I really did think a lot about, and have ever since. I love that I get to see just about every milestone. I love that my words are the ones they repeat (well, most of the time anyway). I love that I’m the number one influence in their lives because I’m there more than anyone else. But, there’s a part of me who sometimes wants more.
I would love to contribute more financially, feel like I know what I’m doing occasionally, and have something that’s just for me. I mean, let’s face it, there’s no set of best practices when it comes to parenting. Not really anyway. It would be nice to have a few hours a day, outside of the house, to do what I used to do because I enjoyed it and was good at it. I want my career, but without missing out on the time with my kids and unfortunately, there aren’t too many part-time options in IT. I know, I can’t have my cake and eat it, too.
I hate that expression, btw. If I have a cake, I’m certainly going to eat it 😉
Whether I go back to work full-time or not, my point is, life will never be what it used to be for me. I will never be the same person I was before LM and LO. It’s a little scary to think about it like that, but it’s also pretty damn awesome. I can’t even articulate the meaning I find from my life as I watch LM find excitement in more and more of the things I take for granted and watch LO simply learn to smile. I need to get over the need to define myself and just let my new identity take shape. I think my kids will help me find my new identity as I’m exposed to more and more things I never even thought about before.