Monday, March 28, 2011

Lost in Motherhood

Having kids has been one of the most amazing experiences in my life. It isn't, however, the only one.  There were others, many others, before.

One of the inevitable truths about motherhood is this:


It just does.  In such a profound and irreversible way that you cannot properly explain it to someone who doesn't have kids.  And once it happens, you can't imagine ever going back.

And everything does change.  Even things that you think will escape unscathed.  The things that you make promises to yourself and to other people will stay the same.  Kids get to that stuff too. 

The thing coming to mind today is deeper than the changes most people associate with motherhood.  Not something as short lived as sleep deprivation, and something more significant than a rogue stretch mark. 

Sometimes we as mothers can get so caught up in mothering that we start to lose our identity.

We lose ourselves.

We forget who we were before we had kids.  What we loved.  What we would spend our free time doing.  Our hobbies, our passions.

They can get lost in the haze of diapers and nap times.  Of soccer practices and scouts.

Our friendships can suffer.

I've been on both sides of that relationship.

I've been the childless one trying to stay connected to the women who went to the next stage first.  I've been the one trying to understand how the other person is busy all the time now and has more important things to worry about.  Waiting for a chance to just sit and talk with the person I used to connect with.

I've been the one with a newborn, harried and overwhelmed.  I've been the one walking the scary path of motherhood for the first time, trying to navigate everything I used to do in addition to keeping this little person alive too.  Amidst all that, attempting to maintain relationships with people who don't understand why I'm so preoccupied.

I want to believe that I always made the effort to stay connected to my friends on the other side.  That I didn't cut myself off from them, blame my kids for being too busy.  That I didn't create distance.  I hope I didn't. 

I hope I didn't forget what it was like to think about everything, anything else in the world other than a baby.

As moms, we forge a new path in our lives which lead to friendships all their own.  The other women from playgroups and birthing classes, playgrounds and preschool.  They all have lots in common with us since they are in the same stage we are in, and it's easy to get caught up in that.

Harder, but just as important, is making sure that we keep close the people who we have history with.  The ones we grew up with, went to school with, shared apartments with, walked down aisles and stood next to.  They are still just as important, if not infinitely more so than the new friends we make.

They knew who we were before we lost ourselves to motherhood.  They remember who we were when we had nothing else to worry about.  They valued our ideals and our passions.  They shared our hobbies.

They liked us.  For real reasons other than having a kid the same age.

Just because they aren't exactly where we are now doesn't mean that we need them any less.  If anything, we need them more. 

Though we are mothers, we need to remember who we are too.

Call your friends.  Make lunch dates.  Laugh until your sides hurt.

Remember who you are.

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