There are moments in life when we can look back on a situation, a period of time or a series of events and actually pinpoint or identify the learning that occurred during that time. This doesn’t happen all the time and we often feel like we are in the dark while change is taking place, but in the off chance that this does happen and we are able to reflect on these significant or life-altering moments, this is when a kind of “magic” happens and it truly is a gift. During the early stages of my maternity leave so much of what was happening felt like a blur, a whirlwind of change that I had barely enough time to breathe, let alone reflect on. But recently, approximately a year in, I have begun to see that while I lost a large part of what was “myself” before motherhood I also found a new more tangible version of myself along the way. I found me in motherhood.
During a recent interview with the lovely ladies of Social Common (fellow mompreneurs and YouTube personalities), they mentioned finding themselves in motherhood. It only took me a second to acknowledge that this was something I too was experiencing during the year I spent on maternity leave with my son. Becoming a mother changes you dramatically; many say that they don’t even feel like the same person after becoming a mother. With all of the physical, hormonal and emotional changes that happen during the early stages of motherhood, I would say that this change is a remarkable one, and one that you can actually feel happening. I’ve also learned during this time that identity really is fluid, constantly changing and evolving. As a new mother, I have a new title (mom, mommy, mother, parent, teacher) a new sense of responsibility as well as a completely new sense of self. While all of this may seem overwhelming and scary at first (and believe me it was) I’ve slowly begun to realize that I am more me than I have ever been before and I can now say that I truly see all of this change in a positive light.
For me, like many women, I defined myself based on my career and career goals before children, now I see myself as a much more complex and complete version of myself with many facets and creative outlets that I have finally found the courage to seriously explore. Before motherhood I was afraid of who or what I might become after having children; that my creative ideas, dreams and outlets would somehow cease to exist, but I can honestly say that the opposite is true. While I might not have as much “free time” as I did before, my use of the time I have has been amplified (I think that having a baby has made me really good at prioritizing and “getting things done” within small windows of time). In addition to this, I’ve become much more aware of what it is that I want and I tend to act on those goals and dreams more quickly than I ever did before. Even though I don’t think that a perfect balance between family life, hobbies and a career is really possible, having children has taught me to do the things I want to do rather than think or dream about them --becoming a mom has made me a doer and not a dreamer.
I would like to say that I gave birth to my son and felt this way immediately, but that is not the case, and this, like all good things, has taken some time; it did not happen overnight. Instead, it happened between 2:00am feedings and 4:00pm breakdowns, it happened while washing endless bottles and changing an infinite number of dirty diapers, it happened when I gave myself a chance to relax and realize that its ok if the world is spinning and I am standing still. My son and motherhood gave me a chance to let this happen.
While motherhood has its moments; moments of absolute beauty wedged between moments of dire chaos and desperation, it truly is a transformational time and it is remarkable how much change comes out of this experience.
So if you are still braving the dark; awake for endless hours at a time feeding and soothing your little one, if you are worried about life beyond birth, and if you are afraid of who you might become after motherhood, know that it is ok and sometimes even better on the other side. You might need to lose a bit of the old you to become a newer version of yourself and know that it is not the end of you, but still you, and only the beginning of a more loving, creative and compassionate you. Know that motherhood will pull you out of your comfort zone and it will not be easy, but motherhood can also allow you to learn to like you for you, bring a kind of joy to your life that might brighten the day of those around you and may allow you to see your full capacity and worth in the eyes of a child and that is more beautiful and bright than any darkness you may experience along the way.
Vanessa Falsetti is freelance writer (contributor for Parent Life Network) a lifestyle blogger and high school teacher. She lives with her husband, their one-year-old son and their cheeky canine companion Charlie in Toronto. Follow her as she explores simple and creative living on her blog: Josephine: A Creative Life https://josephineacreativelife.wordpress.com/