6 weeks ago today, my son was born and I became a mother. I entered whole new world and I have been trying to map the terrain ever since.
I knew motherhood would present challenges to my identity. I assumed my fierce independence would be confronted. I assumed my reluctance to define myself would become even more murky. I braced myself for a full-on identity crisis like I experienced when I was first married.
And I do feel strange and out of sorts and like a new baby (thanks for the metaphor, Selena) just trying to find out who I am in this new world of mine. But it isn't quite as hard or as scary as I thought it would be. At least not all the time.
In fact, sometimes it feels like a call into becoming. Becoming someone I have not yet met but know I am meant to be.
There are dozens of moments throughout the day when I get a glimpse of her. When Zane looks at me with utter adoration, when I can comfort him with just the scent of my skin, when I feed him with my own body, when I wake in the middle of the night completely exhausted and still find a smile for him, when I am able to make the choice to be there for him to be present with him even when I would rather check out for awhile - these moments and so many more give me a taste of the woman and mother I am becoming. She is loving, she is strong, she is honest, she is wise, and she is hot! Seriously. In those moments I feel like a total rockstar superhero. When my son looks up at me and smiles I imagine I am glowing with beauty and light.
And then? I look in the mirror. And yeah. Not so much.
Most days I look rather less than a glowing image of motherly light. And far short of a superhero. I look in the mirror - my hair needs serious attention, and though I have pretty much lost my pregnancy weight I am still heavier (and flabbier) than I would like to be, and there are dark circles under my eyes to remind me that in six weeks I have yet to sleep more than four hours or so at a time. And often I am still in my pajamas at 11am. Not hot. But real. This is me. Right now.
But I believe that other woman is in me too, just waiting to become. Ok. So maybe I won't morph into some super-hot superhero with a halo of light shining all around me - that's a bit much. But I do believe I am on my way to someone pretty cool. And this revelation is completely shocking to me.
Despite my intense longing to become a mom, despite my desire to meet my child - I had (and still have) a lot of the same fears about taking on that role that I did about taking on the role of "wife". I wondered if I would still be me, if my identity, my life thus far, who I am - would be swallowed up by this role, by this other person. I feared my voice, my heart, my mind would become irrelevant. I worried I would have to squeeze myself into some box labeled "Mommy" that society dictated I would now belong in. I feared I would not find my way to my own definition, my own carving out of motherhood, that instead a new identity would be hoisted upon me with all its expectations and rules.
So I expected some inner turmoil - and to be honest, there is some. I have spent the last week challenging my spouse completely unnecessarily, to test him - to be sure he saw and valued my contributions as a Mom staying at home as much as his contributions as a Dad who works outside of the home, to be sure we were still partners in this. Like I said, completely unnecessary - but all about my fear of being forgotten and abandon and dismissed because I am now a "Mom".
Right beside that fear though, and perhaps stronger than it, is the notion that being a mother could actually bring me closer to who I am deep inside and who I am meant to be. This was my hope but I had no idea if it would be met. I still don't. But I do know that when I get those peeks at a future me - a strong, powerful, empowered woman and mother who is filled up and giving from her fullness - that is so enticing and exciting to me.
So, for now, I will give out of my exhaustion and my deep deep love and devotion and I will trust that the road to her will become apparent as I listen to my heart. I believe the greatest gift I can give my son, my husband, and myself is to listen and to follow this road to becoming.
In the meantime, I have two incredible partners in this journey - all of us trying to find our way.