Many of us become lost at the beginning of motherhood. After a while, we look in the mirror and wonder who is staring back at us. Who could that woman be with the spit-up on her shoulder and those tired eyes?
Trust me, I know. This happened to me with my two small children. When I had a toddler and a newborn, my life was so consumed with my children that I had forgotten that behind all of that reheated coffees was an actual individual. An individual who existed before birthing two beautiful babies.
While my children brought me immense joy, a joy I never could have dreamed, the daily monotony left me with little room to work on my own desires, my own dreams, even my own future.
So instead of training to run that first marathon or work toward that promotion, I was caught up in the midst of all of the daily tasks that consume us in motherhood…
We clean the bottles and pumps with those tiny brushes.
We change the poop explosions.
We puree baby food.
We watch one hundred and thirty-two episodes of Daniel Tiger.
We wear our babies while trying to cook a decent dinner at the stove.
And so on...
It's natural that over time, all of this monotony covers us up. Our own identity sits buried.
But over time, I've realized that it's okay, mama. Because the selflessness you put into those beginning months, or even years of motherhood, define you and your motherhood journey. They make you stronger and wiser. This early love for our children also sets the foundation firm. Your children will forever feel and know your love cannot be rocked. But I know that it's not an easy feat, either.
I remember sitting on our couch one afternoon. My two children were napping (a celebration in itself that they were sleeping at the same time) so I folded laundry—just one of the many chores that needed to get done. As I folded what felt like my hundredth onesie and placed it neatly on the stack, I started to cry. I had nothing to cry about. My children were healthy. They were well fed. They were content. And each day they brought me a joy I had never felt before. But as that stack of onesies began to grow higher, the monotony finally broke me.
When my kids woke up, I brushed my tears away and placed my mask back on. I smiled, emptied the dishwasher and played with the Little People on the carpet. Moments of joy broke through the monotony like a sharp blade—making folding every tiny onesie worth it.
Today, my children are four and six. I'm happy to report that all of the monotony was worth it. There are far less monotonous tasks, and my kids can help me with the ones that still exist. I'm learning to get reacquainted with myself again and am enjoying the continued journey that motherhood gifts me. I've realized that when my children were babies and toddlers, they needed me more than they ever will. I'd fold hundreds of those tiny onesies all over again if I needed to.
Losing yourself for the sake of your children will be something I never, ever regret. Instead, it will be something I am forever grateful for.
Once your children get a little bit older, another day will come when you catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror. The spit-up will be gone, but those tired eyes will remain. Only this time you'll know exactly who's staring back at you...a mother who'd lose herself a million times in order to find the love for her child.