I was mindlessly scrolling Instagram and saw this quote: "You were someone before you were their mom—and she still matters."
My heart felt that one as I read it. My mind sort of came to attention.
Yeah, that's true, I thought.
I used to be someone different. I slept really late. (And I never felt guilty about it.) I spent money way more willy-nilly than I do now. I went to concerts and stayed out late dancing. I worried a lot more about what makeup I was wearing (versus what my soft stomach looks like now). I made plans with friends on a whim and my husband and I traveled whenever we felt like it.
I never thought twice about the timing of my workout classes—I just signed up for the ones I wanted to do, when I wanted to do them. I made my hair appointments whenever there were openings, I didn't have to check with anyone—my roots were always tended to.
I weighed less and my clothing sizes were much smaller. We stayed up so late binge watching TV shows and sometimes on the weekends, we'd just laze around on the couch for hours. I finished books I started, I finished conversations, I finished the thoughts inside my brain.
I would get up in the morning and shower, put my makeup on, do my hair, get dressed in "real" clothes and go to work. My husband and I planned fun adventures on the weekends that only him and I had to agree on.
I had dreams and goals and a vision of what my life would look like. And starting a family was one of them.
I had my first baby five years ago. Then, after two years with our daughter, we welcomed another daughter. Then, two years after that one, we welcomed another one. (We've been busy.) Five years have zoomed by and all of a sudden, after reading that quote on Instagram, I felt like the wind was knocked out of me.
I feel like the woman I was before I became a mother is someone I am familiar with, but I don't know her all that well—she's more like an acquaintance. Honestly, I have to think really hard to remember what it was like to be her.
I think that's because I've been deep in the trenches for the past five years. I'm all the way down here—under the diapers and laundry piles and preschool paperwork and doctor's appointments and hours breastfeeding and boxes of toys and dress up bins and all of it. All of motherhood.
I'm down here, with this title 'mother' weighing heavy on my shoulders. It's felt so heavy, I haven't been able to climb out of this trench. Or maybe I just haven't been trying as hard to? I've been living among the chaos, feeling too overwhelmed to try.
But I have to. Because that woman does matter. She really matters to me.
I keep thinking if I take care of myself—if I go to bed earlier and get more sleep, if I talk to a therapist to work through some stuff, if I plan fun date nights, if I schedule dinners with my girlfriends, if I make time to exercise—if I do some of those things that made me 'me' back then, then I'll find my way back to myself somehow. I'll remember more easily.
And I don't know if that's true, necessarily. I don't know if I'll ever know her very well again. Not like I used to. But I think part of the process of digging out of the trenches is getting comfortable with that fact—of not feeling like her anymore. Because I no longer am her.
Instead, right now is about getting acquainted with a new version of myself—not the pre-mom version or the new-mom version, but the version who realizes she's lost herself a bit in this big, beautiful, messy life.
I've been surviving. I've been managing, just getting by. But I deserve more than that. So I'm going to create more, get more, believe in more. I'm a work in progress—and one worth tending to.
So, little by little, I'll dig. I'll try a new yoga class or I'll plan a weekend away with my husband. I'll try out new hobbies and spend time with friends who make me feel like the best version of myself. I'll journal and meditate and I'll focus on personal growth.
My ultimate promise to myself is this:
I will not diminish my feelings.
I will treat my dreams with respect.
I will forgive myself when I make mistakes.
I will not try to do it all.
I will allow myself to be vulnerable enough to accept help.
I will be gentle, kind and considerate with myself.
I will remind myself that I matter—very much—to three tiny humans and one man who loves me as I am.
And, possibly most importantly, I matter to myself—past, present and future iterations of me—too. ❤️