“You’re just not yourself. You haven’t been yourself in years.”
I remember someone saying that to me during my early years of mommy-hood.
I didn’t really understand what they were trying to say to me back then. I knew I was still me inside, but I was also overwhelmed, crazily hormonal, and tired, really, really tired.
The other night, my daughter asked to look at some old pictures. We went through the scrapbooks first and then I pulled down the box. You know the one. I’m sure you probably have a “box” sitting on your closet shelf too. It’s the place you keep all the random photos, some so old they are yellowed. My box also has several used rolls of 35mm film.
I tried to explain film to my daughter, but she didn’t understand.
That moment made me feel older than all the gray hairs sprouting from the top of my head.
In those photos, those snapshots of special times, I saw a woman who wore clothes that didn’t fit. Each picture seemed to show an ever changing plump body. I remember the jeans I had for three years, just one pair snagged from a thrift store rack. I bought them right after I had my son and I was so proud when four weeks after I waddled into a delivery room and birthed my nine and a half pound daughter, those jeans fit again.
They were mom jeans meet wide-leg bell bottoms. The only thing they had going for them was that they buttoned at the waist.
In those pictures, I saw a woman who was dealing with a lot of changes, big changes, without any break in between life events. A pregnancy, a move, and a new job all within a few months. A baby boy who would not sleep, ever. Then another pregnancy. Six months after my daughter was born, my husband changed careers or callings, whichever term you prefer.
We sold the home we poured our lives into, the home I brought my babies home to, the home where I was going to grow old and die. Then we moved from Maine to Florida and celebrated my daughter’s first birthday in Georgia. We were a brand new homeless family.
I wasn’t myself in those years. Not at all.
I looked terrible. I rarely slept. I never cut my hair. My jeans didn’t fit, and I was emotionally worn out.
And although I may not have been myself, I was a lot of good things.
I was a supporter of life. I was a diaper changer. I was book reader. I made meals that fed little bellies. I rocked and rocked and rocked until sleepy eyes fell closed.
I was a worker in church. I hosted big summer-time barbeques at my house. I cooked meals for traveling missionaries. I made silky scarves and peddled my wares to little boutique shops.
I wasn’t myself. I was a new kind of woman, a mom trying to find some balance between the old me and this new person I barely recognized.
Much of the time, I didn’t know if I liked me or not.
I missed my old self, but couldn’t seem to keep hold on her.
Those days that worked into years were not easy. Looking back through those photos, I remembered.
I was not myself. Truth be told, I may not have been fun or likable, but I was something good.
I was a new mom.
You may not recognize the woman who you see in the mirror, but she’s still there. What you are seeing today is a new, stronger, much more selfless version of the woman you are. These years are long and short at the same time. Some days they feel like they will never end, like you may drown in the sameness of sweeping Cheerios off the floor, but then one day you wake up and realize your little one can pick up his own Cheerios.
You’ll soon catch glimpses of the woman you were, but I’m not sure you’ll ever be the quite the same.
Those children who call you mom will leave a permanent mark, making you look different to those around you. It’s a good kind of different.
One day you’ll reconnect with who you are inside and you’ll invite that girl back into your new life.
But no matter who you become, you’ll always be mom.
Happy Mother’s Day
Mandy T says
It’s been a really long day. Homescool, cleaning, cooking, taking care of my 7 month old and ‘riding herd’ on the 4 and 7 year olds….and not handling the day with grace, I must admit. I stumbled onto this by accident and burst into tears. I don’t recognize myself most days. I’m doing exactly what I always wanted to do – be a wife and mother. But I wish I was better at it! This blessed my heart and was a gentle reminder to keep going, to keep trying and to ask the Lord for strength to do better tomorrow. Thank you.
Thanks…just what I needed!!
I often feel like I am going through a mid-life crisis at 34 because I had my daughter young. I don’t really know who I am or who I want to be. It is weird!
heather cloudt says
I love this post and wish I could have read it a week ago. I am not a new mom, but I am not the mom I thought I would be. And all the while not perfect, I believe that I am the mom God wants me to be – to be me! Four kids is a lot and without him, I would drowning (more than I am). Sometimes mom’s forget to give themselves the grace that we were given so freely to begin with. Praying for a new perspective during this time of life. Thank you so much xo
I really love this post and it’s a true reflection of this stage in my life as a new mom,hardly recognizing who I am now and who I used to be,but it’s so worth it,and just like you said it’ll all make sense….Happy Mothers’ day.
Oh Tricia this post brought tears of joy to my eyes. So so beautiful. I became a mama at a very young age (21). Sometimes it’s hard to see other girls my age enjoying life in a way I can’t. But then I read a post like this… it reminds me that I would not trade my life as a mom and a wife for anything in the world.
debbie york says
I never met the woman you were there, but the one I know here is pretty fabulous…and way wiser than someone her young age should be.
P.S. Happy mother’s day.
I think Debbie said it beautifully. You are fabulous – and made more so by who it sounds like you were beforehand, too.
Charming's Mama says
Happy Mother’s Day to you too!
Great encouragement to me as I am about to embark on a new chapter of life! Yes, the new “us” has become a better “us”, less selfish, less self absorbed, . . .we may not cut our hair as often as we could, but we are looking after precious lives and taking care of others, our husband and children, and we are emerging a beautiful, strong, more mature person. =)
That’s a great post! Sadly, what many women know about motherhood is what they see on TV, in advertisements, and in the other mothers who are putting up a good front because they, too, only know what they’ve seen on TV. Life for a new mother is hard. Thanks to all those mothers who take the challenge.
Bridgesburning Chris King says
Ah precious Tricia, you were yourself then, just in the flow of perpetual change and growth to become the spectacular person you are today\1
Lynn messman says
Beautifully expressed. We can all relate to this on so many levels. I have become more than I ever thought I could be in my role as a mom. Happy Mother’s Day!
Olivia Lane says
That was such a beautiful post! Happy Mother’s Day!