Motherhood defines so much of who I am right now in life. The vast majority of each day is spent caring for two little boys who I constantly hope and pray will grow up to be happy, productive people. I love my job as a mom, and yet sometimes I wonder what happened to the woman I used to be–I know she’s still there somewhere, maybe hiding behind the piles of laundry and dirty dishes. That woman who loves to dance ballet, who dreams of going to Italy, and who still has 15 more plays to read before she reaches her goal of reading Shakespeare’s complete works. The woman who taught English for six years, who studied art in Europe, and who has a half-written novel sitting in the depths of her computer.
Most people who meet me now have no idea about that woman. They just see the crazed mom of two crazy boys. And I love being that mom, but it’s important to me to hold on to that other woman, too.
When I stopped working to be a full-time mom, I didn’t realize how much of my identity was wrapped up in my role as a teacher. After a few months of being at home, I felt a little lost, to be honest. I realized that without teaching, I didn’t quite know how to define myself. And I realized that this was not going to be a short-lived problem. I was just starting my family, so I was likely to have young kids at home for at least the next 10-15 years.
So I started asking myself, who am I going to be for the next 15 years?
Here is how I’ve come to answer that question:
I am a mother. I couldn’t happier about this. I know too many people who don’t have the blessing of children in their lives, and I don’t ever want to take for granted the amazing gift that it is to have children in my life…no matter how exhausting it is.
I am a teacher. I may not have a classroom, but I still teach. Every. Day. It’s not the same curriculum, and there are no standardized tests (thankfully!), but I teach. Whether it’s singing the alphabet song, searching for cool bugs in the backyard, or reminding my son that his feet don’t go on the kitchen table, I’m still teaching.
I am a student. One thing I love about being at home with my boys is that as I teach them, I learn new things, too. Before children, I never knew the difference between an excavator and a backhoe. I didn’t know that frogs lay eggs in piles and toads lay theirs in strings. I love helping Little Man find the answers to his questions and exploring whatever topics he’s curious about. Beyond that, I’m constant learning about cooking, photography, gardening, child psychology, speech therapy, blogging, and all sorts of other aspects of “being an adult.” And I love it. I love the thrill of learning something I never knew before.
I am a food-lover. Food is important to me. Food is tradition, and family, and memories. When I cook, I take the knowledge that was passed down to me from generations of women who fed their families and shared thoughts and laughter with loved ones around kitchen tables. I want to be a part of that legacy.
I am a writer. I have been writing stories since I was a little girl. My first big break-through was the award I won for my illustrated book, Jimmy’s Pumpkin, in third grade. I’ve had a love affair with words my whole life, and I’ve long had the goal to publish SOMETHING in my lifetime. This blog is one of the ways I’m pursuing that dream, and it’s pushed me to hone my skills as a writer.
I am a daughter of God. I don’t talk about this often, but it is the core of everything else I believe about myself. I focus so often these days on being a parent, but I am also a child. A child who desperately needs her Father in Heaven every day. He has blessed me beyond anything I could have imagined for my life. Whatever else I am, it’s because of Him.
Why it matters
Taking the time to answer this question for myself has helped me to find more joy in my role as a mother and to make sure that I find ways to cultivate the other aspects of my personality that I value. It’s important that we moms, as much as we sacrifice and care for our families, continue to progress as individuals, too. Motherhood does not have to consume and erase all other aspects of who we are. On the contrary, motherhood encapsulates all the other aspects of my personality and brings them together to accomplish the most noble purpose I’ll have in life.
Most people who meet me still may mostly see the crazy mom on the surface, but I’m making more of an effort to let the rest of me show. I’m developing myself into the best woman I can be, because in this crazy world, it’s going to take everything I’ve got to keep my family…and myself…strong.
The woman behind the mom isn’t hiding after all…she’s shining through in little ways all the time, using her experience to guide me through all the challenges that life and motherhood throw at me.
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