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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A Reflection

I wrote this a few months ago and never published it for some reason. It still resonates, so I'm hitting go on it now. This was written in response to some relatives "teasing" me (read: criticizing me) that they never saw me without Carys and that we must be joined at the hip (perhaps they forget that I'm a SAHM with a husband who works 12+ hours a day?). Now that she's older, I do actually go out quite a bit on my own, but at the time, the suggestion that I wasn't giving myself enough "me" time hit home. Probably because they were right...but I just wasn't ready to steal that time for myself away from her quite yet. 

I used to scoff at those women who introduced themselves as "So-and-so's mommy." Yes, true, I thought, you are So-and-so's mommy, but you're also YOU. And possibly a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a cousin, a boss, an employee.  You're someone who can't name your child. (Low blow, sorry, So-and-so's mom.) There are so many facets to each of our personalities; so many parts that make us whole. Once you have children, it can be a struggle to not let the "mommy" part overwhelm the other parts, until you've lost every bit of who you were pre-child.

While I still think that being "So-and-so's mommy" is selling yourself AND your child short, the truth is, I don't go out enough on my own. At this point, I simply don't want to. I've only had eight months with this little girl, and in reality she changes so much every week I feel like I've only had days with any given iteration of her. In the words of the immortal and wise and older-than-you'd-think-or-maybe-not Stephen Tyler, "I don't wanna miss a thing." Of course, he was probably on drugs when he said that, so perhaps I should look elsewhere for quotes. (Note: Four months later, I actually have been out a bit more. Slowly but surely!)

When Carys was gestating (weiiiiiird thought), she was wholly a part of me and dependent on me, though as the nine months of pregnancy went on, she became a more an independent being with her own personality (there is nothing quite so strange as something moving inside you that is at once completely separate and completely part of you).  After she was born, she was physically separate from me, but in nursing, she still relied on me to sustain her life.  (Okay, okay, she could have had formula and not needed me, but to me, nursing was important.)

Each day that passes, she becomes more and more autonomous, and the scale shifts from needing me wholly and completely to needing me less and less. At this point in her life, when I'm still the raison d'ĂȘtre, I want to be there.  I want to lose myself in the role of "Carys's momma." Of course, I still need to find time to be a wife, sister, daughter, granddaughter, cousin, and SELF as well, and sometimes I have to force myself to take a step back and take some time for myself. This new role, though, has become forefront in my priorities because at the moment, she needs me most.  But it's temporary, this time of complete dependance. Soon enough, Carys won't be my nursling (can I just "aww" over the cuteness of that word?) and we no longer will have a physical connection (other than her being an external manifestation of my love out there walking around in the world, of course).  When that happens, other priorities will slowly shift back into a more prominent place in my life - book club, girl's night out, solo vacations, and it will be good.  She will always be one of the biggest parts of my life and one of my top priorities, but as she gains independence, so will I.  (Sidenote: In reading this now, as she's 12 months old, it's already happening...too fast. She's so independant. I go out a LOT more now than I did before. It helps having my mom here to babysit at the drop of a hat!) 

I know many people who have become so wrapped up in and even obsessed with their children that they, as adults, have difficulty functioning without their kids in their day to day lives.  And I worry about that happening to me. In my mind, I think these issues arise when your children no longer need you as much, but you still need them. That is, when you haven't re-filled the spots in your life that in your pre-child "other" life olden days were dedicated to your hobbies but were transferred to your children once they arrived. When your children left, those spaces became empty again, and without anything to fill them you collapse into those holes and become a shadow of the person you once were (I think we all know people like this). While I'm worried about falling into that trap, I'm confident that in being aware of this potential landmine and with the fantastic example my mom set for us (she was always our mom and we were always a priority, but once we were old enough to navigate the world a bit on our own, she showed us that she was also a teacher and a friend and a mystery book club member, etc.) that I'll be able to avoid that situation in the long run. Because right now, I'm wrapped up in motherhood, but I know this isn't forever.  I know that as she grows we'll both want and need our own space, and that our priorities will change and shift and our lives will no longer revolve around each other.  Exactly how it should be.

In the meantime, I'm just enjoying this brief time (oh-so-brief) when she can be my world, and it's okay.

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