Being a mom is such a wonderful mixed bag of emotions, but it can sometimes be very difficult for a new mom to handle. Speaking for myself, I recall feeling overwhelmed with awe at this tiny little babe in my arms, wondering how in the world I was going to care for her. What a great responsibility had been given to me!
The love that a new mother feels when they place that little new life in your arms is just beyond compare. Suddenly everything you do and say is much more critical than it had been just a few minutes earlier.
After getting your sweet angel home, speaking as a mother, all kinds of things go through your head and your heart. I wondered if I was going to be a good enough mother for this special angel that God had sent to me. I was really anxious that I was not up for the job. Everything I did became the most important thing in the world when it came to my baby.
In other words she took over my world. Everything I did revolved around my new child. I wanted to make sure I was doing the right things, saying the right things, feeling the right way so that I did not upset her little psyche. Everything around me seemed bigger, harder, and much more complicated. After a few months of this I was beginning to feel the burden and the weight of all this responsibility. But when I thought about going out and leaving my baby with someone, even my own mother, I was terrified I was making a mistake.
Years later, I found out that I had post-partum depression. At the time, all I knew was that it was so hard for me to leave her, even for a minute. I finally got over these crazy days but I still did not know how to separate myself from my child. I did not know how to be me any longer. I was previously a very outgoing, extremely social person who now no longer knew how to be anything outside of being a mom. I actually did not know that it was an option. It seemed, at least to me, to be an either/or situation.
It took several years and the birth of my son to change how I felt. There was a seven year age difference between my children and it seemed as if I was starting all over again with my son. And since he was a he, it proved to be an even more daunting task. I had no idea what to do with a little boy. All the parts were different and he was so different in personality from that of my daughter. He seemed so much more indifferent to things going on around him but at the same time seemed ever so much more fragile in disposition.
I was back to where I started seven years ago and even more entwined with my children than before he was born. Now it was not only one child but two for which I was responsible, and on top of that I needed to make sure that no one got slighted! My then-seven-year-old daughter who had previously looked so tiny suddenly looked like an adult next to my son. How was I going to love them both equally? The thought of having a life of my own did not even cross my mind.
In saying all this I am aware that all of us are created differently. Some of you mothers probably did not even skip a beat in your ability to maintain your own lifestyle after having kids. Some of you are probably so together in everything you do that your children just came along and got blended in beautifully in your world. I am not one of those mothers and if you are anything like me you understand what I am saying.
I found myself in the position of having to go back to work and I was blessed to have my mother being the caretaker for my precious children. I could not pick a better person to care for my babies if I searched the world over. But it still did not ease the pain I felt when I had to leave them. I felt as if I was abandoning them. This feeling did not really go away completely but it was something we all got used to. The highlight of my day was when I got home to my children.
As my children got older I realized that I had built my life around them and as their activities increased I really had no life of my own. I was feeling lonely and having a very difficult time letting go of my kids. I realized that this was not fair for the kids or for myself. I knew it was time to do something about my situation but I really did not know how to start. I am actually still in the process of finding myself again. Somewhere along the line I lost who I was and became my kid’s mom.
Most of you will still have husbands who are part of your life which will either help or worsen the situation. They may have gone on with their activities as you held back or you may be, as I am, a single parent. This makes it even more difficult to find your way.
I am writing this in the hopes that there are mothers out there who are just starting out and may learn from my example:
It is very important that you do not lose yourself to your children. It is not healthy for them or for you.
I have had times when my son became a teen that he actually had to ask me to back off. I was suffocating him with my love. He said he was not able to do for himself because I had done so much for him. I guess I did not recognize it because I had done the identical thing for my daughter and she was doing just fine. But they are, after all, different people and have different dispositions.
I am still trying to figure out what kind of person I am. After almost thirty years of being mom it is very difficult to separate who I am from being a mother. I have had to create myself again from scratch, so to speak. Because I was so wrapped up in my children’s lives and activities now that they are grown adults with lives of their own I started to feel somewhat abandoned and at a loss on what I was going to do with myself. I know it is not healthy to think like that, but it is true.
Thankfully my daughter was kind enough to help me find a way to get some additional income, which also provided me with something constructive to do. Since I no longer have a career to hold on to I could not turn to that for support. Instead I have had to find ways to be active in my community and help other, thereby helping myself as well. By becoming part of my church and other outreach programs I have been able to make new friends and discover new interests. This has helped me on my journey to rediscovering who I am as a person, not just a mom.
I will forever be a mom, but that is not all that I am. It has been a long, hard journey for me to realize that being a mom is a facet of me, not my whole self. I am still learning and growing in the effort to find out who I am as a woman and what God put me here to do.