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Losing myself to motherhood

Posted May 24

Motherhood is insatiable.

I think most women know this going in, that being a mother is an all-consuming job that completely changes your identity.

We accept this. We expect it.

But what I didn’t expect from motherhood is how it edges out so many of the traits, interests and defining characteristics that used to be me. Sometimes it feels like being a mother and being anything else can’t co-exist.

Like I said, motherhood is insatiable — I can never give it enough of me.

So I was profoundly affected by a presentation recently by author Ally Condie, who writes for children and teens and is probably most noted for her young adult Matched series. Her speech was on writing, but the thing that struck me was when she said that no matter what your passion or interest or hobby is, there is time for it.

But that time may not be now.

She said that sometimes we have to focus on the needs of our children or other demands, but that doesn’t mean giving up pieces of ourselves. Instead, I can put a pin in those pieces, and while I am in the throes of motherhood, I can still acknowledge that another part of me exists.

I love this idea because it takes about 10,000 pounds of weight off my shoulders. I don’t have to be everything I ever dreamed of being all at once.

Life is not a race. It is not a juggling act. It is a narrative I am creating, and in some parts of the story, my children are the stars. OK, in a lot of the chapters, they will be the stars. And I will be a side character, helping them achieve their dreams.

But in some chapters, I get to follow my dreams. That may not be now when my children are young and 100 percent dependent on me to do everything from wipe tooshies to play chauffeur, but that’s OK.

Right now, motherhood demands a lot of me — almost all I have some days. But other days, I find a moment to reconnect with the parts of me that have nothing to do with being a mom. Sometimes that moment happens late at night when I allow myself time to read a book that doesn’t have pictures in it. Sometimes it happens during nap time when I work on my own writing.

Most recently, I rediscovered parts of myself thanks to my husband, who took the kids so I could connect with girlfriends one weekend and attend a writing conference the next. Both times, I had a few days to remove the pin and celebrate the pieces of me that have nothing to do with being a mommy.

Other days, I get swallowed up in motherhood from dawn to bedtime.

And that’s OK, too.

Because this is where I am right now — in the mommy trenches. My babies need me, and I don’t want to miss a minute of these years together.

But I know, pinned to a spot in the back of my mind are pieces of me on hold. And when I start to feel like I’m losing myself to motherhood because I don’t even recognize the sleep-deprived woman in the mirror, I know those pieces are part me, too.

I haven’t lost them. My dreams haven’t died. They’re just not taking center stage right now.

My dreams, my interests, the me who I am outside of motherhood is still there, waiting on the sidelines for when I can pull her out again, dust her off and say, “Oh yes, I remember you, old friend. Let me tell you where I’ve been.”

Erin Stewart is a regular blogger for Deseret News. From stretch marks to the latest news for moms, she discusses it all while her daughters dive-bomb off the couch behind her and her newborn son wins hearts with his dimples.

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