I vowed to never be the mom whose life became entrenched in that of her child. You know. "We're eating solid foods now!" or "We're having big girl poopies!" or "We have no life because our tiny baby has taken away any semblance of coolness!"
Um. Yeah. No thanks.
And then I had a kid. A needy one. Who wouldn't sleep, or take a bottle (thumb, pacifier, sock, hehe). And a husband who was working a lot, not so helpful, and just plain ignorant at times. And no family or friends or anyone really.
Just my dogs. And they were about as much help as my husband.
And so I lost myself.
Even still working part-time outside of the home for the first year of her life, I was deeply enmeshed with my child. I ran back from teaching a class to breastfeed her. I barely had time to plan my classes because I was busy trying to figure out the perfect outfit for her to wear in the bizarrely heated and cooled administration building where I taught. And while students gave presentations, I wondered how long I could last on that damn Thanksgiving diet.
I became resentful, not so much towards my child, but towards my husband and the world. Why did he still get to go to the gym? And eat regular foods. And sleep. I thought this was supposed to be glorious, happy, and enlightening.
So I decided that mothering was not fun.
Yes. I'm a genius with amazingly original realizations, eh?
I tried finding a hobby. And I knitted... booties and a sweater for my kid. I read books... about how to be a better parent.
So much for "fun non-mom related cool thing..."
And the lines between my child and I became blurred - not so much because I wanted to lose myself, but in a way, I felt like I had no choice.
Oddly enough, however, I never really felt like a mom. She cried and I went to her. She fussed and I picked her up. She smiled and I kissed and hugged her. And people called me her mom. But she never did. I was just... well... everything. Everything to her and nothing to me.
It really wasn't until I started blogging that I felt like a mother separate from my old personhood and my daughter. I got to share how much I thought mothering was hard, and stressful, and painful, and confusing. I started laughing again - even if it was at my own jokes. And I started having something to do that didn't really have anything to do with my kid; sure I was writing about her, but I was writing about mothering from MY perspective - the sarcastic, sometimes humorous perspective that had been sucked out of me.
Granted, it helped that she was mobile, talking, and forming her own separate identity from me. In a way, she allowed me some space in her own growth. When she became her own person, I got the freedom back as well. And we grew apart together - and in an odd way, that brought us closer as mother and daughter.
This post was written by request for reader Katie, mom of a 5-month old sweet girl but still in need of some reassurance that it does get better and that it's okay to think this whole mothering thing sucks sometimes.
So help her out people. What about you? When did you find comfort in your identity as "mother" or "parent?" And how do you find time for your own self separate from your child? Tell her it's okay to think it's not all peaches, cream, and poop smudges!