Quite often, when you attend a mommy-and-me group or after you start hanging with a bunch of moms, the topic of life before having kids comes up. It’s inevitable, really, and obviously has a huge impact on who we are as people and sometimes, mothers. Anxiety always sets in for me as I feel the conversation approaching and my palms begin to sweat. Life before my kids didn’t include a huge career or endless academic accolades. In many ways, my kids are my greatest accomplishment so far. But the beautiful thing for me is that I’m okay with that. I know my life hasn’t ended simply by having kids, and for me, the person I am before kids versus after is only (majorly) changed by the fact that there is now, quite literally, more of me. My heart has expanded and my children have given me the confidence to explore and achieve things I never would have attempted previously. They have also helped me find my niche. You see, I feel like I’m really good at this mommy thing. Not like “I know what I’m doing all of the time” good but more like “this is where I belong” good.
I’m in my thirties and just coming into my own… and I’m okay with that. Accepting that my life is somewhat just beginning is both exhilarating and depressing in many ways. I find that many of us moms are measured by what we do or did as a profession instead of the people we are and the people we are raising. And right now I am giving almost every ounce of my dedication and energy into making sure I raise children who are loved and happy and not (always) assholes. Our society has led us to believe that being “just a mom” isn’t good enough or respectable enough… for whom, I’m not sure. Certainly not for my children who think I’m a doctor, a chauffeur, a cook, a teacher and a best friend. Whose kisses and “love yous” make me feel like I’ve chosen the greatest job in the world. My husband also sees how hard I work everyday while he gets to shower, pee and eat without at least one kid on his lap. It may have taken him a few hours alone with both kids to understand, but I doubt he’ll be forgetting any time soon!
Perhaps some of this is self-inflicted, pressure to do and be everything in this world, especially to show my kids that there are no limits to what you can accomplish. But maybe it’s enough to teach them that, in fact, feeling fulfilled doesn’t come from a degree or title but from within. And that being a good person who- at the end of the day- is happy with their choices, means more than anything else. That life lets you explore endless opportunities and shifts and that finality only exists within your head. How beautiful to know that we alone have the power to choose… to wake up one day and change professions, to ask for help if we find ourselves going down a road we did not envision, and to (figuratively) start a new book no matter how far into it we may be. Sure, sure… I’m always working on myself and I want my kids to see what I’m capable of… but I also want them to see a loving wife, a doting daughter, a great sister, a kind friend and a gentle soul.
So the next time someone jokes that they actually had a “life” before having kids, I’m going to work on letting my heart flutter instead of tighten, knowing that my children have given me (a whole new unexpected) LIFE! When they bring up the good old days, I can smile, knowing that these days are in fact my best so far… and, above all, I’m (more than) okay with that.