I read this blog post a while ago, but it was given an award and was linked on the author's blog again, so I read it again. And it rings so true. If you're a mom you'll shake your head in agreement at reading that post.
The part that really got me was when she talked about her identity and who she thought she was before she had a child and how she didn't magically change when she became a mother. Recently I've been thinking about how I do not create much art outside of school unless it's for a show or a commission. Why don't I create for myself? Then I realize that in an alternate reality I would have stayed in school through my early twenties and possibly gone to graduate school and would have had more and more freedom and purpose to creating art as I went through school. I would have gotten my MFA. I may have traveled abroad and studied art. I would be a different person today.
If we lose some of ourselves, if we are drained by our children when they are young, then what happened to ME. Did I have children during the time when I should have been forming who I am as an adult, as an individual? Did caring for infants during my early twenties take away from my identity?
Before children, I knew me. When I was deep in the baby years (which really do fly by) I felt at times foreign to myself. I still remembered me. But I also remembered the predictions I had for my life and the time I expected to be deep in the baby years, so I surprised myself, and still do, when I would realize just how far I was from 30 years old. Now that I'm closer I feel more settled, more comfortable in my skin. I'm loving being 27 and having children. How amazing is it that I made it through having two babies and I'm not even 30! This is the positivity I feel most of the time.
Then sometimes I think about time and how little of it I really have and how much of it is devoted to other people.
In times of frustration my husband has told me I'm selfish. Yep. I am. I need to be because I still need to develop me. Today he told me I don't realize how mean I am. This is something I hear often. I blame it on stress. Today I asked him if I was ever nice. He said I used to be. Before kids. How sad. In the past he told me they've taken his wife away from him. We yell at each other because we are so drained by them.
Today G (age 3) was sick with a stomach bug and she took a nap, which she never ever does. I felt so happy and relaxed and thought how much she really drains the energy from me and Will just being around.
We have friends. A couple who have a 2 year old and a baby. I see them having the same relationship problems Will and I had (and still have). Resentment is a huge issue during the baby years.
For us it's dissipated... mostly. It's taken work. We've gotten into it many times... rehashing old resentments. I hope the last time was really the last time.
Today I told my six year old how happy I am she is growing up and is such a wonderful kid. She started crying and hugged me. She said she doesn't want to live away from me. At 6, you're not supposed to want to live away from me. That's why we stay together as a family, I told her, but believe me when you're 16 or at least 26 you're going to want to live away from me. And good lord is she ever a big kid. It's insane. And the fact that I am the mother of a kid and a little kid adds to my identity.
I don't know who I would be if I had had the time to be selfish in my early twenties, but I know who I am now and the parts of me that have remained intact from before kids and the parts I want to rebuild and the future parts I have been laying the foundation for.