As I sit behind my computer staring at this image of my former self, I feel as though I’m writing about a girl I used to know, a former best friend perhaps that I somehow drifted away from.
The girl in the picture was a nice girl, maybe too nice a girl.
She once worked a job for two months without getting paid because she was too afraid to ask for her paycheck. She did things she didn’t want to do because she was too afraid to say no. She cared about other people’s feelings more than her own. She was serious. She was a worrier. But most of all, she was in a big fat hurry to grow up.
She was never very fun, spirited, or filled with much passion, aside from the natural high that came from not screwing up her life.
To say I’m the woman I am today on account of motherhood is only partially true. I’d love to tell you the heavens opened and enlightened my spirit on the miraculous occasion of my first child’s birth but they didn’t. If anything (and it pains me greatly to admit this), dark shadows followed me into motherhood. I tried for the first year or two of my son’s life to fit him into my limited and cautious vision of my life. The problem was, he didn’t fit. In fact nothing about motherhood fit into my vision, the vision that brought me comfort, eased my anxiety, and allowed my control. As I struggled to make sense of the girl in the picture with a child, I began to sink deeper and deeper into the darkness.
The girl who was never very fun, spirited, or filled with much passion couldn’t even manage a flicker of light from that once natural high that came from not screwing up her life. She was screwing up. Life was not going according to plan. She had done the unthinkable, she had disappointed herself.
It took far too long to discover that motherhood would never fit into my vision. It took medication, time, and perspective to learn that I would need to fit into motherhood, somehow. Thousands upon thousands of baby steps finally brought me to a place where I could handle a public tantrum, manage a diaper explosion, and stand by as my toddler went down a playground slide alone. These small things for others were enormous personal victories for me.
I have motherhood to thank for every singular thing I know about living. While one’s ability to balance their checkbook and maintain a respectable credit score is great, it never once sparked real joy or passion into anyone’s life.
I didn’t give birth to motherhood, motherhood gave birth to me. I may never fully forgive myself for the years I lost to the darkness, but two kids later I’m more certain than ever that I can handle whatever comes my way; passion will do that to a girl.
I’d like to send a big-huge thanks to Serge, whose Before I Had You: Reflections On A Bachelor’s Life Before Kids inspired me to reflect on just how far I’ve come.
Who were you before you became a parent?
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