I've always heard how easy it is to lose yourself as a mom; you focus all your energy on your kids and their needs that you forget to pay attention to yourself. So many friends, family members, and social media posts warned me it would happen, so I was pleasantly surprised to find that I didn't feel that way. Instead, I felt like I became who I was supposed to be when I became a mother. Two children in, and I still feel the same. Do I forget to put myself first? Quite often. Do I find myself drowning in caring for others? Sometimes. But I embraced what becoming a mother made me, so I don't feel like I've lost myself at all.
When I had my first baby, the reality of sleepless nights, exhausted days, and painful recovery smacked me in the face . . . hard. But I also experienced an inner growth I never expected. I always wanted to be a mom. I grew up as a nurturer, finding myself happiest when caring for others and feeling fulfilled when someone accepted my help. I dreamed of taking care of my own kids one day, and when that day came, I excitedly took on the role. And I found that becoming a mom made me a better version of myself. I didn't know it then, but the moment they placed my baby girl on my chest, something inside me changed. A part of me I never knew was empty filled up and overflowed. I became strong. I became confident. And in those early days and months, I began to believe in myself on a level I hadn't been able to before.
Becoming a mom helped me begin to ditch the insecurity, low self-esteem, and doubt that followed me all my life. And I said good riddance to all of those feelings. I found my groove in a role I excelled in and was no longer afraid to flaunt that. I used to avoid celebrating my accomplishments, because I didn't think I did enough to be worthy of the compliments. When I put my all into being a mom, I was proud of myself in ways I had never been before. Saying this out loud didn't feel like bragging, it felt like believing in myself. And that felt good. Though it's still hard for me to admit that it took me 30 years to be able to unabashedly celebrate me.
Do I go to bed some nights not remembering the last time I showered? More often than I'm willing to share. Do I miss carefree drinks out with my girlfriends? So much. Do I want to spend more time alone with my husband? Of course. But all parenting comes in stages. So I embrace each stage and try to grow as a part of that stage. One day, the family game nights will turn back into romantic date nights, the late-night feedings will turn into late nights waiting for a teenager to meet curfew, the five minutes of alone time will turn into days of quiet in the house. I'll be able to have uninterrupted conversations with my friends and take that girls trip we always talk about.
But delaying those experiences doesn't mean I've lost myself. How could I lose myself in a role that has helped me gain so much? As long as there are times I recognize I need a break or a moment of me time and I continue to ask for it when needed, I will continue to grow as a person AND as a mother. And as I continue through these stages of motherhood, I hope to maintain my sense of who I've become, so that I never need to look very far to find "me."