Before I had kids, I always heard, “Becoming a mother changes you”. I would nod, thinking, “DUH. You’re more tired, less time for yourself, I get it.” I was sure I knew what it was all about, this motherhood thing. I’d been in the eldest sibling role from age two, I’d babysat tons and even been a nanny. I was a first grade teacher! I KNEW what being a mom was all about. I wasn’t going to change. Oh, and that thing my mom always said about enjoying shopping for your kids more than shopping for yourself- yeah, that wasn’t going to happen.
Then Harrison happened. Motherhood slapped me upside the head and knocked me to my knees. I was stunned, confused. How had this one aspect of my life completely redefined my existence? Why could I not remember who I was or what I had been so busy with before this little person showed up? And WHY wouldn’t he sleep? This wasn’t the way I pictured it. I was supposed to be awesome at this. I was supposed to be a natural, the kind of mom people look at and think, “Wow, now that is a great mom. She has really got it together.”
Now, I know I have kind friends who love me and will affirm me and say, “You ARE a great mom!”, but I can guarantee you that no one in the grocery store yesterday was thinking that when my son ripped open a package of candy in sheer defiance and then threw a massive fit when I took it away (and paid for it…grrrrrrr!!!!). Pre-motherhood, I would have looked at myself and thought, “Wow. My kid will never do that. Also, I will never go into public looking like that. I’ll still wear my high heels.”
Curiously, current fashion is favoring mothers. “Athleisure” is all over the fashion blogosphere, which basically means that if you can style it right, you can now wear sweatpants for literally EVERYTHING and no one will call you lazy. I see a thousand different tennis shoes a day cross my fashion-blogger-filled Instagram feed. I still love my wedges and heels, but mothering Harrison requires speed and agility, which is possible but not comfortable in those styles. I needed a “practical” but cute shoe, so spent awhile searching Instagram for inspiration. In the end, I actually found these ROSE GOLD beauties on my own, which I am proud of. (It’s the little things in life.) I was SO excited when they arrived. They are even prettier in person. They have a subtle sparkle I just adore!
I was so excited about my new shoes that I didn’t realize until I’d walked around in them for a few minutes that something seemed familiar about them. I looked down at them again. And then I remembered. My mom. At the park, shady trees, a slight breeze. White Keds, impossibly clean. I sat down on the couch. It had happened. I was a mom. (Never mind the two emergency C-sections that got us here, a pair of Keds made it REAL.) Right after that revelation, one or both kids needed my full attention, so I moved on.
Yesterday, I had another flashback. It had been a long day. I should have gone straight home but I just couldn’t face housework so we went to my happy place, the library.
When I was a kid my mom took us to the library so often we had special library bags. The four of us kids were library card holders as soon as we could sign the back. We’d check out over 100 books every time we went and when we got home, we lined them up against the hallway to our rooms. We’d sit in that hallway and read for hours. (Looking back, I’m not sure why we chose the hallway to pile all the books, that seems unsafe…) It’s one of my best memories. My mom made reading so special. So, as I stood in the children’s books section holding Eloise and letting Harrison quietly (ok, sort of quietly) race around the shelves, I realized that yet again, I was channeling my mom. (She is still alive and well, FYI, she just lives far away.)
The shoes I’m wearing today are not the shoes I wore when I was 20. That’s a tough change for me, silly though it may be. It’s not that I can’t wear them. Life just changed. I break them out when I can, but its rare. Like wearing white when you have a toddler. That dressing room selfie at the top of this post? Yeah, I didn’t buy any of that. I hastily tried it all on, decided the clothes were cute but not on me, and vowed to online shop in the future. Then, I went to Target and spent an hour picking out clothes for Eloise. Yep, I’ll never enjoy shopping for myself as much as I do for my kids. Mom was right.
I’ve changed. I’m not sure exactly who I am at this moment. I definitely seem like my mom in many ways, but we don’t actually turn into our parents. Similar versions, perhaps. I’ve had a couple mom friends express the same questions recently. Who am I now besides “mom”? None of us have an answer. It makes me a little uncomfortable, to be honest. Identity is so powerful. While I wait to see how the story turns out, I’m trying two things. The first is to be present as “Mom, Momma, Momeeeeee!” to Harrison and Eloise. The second is to leave the blank space open for what Jesus has to say. Yes, Jesus. I’ve been listening a little more carefully since Eloise was born (that’s a story for another day), but I have to tell you, when I let Jesus define me, here’s what I come up with: I’m loved. I’m cherished. I’m irreplaceable on this planet. I have endless potential.
“No one can fill your fabulous shoes.”
I know there’s more to hear. I know as life changes, my shoes and just about everything else will change too. But I’m pretty confident that the words I’m hearing from above are not going to change. I’m going to rest in that and look forward to the opportunity that redefining yourself brings.
Happy Mother’s Day to all my mommas that motherhood slapped upside the head and knocked to their knees. Happy Mother’s Day to all my mommas that entered motherhood gracefully and are Pinterest-worthy. Happy Mother’s Day to all the mommas. We’re a lucky group.