I’m not talking about my body. My body feels older than 33 most days (though honestly I have no idea what 33 feels like to other people, so I could feel 28 and not even know it!). I’m talking about my mind. In my mind my jokes are still relevant. In my mind I’m still with it enough to be friends with intelligent, well-read 20-somethings. In my mind the days of checking out little gastropubs in the city or taking impromptu road trips are not so distant. In reality that’s just not the case.
These days most of the books I read rhyme (Llama Llama, I’m looking at you), most of the restaurants are selected on the basis of their kiddie menu, and my jokes reference Adam Sandler movies of a time long ago. So I find myself wondering, “When did I stop being the person I knew for those years and become someone else? When did I become a grown up?”
After the kids go to bed, or when I’m out with my friends, it’s like the “old me” (maybe the real me?) comes out. Like the “grown-up me” who parents all day, does the laundry, makes dinners, gives time-outs, and oversees handwriting homework is an impostor living out my days. My husband and I joke that we are “different people after bedtime.” As soon as those kids hit the hay it’s as if we are free to be calmer, funnier, smarter and more interesting people.
I’ve been working on this post for a long time, and I haven’t been able to get my thoughts together until today. My forever friend sent me a link to a wonderful blog post (The Abundant Mama Project) in which the author lays out 5 resolutions for mothers who feel they have lost themselves to motherhood. Bingo. That’s it.
It’s not a question of free vs. trapped, just one of being little lost vs. found.
When I was teaching college classes I had a student who had an awful relationship with her mother. She was angry because her mom had earned her MD and then gave up her practice to raise my student and her brother. My student was insistent that she would never do that. This story has stuck with me for years. I’ve always felt it was a based on a misunderstanding. No one is ever “just a mom.”
I don’t want my children to think of me as someone who gave up her career when she had children. Someone who always has laundry to do or someone who has inside jokes with Daddy, but not with them. I want my children to know me as the joy filled person I am when I’m at my best.
I don’t feel like a grown-up. I feel like the real me is still about 25. I want to bring more of the me that feels “right” (the movie quoting, positive-thinking, giving person) into the grown-up me that is a mom. Of course it won’t always be possible. But I’m thinking that maybe being the grownup doesn’t have to feel so foreign after all.