My body wouldn’t go into labour with my first. Although my water had broken days before, labour simply wouldn’t start. Josh and I drove back from yet another check at the hospital and I started crying.
“I don’t want to have this baby yet. I still want to be me. I don’t want to solely be known as “such and such’s” mom. I still want to be me.”
Through my tears, I heard Josh say, “ash, our baby needs you to be to you. You were designed with purpose and you need to live that purpose out. Being a mom will add to who you are, not take away from it.”
I kept crying and started praying, confessing how I felt and how scared I was of change. Finally verbalizing everything going on inside of me was like a healing balm. I finally felt ready to meet this person and have my life change.
We had dinner, went to bed and I started going into labour. We went to the hospital and although I wasn’t far into labour, the nurses admitted me. Within a few hours, the nurses checked me and with much surprise, realized I was fully dilated. Our sweet girl arrived a few minutes later and like I had thought, everything changed.
But unlike I worried, it did not change for the worst. It changed for the better. This sweet girl adored us and instantly brought joy into mundane. I so badly wanted to love her well and strove to do and be better as a result.
What I feared got thrown aside as I gazed at my newborn. How could life ever be the same? Look at this treasure. I delighted in her and I quickly forgot. I forgot how very much I wanted to be me and instead got lost in folding laundry and keeping a baby happy. It wasn’t that I was unhappy, but I was forgetting about all the things that used to make me tick. Without realizing it, I went whole days, even whole weeks, without doing anything just for me.
I started losing me. And as I did, I got moodier and snappier. I neglected the things that brought me joy and held everyone but me responsible for my lack of joy. I couldn’t see how spending time on myself was beneficial. There were so many other, more important, things to do – messes to be cleaned, people to be fed, employment to be fulfilled and bills to be paid.
Josh nagged and nagged. You need to be doing things that bring you joy – you can’t simply focus all your attention on us. I didn’t really agree, but saw a compromise. I loved working in my garden and also saw how useful it was – I could grow food, teach my kids about nature and get a good dose of fresh air all in one fell swoop. So, I threw myself into tending my garden and loved it. My heart started singing and everyone could see it. But the summer quickly left and the long winter came back. … And I forgot again.
After much nagging (on Josh’s part) and soul searching (on my part), I started writing again. I woke up early and wrote before my kids got up or I wrote while they played. Slowly, ashlee became ashlee again. My kids saw that I loved them, but they also saw mom was made of many more facets than simply their caretaker. That didn’t necessarily mean they saw me doing paid work, it meant they saw mom loved and pursued things outside of them. They saw my eyes light up when I came home talking about how much fun I had learning to paint or trying out Zumba.
What I initially feared is a reality. It is easy to lose yourself and just be a mom. It’s easy to forget about all the things that make your heart ecstatic and blame everyone and everything else for how unhappy you are. But we’re so much more than victims. We’re unique and capable persons.
Even while we mother, especially while we mother, we need to invest in things that fill and satisfy deep parts in our hearts. We need to remember who we used to be and live that out so our kids know their dreams don’t have to fade away when they become a parent. Being a parent is a profound blessing not a curse that takes away life. Learning to be intentional about investing in things I love gave me the eyes to see that again.
About Ashlee Kirchner
ashlee kirschner is a working mom always striving to love the life she has. A mom of four wild children, owner and co-owner of two small businesses, a canner, a gardener, a writer, there always seems to be something on the go. Keep connected and learn more about her at ashleekirschner.com