A few weeks ago, I wrote about the beautiful shock of becoming a mother – the hormonal cocktail of deep love, fear, and awe that I experienced when Zoey was born. Those first few weeks are raw and challenging, and there were moments when I wondered if I’d ever feel ‘normal’ again.
And then, almost like magic, the shock disappeared and was replaced by a deep sense of belonging. I no longer feel like a stranger in my own skin. Yes, my life will never be the same again – but I’m still me. I still like reading cheesy historical fiction, and meeting friends for cake and tea, and going for long walks in the sunshine, and writing. I still dislike cleaning the bathroom, and weeding the garden, and putting out the rubbish, and white-tail spiders. The person I was before I had Zoey hasn’t suddenly vanished. I just now have another title to wear with pride – daughter, sister, partner, friend, writer, mother.
I’ve read a lot of articles about women losing their identity in the chaos of motherhood. I guess I was subconsciously scared the same would happen to me – that being a mother would consume every ounce of my energy, leaving no room for anything else. And that once Zoey is grown, I will have to claw back what I’ve “lost” – my hobbies, my identity, my career. As if parenting is incompatible with other elements of life.
Maybe I had this impression because when you’re pregnant, well-meaning people love to say things like “do what you love now – because you’ll be too busy once baby arrives” or “just you wait – your life is about to change forever!” or, my personal favourite, “you’ll have time for yourself again in about 18 years!”
People love to exaggerate. And I guess when you’re about to have a baby, it’s natural to focus on everything that will change – so you forget about all the things that will stay the same.
It’s early days yet, and I’m sure there will be days, weeks, and perhaps even months when motherhood completely takes over – when books go unread, cake dates are postponed, and words are not written. But, so far, I feel as though motherhood is about addition, not subtraction – it’s an opportunity to add more to my life. Motherhood is an extension of my identity, not a brand new identity.
I’m still the same Jess I was 11 months ago, only now I have another beautiful soul to share my life and hobbies with. I hope she grows to enjoy tea, cake, reading, and long walks in the sunshine ;-)