There once was a time when I felt carefree. A person that didn’t lie awake at night, worrying. I had no idea there was such a thing called an invisible workload. My purpose was purely selfish, with no one dependent upon me. I was childless and well-rested.
Looking back, the time before I became a mother seems eons ago. Was that really my life or a hazy dream I conjured up while soothing a plankboard toddler? Did I actually go out without searching for reputable babysitter weeks in advance? It seems unreal, but there was a time that when I showered, I was able to shave both legs without stopping every couple of minutes from hearing phantom crying.
There are web pages filled with beautiful stories of motherhood and the blessing of having a child. While it is incredibly accurate, motherhood can completely erase a mother’s identity and creates someone else. Yet, no one is having conversations about what this is like for mothers.
Our identity goes from this individual to only a mum. People seem to forget that underneath the layers of spit-up and messy buns is someone who enjoys things outside potty training and Cocomelon. Yes, we find joy in these roles and recognise the privilege it is to be a mother. But, it’s okay to want solace from that role. And if you don’t, that’s wonderful too.
I miss the days when I didn’t overthink. Did I schedule the dentist appointment? What if the kids have cavities? Wait, they need new toothbrushes. And, while I’m out, I really need to get the kids new shoes. But, I need to save money. Shoes are so expensive. I should budget better. As they get older, the more things will cost. What if one of them needs braces …
Do I need to go on?
Motherhood has installed a record player of anxiety. Something that I didn’t know was synonymous with having children. Should I mention the depression? Who knew you could be so freaking sad while holding a wonderful-smelling newborn? Everything can make a woman question how horrible she is as a mother.
My self-worth has been depleted. I thought, being a mother, that I would be this glowing superwoman. I recognise the superpowers on the good days, but more so than not, all I see is chaos covered in day-old snot, possible pee. Before kids, I didn’t lose sleep about if I was good enough or not. I felt confident in who I was until Instagram highlighted how unorganized my pantries and playroom looked.
Look, I love that my kids enjoy music. If anyone knows me, they understand how important music is in my life. I love blaring songs in the car while driving or cleaning the house. But I could really go without listening to the Paw Patrol Theme Song on repeat. I know that some people won’t understand, roll their eyes, and say, “Just put on the music you want to play.”
I’ll switch the song and enjoy the crying and tugging on my legs. Yes, I can ignore it and teach the spoiled child patience. But I really don’t want to. I don’t want everything to be a teaching moment. I’m tired of anything that brings me joy is somehow in direct conflict with raising a child. All these moments add up and leaves nothing for me.
Mothering is beautiful, I miss the days without worrying and mental exhaustion. I miss the woman I was before I had kids. She is lost somewhere under the piles of laundry and anxiety. One day, I hope to see her again. Until then, I’ll continue fighting for her freedom while creating moments for my children. Because, after all, we are superheroes.