I want to be the woman who can pack up her car for a weekend camping trip and wake up in the morning feeling free. I want to be the woman who can dance by the fireside at night. I want to be the woman who doesn’t have to think twice about taking opportunities or exploring the world. I want to lay by the lake for hours, listening to podcasts, eyes closed. I want to swim carelessly in the Ozark swimming holes laced throughout the Buffalo River. I want to drive with the windows down, the music blaring, and the destination unknown. Because, me? I’m a wild, adventurous, creative woman. I’m a wild child, a moon sister, I’m the type of person who chases experiences and feelings. I want magic.
But lately, I’m not that wild moon woman. I’m the woman who has a bag full of anything I might need on an outing with my three kids 4 and under. Bandaids, sippy cups, extra clothes, snacks, you name it. My oversized tote bag has it. I double check before I leave the house. You give me the coffee, and you give it to me strong, or else I’m not sure I can power through the dance of constant diaper changes, tantrum quelling, breastfeeding while wiping someone else’s tears (or butt). Can I just sit in my bath tub and ignore the crying of everyone outside the door? That would be real magic. You won’t find me turning down a mysterious road with no end. I’m a wildly exhausted, incredibly calculated, bedtime is at 8 pm type of woman now.
And it feels like the wild parts of me, the parts I love, have just disappeared since I became a mother.
I just returned from a weekend camping retreat for women. I had my three month old baby attached to me. I was the one bouncing in the sidelines. I was the one who went to bed early instead of drinking by the fire, because I was going to be cosleeping for the night. I am fully, irrevocably, 100% mom right now. I enjoyed what I could, but my thoughts never left the immediate needs and well being of my child. While I desperately wanted to be lost in the event, I couldn’t fully let go. And I couldn’t quite dig up the parts of me that I wanted to experience again. And for a moment, I felt upset that the magic I wanted wasn’t there. How can the wild woman inside me transform into a creative, spontaneous, amazing mother? Finding that balance feels like trying to clean the kitchen while the kids are still at the table eating. Slightly futile, but necessary.
I know that this stage of life won’t last forever. I get wildly sentimental about how quickly my kids have grown up, and I coo and smile and aww at all the cute things that they say and do. I totally understand that one day, I’ll miss this. But if I’m being 100% real with you, I will not miss all of it. And sometimes, I feel sad that some parts of myself aren’t, or won’t ever be, the same.
I’m not going to miss feeling like an alien when I go to any event that isn’t “mom” related.
I’m not going to miss having to put up gates in my house so my kids don’t destroy my art and pour juice on my Macbook.
I’m not going to miss always worrying if I’m a good mom.
I’m not going to miss not being able to wear a cute swimsuit because it’ll give me clogged ducts (fellow breastfeeding moms, you know what I’m talking about!)
I’m not going to miss looking in the mirror and not knowing who I am.
Motherhood takes the woman you are and challenges it. It challenges everything. Your career, your dreams, your passions, who you think you are. Everything that you love is suddenly replaced by these tiny, beautiful little humans that you love even more. Motherhood is easy to fall in love with, because nothing compares to it in this life. And at the same time, not loving everything about becoming a mother, not understanding how to “fit in” to this realm isn’t something any of us should feel bad about. Because becoming a mother is not easy. You can have all the kids you want, but becoming a mother is something else entirely.
I’ll admit it. Looking for magic in my own life as a mom of three hasn’t been wildly successful. But if there’s one thing I know, is that it still exists. It’s out there. It’s in me. And it’s important to not forget about it.
We aren’t JUST moms, and we never will be. We will always have these other pieces of us, floating around, shoved into boxes around the house, sometimes taunting us with who we “could” or “should” or “would” be if we weren’t doing this. This most important work. This most challenging, rewarding, sometimes soul crushing, sometimes blissful job of motherhood.
If I look closely enough, I see how those parts still fight to survive. If you look closely, you might see it too. I see it as I pull out the paint for my kids outside in the grass, or how I teach them about the earth, and look at them in the eyes as they tell stories and ask questions. All of the parts I wish could live freely are living inside of them, all of the time. Even when our “adventures” aren’t spontaneous. Even when our “adventures” end in epic meltdowns. Sure, the carefree woman in us is a little less carefree. It’s still okay to make room in our hearts for finding joy in this stage of life. Less resentment, and more ease. Less fear, and more hope. Then, I think, that’s when the real magic will happen for us.