In September of 2009, about six weeks before Pigtail was born, I wrote this post for my former blog listing the things I wanted to hang on to about my personality after my daughter was born. A year and a half later, I'm checking in with myself.
In the past year I have watched my mommy girlfriends like a hawk, categorizing them into who is doing what that I want to copy. I'm building my mommy plan like a quilt. This one has maintained her sense of style, that one still manages to keep a spotless home. This one has plenty of date nights/girls nights, and that one still reads.
I have a deep and legitimate fear that the mommy thing is going to take over my identity. While this little girl has already begun to weave herself into Who I Am, I desperately don’t want to lose Who I Was Before.
I had this fear before I got married, too. The Gorilla has such a dynamic personality, and such an all-consuming world, that I fretted I was going to get lost in the Gorilla Machine. But simply being aware of it helps, and with effort on both sides we’ve found a balance in our marriage and daily life that works.
This won’t be true with Pigtail. She won’t be able to compromise. She will be dependent on me and my decisions. I can see how easily a mom could throw her own personality in front of the train to make things better for her child.
I don’t want to.
There are things I will happily, lovingly (or maybe sadly and stressfully) give up. Like my body and my space and my sleep and the quiet. My sense of self is not on that list. I want to maintain my Laura-ness.
I have girlfriends on all ends of the spectrum. I have one long-time girlfriend who I swear I wouldn’t know even had kids if I met her now. I have other friends who can’t take their eyes off their child, who plan every activity and weekend around the child, who speak of nothing else but children and baby things.
I hope to fall somewhere in the middle. The mommies I have watched the closest are the ones who don’t seem to have been taken over by this new role. The girls who will show me their new wallpaper before they show me pics of the baby. The girls who will gush over the latest L.A.M.B. shoes while in the same breath tell me about the big sale at Gymboree.
I want to add Mommy to my traits, not have it replace anything. Here is a list of the things I want to prioritize about myself once this baby exits my body:
1. I still want to look good. I don’t necessarily mean my body. I mean my clothes, my hair & makeup. I feel better about myself when I look decent. And I like fashion. Just being pregnant led to longer mornings in my pajamas. I can see the slippery slope here.
2. I still want to read. Reading is my greatest joy. I read fiction and non-fiction and magazines and blogs. While the quantity may change, I don’t want to give this up. I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve heard a mom say wistfully, “I wish I had time to read.” If I get to a point where I feel this way, I’m implementing emergency tactics. Thirty minutes a night is do-able, right? And better than nothing.
3. I still want to be aware of the National Conversation. I stay on top of politics, I am always interested in the latest in pop-culture. I do not want the phrase “Have you been living under a rock?” to come at me. I want my car stereo to bounce back and forth between Veggie Tails and talk radio. If at all possible.
4. I want to maintain old friendships and nurture new ones. Time is going to be more precious. I know I’m going to have to make some choices here. But I just don’t believe you can do this life without girlfriends.
I know I will still be striving for that balance years from now. I know that I am the only one who can choose what my priorities are, what falls away (housekeeping!) and what stays in place (girlfriends, reading).
Was I reaching for the stars? I don't think so. I can remember how I felt when I wrote this, so very concerned that I would wake up a different person. It didn't happen. My fears were unfounded. In fact, one of the greatest surprises about becoming a mom is that I feel like the same person I was before I had a baby. Now I'm just the mom-version.
I still read, I stay up on pop culture in a vague sense and politics in a specific sense. I've kept old friends and made new ones. The only goal that maybe I haven't stayed on top of involves my pajamas. I'll admit that I spend looooong mornings in less-than-presentable attire. But, as I choose my battles, I'll take that one.
Did you make a conscious effort to keep parts of yourself to yourself after you became a mom? Or did you jump in with both feet and find yourself the better for it?
photo by inajeep