One morning, I walked by the mirror a few months ago, saw my reflection, and didn’t recognize the person looking back at me. It sounds cliche, but I didn’t recognize the person in that mirror. I took a minute and looked at myself, and immediately felt sad. Sad because for the first time in several years, I realized that I was a completely different person. The years of marriage and motherhood had changed me. I had lost myself in those years and through giving myself to everyone else, hadn’t given myself time and energy to figure out who I was.
I met my husband when I was 24, married at 30, and had my first kid at 31. Now, at 36, I realized that through those last 12 years, I had never taken the time to figure out who I was becoming as a person. I had been through a lot in those 12 years, enough to change anyone. I had lost myself along the way and realized I needed to figure out who I am now.
I felt like a shell of myself and realized I wasn’t happy. I was still living as this old version of myself. Going day to day, giving all my time and energy to other people and not to myself. When I really sat down and thought about it, it was the years of marriage and motherhood where I lost myself.
I never understood the term “mid-life crisis,” but dang, does that feel like what this is right now. I feel like I want to run away to some secluded island, shack up with some hot bartender, and leave this life behind. That may be a little dramatic, but honestly, that is where my mind goes sometimes. Leave this all behind because sometimes it feels too much to handle. It feels like an undertaking to dig deep and figure out who this new person is, who I’ve become.
I’ve been pretty fascinated with caterpillars and butterflies lately. How one creature can crawl into a chrysalis for a few weeks and come out as something completely different and beautiful. Apparently, a caterpillar turns into goo, rebuilds itself, and comes out as a beautiful butterfly. I’m not going to lie; I definitely feel like goo some days. As moms, we don’t get the luxury to crawl away and hide for weeks to figure this all out. As moms, we barely get a moment to ourselves, let alone time away to think. Our days are full of taking care of tiny humans and giving them everything we have. Being a tiny person’s little snack servant. Where is the time to figure out who this new person is?
I’m currently reading “Love + Work” by Marcus Buckingham (big fan of Mr. Buckingham and this book, I would highly recommend it). As I’m going through this goo to butterfly phase, these below passages from the book really spoke to me:
“If you love doing something, anything…and you are prevented from doing it, then your life starts to feel wrong.”
“In your quiet moments you ask yourself, Where did I go? What’s wrong with me? I don’t think I recognize me anymore. It’s the oddest feeling isn’t it?”
“Your loves… can, when bottled up burn away any signs of who you really are and turn you into a husk of a person”
That was it. I was a husk of a person. The husk of the person I once was before marriage and motherhood. I had spent years neglecting everything that I loved to build a marriage, family, a career and forgetting to focus on and love myself. I had lost myself. And as Marcus said, it was a very odd feeling. Odd to not know who I am or what I’ve become.
I was recently sitting with a group of moms over some beverages, and we were discussing the lack of time to ourselves and those breakdown moments through marriage and motherhood. That breaking point where we just couldn’t take anymore, and honestly sometimes those moments happen daily. We put the kids to bed way earlier than their bedtime because we just can’t take anymore. When we go to the salon and tell them to cut it all off, give me bangs because I can’t take it. Or turn our hair purple because we have no other joy in our lives! There is no time or energy to figure out who we have become through motherhood. I should also note that we spent a lot of time discussing how our houses constantly smell like poo because of our children, and we have all accepted that as life now.
I’m not sure what the road looks like from here. The road to finding out who I am now, but I’m so glad I realized now that this needed to happen. I needed to figure this out now versus ten or twenty years from now. I needed to figure this out now to be happy as a person and more importantly, as a mom.
It took a force of nature to snap me out of it. And maybe that’s what we all need. Someone or something to come into our lives and remind us that we deserve to be a person. That we deserve to spend time on ourselves, figuring ourselves out as we evolve and change as humans.