I read this great piece over at Ask Moxie today, and deeply identified with it. I am so grateful to be experiencing progress right now – a realization that after a preceding 2+ year stretch of stagnation always brings a smile to my face.
One of the things that shocked me after my daughter was born was a sense that I had somehow lost myself. Not in the sacrificial/martyr sort of way, but in feeling that I couldn’t quite identify with the person I knew as me. I think that somewhere in the restless frenzied monotony of life with my new baby, I must have missed the part where I – the person I thought I was – slipped out the back door without so much as a wave.
I tried hard to re-claim myself. I got right back to work dancing and teaching, I went out with friends, I shopped, I offered to help with things. I applied to graduate school. I was nowhere to be found. Each attempt to relocate myself left me feeling disappointed and desperate “if not here, than where?!” I thought.
So I stopped. And it was as sad as it sounds. I stopped trying to find myself in the tired, frumpy reflection in the mirror. I let almost everything go, exhausted from never finding satisfaction like I used to. I became really honest with myself about not giving a shit that so-and-so’s band was playing at 11pm and I should really go. I mostly said “no.” So did graduate school(s) and I was almost so numb that I didn’t even mind. Strangely, this helped enormously. I gave up striving to find or to do
And just like every other time that you get all accidentally zen, a transformation started to unfurl. Imperceptibly slowly, a shift began.
I was surprised when a couple months later, I started writing. This weird, funny voice just kind-of gurgled out of me all of a sudden. And then a few more months passed and I found myself driving with my daughter to the grocery store for yeast and flour because I wanted to bake bread – something I’d never done. I paused for a minute at a red light to appreciate that this meant something – that I had the gumption, and energy for a culinary project of this magnitude. I took a yoga class and felt a familiar sensation as I welcomed the pain of stretching like a dancer would.
A few months after that, I started dancing again. I just sort-of eased into it in a new way, feeling it out as I went – a total departure from the way I used to work. Another season passed and I was making art. A little while after that, I decided that I might like to pursue comedy writing and maybe even comedy doing. A few more weeks passed and I wrangled someone to watch my kid while I went shopping for a new and decidedly frump-free wardrobe.
Last month I started running, and as I passed under a tree covered in flowers – a tree I have walked under countless times with Ida in various states of crying and exhaustion (me and/or Ida) – the thought came to my mind “you’re blossoming.”
I sit typing now, while Ida plays at her grandmother’s apartment, and as I think that in 10 minutes I need to get up and start making tacos, I realize that I’m here.
Not “back”, because this new person has something that other woman didn’t (uh, a baby?) I can’t say exactly what it is, except that I know it’s bound up in becoming brave, and strong, and capable in a way that would not have made sense to me even a year ago. I’m me still, of course, but it feels different in here now. Some parts of that woman who went missing for a while never came back. New things took those places, and I’m glad.
So if this is you right now – if you’re looking in the mirror and wondering who that person is now that you’re on the other side of being born as a mother – I guess what I’m here to tell you is that there is someone incredible waiting for you. You’re becoming her now. I know exactly how hard it is to be patient with what feels like stagnation. But she’s coming. She’s new yet familiar, and she’s totally worth the wait. Just like that kid of yours that started this whole beautiful mess in the first place.