This Mother's Day, I Want To Remember Who I Was Before I Became A Parent

The identity crisis I thought I left behind in high school has returned in my 30s

I have a unique request for Mother’s Day this year. It isn’t that I don’t like flowers. I love little handprints on anything. I can’t pretend the annual bottle of wine from my husband isn’t appreciated. But this year, I want something else.

I want a reminder of who I was before I became a mother.

The desire to be a mother has always been part of my identity. Many a night, I placed my baby doll in a laundry basket at the end of my bed, only to wake disappointed in the morning that my wish on a star for it to become a real baby had not worked.

There was that period where I was positive no one would ever marry me, and I would never get to become a mother. It was difficult to picture my adult self as a non-parent.

There was the diagnosis of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome as a teenager and the knowledge that I may never be able to have biological children. Even then, I bought every picture book about adoption the bookstore had to offer, in preparation for an adopted child, should that be my route to motherhood.

I am happy that my identity includes being a mother, and that to some degree it always has. But it is not all I am.

I want to remember dreaming and making plans for the person I would become. I want to remember exploring who I was, and paying attention to every aspect of myself. I want to remember what it felt like to be a person in my own right, defined by who I was, not who I was in relation to other people.

My children are growing. I am too. The parts of me that are not tied to being a mom are stiff from lack of use, and they are begging to be stretched. They have been forgotten, set aside as my children’s needs took precedence. But lately, they've been reminding me they are still there.

The identity of Mom is easy to define. There is no wondering if I fit into that category. I have children, I am a mom, and I have gained automatic acceptance into the vast motherhood community. As someone who always struggled to find a place to feel welcome, a square peg in a world of round holes, I felt a wash of relief when I became a mother. I had an undisputed identity, and a place to fit. Pegs were now choking hazards. Mothers stick together for self-preservation. I fit in by necessity, and I loved it.

But now I forget who I was. My dreams, my thoughts, my personality from the time that I belonged only to myself have faded, and I don’t know who I am beyond being a mother. The identity crisis I thought I left behind in high school has returned in my 30s.

I know I am a good mother. I know my place in this community is well-established. I know that Mom will always be my most treasured identity. But there is more to me. I am not just someone’s mom, I am someone. But I don’t know who that someone is.

I have accomplished my biggest life dream. Nothing will ever compare to becoming a mother. But it is not my only dream. I know that I want more than this, I know I have goals, but I can’t remember what they are.

This Mother’s Day, I do not need a reminder of how much I love being a mother. I know I do. I am reminded of that every day. I do not need a reminder of how much my children love me. I know they do, they show me every day.

This Mother’s Day, I want a reminder of how much I love myself. I want to gather my annual bottle of husband wine and my handprint covered everything, and I want to take them to a hotel room by myself. I want to take my journal and a pen and get reacquainted with myself. I have missed myself, and we have a lot of catching up to do.

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