When people ask me who I am I usually start by saying I’m the mama of 3 babies. Then I talk about what I do for a living and oh yea did I mention I’m married? I realized one day that my order is all wrong. I need to put my marriage first, then my kids and then my job. Sadly, in the commotion of surviving my crazy working mama world, I forget that more times than I’d like to admit.
When Jay and I met, we were Peace Corps volunteers. We were young and believed that we could do all the things we set our minds to. We were so adventurous…and well rested. We would hike and read and play the guitar. We had the opportunity to just BE and live in the moment.
Once we moved back home, we quickly acclimated to the crazy schedules of school, work, and social life. We traveled as much as we could. We would talk about “what it would be like when we became parents, someday.” We knew better than to think we could plan it all out exactly how we wanted it. We soon realized that becoming a parent and parenthood is literally something you can not control. It was a challenge for us, especially since we had been choosing what to do and how to do it for so many years.
Fast forward to present day. My oldest is 8 years old. In the last 9 years we have been pregnant 6 times, and feel very blessed to have 3 babies. Each pregnancy and each child has proven to be so different. I had confidence in my professional identity but then when I added a baby to the mix, it was hard to “find myself” again. Just when I feel like I’ve got things figured out: being a wife and mama, working a professional career, social life—something would happen. Whether it was something with my job, or the loss of a loved one, spending the night in the hospital with a sick child, or the stress of sleepless nights. I guess that’s how life goes though.
I’ve realized I have to surrender many of the things that I valued in my personality before motherhood. I tend to be over-organized and I like to prepare for all possible circumstances. I am not as organized now. I do not plan, at least not more than 24 hours in advance, and I for sure don’t ever sleep. All of those things that I valued so much have been replaced with something so much more valuable. My kids are at such sweet ages. As I watch them grow and learn and wonder, my heart fills up. It gives me purpose and in some strange way I feel like I am where I’m supposed to be. Sure, traveling or doing whatever I want when I want to do it sounds like a dream, but really I love what I’m doing now. Living this crazy life where sleep is optional, dinner times are loud, and winters are full of vomit and snot have pushed me to my limits.
As I try to navigate motherhood I’ve lost myself many times. I’ve broken down numerous times and had some dismal moments, but the building back up again has made me grow in faith, made me more empathic to others, and helped me to realize the wonder of life. Even in my hardest days, I have those 3 sweet little faces telling me they love me and asking me to tuck them into bed each and every single night. I’ve realized now that while I thought I was the one shaping their little lives, it is actually them shaping mine.
Now as I’m approaching 40, I consider myself a veteran at the wife, mama, work juggling act. Although I sometimes miss who I used to be, I know someday I will get the time back. My kids are getting older and even now, need me less and less. Before we know it, the kids will move on and it will be just me and my husband once again. And I will still be a wife, mama and professional trying to navigate a new season in my life.