I am someone’s mother. I am a mother to four someones actually, and I find myself clinging to this part of my identity so fiercely that at times it seems to obscure the rest of me. I forget that while “mother” means so much, and I would never seek to diminish the enormity of that role, it still is not all that I am.
The other day I was at a school function for my four-year-old son, and I bumped into a woman who looked familiar, but who I’d never formally met. She introduced herself to me by way of her name, and I introduced myself first by saying, “I’m Miles’s mom.” I threw in my name as an afterthought, as secondary to the fact that I was his mother, a mother. I don’t know what about that particular encounter gave me pause, because I’m sure I’d done it countless times before, but in the back of my mind, for the duration of the function, I kept thinking about the response I’d given that woman.
It is easy to forget yourself when you are a mother, or at least when I take inventory of my own life, I can see how easy it has been to pour all of myself into that title. I carried my children for nine months inside of my body, I ushered them into the world in a feat of strength that has no parallel or equal. I fed them from milk made from the blood that runs through my veins for months. My body trained itself to sleep lighter so that I might better hear their cries and the sounds of “Mama,” “Momom,” “Mommy,” being uttered at various volumes. I have placed them before myself over and over and over again, and will do so many more times over the duration of my life. My planner is more full of their activities, school events, doctor’s appointments and playdates, than my own events. In addition to lunches, forms and overnight bags that I send them out into the world with, they also tote pieces of my heart. I could not even begin to describe how many of my thoughts each day are dedicated to them.
Being a mother is so much of who I am… but, it is not all that I am.
Though it changed me more than any other event, experience or relationship in my life, I did not come into being the day I became someone’s mother, and there are parts of me that while touched by my role as a mother, still exist independently of that distinction. I was someone before I became a mother, and though I may have tabled them or pushed them to the side or neglected them, the parts of me that are not “mother” are still there.
I am trying to remember myself -- to lift up the pieces of me that do not rely on who I am in relation to someone else, and to remind myself that while being a mother to my little someones is a beautiful thing, so is being my own.