Sometime around the 1.5-year postpartum mark I lose myself. It has happened with each of my three children. It is as if overnight I became some unrecognizable mom-droid and I can no longer relate to the non-mom world around me.
Washable oversized tops, nursing camis, and stretchy leggings are my uniform. High heels collect dust, as my sneakers gather playground mulch.
I pick up formerly enjoyable fashion magazines and lifestyle publications only to flip past ads and articles, photos of sultry women and pristine homes with which I can in no way identify. I surf through TV shows and YouTube videos, none to which I can relate. I am on “Mom Island.”
Old photos show a version of me that I can hardly remember. That young woman who wore heels every day, flat-ironed her hair, and slept until 11am on weekends? She’s less of a memory and more of an illustration.
I don’t resent being on my island. Actually, I have some phenomenal mom friends who are similarly stranded. All of us have grown and shifted, grayed and stretched far from who and where we used to be. Despite being happy with who we have become, we’re no less lost.
What should interest me? What fashion choices actually suit me? Can I converse without mentioning my children… or poop? What’s my non-maternal purpose? Who am I when I step out into the world without my bumbling brood loudly announcing to the world that “I AM MOM”? Am I a mom if the world cannot immediately see I am one? Of course!! But it’s no less unsettling.
I feel naked, incomplete without a snot-nosed tot on my hip and a youngster or two incessantly yammering around my legs. It is as if I have been a life-long, proud natural redhead and awoke one morning with an embony mane. I am still me… but yet not.
And so I will go about my kid-centric days occasionally grasping a few moments of solitude during which I might try to find myself, try to determine how to relate to the surrounding non-mom world. Or maybe I’ll just enjoy a hot beverage and some silence before someone calls me to wipe his or her butt.