I’m Not Who I Said I Was, or Who I Thought I’d Be*

Let me start by saying that I’m not miserable.  I realize that I am an incredibly lucky woman, and I am grateful every day for all that I have.  This is not a complaining post.  It’s a “I’m trying to figure this out” sort of post.

I’ve always been way too self-aware, too analytical, too emotional.  I rarely have the patience or faith to just let things play out and resolve themselves.  And I’ve always been fascinated with identity and how people define themselves.  All of this has led to a perfect storm, of sorts, in my life right now.

When I was a teenager making plans for my future, I always thought I’d be a writer.  I’d live in a city apartment with a ton of cats and book, write, and read my (horrible) poetry at open mics in the evening.

In my 20’s, I focused on my education and my desire to be a professor.  I worked full-time, established a great career in health insurance (I made a real salary and had benefits!!), and gave it all up when I had an opportunity to teach.  And I was happy…mostly.

As I neared my 30’s, I began to want a baby.  I kept putting it off, though, because I needed to finish school, and I wanted to secure a full-time teaching gig.  That didn’t happen, and I finally had my son when I was 35.

That’s when I lost focus.

I love being a mother.  I really do, as frustrating as it sometimes can be.  But, and this is so painfully cliche, I’ve lost myself.  So much of my life is determined by what my son (and now Kid 2) need.  What time isn’t taken up by him is devoted to teaching.  There’s nothing left for myself.  And with Kid 2 on the way, I’m beginning to feel like my life isn’t my own at all.

And perhaps that’s the way parenthood is supposed to be.  Maybe I’m being selfish.  Am I?

Last year, I started to make time for myself for weight loss and health.  I LOVED taking The Kid on walks every day.  As much as I faltered, I loved taking time on weekends to attend my Weight Watchers meetings.  It was only an hour, but it was MY time.  That’s all gone now.

I work with writers, and they always ask me what I’m working on.  For the past year or so, the answer has been, “nothing, but I want to write again.”  Every once in a while, I resolve to work on my poetry and start to submit it again.  But it hasn’t happened yet.

The answer seems so simple — I need to make time for myself.  Duh, right?  When I do have time to myself, I don’t want to do anything.  I just want to nap, or do chores.  I have no drive, no focus.  I don’t know if I want to focus on being The Writer, The Healthy Girl, The Farmy Girl, or something else.

I don’t know what I want.

I’ve been hibernating for the past month, not responding to emails from friends, because I just don’t feel like talking.  Or I don’t feel like answering everyone’s questions about motherhood, etc.  I don’t know.  I don’t like it.

I’ve been typing for 20 minutes now, and I have no answers.

I just want to figure out who I am now; this 36 year-old mom who is still struggling with all of it.

*Post title courtesy of Ani DiFranco

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About JessieB

Just a 30-something girl trying to figure it all out. I write about weight loss, books, motherhood, life, and whatever is on my mind.
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11 Responses to I’m Not Who I Said I Was, or Who I Thought I’d Be*

  1. NaiveTest says:

    Time for oneself comes hand in hand with execution of time management tactics. Personally, after going through a period of extreme introversion, nose to the grindstone work, I’ve developed a list of weekly and daily goals and let myself check them off as I accomplish them. Setting aside time limits and requirements on the things I both love and hate to do has been a pretty radical act for me. A major building of inertia.

    Being the academic you appear to be, this idea is probably not foreign or new, but I just wanted to throw in my two cents. You’re title pulled me in. Now I’ll have to listen to more Ani!

  2. Jean Mishra says:

    Sometimes when someone is on the precipice of change, of that new chapter in life, everything just stalls out. It’s like an eddy in the stream of the energies flowing through your life. A little cocooning to allow things to settle themselves in you might be exactly what you need. You seem like a mindful person. You’ll know when it’s time to break out of the cocoon and flex your new bright wings. Don’t worry, you’re at a crossroads that I think many women find themselves at. Spring is coming…

    • Oh, I love the idea of being in a cocoon right now. It’s a great way to think of this pregnancy and all the changes that it is bringing. I keep getting this sense that being a mom of two is what’s really going to challenge and define me.

  3. Sometimes plans have a way of diverting themselves, like they are trying to throw you off course and leave you behind. A body remains in the present; going to work, making dinner, cleaning up shit, but you aren’t really there.

  4. Momma Hunt says:

    Oh I struggled with this a lot I think when you become a mom you get lost/stuck in that title and you loose yourself a bit….for me a lot. I spent awhile since my second was born almost two years ago to find who I am. I think I am still working at it. I understand your feelings of hiding its sometimes easier in the short term to hide. In the long run all you do is realize you are lost and now lOnley too. Sadly I think some moms act like motherhood is all poopIng rainbows and farting sunshine when we reality is messy and stressful and somehow the greatest thing you will ever do. Hang in there and in the words of my favorite song “don’t worry you’ll find yourself follow your heart and nothing else”

    • Oh, thank you! I know that everyone wants to focus on the joys of motherhood (and there certainly are joys), but it can be so lonely! I think I’m having a problem now because I was just starting to get into a groove with healthy living and with my toddler. And then I had to go and get pregnant! So, the identity I was just getting used to is changing again. I’m excited about Kid 2, but…it’s going to change so much. But it’s so nice to know that I’m not alone!

  5. Laura says:

    Granted, I’m not a mom, so I really can’t relate to what you are going through now. But a long time ago I went through the same feelings – having so many goals but being too unorganized/unmotivated/lost in what I wanted from life. I would want to make time for myself, but it was just spent watching tv.

    I started working really hard at planning. I have a planning sheet (which ill gladly mail you if youd like) that has all the major areas of life (health, work, social, spiritual, etc) and the days of the week. I started by writing down one goal in each category every week and working at that to establish some life balance. I think the other thing I did was making different areas of life come together. Rather than being only “healthy girl”, I would mix that with time with my bf or friends to add social, I would take books to the gym so I could read while there. Combining as many of these hats together saves time!

    I’m sure you will figure this out

  6. It’s so easy to get lost in being a mom and a wife and a teacher, or whatever a person’s profession happens to be. I did this too. After a while I began to question who I really was and if I even knew who I was. The fact is that I didn’t allow time for myself, to cultivate interests that were just mine and didn’t relate to my husband, or caring for my children or encouraging *their* interests.

    I’ve begun to do that and personally I’ve found it REVOLUTIONARY. I’ve been a mother for 7 years, and many times I’ve resented not having time for myself. But the true fact of that is that I didn’t make it happen. I’m crocheting now (!!!) which I find to be an incredible stress reliever, I’m sewing (sort of) and I’m embarking on a new business venture that is ALL MINE. I’m beginning to remember that I am a strong, creative, happy, interesting person who has more to offer than I’ve let on all these years.

    Something tells me you do too.

    Call for backup when you need it. I’ll have the convertible gassed up and ready for us.

  7. Pam says:

    I think all young moms go through what you are experiencing. Who knew it would be this much work? And….even when you have a spare moment, all you want to do is sit down and rest or better yet, take a nap. Your time no longer belongs to you, you’ve lost control over who you are and what you can do.

    And yet…look at what you made (that little person) and what you are doing now. What you are doing is so valuable and essential. Look at that little person and realize you are his/her everything, for the first few years anyway, and now another one on the way? It won’t get any easier, I won’t lie.

    The other day Whoopie Goldberg gave a lovely tribute to her recently passed away mother on “The View.” And she noted that no one will ever love you like your mother does/did. Our love is all encompassing, all forgiving, and forever.

    Even when this part of your life is over, and the kids are grown up, they will continue to be an integral part of your life. I can’t imagine my life without my now all grown-up boys (men). And yet, I DO remember how hard it was when they were young, how frustrating it was, how I did way too much yelling. If I had any advice at all for you, it would be to just slow down and enjoy these years, if possible. My husband’s grandmother gave me some great advice one time, and I don’t think she even considered it advice. She said, “You’ll remember these years (when your kids are young) as the best years of your life.”

    I am enjoying my later years now, with less responsibility, less stress, and lots more time for me. I still occasionally also enjoy watching my grandkids for an overnight stay though, but I DO breath a sigh of relief when they go home and my time is my own again. So enjoy your kids when they’re young and know it won’t last forever. In fact, as hard as it is to believe, in a blink of an eye, they’ll be grown up and out of your house and all you will be left is fond memories of these days.

    IF you can find the time to take care of yourself during this time, I think not only YOU will benefit from that but also your kids. You will be happier, have more energy and joy, and maybe be less stressed out. Good Luck! I hope you know you are NOT ALONE in how you feel right now.

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