Wednesday, May 16, 2018

becoming.

"I'm feeling touched out." I tell R sometime in the late evening as I rock our restless newborn while we mindlessly watch TV. He takes her and assumes the automatic swing-bounce posture that every parent knows so well. He tells me to go get my computer and take some time for myself to write.

I sit down with a glass of wine and my laptop and when I stare at the blank page, cursor blinking expectantly, I find I have nothing to say. 

I'd spent all day, all of the last few months really, on an endless loop of nurse-burp-diaper-repeat. During the daytime hours, our two and a half year old peppers the monotony with a constant stream of chatter, questions, and requests, and the occasional tantrum over such pressing issues as not getting to throw a banana peel away herself. I change, go to the bathroom, do my makeup, even shower, with a background soundtrack constantly asking "What you doing, mama?" and "What's that?" This stage of parenting- the constant emotional need of a toddler and the constant physical need of a newborn- is exhausting to say the least.


The other night, when I said I was touched out, I think what I really meant was that I was losing touch. 

Somewhere in the Groundhog Day of being a stay at home mom, it can feel like I'm losing touch with the woman I used to be. A woman who had conversations that were about more than diapers and Daniel Tiger. A woman who could complete a thought without interruption. A woman who showered more and did yoga and remembered to text friends back.

blogger and artist that I love recently said, "Our motherhood years aren’t back-burner years; they are becoming years."

As I look back on my days spent meeting the constant needs of these two small people, I wonder what I'm becoming. Maybe you look in the mirror at your tired eyes and your changed body or you look around your house at the sea of toys and messes, and you wonder, too.


I'm tempted to believe the Liar and think that I'm becoming obsolete. I hear the whisper that I've become a woman who isn't as smart, or as interesting, or as beautiful as I once was. Furthermore, I'm tempted to blame it on my children or even my husband, rehearsing the old script that if only he helped more or met more of my needs, I wouldn't be so tired and I would be able to have more 'me-time'. When I realize that every ounce of my energy in a day has been spent on laundry and dishes and diapers, it feels easy to believe that I've become someone I don't want to be.

But I can sniff out the lie and see the truth.

While it's tempting to believe I've become someone less beautiful, I know it can't be true. These two people, who wrecked my body on their way into this world, wrecked my heart, too. Where my skin used to be taut and my muscles firm, there is now roundness and stretch marks. But there is softness on the inside too- compassion that comes from seeing everyone as someone's child and patience hard won by the tedium of sleepless nights and long days. I may not be fit to model, but when I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror, rocking my baby and singing to my toddler, arms strong and spirits high, I feel radiant.

It's tempting to believe I've become less interesting, less valuable to the larger world because my days are filled with the trappings of homemaking. But in the blue light of early mornings when my eyelids are heavy and the whir of sound machines and the water boiling on the stove for coffee are the only sounds in the house, I can feel something happening. Instead of relying on my own competency, I've become someone who combs through the crinkled pages of my Bible, hungry for the things that anchor me down, the things that satisfy my longing heart, the things that I can hold tight.



I'm inclined to think we mothers are becoming more and more beautiful in the glory and terror of motherhood. We are becoming brilliant and lovely as we shed the pieces of our old selves that maybe weren't meant to last. Every time we provide for our kid's need before our own, every time we choose gratitude instead of resentment, every hour we spend awake while the rest of the world sleeps, fervently whispering prayers for guidance and prayers to make it through another day, we are becoming something else entirely. Oh what the world gains when a woman becomes a mother!

Maybe I am losing touch with the old me. But I think there is something beautiful to be discovered in who I am becoming. 

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