“I am not afraid of becoming a mother. I accept this new, challenging role as a beautiful privilege that a part of me has been waiting my whole life to reach. This very moment is where I am meant to be and I whole-heartedly, lovingly look forward to the day I can see my baby’s face for the first time. What I am afraid of… is my ability to be a fulfilled and happy person myself. I don’t question my ability to give my all to my marriage and baby but I am afraid that my being may get lost in the tornado that is life and the parts of me that still need a certain kind of fulfillment and love will get swallowed and forgotten.”
–April 3, 2016
I recently came across the above writing as I dug through old files and photos to edit. I have only a fuzzy memory of writing it, only about a month before I gave birth. But there it is, exactly as I left it a little over a year ago. I had every intention of spending those 9 months sharing my heart and celebrating the experience through my writing but as I’ve mentioned before, writer’s block reared its ugly head. But through reading it's interesting to experience my small attempt at expressing my honest thoughts during that time and revisit my state of mind.
The truth is, I have longed to reclaim my sense of self since Kaia’s birth and I have struggled with my identity. That may sound incredibly sad, negative and contradictory to how I have shared my motherhood experience so far and considering the way I have openly celebrated it. But it isn't representative of the love I have for my new role. I am so incredibly grateful for this experience and I know I am so fortunate. But that’s the thing about gratitude, it means we whole-heartedly acknowledge we have something wonderful to appreciate but it doesn’t take away the discomfort. Being pregnant across the country from my family and giving birth without my own mom nearby was extremely difficult and I struggled emotionally every day. I was uncomfortable with beginning our journey to our new life on this little island when Kaia was only 3 1/2 months old but had no way of delaying it. Trying to unpack our entire lives in a new home while caring for a newborn was overwhelming and we still aren’t finished almost a year later. Dealing with the ups and downs, the triumphs and failures while learning how to be a mother all on my own, multiple time zones away from anything familiar with a husband whose job is extremely demanding has been exhausting to say the least. It’s all the complete opposite of what I grew up believing marriage, family life and raising my children would be like. And I was forced to change my expectations of how my own needs are met in the process. They say it takes a village, but I've had to accept that I was so far from having that. My motherhood experience has been wonderful and so gratifying, but also incredibly lonely. This new, helpless little person needed so much and I want to give her all of me and more, but I started feeling like I was losing myself. During my dark moments I’ve found myself mourning my “old” self; craving freedom I once had, missing my free-spirited adventures, fearing that as time goes on, because of being so far from support and little time to myself, my identity as a mother will continue to take over I will no longer be “Christine the human being” and "Christine the mom" will be all that is left. I've struggled with the guilt of these feelings, because I love Kaia with all my heart and cannot imagine my life without her. But to be a good mom it's become so clear that we can't neglect ourselves. None of us wants to expose this unpretty side of ourselves, but it is important to be honest. It's the only way we can work towards healing. Mom title or not I am still human, after all.
I always believed pregnancy and motherhood would naturally serve as a new form of creative inspiration, and it really has. Not a day goes by that I don’t feel some sort of spark from various moments I share with my beautiful little Kaia each day. I absolutely love being with her every day and I would not trade it for anything in the world. While my role as a mother is demanding and takes priority over many other things in this stage of life, it does not define me as a person. I must embrace this new chapter and intertwine my worlds but I am still "Christine the human being" with my own interests, hobbies and passions. I'm still that free spirited girl that wants to get lost in crazy adventures. I need to nurture all the other layers of myself that make me who I am and spend time doing things that make me happy. I need to lose myself in my creativity again. It's important that I still work towards accomplishing my own goals and interests beyond the duties of wife and mother. And extremely important that I take care of my own heart however I can, even in the smallest of ways, so I can continue to work towards being the best wife, mother and "me" I can be. I still need to just be me, too. So here I am, in an effort to keep pushing forward, I'm spilling the guts of my heart, squeezing all I can into the few hours I have to myself and sacrificing precious sleep.
There was no way to prepare for the way motherhood would enrich my life and heighten my senses. An immeasurable amount of joy and heartache. Embracing it all is the only way for the heart to expand and reach new depths. And only in motherhood can a cocktail of such contradicting emotions coexist in harmony, so painfully and beautifully. I suppose that’s what makes the journey so unique and amazing, the endless roller coaster ride.