A couple of months ago my husband and I had a fight. Not simply a disagreement. Not an argument. Not even a simple, clean fight. We had a knockdown, drag-out, say-things-you-will-regret-later kind of fight. It was an experience that rarely happens, and I am going to do my best to make sure that it never happens again.
The details of what we argued about don’t really matter, but here’s the gist: he said something that pissed me off and I totally over-reacted (as usual), got defensive (per normal), and got angry (yep, again normal. Sigh.) Again, the details of what he said that triggered all of this don’t really matter, but what I came to realize throughout that very long night is that: truly, it’s not him, it’s me.
I got so upset because something he said touched a very deep vein of insecurity in me. Nearly everyone I know has their insecurities, and I am no exception. I am insecure about many things: the size of my thighs, the shape of my breasts, the nasally sound of my voice. Insecurity is not a new thing to me. But lately I have added a new insecurity to the list. This insecurity has shaken me to my very core, because that is what I am insecure about – My very core. Not my thighs or my breasts or my belly or my laugh. I am insecure about Me. Mostly because I don’t know who Me is anymore.
Since becoming a mom, I have struggled to define myself outside of that title. I used to be many things – A writer, a producer, a loving wife, a best friend, a dirty-joke-teller, a great secret-keeper, a full-time foodie and wino, a sometime hip-hop dancer. But when my daughter was born, a new me was born too, and now I often feel as though I have been stripped down to a single thing: Lyla’s mommy. Believe me, Lyla’s mommy is really great thing to be, but sometimes I feel as though it is just not enough.
Perhaps it is my fault. Since having a baby, I quit my full-time job and now freelance part-time. I have given up most of my hobbies. I see much less of my friends. But these are all choices that I made, and I am not sure that I would make them any differently. My most rewarding job is my daughter. She is also my favorite hobby and my best friend. And that is beautiful. But yet, I still feel lost sometimes.
I used to be full of stories and jokes and opinions. Now, I often find myself struggling for interesting things to talk about at dinner parties. My clever anecdotes about potty training, and hilarious stories of Mommy and Me shenanigans can only take me so far.
I used to have an exciting job. Something I worked very hard at and was very proud of. Now, when people ask me what I do, I come up with some sort of vague answer about how I kinda stay home with my daughter and sort of work part-time from home. It’s as though I feel like neither job is good or exciting enough to warrant anyone’s curiosity. Instead I steer the conversation towards my husband or a friend or someone whose life is more worthy of examination.
I used to love getting dressed up, carefully planning each outfit the day before. Now, I spend my days in yoga pants and hoodies. I sometimes go for days without putting on make-up or even washing my hair. This is probably because I can often go For days without seeing another adult besides my husband and the cashier at Trader Joe’s.
Time passes. There are wonderful days and boring days and tough days. My daughter grows bigger and sometimes I feel as though I am growing smaller. I get further and further away from the person I used to be, but somehow I don’t get much closer to discovering the person I am now.
Although my fight with my husband was awful, something good came out of it. It forced me to take a hard look at myself and realize that I need to make some changes. I need a Mommy Make-over, and not the kind that requires a nip and tuck, or even a new hair-cut. I realized that I need to take care of my newborn self the way that I took care of my newborn daughter. I need to love and nurture myself, and every once in a while, to put my own needs at the top of the list.
I know that it is February, and now is when people are breaking their New Year’s resolutions, not making them, but I think that any positive change can happen any time you decide to make it happen. So this year my resolution is this: I am going to spend a lot less time thinking about who I used to be or who I should be, and spend a lot more time discovering who I am. Who I really am. Right at this moment. Not the “new and improved, healthier, skinnier, friendlier, better wife, better mother” me. But just me. Right now. What I REALLY enjoy doing. What REALLY makes me happy. Then I am going to spend a lot less time thinking about it, and a lot more time actually doing it. And hopefully once day, when I am old and grey and I have time to think about these things, I will discover that I have always known who I am. And it has nothing to do with any job I held, or clothes that I wore, or hobby I perfected. Perhaps it is some complicated equation that has to do with the people I love, added to the experiences I have had, multiplied by the laughs I have shared. But I haven’t quite figured that out yet. So for now, I’m going to try to think less and live more. Talk to me when I’m 80. By then I should have it all figured out. Maybe.