Sometimes, I miss who I was.
I’m a 36-year-old mother of three. My life these days consists of shuttling my kids between sports and school and making sure everyone is clean, dressed, and fed.
I do more laundry than should be legal.
My primary occupation is continuously picking up the toys my children leave everywhere and flushing toilets that they somehow have not yet learned how to flush.
While I still work part-time, my work fits into the crevices around being wife and mother and is not the primary part of my identity anymore.
There are many (MANY) days when I look back on my single or young married days with envy.
I miss who I was before I became an expert toilet flusher and LEGO picker-upper — before my days were filled with chaos and my nights were sleepless, not of my own volition.
But the reality is, while I miss the carefree girl I once was, I wouldn’t change who I am now.
I miss sleeping naked beside my husband without having to worry about which child would meander to our room in the middle of the night, leading to an awkward conversation. I miss the carefree nature with which we could schedule dates or carry on whole conversations without interruptions. I miss the moments of beautiful silence that were effortless, contemplative, and not merely exhausted at the end of the day.
But I wouldn’t change the woman I am now, who is far more comfortable in her own body and confident in what that body can do. I wouldn’t change the intimacy and the depth that being parents together has brought to our marriage. I wouldn’t change the ways we’ve become more and more one flesh, as life’s pain and love has welded us together. And I wouldn’t change the way my husband can read me like a beloved book — and I, him — in our silence or over our children’s ever-present chaos.
I miss having a resume that was easy to explain — a career trajectory that had an easy narrative. I miss feeling like I had measurable accomplishments that anyone could see. I miss the sense of pride I felt in my work — and the ease of explaining it in social settings.
But I wouldn’t change the freedom I now have to not base my identity on my work. I wouldn’t change the pride I feel when I see my kids turn into decent, kind human beings. I wouldn’t change the creativity and innovation I’ve had to learn in forging my own career narrative and creating my own balance.
I wouldn’t trade any of the moments of motherhood — even the hard ones. They have far more profoundly shaped me into the woman I am today than any job I could hold.
I miss the freedom I once had to be adventurous and free — I especially miss free time, even though I didn’t recognize its luxury back then. I miss climbing mountains and skinny dipping in the ocean and traveling to a different country on a whim. I miss staying up late for a good conversation or waking up early to watch the sunrise over the beach without worrying about the repercussions for my next weeks’ sleep. I miss dancing until the wee hours of the night and singing karaoke (terribly) just because it scared me a little bit.
But I wouldn’t change the ways my children have anchored and grounded me and filled my time to an overflowing abundance. I wouldn’t change the freedom I have to be goofy and ridiculous, to sing out of rhythm all the time, without worrying about how others might perceive me. I wouldn’t change the ways I’ve learned to (out of necessity) laugh at myself and let myself share the things that are hard. I wouldn’t change the sweetness and joy that I’ve found in sharing, little by little, my love of adventure with my children.
Yes, I miss who I once was. But I wouldn’t, for the world, change who I am now.