Before I became a mother, I was nice. I was friendly and giving and kind. I wasn’t selfish or mean. I hardly ever got angry. I’d go out of my way to help my friends. They trusted me. They thought I was a good person. I was well-liked and reliable. I wasn’t a bitch.
Motherhood has changed me.
Sometimes, it brings out the selfishness in me. I feel like I demand more and more me-time, after having the energy sucked out of me over and over, and seemingly faster and faster. And then of course, I feel guilty for it.
Sometimes it brings out the impatience in me. My fuse seems to get shorter and shorter, the more times I have to ask for teeth to be brushed, or toys to be put away. And again, I feel guilty for it.
And sometimes, motherhood brings out the stone-cold bitch in me, where I’m barely clinging to my parental values as I take on the wee-nager of the century , who’s dishing out attitude and back-talk that I wouldn’t even take from an adult. Insert mom-guilt here.
But the struggle I’m having goes beyond bad behaviour and poor manners. It’s more than just the frustration I feel after the third, long, drawn-out explanation on why my daughter has to go to day-care after school. Can I blame her for bringing out these nasty qualities? I could, but no. She’s five. It’s what she does.
It’s more than the disgust I feel from wiping up my son’s squished peas and mashed potatoes off the floor, only to have an entire plate of unwanted dinner dumped on my head. Can I blame him for making me feel so desperately unappreciated? No. He’s two. It’s what he does.
My struggle is with who I was before motherhood and who I am now. Motherhood has brought out a toughness in me. And sometimes, I really don’t like it.
I don’t like yelling. I actually hate it. I don’t like feeling angry or selfish. I don’t like making my kids cry because of a punishment I’ve just given. I don’t like being mean and unfair. It’s not who I want to be. It’s not who I am.
But it’s who I have to be.
While that’s fair enough, there’s another part of this conundrum I’m wrestling with; how do I keep being the person I was before motherhood? How do I keep that part of me present and relevant, when most days it’s shoved aside so the mom in me can take over and get shit done? It’s yet another balancing act I wasn’t expecting to perform.
Don’t get me wrong, I do see that pre-mom side of me occasionally. She hasn’t totally disappeared. I see her in the cool shit my daughter says and in my son’s mischievous little smile. I see her generosity when my daughter picks up the dropped toy of a baby in a shopping cart. I see her playfulness when my son instigates a game of peek-a-boo.
But that’s the trade off, really, isn’t it? In order to raise good, kind and strong children, I give the best parts of myself to my kids. And while seeing those beautiful quirks and personality traits shine through them is rewarding, it can leave me feeling like the shadow of my pre-mom self.
It’s times like these when I miss her the most…
…like a close friend I silently wish would visit more often.