I can’t claim to know much about science, let alone the complexities of genetics and DNA, but I truly believe that something chemical has changed in me since the birth of my children. Let me reflect on yesterday…
I dropped my children off at my Mom and Dad’s house for the night. I went home to my husband and what did we do? We sat around playing games on the computer and iPad and then we watched what was supposed to be a comedy, but was really a drama that had me laughing and crying simutaniously. What did we have for supper? Well, without my children it seemed pointless to make anything at all. I first began with a bag of raw carrots. Then I had two chocolate chip waffles smothered in strawberries and syrup. Oh yeah, and then I followed that up with a plate of hash browns smothered in ketchup. A meal of champions! I threw a blanket on the floor and Rene and I watched another movie, then went to bed by 9:30 pm.
I know what you are thinking! OMG, why would she waste a day without kids? Why didn’t I clean my whole house or organize something, or paint, or go somewhere, or have passionate sex all day, or simply dance a jig in the utter quiet of the house? It dawned on me that I could do all that, but in the midst of the quiet I realized something strange, almost scary. The quiet is unsettling. The empty house is lonely. The life I had with my husband before we had children was no more. In fact I barely remember the person I was back then. And I wasn’t alone in these thoughts. I commented how I missed the kids to Rene and he agreed he felt the same way. He said the house was too quiet with them gone and it wasn’t normal.
Of course, normal is in the eye of the beholder. Everyone’s normal is different. But our normal today is not what our normal was before our children. Now maybe you think I am being a bit melodramatic. You might even think feeling this way isn’t healthy because I should be able to have a life outside of being a Mother. But the reality is that I am the person I am because of my children. And I like who I have become. And this isn’t just about being a responsible adult. I was always pretty responsible. I wasn’t a big partier. I didn’t drink much. I had a good job and I was happy in my marriage. This is about changing the DNA that physically makes up who I am.
Now I know this is an impossibility, but roll with me here. The debate between nurture and nature has been a hot topic among pyschologists for eons. What makes us who we are? I have always believed it is a good balance of both. But what happens when something so profound in your life interrupts the person we thought we were? What happens when we physically and mentally change the chemical make-up of our being? I couldn’t exist anymore without my children. I wouldn’t know who I was. They are physically, mentally, and emotionally a part of everything that makes me me. When they aren’t with me, my DNA is jumbled.
Who would I have been without my children? That is a question for the stars to know and me to occasionally wonder. But I chose this life; I chose this normal. I would choose it again. I know most people can’t understand how chaos can be so comforting. The same people’s mouths gape wide when I say I have four kids. They are the people who make comments like, “You must be crazy”, or “You are a brave woman”. I laugh and nod and say things like, “Yes, it would seem that way to the outsider.” I don’t judge or get angry. Their normal is just not my normal. In the same way, I struggle to understand people who chose a career over having a family. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t respect their choices.
So today I woke up at the same time my kids usually wake me up, because my internal alarm is programmed to their schedule now. I hung out in bed and caught up on a few episodes of Vampire Diaries on my laptop. I went for a run, had a shower and then enjoyed slowly sipping my coffee while it was still hot. It was a nice morning, but it didn’t leave me with a sense of fulfillment. In fact, I dare say I was bored.
Then my children swung open the door and tromped into the kitchen, all talking at once, and throwing their stuff every which way. In that moment, my physical body relaxed. My DNA, if you will, fit back into the puzzle just perfectly. I sighed a breath of relief as all returned to normal. It was loud and it was busy, but that is the only way my life makes sense.
I may not be an important executive business woman running a fortune 500 company, but my job is equally full. Every day I balance being a mother and a wife. I have to juggle between working out of the house at a job I love, and still find time to do homework with my kids at night. I tutor other children who’s parents trust me to engage them and teach them. I take university courses in an attempt to obtain the dream of finishing my two degrees. I am a writer and try to find time to reflect in words so that one day I can look back and read who I became along the journey. I am…
We all need breaks from chaos for our own sanity. It is healthy to have time with your significant other alone. It is healthy to let your children roam and explore the world around them without smothering the people they are becoming. Because I believe their DNA is not set in stone. My husband and I created them, and we are raising them in our eye, but they will chose who they become.
I catch myself almost daily now, feeling moments of pure joy. It doesn’t have to be a monumental event. Even now as I watch Carter through the window playing in the sandbox with his snow gear still on, I find myself grinning. My axis is no longer spinning. My children make up my DNA. They are the blood running through my veins. And yes, I may complain about being tired and I may lose my patience once in awhile. I like to visit with my friends from time to time without my children in tow. I like quiet when I need to write. I love drinking my coffee while it is still hot. But if I look close enough, I see that my children love to spend time alone colouring, playing in the sandbox, and going to school. They spend time together as siblings and don’t need me to be there to hold their hand. They love Rene and I, and we are the most important people in their lives, but they don’t have to be joined to the hip with us.
So what is this reflection about? I have spent years trying to find the woman I was before I was a Mother. I always thought that deep inside I would never be complete unless I had a balance of my past self and my new self. But the reality is that the woman I was searching for doesn’t exist anymore. She is long gone. Her DNA was re-written. And for the first time I realize that I am perfectly okay with the woman standing in her place. I can’t take off my mommy suit whenever I want. The more I struggled to dress myself without it, the more I felt naked.
For those moms out there who are still struggling to find themselves, embrace who you are. At the end of your life, your greatest accomplishment will have been your children. Your DNA is now encoded with special powers that make you the most protective creature on this planet. Your children will always feel safe with you. Wear that mommy suit proud.