Who was I? A snowboarder. Hiker. Book lover. Writer. Spontaneous adventurer. Music lover.
These are some of the things that used to define me. Then I had a baby, and I became what felt like a stranger for a long time. Motherhood used to feel like a rouge balloon. As if I was floating slowly away, out of site.
When I had my first baby, I disconnected from most of my friends. From the moment I had my child, people told me to stay out of public. The baby’s feeble immune system could be compromised, so I became a shut-in for months.
Once I felt comfortable to recede from hibernation, I felt like an invasive species. I was no longer the same spontaneous person. With an extra 20 pounds of survival gear I lugged around with me everywhere, how could I ever leave on a whim? We’d need a large portable crib, high chair, loads of diapers and wipes, triple the normal amount of clothes and bibs, special melty probiotic snacks, diaper rash cream, a stroller, a carrier… the list of necessities was endless. Eventually we gave up the idea that we’d go on any adventures. Those unpredictable moonlight swims we fondly remembered were a thing of the past.
Hiking and snowboarding were also out of the question, as long as we had a needy creature to keep alive. For a long time, I had forgotten what it felt like to curl up in a ball and devour a juicy novel because when I attempted to read, I was either interrupted or fell asleep with exhaustion.
I remember the first time I left my daughter to take a hike with a group of friends. It was the type of hike that was so intense that I was relieved for the reward of an amazing view once we reached the top. It was on that hike that I remember admitting that I didn’t feel as if my life reflected my authentic self anymore. A childless friend gave me a shocked look.
Once I got home and tucked my beautiful daughter into bed that night, I thought about the reaction from my friend. I thought about my life, and motherhood. I began to recall the day she was born, and how I had never felt more empowered in my entire life.
See that’s the thing about motherhood. I did lose a part of the person I was, but I also gained this ability to selflessly care and love a little human being. Motherhood gives you a sense that you’re needed, and that there are more important things in life than late night swims. It’s a chance to laugh more, if you let it. Humor becomes survival, otherwise getting shit on at 4am will wear you down. Those never-ending late night nursing sessions will turn into a prison.
Motherhood is a beautiful train wreck. I do laugh more. I may have put my reading list on hiatus, but I do have the privilege of reading fairytales and watching my daughter’s eyes light up in wonderment. I still take hikes. They may take double the amount of time due to countless snack breaks, but now I get to help turn leaves into crowns, and accept bouquets of weeds.
While my snowboard still collects dust, I now get to sled and roll down mountains of snow with an incredibly fun little girl. One day I’ll teach my daughters and have snowboarding buddies again.
My second daughter was born this year, and it has been a complete different experience. I am determined to keep a sense of adventure that defined my personality for so long. I am involved with as many activities as I can, and co-founded a mom’s group where I’ve created lasting friendships with parents who care about the same things I do. I’ve taken my daughter on countless trips, even to Ireland at 3 months old. She’s in for the ride. Even so, I still enjoy slowing down, and try experiencing the moment from her perspective.
I am no longer the same person, but I have learned to love myself and enjoy my old hobbies in a new way. This year my daughter turned five, and I finally got to enjoy a late night swim with her. It was glorious and spontaneous.