When people say you lose your identity a bit when you become a parent I used to wonder what they meant. Surely parenthood doesn’t change you that much.
But it does.
Suddenly everything you want, everything you plan for the future totally revolves around someone else ( or two someone elses in our case ) – this is exactly as it should be of course. They are and definitely should be the most important parts of our lives.
But there should still be you in there too.
I mean you have the working you – the parent who works to provide for his/her family. Because if I didn’t have children then I certainly wouldn’t be still in the job I’m in. I’m there because it has benefits and regular, consistent pay. I can’t take huge leaps into exciting opportunities because if it goes wrong we still have a house to pay for, food to put on the table.
The relationship you – yes we are still together. But it’s different. You don’t get the one on one time anymore. The hours just to chat. Every part of your life that exists outside of parenting is crammed into a few short hours each evening and even though you know you should be focussed on your other half sometimes there is just too much to do.
The daughter you – to be the child. Until you have your child you always feel like you are one. To depend on your parents. To know that if things go wrong you could go back and live in your old bedroom or sleep on the couch. To feel less responsible.
The old you. This is perhaps the hardest you to lose. Your old body before you house your babies in it, your face before it became tired and stressed. Your clothes which were stain free and never wrinkled. Your hair with its regular attention and cuts. Your carefree life. Lunchtime at the pub which stretched into a full day of laughter and cocktails. The hours you could spend curled up with a good book. The late nights you could enjoy knowing you would sleep all night.
It takes a while, years sometimes to accept the new you. Yes you have lost your old identity. But you have a new one.
The working you – who has two gorgeous and happy faces to come home. Who is missed. Who always has something to look forward to at the end of a working day.
The relationship you – you don’t get much time together anymore but you spend hours laughing at your children. You are a family . You understand when the other one has things to do, you know that time without the children is also time to do 101 tasks. It’s a different you. It’s not a bad you. You have been through things and come out the other side. Seen each other at vulnerable, difficult times yet still can laugh and joke.
The daughter you – yes you aren’t the child anymore. You will always be their daughter but you have grown up. Yes I couldn’t go back to my old bedroom ( a bit of a squeeze with two kids ) but I still depend on them in many ways. To see my children loving my parents is one of the most amazing things I have ever experienced. To finally understand what it means to be the parent. To get how much they worried. To love them even more for knowing what they have done for you.What they have achieved in bringing you up. To realise how lucky I am to have them as my parents and still so present in my life.
The old you – yes she’s gone. You grew up. You have toddlers and small ones. Your clothes are grubby, you hair is wild. Your eyes are tired, your heart is full. Spilling over in fact. You never knew you could feel so much love. So you miss out on days at the pub. You gain a million smiles, laughter and did you ever know how it felt to have someone love you so unconditionally. Whose tiny face lights up every time you step into a room and who declares at least once a week that YOU are the best cook in the world. To feel a small warm body curled up in your arms gazing up at you or sprawled all over you blowing raspberries on your belly. This is what counts. That old you. She didn’t know. The secret. This, this is what’s all about.