Every time a person asks me what I have tattooed on my leg it makes me realise how far removed I am from my old life. I actually want to say to these people: Those are the names of my children, the children I had in a previous life. I think about this a lot. I think it’s because when I was living that life I couldn’t imagine my life being any different or that it would ever end. Having three children spaced apart by first four years and then five years meant that I had young children for a very long time. Also because I had them so young for the first 23 years of my adult life, I was a mom. It was all consuming. And so today, in this new life of mine, it completely amazes me that I no longer have that life. My life could not be further from that life. I feel a bit like Benjamin Button. Like I literally have the life now that people normally have in their twenties. Even the people who like me, had kids young, seem to already have grandkids and are therefore still in the family lifestyle mode.
It makes me wonder if people who have kids when they are older, can actually see that there is life post kids or is it the same for everyone – even if you did have ‘life before kids’, when you are in it, does it feel for everyone that there will be no end to the sleepless nights, the constant meal-making, the constant dependence they have on you (even when they are no longer children and are teenagers, they are still dependent in terms of needing lifts here and there, help with homework and studying, support, love and attention).
For so long I was a mom and wife first and foremost. Nowadays people meet me and unless it comes up, I am just a person, Maria, who recently moved from South Africa to live in London. I am not sure how I feel about that. Maria IS a mom and will always be one, no matter where I am in the world or what I am doing. Three very important pieces of me are my kids, yet they are not all encompassing anymore.
I’m writing this post because this is something that has been on my mind a lot but also to get other people’s viewpoints on how they experienced or are experiencing motherhood. Does or did it feel all consuming to you too with the feeling that it will/would never end. If that has come out negatively it was not meant to. I loved being a mom when my kids were growing up and I think I was a pretty good one but I do remember thinking at times that it would never end; and being so very weary a lot of the time. This is why we should listen when older people say, enjoy every moment, because before you know it, they will be all grown up. That precious time when they are young and completely yours is so fleeting.
I think that’s also why I am so sedentary in my new life now. There is no need to jump out of bed in the morning and race around making sure everyone has everything they need. So I don’t. I can lie in bed all weekend if I so wish, and sometimes I do. I can eat toast and butter for dinner every night and sometimes I do. My time is my own and I am free. Having said all that, I do miss the morning cuddles. I do miss seeing everything through the eyes of a toddler. Every worm on the grass, every puppy in the street, every fish in the aquarium, every programme on TV is met with pure delight. I miss getting cards that say You are the best mommy in the whole world (although I did get a really awesome card this Mothers Day that said ‘You’re Not Like Regular Moms. You’re a COOL MOM!’) It’s such a double-edged sword because while I don’t necessarily want that again, in fact I know I don’t, and I love that I am finally at a place where my time is my own, I do think back to it and wish I had been more present and more grateful for what I had.
I read mommy blogs from moms who struggled to have kids and I appreciate how much they appreciate that their kids are a gift and a miracle. I planned two of my three children and wanted all of them very much so it’s not like I didn’t appreciate the gift I was given. But by the same token, as much as a mom who desperately wants a child after years of waiting, after waiting 23 years of adult life, I appreciate every single day I wake up alone in my comfy bed to do exactly what I want to do. The problem though, is that I’ve gotten lazy. Because of the frenetic lifestyle of my previous life which was constantly on the go – when I have a choice now I often choose to do nothing. The thought of getting up and going for a run does not do it for me anymore. I’m definitely fatter and lazier for not having young kids anymore!
Being a mom is the best thing I have ever done and will always be the best thing I have ever done, no matter how much I accomplish. Their accomplishments are mine and I could not be prouder of the young adults they are today. I didn’t provide them with the perfect childhood but it was certainly interesting. Love and miss them more every day!