FAMILY & PARENTING

How Being A Mom Does (And Doesn’t) Define Me

by Kimberly Zapata
Kimberly is the creator of Sunshine Spoils Milk, a blog dedicated to motherhood and mental health.

I’ve got be honest: Every week, I yearn for an empty house, which, in my case, comes on Tuesday and is also known as “day care day.”

Why?

Because I yearn for hot coffee and cold cereal — cereal free of little fingers, spit, and snot. Because I yearn for work time, and adult time, and because I yearn for silence.

Sweet, sweet silence.

I get giddy about tuning into HGTV while I write, and I spend way too long in the bathroom because I can. Because no one is standing there asking mom if she’s pooping.

But then I drop my daughter off, silence falls, and I find myself lost. I am a little bit emptier.

There is a vacancy in my house, and in my heart, and I am at a loss for words.

I feel drained and saddened, and I feel a loss of self.

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Make no mistake: I love going to the doctor alone. I love being able write an article from start to finish, and I love being able to go running on a whim, but I do not know who I am without my daughter.

Me and “mom me” have become one and the same.

And, in a way, that is a beautiful thing, but it also makes me sad. Sometimes, it pisses me off because before my daughter, I had what felt like a distinct identity. I was compassionate and empathetic. I was fearless: a real “never turn down a dare” sorta gal. I was hardworking and spontaneous.

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Before my daughter, I was outgoing.

Before my daughter, I was a party animal. I drank too much, and too frequently.

Before my daughter, I had a name.

And I went into parenthood vowing to keep that version of me. I would still be active and ambitious. I would remain career driven and free spirited. I would still be a good friend, a good daughter, and a good wife.

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I would be more than a mom.

But I didn’t want to be more than a mom because it was in my best interest; I wanted to be more than a mom because I was hardheaded. Because I was stubborn. Because I believed being a mom wasn’t being enough.

But the truth is, I was wrong. So very wrong. Because being a mom has made me a better person. It has made me a better woman, and because of my daughter — because I am “mom me” — I am happier. I am healthier. And I am stronger.

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Do I miss the independence? Sure. I miss sleeping in and staying up late. I miss reading books, and day drinking, and I miss being able to go out as often as I wanted to — and whenever I wanted to.

Do I miss being spontaneous? Of course. Who wouldn’t miss taking a three-day cruise (alone) or riding horseback through Mayan ruins?

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Do I miss my boobs? Yes. Oh lord, yes.

Do I wish people called me Kim instead of Amelia’s mom? Absolutely. Because it is my name. Because my name is me.

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But what I lost in independence, I gained in humility. What I lost in spontaneity, I gained in focus. When I gave up my bras, and essentially my vanity, I gained confidence. I gained perspective. And when I stopped being selfish, I was able to become selfless.

When I embraced the word mom, I was able to find myself.

I was able to find my voice.

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Sure, there are days I still lament the past. There is nothing wrong with grieving for your old body, your old career, or your old life, but motherhood isn’t exclusive. Just because you are a mom doesn’t mean you aren’t dedicated. It doesn’t mean you aren’t strong or empowered (both words I have seen written about motherhood, especially in regards to stay-at-home parents), and it doesn’t mean you still cannot be impulsive when the mood strikes you.

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It doesn’t mean you cannot be you.

So have a funeral for your skinny jeans. Have a going-away party for your pre-parenting self. Or simply get comfortable with your new moniker.

It doesn’t define you.

You define you.

For more from Kimberly Zapata, visit Sunshine Spoils Milk.