Posted by in Blog, Featured, Mother, Shawna, Wife, Woman

Lost

I remember so clearly the first time I slipped away from my newborn. The cool of the car, its strange stillness. My simultaneous ache and excitement. The feeling that I was doing something very, very wrong, and quite possibly illegal. I remember the eerie and blissful hum of my body all alone, and my sudden acute awareness of it. Despite being so pent up inside myself during all those interminable days and nights of rocking and pacing and nursing over and over again, it was like I had forgotten that I existed somehow.

Quinn was a few weeks old. I was on a madcap solo adventure to the store to buy her some more tiny baby clothes (my first taste of “me time” for moms ha ha ha). In a moment that felt very portentous (as every thing did in those early months), I turned the radio on just as KEXP started playing Laura Veirs’ “Don’t Lose Yourself.”

Don’t lose yourself. Don’t let yourself be lost.

Don’t lose yourself. Don’t let yourself be lost.

I pulled into the parking lot, turned off the engine, and sat in my car, saturated. There may have been tears rolling down my cheeks.

It was a psychological crossroads, and I chose the road I usually travel by, the one that seeks positivity and wonder, the one that is always vowing to do unlikely things. The delusional Pollyanna; my survival instinct.

I promised myself I wouldn’t get lost in motherhood. That I would be the same girl when this was all over, whenever that would be. And then I felt better. I went into the store, perused the tiny baby items, bought some packaged sushi and coconut ice cream and was ready to go back home again.

Here’s the thing though: I let myself be lost.

I lost myself completely in motherhood. When it came right down to it, I didn’t really see any other way to do it well. Not for me, anyway.

I know there are women who can do it, who can give 100 percent at work all day and then go home and somehow miraculously find another 100 percent to give to their families. There are women whose interests, personalities, lifestyles are not wholly derailed by mothering.

Well, I’ve never been a multi-tasker. I don’t know how people do it. If there is a song on while I’m writing, I can’t write. If the TV is on, I can’t talk. I can’t write an email while I’m talking on the phone. I am insanely efficient and fast, but I’ve got to throw myself into something in order to do it well. More importantly, I’ve got to throw myself into something in order to enjoy doing that something.

In the two months that I was back at work, I found that work just wasn’t fun anymore. My mind was always on her. But you know what else? Mothering wasn’t fun either. My mind was on work when I was at home. I couldn’t focus on my baby the way I had during my maternity leave, and when I couldn’t focus wholly on her, I didn’t enjoy her as much.

Once I quit my job, and was able to just throw myself into my days with Quinn, I felt much, much better. Most of the time. Occasionally, the doubt would creep in, like a slow-burning fire burning at the corners of my life.

Where did I go? Who was I? I was a happy, wonderful mother. My baby was growing and thriving. I was enjoying the slower pace of life. I was making friends and watching the leaves rustle. Parts of me were well-intact.

But other parts of myself just don’t exist any more. The girl who read the paper every day. The girl who wrote the paper every day. My professional drive, so strong and exciting before, just sort of atrophied. I’m not sure if I’ll ever get those parts back.

Right now, I’m not too worried. I’m confident that something else will take its place. I know that I have many more adventures ahead of me. I know now that I will be many selves throughout the course of my life.

But I do miss that girl. I really liked her.

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  1. Your writing always strikes a chord with me and this was no exception. Thank you for, once again, finding just the right words.

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