Today I found myself discreetly laughing as my 2 year old, freshly dressed in his brother’s batman costume, began throwing toddler style punches into the air, spinning around and grunting, as if to demonstrate his newly found status and authority. This was shortly followed by a lunge in my direction with arms flailing about. I gently reminded him that batman is a superhero, emphasis on the ‘hero’, he does not hurt people, especially not his mummy!
Both of my boys are equal in the respect that, as soon as a costume is donned, their persona completely alters. They become fully immersed into a world of character and imagination. I am almost certain, based on their behaviours and facial expression alone, that they truly believe they are from another realm. A simple outfit change is all it takes for this magical transformation. Thankfully these transformations are generally short lived!
These few minutes of imaginary play really struck a chord with me. It really got me thinking about identity of all things…My identity! … (Never mind, questioning is this a new ‘hitting’ phase?!)
Rewind back a few years. Sat, heavily pregnant with my first child, at a business planning meeting, I was asked a familiar question. “When are you coming back to work after having the baby? Will you even come back?!” My familiar reply, “Of course, absolutely, I will see you in nine months, you cannot keep me away.” I was so self-assured. So naive. After all, I loved my job, I had carved a great career, the baby would love nursery, would it not?! (Not to mention, I needed the job to pay the mortgage!) I reflect back now and can honestly say I had no idea about motherhood. Well, that’s not entirely true. I had an idea of how to care for a baby. At least I hoped that I did! I was thirty odd weeks pregnant and had read ‘What to expect when you’re expecting’ (thanks Heidi), what else was there to know?!…However, upon reflection, I do not recall reading the chapter on the ‘mind altering’ little being that would emerge into the world and turn ‘said’ world, and more importantly me, upside down. In a wondrous way I must add.
Fast forward a few months. I had given birth to our darling baby boy and as those months passed the bond understandably grew more immense. It was not until our baby boy turned six months old that I distinctly recall falling apart in an emotional flood of tears. Having had nearly a month of maternity leave prior to delivery, I knew I only had two months left before returning to full time employment. The realisation hit me really hard and I simply wasn’t ready. I’d bottled up my feelings and just could not bear the thought of handing him over to nursery so soon. Needless to say, time passed and thankfully nine months turned into thirteen wonderful months but nevertheless the phased return swiftly merged into the feeling of never having been away. Still, I had been away, and I had changed!
Going back to the batman costume and identity changes (I realise my mind works in strange ways). I clearly wasn’t savvy enough to predict the profound effect motherhood would have on me.
I’ve come to recognise that becoming a mother is somewhat a metamorphosis. A transformation into a completely different person from the one that you were. A new identity. A costume change! Reflecting back over the years, I’ve metamorphosed through many versions of myself. From a ‘suited and booted’ career woman, to a pregnant career woman, a working mother, a pregnant working mother and most recently a stay at home mother. Phew, that is a lot of iterations of the same ‘me’ but each with a completely different sense of identity along the way. No costume change being quite as intense as the moment you give birth to your first baby and enter the realm of motherhood. It’s the most magical and beautiful costume you could ever want to wear and I feel truly blessed. Cue emotional happy tears.
And now to the present. Times have changed considerably in our world. Being a mum means priorities switch, circumstances inevitably change and life turns up a gear. We now have two delightful little boys, whom I adore to infinity and beyond (yes, we have a Buzz outfit too). I recognise my costume is now very different to the one I enjoyed wearing for so many years but it fits me perfectly, regardless of whether or not I have a less productive day, or what my appraisal ranking may be (although I know both my boys would rank me exceeding regardless!) This does not mean that I do not yearn to capture a bit of the original ‘me’ every now and then, in addition to the current ‘me’. I know that times change and move on and very soon I will return to being a working mum and my children will move on to new phases in their lives. For now I treasure the time with my babies, and ‘on the side’ writing fulfils the yearning to exercise the grey matter and feel a sense of personal achievement above and beyond the proud parenting moments and glass of wine to toast another successful day of mothering.
Whatever iteration of motherhood we are experiencing, it is undoubtedly challenging, exhilarating and full of joy. I have evolved so much over the years and I know more evolution is yet to come. My costume will remain the same (‘touch wood’), I may just pop a different hat on with it!! 🙂