I had the chance to travel to London for two days for a business meeting, where one of my closest friends from college is living now with her family. As true luck would have it – another college roommate was also passing through London and so somehow we had the great fortune of a rare reunion. It was brief, but it was sunshine for my soul. Both of my roomies have toddler boys, and both are currently pregnant…so the house was full of happy feet, busy boys, bubbles, bottles, familiar maternity clothing, unpacked baby cribs and other gear. A sign of the times…
After my friends put their boys to bed, on both nights the three of us enjoyed peaceful dinner together in the kitchen – the baby monitors were blissfully quiet and so we launched into hours of nonstop conversation. What a gift. We caught up on the months since we had last been together, filled each other in on family events, talked parenthood, shared what we knew on the college gossip scene (sadly not much), and talked about the friendships that we have developed both pre and post motherhood.At the end of the meal, one of my friends said something I found to be profound, “It’s nice to be with friends who knew me before I was Cullen’s mom.” It really struck me – so simple yet so true.
I love being a mom, and so do my friends – I know we all feel absolutely blessed and fortunate to be mothers. But I do often struggle with what “motherhood” means for my identity – the box I select when filling out forms, the way I describe myself in bios and introductions. I often feel guilty if I talk about my career first, and then discuss my children. I feel unsettled if motherhood is the top headline when I am being introduced. Sometimes when I think about “hobbies or other interests”, I realize that those categories don’t currently involve the diverse activities and passions I once pursued, even if these things still matter and appeal to me.
This struggle is not rare or new, and in fact “struggle” is not even a proper term, because it is born from good fortune and the arrival of beautiful boys whom I love, a career that brings me joy and a full days and nights — but I do often wonder if I will ever resolve the dance of the different “boxes” and identities and how to embrace (or is it “balance?”) them all.
Life involves so many twists and turns and complications – some sunny, some messy and some major. There are certainly cloudy days when I feel overwhelmed with anxieties and other sunny ones when I find myself energized by all of the possibilities.
But one thing I am grateful for every single day – is the unconditional love of friends who knew me when my boxes were full of different activities and ambitions – and continue to know and love and see that younger woman as well as the person who checks different boxes today.