Saturday, January 8, 2011

Finding Myself

I love talking to old friends, there’s something special about the people who knew you before you knew who you were. The people who grew up along side of you and learned life lessons with you. As adults these relationships are very eye-opening, they shine a bright light on all the ways you’ve changed since “back-then”.

It was just these kind of friends we were hanging out with recently when I realized just how much Tim and I’s life has changed. We started dating in college and while we weren’t out-of-control, rebels or anything, we did like to have a good time. Tim was this “cool guy”, my sister and I called him “Mr. Cool”; he was a fast driving, loud-music playing, man’s man, he wasn’t a slacker, but he was carefree. Tim describes me as goofy, adorable, determined and fun. (oh yeah, and hot!!)

We were a good match, Tim helped me to loosen up, I helped him focus. He brought sophistication to the table, I brought silliness.  Tim brought excitement and stability to my life, while I challenged him to become more.

Fast forward about 4 years to when we first started our family. We were given lots of well-meaning advice like “don’t lose who you are” “remember to hold on to who you once were, because after your kids are gone and grown up, you need to still know who you are.” Even as we watched other people start their family’s we heard similar concerns from them like “I don’t want becoming a parent to change who I am or who my spouse is.”

It didn’t get any better as time went on. After we had our son, and I began to visit different mom’s groups and Bible Studies, I would hear over and over how I was “more than just a mom” and how important it is to “take care of me” and I guess I get that – I know as well as the next mom how important it is to get refreshed and to fill my own cup up before I can pour into my family, but what bothers me is that it always seems to be more than that.  Women, in particular seem overly concerned with changing or losing themselves as they become a mom.

I don’t really understand this at all.

I understand that change is scary and uncertain and I can personally see how parts of me have changed over the years. And I’ll be honest, some of it I miss. I miss how carefree I was (even though it wasn’t a defining characteristic, I was more carefree then than I am now), my quick whit, and funny 1 liners. I miss how easy it was for me to go with the flow and how I wasn’t really scared of anything. I miss the ability I had to “not care” about what others thought of me when I needed to.

But a lot if it I don’t miss.

I don’t miss my self-centered attitude on life, I don’t miss how loud I was, or how hard it was for me to cover up all the pain I was in most of the time. I don’t miss how easy it was to not be modest. I don’t miss all the ugly words that came out of my mouth and lived in my heart. I don’t miss trying so hard to succeed and fit in.

It’s clear to me that I’ve become a better person, and after talking to the same people who were most leery of my transition into parenthood, they too admit that I am a better person since becoming a mom. So why the fear? Why the resistance to changing after having kids?

I think what people are most afraid of is losing their personal freedoms and self-centered privileges. The resentment comes from being inconvenienced by children. Children are not viewed as the blessing they are, but a burden instead. Whether it’s a person who wants children, but just doesn’t want to make the necessary parental sacrifices or the well-meaning family member or friend that just doesn’t want their loved-one to change it all roots back to being inconvenienced.

I know that writing this article isn’t going to change the way our society views children or their parents, but I hope that maybe I can help shift the focus of even one person to realize that the process of change that a child brings, is good. It’s good for every one involved.

Becoming a mom has helped me realize, I am always being watched. Certainly my children’s eyes see me and everything I say or do has an effect on them. But in addition to that becoming a mom brought me face-to-face to the fact that God sees me ALL the time, and that every word I speak, every action I take I will one day be accountable to.

I know that I might not be as “fun” as I once was, but never in my life have I felt more fulfilled, more joy and like I was where I was supposed to be, becoming who I was meant to be. I lost me, there’s no doubt about it, ask any one of my family members, but in the process, I found me.

Changing hasn’t been hard for me, or sad for me, even the parts I sometimes miss; it’s been the best thing that’s ever happened to me (and I’m not even talking about what my kids mean to me in addition to this).

Right now, I’m a mom. I’m still Amber, but I’m a different Amber. I can’t possibly be everything everyone wanted me to be, and I have to make a choice. I had to choose to either hold on to who I was or to become the best mom I can be. I chose to become the best mom I can. And in doing that the Lord has changed who I was as a person, not for the worse but for the better.

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