I see you, even though you are having a hard time seeing yourself.
You stand before the toothpaste-splattered mirror at the end of the day searching hard for the spirit of the woman who was once housed by this body, only now all you see are the visible signs of exhaustion from the routine. A heart swelling full of love, yet pierced by the fragments of your lingering dreams.
Beneath the dark-circled eyes, the hands wrinkled under the weight of all their giving, the body weary from a life well lived, you wonder, is she there — the girl that I used to be?
It calls to you in your sleep, waking you and rendering your mind restless in the stillness of the starlight. If only you were as contented as your sweetly dreaming family, perhaps then could you quiet the whispering of your mind, taunting, is this all there is for me?
You try to bury it. Stuff it away beneath their smiles, their successes, their certainty. You fill your days with the nurturing, the washing, the preparing, the comforting of tears and the delighting in their joyous laughter. As you hold them close, breathing deeply the fleeting scent of their innocence, you feel the guilt rise so sharply you fear you might not be able to quell the tide.
How can I long for more, when everything already sits right here before me?
Oh mama, I know you, though you may feel as though you no longer know yourself. I know you, because I was once a woman lost in the wandering of the vast expanse of motherhood, too.
The years passed me by; I have the photos to prove all of the joy. A blooming belly, brand-new life, toddling steps and those big, beautiful eyes, staring right at me as though I was the sun and the moon, the very force that kept their tiny feet grounded. My body was their beginning; and my love, their universe. How can I discover myself lost, when I am the compass, the map to everywhere, the guide to everything?
Yet somewhere along the journey of the being everything to everyone, I succeeding in shrouding all of the reverence which made me me; the pieces I used to be so very proud to be.
As I guided their hands to brush watercolors and swirl glue-sticks across paper, I longed to create something that was my own.
As I taught them how to write their names and grinned at their shaky handwriting, my own truth begged to be written across the paper.
As girlfriends invited me to step out from mothering and enjoy the freedom of a night spent being just a friend, I hid away, feeling as though I had nothing left to offer to the world.
As doors opened beckoning me to step through into the empowerment of womanhood, I politely pushed them closed, maintaining that motherhood was my destiny.
With every unwritten word, quieted desire, and declined invitation, I felt myself slipping further and further away into the abyss. Have you lost your footing, too?
Dear mama, let me tell you, you cannot quiet the longing.
It will build and build like a swirling storm, raining down at last with a fury you did not realize existed. Its power will decimate your delight; obliterate your amusement. The very sanctity you feel as though are defending by letting go of yourself is being drained away along with your aspirations.
With an unsettled heart, the longing for what once was will creep in and rob the elation of what is right here and right now.
No, the longing will not fade. Now is the time to rise up and listen to its call.
Say yes to the girl who used to dream big dreams.
Say yes to the woman who wonders if she has anything of worth to offer to the world.
Say yes believing in the possibility that you will blossom into more than you ever imagined you could be.
Say yes, though you are afraid — especially when you are afraid.
And with each little affirmation, you will find the storm clouds dissipating. You will discover that the light that you shine in everyone else’s world is the very beacon of strength that will the light the path which brings you back to yourself.
You can be their sunlight. You can be the stars in their sky.
But you will find, dear mama, that until you find the courage to push aside those clouds of doubt in your own heart and mind, you will never truly show them what it means to shine.
A Mother, Rediscovered
This piece was originally published on The BELLAMOM.