Thursday, October 14, 2010
The process of becoming a parent, a mother, has been the most amazing yet the most challenging personal transformation I've ever made. It has been a fascinating journey for all of us during Zoey's first year of life, but personally it has changed me and shifted my perspective, my values, my priorities in ways I never could have imagined. Not to say that I haven't experienced significant personal transformations before, but definitely not to this magnitude. In my early 20's after moving out of my parent's house and developing a life for myself in San Francisco, I thought that I had "grown up" and become an "adult". I spent a great deal of my time (both consciously and unconsciously) working to develop a renewed sense of my identity as a young, successful, independent woman. Then came the process of falling in love, getting married, and re-calibrating my working identity to also become a fiance, and then a wife. It wasn't easy. The process of personal develop and identity discovery that young adults go through can be extremely difficult, scary, and emotionally taxing - not only did I experience this first hand in my younger days, but I see it all the time in my work as a college career counselor. It's no wonder the mid-20's are often referred to as the Quarter-Life Crisis.
That time in my life was challenging enough as it was - establishing my financial independence, working on the foundations of my marriage, making a career change, going to graduate school for 3 years, the emotional journey of becoming a professional counselor, developing a community and a rich social life (which involved some heartaches and losses), and overall simply trying to figure out who I was, what I stood for, and what I wanted my life to be characterized and defined by. I can't imagine adding parenthood on top of all THAT - makes me both respect and feel saddened for young parents who must give up their own youth and the ability to focus more exclusively on their personal develop in order to raise a healthy child. I'm not saying that some young people don't excel at the job, but I can't imagine having done that myself.
And fast forward to today.....I've been a mother for just over one year now and it is truly the most amazing, rewarding, and most challenging "job" I've ever had in my life. And I'm more fulfilled and more satisfied with this "job" than I've ever been with any other role. But I won't lie - it's been tough to redefine my identity as a young woman, a working mother at that, outside of just being "Zoey's mommy". When she was a newborn, all I really could focus on, and wanted to focus on, was my precious little baby. Making sure all of her needs were attended to, that she was warm and safe and comfortable, and that we were doing everything in our power to lay a solid foundation for her childhood...and her life. But as Zoey got older, started sleeping longer, and developed more independence, I started to find the time to focus on ME again.....a concept that had been somewhat foreign to me for the 5 months of my maternity leave. I slowly began to carve out more time for myself, whether it be jogs on the beach, a relaxing shopping trip sans baby, or a relaxing dinner out with friends. It took awhile for me to create this time without feeling guilty, but I've slowly-but-surely been able to establish a balance that I believe is essential for a mother's sanity and well-being! Basically, one year later, I have finally rediscovered my identity as a woman, as ME, within the context of my new life. Working mothers must wear MANY, MANY hats - and I'm no exception. I feel I've gotten much better at switching back and forth between my various "selves" on the drop of a dime - Sarah the mom, Sarah the wife, Sarah the counselor, Sarah the sister, Sarah the daughter, Sarah the fun, young woman, Sarah the friend, Sarah the housekeeper, Sarah the chef, Sarah the......
You get the point.
Some days are tough, some days I feel SO TIRED and just want to be "Sarah the lazy bum", but I remind myself that by no means am I the first woman on earth to ever manage this process and this lifestyle. Becoming a parent has truly made me grow-up, feel like an adult....a REAL adult, and while it is an exciting role, it is also scary at times. But it's all worth it, and I truly believe it's all exactly as it were meant to be.
And honestly? I wouldn't have it any other way. : )