By Lisa Manterfield
There was a time when I found it difficult to be around mothers of young children. It was hard to listen to them talk about their kids when I felt I had nothing to contribute, and it was painful to know that I’d never be able to share those experiences with them. I couldn’t bear to hear their sweet or funny stories, and it made my blood boil to hear them complain. What I wouldn’t have given for the chance to be kept awake all night by a colicky baby.
As I’ve progressed on my journey and begun to heal, it’s become easier for me to spend time with mothers, to listen to their stories, to speak up when I have something to add, and even to commiserate about the hard stuff, without feeling resentful.
I’m listening to what they say about motherhood and I’m hearing a common theme: Motherhood chips away at them until they lose touch with the women they once were. They love their children, they love being mothers, but they resent how all-consuming the job is and how much of themselves they lose to their families, until they know longer know who they are.
There are always two sides to every story, pros and cons, gains and losses. When we don’t get something we want and deserve, it’s easy to focus on what’s lost—the experiences, the opportunities, and the stories we won’t get to tell. But what about what’s gained? And what about what’s not lost? What about the sacrifices we didn’t have to make and the women we now get to be?
I may not be the woman I’d once hoped to be—a mother—but I know who I am now, and a part of me is grateful for what I didn’t have to lose: myself.