To A Wonderful Wife and Mother
I just turned 34. As I read through all of the Facebook birthday wishes, I stopped at my husband’s. It read, “Happy Birthday to a wonderful wife and mother - smiley face - xoxo - Love you lots!” Thank you, dear husband. Love you lots too. But something was niggling away at me - an uncomfortable feeling that I couldn’t quite put my finger on.
I’ve been on maternity leave for nearly a year. In a couple weeks, I should be heading back to work. It’s been lovely and great, but it hasn’t all been wonderful, and it certainly hasn’t been easy. I came into motherhood a little uneasy - about lots of things - one of them being losing my own identity. I’ve seen lots and lots of women invest everything - all of their time and energy, all of their passion - into their children. I’ve been told that’s what we’re supposed to do - if we’re worth our salt. And quite honestly it scared me. To this day, I’m still a little leery about adopting this whole mom role as a new identity - shedding my skin and stepping into a “Mama Bear” sweatshirt, a pair of yoga pants, a messy bun, and an overstuffed diaper bag. I try to catch myself if I’m in the company of non-parents and notice that I’m conversing about baby stuff that no one else cares about. I’m careful not to complain about how exhausted I am to people without little children. To try to do some things for myself, by myself - a weekly yoga class, the occasional massage, a solo run to the grocery store, a bit of time sitting at the computer writing. But still I feel myself slipping away.
It happens in little moments. A glimpse in the salon mirror as I’m finally putting that gift certificate from last year’s birthday to use. I catch the eye of a pleasantly plump woman in her mid-thirties with tired eyes and a short haircut. It takes a couple of seconds before I realize it’s me. A quick run into Wal-Mart. As I’m leaving the parking lot, I look in my rearview mirror and see the carseat. The baby’s not in it, she’s safe at home with her dad. But I burst into tears anyway because it shocks me and I’m terrified that I’ll forget her in the vehicle. An escape to the bathroom to take a few deep breaths during a particularly rough morning. Yet another mirror incident. Hair standing on end, face peppered with blemishes, pyjamas not only stretched to their maximum capacity, but also splattered with pureed prunes. I can’t help but recall my nickname when I waitressed years ago: “Hot Trish”. At the time, I thought nothing of it. It was just a laugh. But Hot Trish has definitely left the building.
In addition to his Facebook message, my husband gave me a very nice gift and card that pictured a globe and was emblazoned with: “You always make me feel like the luckiest man on the planet." I appreciate the card - I really do. It was even signed.
- Funny aside - my dad gave my mom an unsigned card a few years back. When she pointed out that he had forgot to sign it, he shrugged and said, “Well, you know who it’s from.” Oh boy, Dad! -
So I appreciate the signed card - and the Facebook message. My husband meant it as nothing but a compliment. I am his wife and the mother of his daughter. I’m sure he wouldn’t give two hoots if I called him a wonderful husband and father. And don’t worry - I won’t flip out when your kid inevitably refers to me as “Brenna’s mom”. And, of course, I appreciate my husband and my daughter. I’m thankful that I get to be a wife and a mother.
But that’s not all that I am. l can’t be defined just by my relationships to others or how I make others feel. I’m also an actress - albeit, not a very successful one. An entrepreneur - again, not a very successful one, but who’s keeping track? A Speech Pathologist (and, by proxy, a teacher and counsellor), a follower of Jesus, a writer, a kind and compassionate and pretty funny human being. Oh, and a former hot waitress.
Maybe you’re a runner, a cook, a wine aficionado, a yogi, or something really cool that I don’t even know exists. Maybe you’ve had to put some of your interests on the back burner while you dig through your overstuffed diaper bag and scrub prunes out of your pyjama top. Maybe you’ve caught your reflection and not recognized the person staring back. But I promise you she’s still in there.
So here’s to being a wonderful wife and mother - and all of those other things too.