My BabyCenter pregnancy app told me today that my due date is in 120 days. Can you believe that? I remember when it was closer to 200 days, and I wondered if time would ever pass by, if I would EVER be close to meeting this little man in my belly, and now it’s only 120 days! That feels so soon.
It’s crazy to think that if all goes well, I’ll be a Mama to a little boy in 120 days or less (or more, I suppose, if the baby is pokey). My Mom and I have been taking inventory of the baby clothes that we’ve purchased thus far. I’ve also been hard at work making lists of things to look for and buy before the baby arrives. My baby registries have been consistently updated since January. My husband and I plan to purchase the rest of our cloth diapers in March. We’ve purchased adorable fabric that my Mom will fashion into crib sheets. We’ve selected a paint color for the baby’s changing table/dresser. My husband and I have lovingly selected a name for our little boy.
In other words, plans are a-flowin’ around these parts, and yet, what I’m finding is that in spite of all of this baby-prep that I’ve been immersing myself in for the past few months, I still feel like me, the authentic me that exists and thrives outside of the preparation I’ve been doing to take on the role of Mama. And even more so, I feel exhilarated – not frightened – by the way in which my selfhood will change when I meet my little man for the first time.
How is it possible to retain one’s selfhood when facing such a monumental life change as becoming a mother? I often wonder that, especially when I overhear conversations, or read blog posts, or learn from other Mama’s, who say that their lives have been completely and meaningfully altered with the arrival of their little child, yet they still feel inherently like their true selves. Some Mama’s have even revealed that in taking on the role of Mama, they are able to reclaim more of their authentic self; they are able to tap into an authentic selfhood that they never knew existed.
Yet, in order to trust this notion, in order to believe all of these experienced Mama’s, all I need to think about is the me that existed before my marriage to Jord, as compared to the me that exists today, 1.5 years (and counting) later. I still feel like me, the Sara that is overly dramatic, a bit of a worrier, a bit selfish, but is also compassionate, concerned, loving and passionate. However, in looking back on my first year or so of marriage, I now feel a new sense of identity that has shaped me as I’ve taken on the role of wife. I’m now a little bit more focused on viewing my life as a journey, a marathon, a joint effort between my husband and I that is focused on achieving our dreams and goals. Since I’ve been married, I’m more aware of and deeply appreciative of the way in which my husband loves and cares for me (especially after my bout with morning sickness). In other words, I feel like my selfhood has changed as I’ve become a wife because I’m more able to step outside of my dramatic, selfish self to appreciate what it means to be loved and to love someone else in such a life-altering way.
While up until now, taking on the role of wife has been the most life-altering change I’ve made in terms of chasing after my authentic self, I think often about the way in which my heart will expand and grow five times its size (much like the Grinch!) upon meeting my little man for the first time. Sure, I know that there will be ways in which I will change that will seem frustrating – I will (most likely) worry more – even though that seems impossible for a worrier like me; I know that I will feel the desperation and the electricity of loving someone so much because he came from me, and from my husband; I know that I will endure frustrating disappointments along with lightning moments of success as I constantly judge myself as a Mama against the barometer of what a good mother should be, in my mind.
Yet, I know and trust that for mothers everywhere, becoming a Mama doesn’t mean that we lose ourselves, that we lose our quirks, our dreams, our goals, ourselves. Sure, we change; our selfhood changes upon encountering and fulfilling such a life-altering role as mothers. But, I have to believe that for all mothers, if we all were so meaningfully and irrevocably changed, so much so that we didn’t even recognize ourselves anymore, and if this change wasn’t a powerfully good thing, I know that mothers wouldn’t desire to become mothers; I know that this desire that I felt (and feel) in my heart to become a Mama wouldn’t persist in such a powerful way. In other words, I know that God’s masterful plan – the plan that has blessed me with the opportunity to be a Mama in the first place – includes a plan for a meaningful nurturing of who I am now, my authentic self as it currently stands, as well as a plan for the life-changing alteration of who I will become as I take on the Mama role.