I feel like I'm constantly trying to figure out my place in the world.
Before children, I earned my art degree, then worked in a few offices as an office administrator/sometimes manager/bookkeeper/event planner. I was working my way up the corporate ladder, learning to keep my emotions in check and navigate the tricky labyrinth that is bureaucracy. I ran my little Etsy shop and went to markets with my various crafty endeavors. I didn't make any money, but I had fun. I thought I knew what I was going to be when I grew up.
Then--SURPRISE!--we were going to be parents. I was going to be a mother.
Dun dun dun.
For the past eight years (even while working through postpartum depression) my place has been defined by my children, or rather my role as their mother. Tiny children do that to you--define you. It's easy to lose sight of yourself. You have to revisit your goals often, adapt, go with the flow, and then scrap everything because someone gets sick, or has a tough time adjusting to school, develops an eating disorder, or just plain needs their mommy.
Over the past few years I've made a few half-hearted attempts at being my own person, but I've been so damn tired I just can't even. But this year. This year: both my children are in full-time school. And it's glorious to have a significant window of time to breathe. Despite my freelance work and the hours I volunteer at the school and trying to get back on top of all the household projects that have been neglected and having to cook constantly because everyone has different allergies and no one can eat easy food--despite all of that--I have a few hours a week to myself. I can breathe, and that feels like a miracle.
But with that thought comes a new awareness that I am no longer defined. And it's somewhat bittersweet. It hits at random moments. I put away a shirt that no longer fits a little boy, or I help a child untangle their knitting, or I meet a newborn infant. Most of the time I'm ok. I take a moment to process my feelings and move on. But sometimes it's harder and I just start to cry. I can't help it. I don't want to. But after I get my good cry in, I sniffle a bit and think that it's going to be OK. I'm going to be OK. This is just the beginning of a new chapter. A new chapter that I get to write.
After watching the stroller group make their way up the hill, I hitched up my (tiny, not diaper bag sized) purse and walked along home. I picked up a chestnut to show to the boys. I decided which tea I was going to sip while knitting that afternoon. I took a picture of a spiderweb. I listened to inappropriate-for-children music. I breathed.
And I was OK.