One recent morning, for the first time since baby Henry was born, I found myself up early and heading out for the gym. The house was silent and totally dark, and while I always hate to leave when things are like this (I love the quiet) I needed to go.
I have been trying for months to get back to the gym, but between Christmas and my sister’s wedding, it seemed impossible to get there and back before the boys left for school. Henry isn’t quite ready for the gym’s nursery, not until he gets through his first winter and RSV-season, so my workouts have been limited to in-house dumbells and walks around the block.
Those are good forms of exercise, of course, but I have always loved early mornings at the gym. Even as a college student and later a newlywed, I loved getting up before anyone else, having the roads to myself as I headed out.
On this particular morning, leaving the house as everyone else slept, it brought me back to a familiar place – somewhere I hadn’t been in a long time. It was a wonderful feeling, having these moments alone in the car on my way to do something good for me.
On the way home, I stopped for coffee and then turned on the radio. I listened to coverage of the presidential primaries. And ever so slightly, I felt as if the scales were lifting. Politics, I thought. Yes, I like those!
One of the trickiest parts of being a mom, I have found, is that need to remember who I am while becoming someone else entirely. A woman has a baby and she is instantly transformed, whether she likes it or not, into someone who is no longer the center of her universe. And while that change happens suddenly, there are a million other changes that happen over the coming days, months and years. Reading materials start to change, music selections change, what we do with our time – slowly these other human beings that have entered our life begin to make demands on our time and energy that have a tremendous impact on nearly everything about us.
In the year before Ethan was born, I was a young, married graduate student. For that year, I lived on campus during the week, and would come home to Paul on the weekends. I had a subscription to the New York Times and National Review, and spent my free time in coffee shops reading those publications. I carried a book bag and didn’t even have a car.
In the blink of an eye, it seemed, I had two small boys. Suddenly my idea of a good time involved french fries and ball pits. I went from being surrounded by football crowds screaming for the Dawgs to toddlers screaming for their moms. Sometimes I would note the difference and be utterly amazed.
This was not a sad season, or a season of regret. Actually, it was all fun and exciting – and it continues to be. But in the midst of this ongoing transformation, from a mom of babies and then toddlers and now growing boys, I realize that I want to be everything God wants me to be, a wife, a mother – and an individual. In a few years, when the boys are grown, I’m going to have to find that person again.
As moms, we make an absolutely necessary transformation. We die to ourselves and pour out everything into building our family, the Little Church. We promise to love and honor our husbands, and we are equally committed to our children.
But just as important is finding ways, even little moments throughout the day, to remember who we are at the core. When we take care of ourselves, we have that much more to give to those we love so much.