There is so much more that I understand each day that I venture farther and farther (further and further? Any English teachers our there, feel free to correct me) into motherhood and marriage.
First, let me say, that while I always knew I wanted to have children, a whole brood of children, I also always saw myself as a very independent, strong, intelligent person. To be honest, I thought I would be much older by the time I got around to getting married. My life accomplishments were always focused on my educational or career achievements.
You could say I am a bit of a feminist. I don’t feel the need to shy away from that word. There is often fear and anger surrounding it, but I feel that it’s true meaning is much more complex, and also more calm, than that.
I can admit, though, that I recall very clearly being in elementary school and feeling ferocious about my equality. When a fellow teacher would stick their head into our classroom asking for ‘two boys to help carry some boxes’ or the bus driver would ask for ‘two boys to stand at the back of the bus to help with the fire drill’ I always waved my hand in the air. I would even speak up and say, “I can do it. Girls can do that too, you know.”
That was at age 8.
My spirit and opinions on the matter didn’t really diminish with age. They grew stronger, if anything.
And yet, by the age of 26, I was married with a baby.
What can I say? I fell in love at 19. I didn’t see it coming. Didn’t see him coming. Didn’t see this path coming.
I still studied abroad for a year. I still completed college with a double major. I still got accepted into Teach for America. I still received a Masters Degree.
But once you start having babies, something changes.
I have gone back to work – two current jobs, actually – in fields closely related to my original career path. But my family is undoubtably my main focus. I don’t see how they could not be. I chose to proclaim that I would spend the rest of my life with this man. I chose to bring two little lives into this world. Promised to them that we would be a family. That we would care for them, raise them, teach them, provide for them. Love them unconditionally.
How can that not become the top priority in your life?
And then, somewhere along the way, I realized that I lost myself a bit. Or a lot. It’s such a cliche. But I have come to realize that the reason cliches are cliches is because SO MANY people actually feel that same way. That isn’t something to be ashamed of. It is something that should offer some comfort. You aren’t alone. You aren’t a freak.
So I am working on making time to write. Making time to get my body back to the image I see in my head. (There will be a Cleanse Post later, I assure you.) Making time to spend time with my husband doing things that remind us why we fell in love with each other so many years ago. That we fell in love with the exciting, naive, determined, silly, and passionate forms of ourselves. Giggly 19-year-olds that have managed to make it through 11 years of hills and valleys.
Another thing I am making time for is reading. I love reading. I was a self-described ‘Book Worm’ from the time I was 5-years-old. And yet, I hadn’t read a single book all the way through in years.
Now, I am devouring them. I read on the subway. While walking to and from the subway. First thing in the morning. While my husband plays blocks or cars with the boys. Even if I can only fit in a page at a time, I am reading.
I just finished a book that I had originally started reading several years ago. I started and stopped. I was too busy and the book also didn’t really speak to me. Didn’t grab me enough to force me to finish it.
The book is Girl Talk by Julianna Baggott and now I highly recommend it.
This time, I started from the beginning again and couldn’t put it down. There isn’t really a single part of the story that touches upon any details of my life. But the realities of a wife, mother and daughter revealed spoke very clearly to me this time around. You realize that there is truly a sisterhood. That once you have peeled back certain curtains in life, you can’t ever un-see those truths.
I’m sure some people are reading this right now and thinking, “Well, Annie has gone off her rocker. What in the world is she talking about?”
But I have to believe (and hope) that there is at least one person out there reading this and getting that feeling in your chest when you realize that someone else is right there with you.