I went with some dear friends to a park last week, and we attempted to sit long enough in between the spitting up and pulling hair and fighting over Veggie Straws (not us, the kids...although if there were cookies involved I might have thrown down) to talk straight and be real. This is one of the many things I value about this particular group of loved ones: thier willingness to drop the curtains and be candid and real. Love them.
One of my girlfriends confessed that she is struggling with her identity right now.
Her honesty brought a lot of head-nodding and a collective amen from the rest of us. It is tough. In a culture that is driven by definition, it's easy to flounder when the something that you were is now the something that you are not. Think about it. After spending almost all of our lives in full-time school, most of us join the working world. We are used to a beginning time and ending time of responsibility each day. Any time outside of that is ours for the taking. Then baby makes three. When we have children there is nothing 9-5 about it. Life as we know it is seriously turned upside down.
I remember feeling the abruptness of it all when Madeline was born. As much as I rejoiced in her and felt like my love for her could move heaven and earth, I mourned a part of me that I thought had passed. The skinny me. The career-driven me. The fashionable me. The "contribute to the world to make it a better place" me. The part of myself that begged my husband to go out for drinks and appetizers at 10pm on a Sunday night. I seriously felt like I was in a huge whirlwind that gathered me up, tossed me around for a few months, and then spit me out on the other side...as a frazzled woman with ten different shades of awesome sweatpants.
Early motherhood is a beautiful and sometimes painfully consuming journey into the land of selflessness. Where little hands and little hearts need you to so literally sustain thier lives. Where for a few months you smell like spit up. And probably for a few years you don't know what day of the week it is. Where love runs through your veins so deeply and frantically that you swear it creates a pulse of it's own. And where you slowly readjust. To a new normal.
I remember, after time, easing back into some activities that were life-giving for me. Dates with Greg. Leading a small group for high school girls. Worship team. Coffee with my besties. Running. And oh man, did I capitalize on those playdates. Let's be honest. There was no playing. Maddie was like two weeks old. But I needed that time with other new moms who were also living in the land of selflesness. And I began to emerge as a version of myself that I really liked. I loved my baby girl and my husband & the life that God was creating around us.
Fast forward a few years, and we now have two beautiful daughters. I am again adjusting to a new normal after the birth of Abigail. For me, the whirlwind was not as insane this time around. I don't feel as frazzled, and my sweatpants are being kept under lock and key. Most of the time. Part of it is that I knew what to expect, and the change was not as abrupt as last time. Another part of that, however, is that I am embracing the change...knowing that I will be refined into an even better version of myself if I am honest with God and with those He's placed in my life. And if I continue to do things outside of parenting that are life-giving to me.
So...on the topic of identity, I am choosing to be Rachel Jeanette Hamann, lover of God and people. I feel a sense of freedom with that definition. I feel that it will allow my gracious God to take me wherever He desires, and that I will love Him and those He's placed around me with all my might along the way. And right now He has me in our home, loving on and serving my family. Who knows where He will call us next? But in the spirit of living in the moment, I am choosing to stake my identity in Jesus Christ, and let the love from that overflow where I'm at right now.
"So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." Galatians 5:22