Recently another twin mom I
know mentioned that she saw me out shopping and tried to wave,
that I didn’t recognize her. She kindly suggested that she was out
of context since we only really see each other at playgroups, and we
didn’t have our kids with us. Then she laughingly said, “and I generally
feel out of context when I’m not with my kids.” She is wonderful
and I hate to use her comment as a negative example; but the truth is
I never want to feel out of context without my children.
It would be so easy to just drift into the ongoing whirlpool of need that they generate. I could lose myself in that quite happily given the rewarding existence of being loved more than anyone by children who are for me, the bright, shining center of the universe. But then I remind myself that Eleanor won’t feel out of context without me when she starts high school, and then college, and then goes to Cacuun for Spring Break, and then gets a beach house for the summer with her friends. I can’t lose myself in my children now, because I’ll be needing that identity back when they leave me to find theirs.
I’ve increasingly found that a major element of my motherhood experience is being both a mom and just me at the same time. “Just me,” being the side of me that watches me deal with melt downs and tantrums and dance with the Wiggles and walk out of the house wearing unflattering clothes because I’m in a hurry and I’m just going to the Safeway and I don’t have time to indulge in a wardrobe crisis. It’s the objective side of me that does the laughing and the storytelling and remembers to notice every detail of George’s 14-month-old smile because his face will have changed again by the time he turns 2. The mother in me focuses on what needs to be done and really lives in the moment. I need her to take care of my children, but I also need that observer in me to appreciate them. And if I need to have “just me” to laugh about their daily antics now, I’m going to need that same part of myself to help let them go when they inevitably start to grow up.