No, my life didn’t ‘start’ the day I became a mom

No, my life didn’t ‘start’ the day I became a mom

My life did not begin the day I became a mom; it ended. The life of the woman before becoming a mom was officially over. I would no longer be free to make last-minute decisions or be available to meet up with friends on a weeknight whim, or decide to take a day trip two towns away with minimal thought and effort. My ability to drive to the grocery store without thinking of all the ways my daughter could be hurt died that day, too. Postpartum anxiety paralyzed me with fear for my daughter’s safety. It had me spiraling about whether the food I was feeding her or the soap I was using or the clothes I was dressing her in were safe. Every odd sound or slightly runny nose was evidence that she was sick and that I would lose her. My life ended the day she was born. But another began.

A life with a sweet angel or hilarious hellion, depending on the moment. A life with someone who is ever-curious and awe-inspired by the most mundane of things. (“Wow, so beautiful! Wow, amazing!” She’s looking at the garbage truck or the grocery store.) A life filled with laughter and tears, excitement and everything in between. The full range of human emotion, all day, every day. Without her, I would never have experienced all of it. My life began the day she was born.

But this life is not more important than my previous life. That life and that woman were just as worthy and just as alive as the woman I am today.

Her goals and priorities were important. Her work was important. Her friendships and pastimes were important. These lives are not in competition with each other and never have been. I grieve her—that life was what I wanted; this life is what I want.

There were other lives before her: a precocious kid, an awkward lonely teen, a sometimes driven, sometimes unconcerned college student. I carry each one with me. Each one was enough. Each one was worthy exactly as they were. There will be other lives after this one.

There was another life between the one from before and now. The one between the fun carefree adult and the mother. She is the one who wanted to be this version of me but couldn’t. The one who was told, “It’s twins… I’m sorry, there’s no heartbeat.” The one who was told, “It might be too soon to know, don’t lose hope,” only to have that hope crushed, then revived and crushed several more times. The one who would lose another pregnancy and struggle for another year to get and stay pregnant. She is the woman who knows what it feels like to have hope, quite literally, dead inside her; the one whose sense of self was rocked by loss and who almost drowned in her grief. I carry her with me too. Her life was important and worthy.

The women from before set a strong foundation for the woman I am now. A foundation built on an education and a career I am proud of, a dream for the future career I am working toward, and the principles and beliefs that make me a better person and a good mom. Those women have gifted me empathy, passion and the knowledge that I can do hard things. I will pass them on to the next version of me and to my daughter.

My perfect angel/hellion daughter is now 2. She loves twirly dresses and making messes. She hates bugs. She loves her dog, her dad and her mom. She loves to play at the park and find rocks. She loves to snuggle on the couch. She’s always excited to see friends—both the ones she knows and the ones she doesn’t. She is strong-willed and fierce, and soft and sweet. I am grateful that I get to be me so that I get to watch her grow and change. I get to watch all the lives she will live. Soon she’ll be the class clown or the ‘animal girl’ (please, God, let it not be reptiles). Later, maybe she’ll be the book lover, or the soccer star, or both, or neither. She’ll be the passionate defender of her friends (the ones she knows and the ones she doesn’t.)

She will be so many versions of herself, just as I have been. Every one of those versions is inherently valuable and worthy. Her value does not rest on decisions in a future life. Whether she marries and has children, whether she has a career, or whether she does both or neither, will not change her worth. Whatever roles she chooses to take on will not diminish the ones she chose before.

FDA Grants Priority Review to Genentech’s Inavolisib for Advanced Hormone Receptor-Positive, HER2-Negative Breast Cancer With a PIK3CA Mutation Previous post FDA Grants Priority Review to Genentech’s Inavolisib for Advanced Hormone Receptor-Positive, HER2-Negative Breast Cancer With a PIK3CA Mutation
What to know about his kids Next post What to know about his kids