One thing the school holidays teach me – and something I am perpetually reminded of – is who I am.
I read in some book, somewhere along the line, the comment that “motherhood profoundly changes who you are”.
In the first instance, becoming a mother gives you things you couldn’t even imagine. I used to nod and agree and pretend I understood when new parents would say to my childless self “you don’t know love until you’ve had kids”. Oh, I got them! I didn’t disagree, I didn’t try to convince them I understood; but I got it.
Until that love hit me in the chest and knocked me for six.
I mean, I loved my husband so bad it hurt (and still do and it still does), but this … this is different.
I also never imagined I could happily rip the head off a three year old with my bare teeth and drop kick it three suburbs because he took one of my kid’s toys, threw it and broke it. Who knew?
I was, albeit slightly deluded, accepting of the role. I knew things would be ‘different’ – you can’t imagine just how different until you’re actually in it, just like you can’t imagine what it’s like to drive on a freeway until you actually do it.
I’m not talking about the whole “I’m not just a mum” and “It’s the hardest job in the world” because, in my opinion, both those comments are loaded with bullshit. It is fraught with all manner of things you’re not warned to expect, and a heap of things you couldn’t expect in your wildest dreams.
It’s a role you take on at some point in your life; some choose to do it, others don’t. Some want to and can’t, others have little say in the matter.
Whatever. It does profoundly change they way your life works, the way you do things, your perspective and perception of the world around you and, to some degree, your beliefs and values.
I also disagree. Not with the above, but that it changes you. It does, but there are parts of you motherhood doesn’t touch.
It doesn’t touch who you are, at your core.
It barely changes your personality, your strengths, your weaknesses. It doesn’t change the things you love to do; it may change your ability to do them, or make you think twice about skydiving or spelunking, but it doesn’t stop you desiring extreme sports, for example. Assuming you’re into such things.
Being a parent, despite what social media and Pinterest will tell you, does not suddenly make you become artistic, creative or adept at DIY or home decor.
Becoming a mum doesn’t suddenly inspire you in the kitchen, doesn’t, via osmosis I presume, fill your mind so you have all dietary requirements and nutritional information available in a moment. It doesn’t make you a gourmet chef, or provide you with all the skills necessary to create a work of art for a birthday cake, much less and superior events coordinator.
Most of all, it doesn’t change your core. For many, if you are any of those things listed above; the artist, the baker, the avid, amazingly creative home decorator you are still that thing.
Some of those things, motherhood will enable you to continue being that person you are in conjunction with spending time with your kids; you paint and draw, you design and construct the bedroom of any kids dream …
For some of us, who we are and being around our kids clash. They can clash horribly.
Some women are born corporate leaders before kids, and that pull, that intense drive isn’t removed alongside the placenta.
Being a writer or a singer or wanting to travel the world doesn’t leak out with your waters.
The drive – whatever that drive may be – varies from woman to woman, just as her desire to want children does.
Some women have their deepest desires lay dormant during their ‘childrearing years’, until the children are capable of fending for themselves or ‘leave the nest’ and they find the time and resources to return to who they were.
Others, it remains forceful, unrelenting and melding those two conflicting instincts is a challenge in itself.
It can lead to depression, anxiety, intense stress without the added input of those around us, of society and the media, and of our own expectations about motherhood. Those things we have read and seen and were brought up to believe good mothers do.
There is no doubt that becoming a mother changes you. No doubt at all.
Just as there is no doubt that becoming a mother changes nothing about who you really are.