The thing I still struggle with the most about motherhood is the loss of freedom. I look at people without kids and think, “They have no idea how easy they have it. They only have to worry about themselves. They can do anything they want!” And I kick myself for having taken that freedom for granted while I had it. How many times did I complain about being stressed out and spread too thin before we had Emma? I had no idea.
It’s that lack of freedom that most often makes me question my choice to be a mom. When we were in San Francisco for my brother’s wedding, Travis and I had to leave early, dip out for a time or chase a toddler around the whole time, which severely limited how much we could enjoy the festivities. Most of the time, I can roll with the punches (or the tantrums). But sometimes, I just wish I could go back to the way life was before we had Emma.
Elk hunting in Colorado is coming up in a month. Since we camp in the mountains in a wall tent, elk hunting is pretty much the least baby-friendly activity next to swimming with sharks. A wood stove, dirt floor, knives, guns – yeah, pretty much a nightmare with an 18-month-old. So Emma is going to stay with my parents for the 4 nights, 5 days I’ll be gone. Part of me is very excited for the break. I get to fly and read a magazine instead of entertain a child! I get to read a book during the day! I don’t have to feed anyone else lunch except myself!
The other part of me is panicking. I have only been away from Emma for one single night since she was born. This will be 4 nights, and we’ll be up in the middle of nowhere with no cell reception, so I can’t Skype or call several times a day to check on her. And I won’t see her for 5 days. In a row. How can I last that long without hearing her giggle, or seeing her smile, or getting a hug and open-mouthed kiss?
As I think these thoughts, it hits me. I can never go back to the way life was. Not only because Emma is now a human being that exists and that I’m responsible for taking care of, but also because Emma is a part of me. She has forever changed my identity and I can’t turn off being her mom and this impulse to do anything possible to protect or care for her, any more than I can turn off being a woman.
So even when I do get a taste of that glorious freedom again, it won’t be the same. It’ll never be the same. That might be hard for me to accept at times, but in the end, the experience of having this kind of deep, inexplicable, unconditional, no-holds-barred love for a child is priceless. In my more selfless moments, I can see motherhood for the gift that it truly is. And it’s those moments that make me thankful for being forever changed.