Monday, April 19, 2010

Losing myself

One of the things I was most afraid of when I was pregnant was that I would lose myself in the process of becoming a mom. Though, if you would have asked me during my pregnancy, I wouldn't have been able to articulate that nearly as concisely. When I was pregnant, I couldn't see the forest through the trees and would have listed a litany of small fears if you asked what I was afraid of.
I was afraid I'd never sleep again. I was afraid I'd never get time to myself again. I was afraid I could never go out with friends again. I was afraid D and I would never be the same again. And on and on and on.

But Friday night I had an epiphany. And you know where I was when I had this flash of clarity? Cleaning the bathroom. And that's what made me realize: you do kind-of lose "yourself" when you become a mom. I know it sounds harsh, but all the people who say they do this or that to make sure they don't lose themselves after baby makes three are fooling themselves. Having a baby DOES change "yourself." It does change who you are, if you're any kind of mom at all.

This bathroom enlightenment happened all because of my nails. I organized and coordinated an awards banquet at work last week (which, by the way, was intensely stressful, crazy, difficult, rewarding and fun. I swear I was born to run events.). The old me adored having "done" nails. But the old me and the new me have in common a hatred for spending a lot of money on things that will go away in the span of a week. (Exempted from this hatred is any food which I do not have to prepare myself. I consider Olive Garden, Chili's and Jets all wise investments.)

To sidestep the cost of getting a full set of acrylics done at Le Expensif Salon, I always bought the $6 glue-on nails at the drugstore. Any time I had any sort of event or anything coming up, I'd go to CVS and pick up a box or Broadway nails. I had the application down to a science, and was eventually able to get a solid week's wear out of them. When I used to be really into poker, I would always do my nails before a game because I liked to imagine that I was a professional poker player who would have a video camera on my nails for most of the night. Nothing says Card Shark like a good french mani.

The best thing about these nails was that no one knew I did them myself. Except they did because whenever they complimented or even mentioned my nails, I practically shouted "I DID THEM MYSELF!" And people were like, "Those are your real nails?" And I'd be like "No but they're glue-ons." And then I would be all like, "You should totally buy some and come over and I'll do them for you." It was a form of bonding, really.

So anyway, I loved having my nails done pre-baby. And I got a plain old manicure for Easter, and I loved it. My nails looked great and lasted a week. And I loved it. So with this event at work, I wanted to impress people because I'm younger than almost everyone I come into contact with at my job. I don't know why "done" nails would impress them, but it could at least make me look more put-together. Or something. That's not the point. The point is that I wanted to do my nails. So I was absolutely crazy and stressed at work trying to put the event together. The by-product of this was that I had no time or energy to get another manicure. So I decided to go with the usual stand-by of my good old Broadway nails.

I did them the night before the event to have maximum freshness and minimal chance of a nail popping off my finger and into the face of one of my bosses. (Side note: One time I was in church and I was wearing Broadway's. One of them popped off and flew into the lap of the stranger sitting next to me. And it landed near her zipper and I actually went to grab it without thinking of it. And then I recoiled right before I molested her and froze. Luckily, she laughed, but I wanted to melt into the pew.) They looked nice as usual, and I went to bed happy.

The next day I proceeded to try to go about my normal goings-on and realized that the fake nails were a pain in my not-so-new-mommy butt. I couldn't shove my finger into L's mouth to see if that tooth bud had FINALLY resulted in a tooth. I continuously and accidentally scratched L all over his poor little body, but he kindly took pity on me and only cried a couple times. And then Friday, only two nights post-application, I had to clean the bathrooms because Friday night has gone from "unwind and bask in the fact that work doesn't exist until Monday" to "hurry up and clean as much as I can so I can be done and still try to eek out a little bit of weekend before it becomes necessary to fall into bed and pass out."

So I was scrubbing the sink and toilet and felt one of the nails snap off. The pre-baby me would have been annoyed, but post-baby me was kind-of relieved. And then as I kept scubbing another nail snapped off. And that's when it hit me. Having a baby did change me. But I didn't lose myself in becoming a mom. I just became a new self. I still love to sleep and have time for myself. Seeing D become an amazing father to L and hearing him talk to him and play with L has made me love him more than I ever thought was possible.

And just last weekend I got all dressed up and went out with my girls. To a bar. Where they wouldn't let me in without seeing my I.D. Yeah, that's right. I can still hang.


Blair@HeirtoBlair said...

Absolutely agree.

Having a child changed WHO I am. There's really no way to describe it except in the small details that it shows in real life.

Like how I have more compassion for everyone around me. & I haven't had a hair cut in 6 months & I don't care.

Stephanie H said...

I absolutely agree!! I think I have also become a better person when I became a mom. I don't want to think of it as losing myself, but becoming a new self, and maybe a better self?

Sarah M. said...

Hey I totally agree that pop on nails are great. In my job I can't have my nails done up for infection control. So if I go on a mini vacation or out somewhere special on the weekend I put them on for the just the weekend and they are great. Everyone really does love them- and Im just like you, I have to tell them I did them myself. :) lol

Nicole said...

I pretty much love the story about popping your nail in church. You made my day with that little side note. :)

allison said...

yeah, becoming a mother not only changes your life and the way you function in it, but it changes your HEART. I sometimes look back on how i use to think about things before marriage and babies and think "you silly naive girl" priorities and importance do such a 160. leaving 20 degrees for those heart-desired alone times to just be you, and no one elses's mommy or wife. Its a change, but a fulfilling one!