Is that too much to ask?
Life before kids afforded me the freedom to read for hours and hours. Or to watch the Lord of the Rings trilogy in one weekend and soak in the deeper metaphors and analogies of the series over cups of tea. I'd spend hours pondering and writing in my journal. And more hours sketching, coloring, or painting. Life before kids included vast swathes of space just for me. Space for thinking. Space for reading. Space for writing. Space for just being.
Life before kids was me with tunnel vision that zoomed in on... ME. I mostly did what I wanted, when I wanted. I could wear what I wanted and not have to worry about the contours of my nursing pad being visible with that shirt. I could plan out my day and have the sweet satisfaction and sense of accomplishment that all went according to the plan. I could retire for the night and drink in the deep sleep my body needed and wake up to the warm rays of sunshine piercing through my window curtains. Yes. This was life before kids.
I still remember the overwhelming shock I felt when I was handed my firstborn. As I awkwardly held her tiny wrinkled frame close to me, I had two thoughts. What was I thinking? And how in the world was I going to do this, this thing they call motherhood? And that's about as far as my quiet, deep, and leisurely musings went as that peaceful moment was shattered by a high-pitched cry and I was quickly swept up in a whirlwind of meeting the demands of this new tiny being, recovering from having given birth, and adjusting to this over-sized role they call "being a mom."
The days and weeks blurred into one big gray mass, punctuated by sleepless nights and the emotionally-draining constant cry of a newborn. My entry into motherhood was about as harsh, painful, and shocking as a newborn's entry into the world. In the months after giving birth the delicate fabric that made up my self-esteem wore thin and began to tear. I am fairly certain that I had experienced post-partum depression.
In a haze of emotional gloom I went about my new life. I went through the motions that required constant, consistent, and considerable amounts of serving and giving, serving and giving, often with no immediate reward. Over the months that passed my tunnel vision burst open and my periphery began to take shape in sharp focus, while the obnoxious Me faded a bit. My plans were not the ultimate plans and they did not ALWAYS have to pan out just the way I wanted. Relationships and people began to matter way more than my own trivial preferences and superficial wants. The deep foundations of old habits built upon the drunken worship of Me began to crumble.
At first, motherhood felt like a ruthless eclipsing of this new being. It was all about this shrieking, tiny bundle of energy, and no more room for Me. But perhaps it was more like an unclenching of sorts. Unclenching my fist so I can give and receive. Unclenching my arms so I can comfort and hold. Unclenching Me so that life can be experienced more fully.
Life after kids may not guarantee that I can successfully secure a quiet space or a haven of solitude, nor does it guarantee that I might be able to carve out ample time devoted to decluttering my mind and filling my soul, and yet, I have found that, when I am filled, it is always to overflowing.