My greatest fear before having my first child was that I was going to lose myself to the responsibility of becoming a mother. I clearly remember saying this at my baby shower, to a crowd of single women, a man, and some mothers. Perhaps those mothers wanted to tell me otherwise. However, motherhood is a metamorphosis that we truly have to experience for ourselves. Nobody becomes a mother, and continues to be the same person they were. Nobody can tell us what that will be like. Each experience is singular, and far from predictable.
Metamorphosis: a change of the form or nature of a thing or person into a completely different one, by natural or supernatural means.
My predictions of not wanting to lose myself turned out to be wrong. I actually ended up finding myself.
I have always been a dreamer. I enjoyed imagining that one day, I will go places. One day, I will become so amazing, and accomplish so much. These are vague ideas. As a child, I saw myself as a caterpillar, waiting for myself to transform into a butterfly. I was waiting for my moment, not knowing how to really get there. I did not have an idea of what that would look like. I did not know what my purpose was.
I was correct about being a caterpillar. What I did not know was through what means that metamorphosis was going to hit me. When I became pregnant, I was sure that I had to put that large assignment on hold. I had to make sure that I do not ever let go of that dream, no matter what happens. I had to make sure that I was not going to lose myself. Little did I know, that this very event was the precursor of that metamorphosis that I had been waiting for. What I was unaware of was that this process involves many years and stages of change, uncertainty, and varying degrees of difficulty. It is not done so simply, as when we imagine metamorphosis as something so natural. Being in the process, it can feel extremely unnatural. Most creatures resist big changes. It is a survival instinct.
Motherhood equalled challenge. It was continuous doubt. Any issue that had not resolved prior to coming into it became severely amplified. Many of beliefs I held, and was absolutely sure about previously, became tested. My new baby boy started to teach me how to love myself as I love him, because if I harmed myself, it harmed him. I had to let go of bad habits. He reflected however I felt, and my actions directly affected him. I had to change my negative thought processes. When nursing, what I ate would help him thrive, or give him an upset stomach. I had to pay attention to what I was putting in my body. He was showing me to make decisions based love, for myself and for him, and not based on what others expected of me. These lessons became even more prominent when I had my daughter. She taught me to trust my instincts, which was one of the most important lessons. She taught me to listen to myself, to be kind and soothing to us, and to myself. It was as if I had a second opportunity to be born again, where I had the chance to let go of unhealthy habits and thought patterns. I was being found.
What is not often spoken about is that the metamorphosis is extremely painful. It also happens to us when we are not truly aware of, or when we feel that we cannot do it. My decision to become as single parent was my first step. The relationship I was in was harmful, and proved to be a repetition of negative habit patterns that many of us experience. I wanted no more of it. I saw the pattern, and I did not want to teach my children that this normal. As a single parent, the lessons that came were more fierce. There was no running from it. I had to face it. If I ran from it, it tested how much I really wanted to make our lives better. There were tangible lessons, such as understanding my own finances and how to manage it. There were emotional lessons, such as how and who to connect with. What relationships are working, and who did I need to let go, at least temporarily, or perhaps for long term? Parenting with a partner is lonely. When parenting, we are surrounded by people, yet there is very little opportunity to connect as who we are with others. Connecting is usually within the context of being a parent, not as the person that we were and continue to be. Parenting as a single parent can be even more lonely, because we are missing the spouse that we can safely talk to about the children, work, plans, and issues.
The biggest emotional lesson was within. It was regarding the expectations I held of myself. Being alone was like forced meditation. At first, I resisted, because it felt painful. The more I had to spend time in my own space, inside myself, focusing on what needed to be done, I realized that the faster I was able to grow. I was able to focus. I grew stronger. However, in the span of four years as a single parent, I was not able to do this all the time. I wanted to feel comforted socially. I found myself falling into the old habit of wanting to seek light through relating with others. Yet, I continuously witnessed failure in that attempt. It did not fulfill me as I remembered. It did not help to achieve my purpose, which was becoming more clear at this time.
When I became good at accepting the presented challenges, instead of dodging them, I was able to grow stronger. Looking back to four years ago, I no longer doubt my own feelings. I learned that my intuition is the strongest guide, and whatever we feel is always what we should be feeling. I do not allow myself to be undermined. I do not feel intimidated by the unknown, or the future. I became the light that shines through the mist in the forest of my being. My pathway is clear. I am able to see where I am standing.
Being lost and found is comparable to a long run. During the run, it feels uncomfortable. We doubt how good it is for us, because perhaps being this uncomfortable means that it is not doing us any favour. Once we know to push through until the end and finish, the feeling of being found is generated. Clarity is exhilarating. The most important lesson from this experience is that the path became clear. Now I know that I am able to achieve amazing things, because I know how to set a specific goal, and continue down the path without stopping. I am able to clearly define who I want to relate to, how to make choices that help me, and where I want to be. I also learned that achieving amazing things is a result of accomplishing many small goals. Every day, I am given the opportunity to do this. Every day, I am extremely grateful.