Me Before Mother

If you were sitting in my kitchen right now, you’d see my son in the same pajamas as yesterday, eating eggs without a fork because I can’t find it. And he’s sipping day old water, but that’s fine because water lasts awhile, right? My left foot is tapping to the worship I have streaming and my right foot is tapping my baby’s bouncer. I try to keep the screaming at bay so I can get these milk-ounces pumped. The toddler saying “hold you” every few seconds, which is — if you’re reading this — impossible. My outfit wouldn’t be one I’d want to flirt in, but that’s okay, I locked my husband in awhile ago and he was all in, even in the hot mess of spit-up stained t-shirts.

And as I half-smile and blink slowly, all I can think is

who was I before mother?

Crawling backwards, I can still gather up nostalgic scoops

Of the kid who lived for birthday magic and story time in bed. Glimpses of the proud, older sister, finding trees to climb and fireflies to can. The paper grade kinds of worries that didn’t hold a candle to the realities of now. Walking to general stores on Sundays, licking rock candy with friends. Finding solace in school sanctuaries and the service-doing with my family. There were adventures in summer, blended discipline and nurture, and parents who lathered us in hugs that my touchy-self needed. There was innocence in the things I wept for and foolishness in the things I longed for. Self imposed discoveries and a thousand doors I had the time to open.  I gripped the friendships I could, chased boys for too long, and frolicked in fields kissing pretty much strangers.

What did I know of me then?

Meaning from life was a wide open space spanning self and Jesus, longing and people-pleasing. I inched forward, prayer by prayer, gaining hip bone and breast. Coming out of myself into a whole new one. Leaning on gals knit perfect for the season, cozied up in dorm rooms, dreaming of the perfect day and crying over things long forgotten. We cradled the time, milked it pretty good I would say, for years we poured and drained and withered and bloomed.

I climbed mountains and got high, on risk and chance and loving hard for the authentic life. I chased sunsets and asked questions and stayed up by fires to hear story, baiting empathy with wide eyes. I walked fearless over ladders high up in the sky, barefoot most days, with eyes forward. Tents and starry nights put me to sleep, with dirt under my fingernails and tomorrow’s purpose tucked somewhere in my pockets. Adventure was my keeper, the grander the view, the fuller my heart.

I was the complex paradox of

emotional and steady

brave and anxiety ridden

old in soul and stupid in impulsivity

needing people and needing space

faith meeting doubt meeting faith

 I was a hard working learner, staying up for pedagogy’s sake. I became a teacher like I had dreamed, for little faces to find a haven in. Sowing seeds of confidence and watched parenting from the sidelines. I gathered literature and escaped into worlds, nose-diving into any book I could find. I feared God in the awe way and longed for heaven more each day. Independence was a freedom and that freedom pushed down doors of desire. Groceries and bills were for me, myself and I, and naps were still a part of my name.

But what did I know of me then?

Layers peeled back, I held a good man’s hand, tangled up in what little I knew of lasting love. I learned how to flesh out baggage and face the monsters of my past. I grew idols, and slayed idols, I grew habits and buried some too. At some point I had become young woman over night, and I knew time was another keeper to face. God was no longer a sometimes but a must-have and I found myself palms up for the long haul. I was stubborn and sometimes too heady in my thoughts, but I fought for the things needed and unending.

We saw one another for all that the cleaving forged. Intoxicated by ideas and days off, and our bodies still wrapped in the newness of it all. Marriage was an infancy of its own, learning each other in intimate ways all while making one another mad to the bones. Our time capsule seemed to hold a lot more sand, or maybe each grain just fell more slowly. The day held a canvas stripped fresh each morning for two. Beyond the sheets was time collected to know each other, in full. Where sacrifice was as simple as who would choose dinner that evening. Surrender to the unknown and foolishness gut-punched with awareness, learning that life’s hard held more than our narrow scope once knew. My body was for giving in love and unknowing what it meant to share. There was a bliss.

And I still didn’t know much of me then.

Me before mother may have been free-er in time and fuller in breasts. I may have been more open to the pick-up-and-go nomadic dreams I once carried out. My legs might not brush like now and my eyes may have been a little brighter come morning. It’s true that I miss the sleep-in days with my man and that shaving used to be a more regular habit. There might have been a day where I had more time for friend-dates and the classroom is still something I itch for on Mondays.


{and I am desperately serious}

Me before mother was just the time before now.

It was the present to my presence.

Stepping stones to today.

Because now I am mother

I am mama. His best friend, his wife. A sister. I’m a daughter to the ones who carried me through the before. I’m still a teacher and a fighter, a learner and a dreamer. But with less fear and more freedom in the abundant kind of life that gets me from now until forever. I am fuller in vision and slower in doing. I risk with purpose and put to bed the careless. I believe in mountain moving kind of miracles, even when they are seen from my valley home windowsill. I share dirty fingernails with my son who rolls in mud and I lather my babies in the hugs tethered to me. Instead of a self-shaper, I get to be a disciple-maker and my joy comes from belly laughter instead of what my head gets wired up in. I may squeeze tighter in jeans, but that thicker skin has become more forgiving and replaced my paper-thin feelings a long time ago. I know the difference between fleeting and free-ing, and I get to rejoice in all that God is weaving.

There is a me before mother, and now I get to ask, what kind of mother will I be?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s