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Friday, January 20, 2012

"Going Back Home"

I heard this song today and it got me thinking.

What place do you go to that built you? Is it the house that you grew up in? Is it a school? A church? A friends house? A park? You know the one I'm talking about. The place where your dreams were born...where you would think about what your life was going to be like when you got older. I can't really say mine is the house where I grew up. My parents still live there and though I still pass the spot outside on the driveway where I got my first kiss and I can still remember the thousands of hours I spent on the phone in my parents' room or doing my hair in the tiny bathroom with no counter space, the house looks completely different from when I grew up. The two bedrooms that I slept in (they moved my room while I was in college and the second room never did feel like mine) are now a playroom/workout room and an office. The basement, that when I was younger was unfinished and I used to roller skate on the cement floors, is now finished and doesn't even remotely resemble the one growing up. It's funny. The house seemed bigger when there were more people living in it than it does now.

Anyway, the feelings that she talks about in the song about going back to find yourself hit a nerve. I have been a mom for almost 14 years and the one thing that I don't think is talked about enough is the complete transformation that a woman goes through after having kids or getting married. While married, it was an adjustment to go from "I" to "we" but Leo and I had been together for so long that I welcomed it. I think most do and maybe the hard part is living together if you didn't before you married. After having Nico, I remember the ton of bricks that fell on me when I left my job to stay home with him and I thought, "I'm not a teacher anymore." It hurt to give up that part of myself but I told myself the lie that many of us do in order to get through that "loss of identity" time: I'll go back someday. After the twins, I tried to reclaim some of me by getting out one night a week with friends (mostly my sisters and Rochelle) and that helped a lot but I still didn't know who I was outside of "mother" and "wife". I wrote a lot but nothing came of it and most of it was journal-type stuff. Not a lot of time or inspiration for romance writing when you are the mother of twins and a three year old. There was that brief time when I was going to go back to school and instead settled in again as wife and mother. Leo and I were starting to be able to go out because Nico was old enough to babysit. It was nice rediscovering that we still liked to do the same things, go out to eat, hang out with friends and once in awhile travel with just the two of us. We had enough time to allow each of us to explore our own hobbies without too many problems. When I had Gia, I was ready for every aspect of having a baby again. I was ready for no sleep, the diapers, crying as the only form of communication...all that goes along with having a baby. What I was not ready for was the change in identity again. I have been a wife and mother for so long that I didn't see that changing. And it does change. When the twins and Nico were younger, all of my friends had kids around the same age and when we got together for a break, the kids played. To be honest, we really didn't go out all that much. I joked before that I felt like a teen mom and it really is true. I went from being able to go out to lunch, Barnes and Noble, Target or out to dinner and a movie with friends to having to decide if wanting to do those things is worth the screaming toddler. More times than not, I don't want to ruin it for my friends who are way past that stage so I don't go. I'd be lying if I didn't say it is a little lonely.

Don't misunderstand, when I am home with Gia, she makes me laugh harder than I have in years and the warm feeling of knowing I was part of a true miracle makes me very happy. It's just that there is a whole world going on outside of this house and sometimes I feel isolated from it. My heart squeezes when I hear of someone going back to school or getting a job because I know they are on their way to reclaiming their identity...recapturing something that is just for them. Maybe it's why blogging is so important to me, it's the one thing I do for myself but even that has to take a backseat to being a wife and mother.

So when I think of the places where I remember who I once was or who I dreamed I'd be:

My old high school (Glenbard North): when I have to go back to watch Nico play basketball or Tommy play football or Belle cheer. I spent more time daydreaming in that place than I did learning.

The ride through Wheaton and Glen Ellyn to get to Glenbard West High School: I didn't go there but my dad coached there and I went to a lot of games when I was in junior high. My sister and I used to talk for hours about how we were going to live there and raise our families there and again, the daydreams of what the future held.

NIU: where my dreams felt so close I could touch them.

Church: where again, I would daydream of how my life would be and all the possibilities (I can honestly say that I didn't get much else out of the church we went to growing up but it was good for thinking up story ideas and daydreaming). 

The elementary school that I taught at: where I really did become the person I wanted to be.

Our old house in Bartlett: where dreams were made, came true and then were broken.

No one really talks about how alone it feels to be a mom sometimes, even among other friends or family that have kids. Our issues (we all have them), worries (from the time the kids are born), fears (sometimes it is scary to even voice them), triumphs (no one likes a bragger)...they might be similar but never exactly the same and that is what makes it so isolating.


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