“Mommy, I can’t find my gym shorts. They’re not in my drawer,” my son says, clearly annoyed..
I nonchalantly reply back, “That’s because they’re not in there, nobody’s done laundry.”
He stomps off towards the dirty laundry basket, both of us knowing full well that “nobody” is me.
As an at-home mommy of four, laundry probably should be running my life, but reality is there’s too much other stuff running me around, too.
When we’re out of milk because nobody made it to the grocery store, that nobody is me.
When my kids are late for practice because nobody could find the toddler’s coat, you know the only nobody looking was me.
When the trash bin is overflowing because nobody walked it to the curb the two weeks my husband was away for work, the nobody to blame for the overflowing bins is me.
That’s not to say my husband doesn’t help out around the house, he does as much as he can manage when he’s home. And my kids are expected to help, too.
They all help out regularly with household tasks that are appropriate to their ages and abilities.
But, ultimately, I’m the household manager.
I’m in charge of knowing what needs to be done and delegating tasks appropriately. So, when things go undone, the responsibility reverts to me and I become the nobody that failed to get it done, again.
And worse than constantly being reminded that you’re the nobody that dropped is the ball, is feeling like an actual nobody.
Because taking on motherhood means giving up a little bit of yourself. Over time, though, that little bit can snowball into losing yourself.
And not just in a letting go of your hobbies, career, friends, or passions sort of way, but in a completely forgetting who you are outside of your family sort of way.
When we moved long-distance two years ago, I went months without being called by my first name.
I was “mommy,” or occasionally “Mrs. Roy,” but those titles are reminders of my place in my family, not my place in the world.
My husband constantly suggests I take time for myself. Go out on the weekends, do something just for me, something I enjoy. But, the thing is, I don’t even know what I like anymore.
I know that my 11 year old likes Harry Potter, dinosaurs, tennis, and drawing.
I know that my 9 year old is obsessed with gymnastics and loves elephants.
I know that my almost 7 year old has wanted to be a firefighter since he was a toddler.
I enjoy taking them places that feed their interests and ignite their excitement. But what I don’t know is who I am outside of them now.
I grew up dancing.
I went to college to get my teacher certification to teach dance. I danced after college. I have fought to continue teaching ballet since becoming a mommy over a decade ago.
My daughter started ballet when she was 4 but quit shortly before our move. And now, after two years outside the studio, am I still a dancer? A ballet teacher? Anything related to dance? I’m not even a dance mom anymore.
I used to love going to the mall or Target and come home with bags full of bargains, so proud of my thriftiness. Now, the majority of my wardrobe is older than my children.
And even the mere thought of having to look for, try on, and buy clothes for myself, is overwhelming. I don’t know what is in fashion, flatters my body, or even what fits.
I started my blog when I was pregnant for the third time and had been unable to get a teaching job. I threw myself into writing and creating a space that was for myself and other mommies who needed to be seen, heard, and understood.
But over time, the whining while I worked, constantly being interrupted, and feelings of my work taking away from my family became too much.
And last year I stepped back, declared myself “done” and haven’t done a lot with that space since.
I’ve always enjoyed food, cooking, and especially eating out.
But the monotony of feeding so many people, so many times a day, dealing with severe food sensitivities and unnecessary whining, has completely taken the joy out of dining.
Even when my husband and I get to slip out without the kids for a nice meal, I don’t want to pick the place. I don’t even want to read the menu or select my own entree, sometimes.
What used to bring my joy is now a mere matter of survival.
Motherhood right now feels like survival in a lot of ways.
I don’t do things because I want to, and certainly not because I enjoy them. The majority of what I do in life is for the survival of my offspring. And I make it through the days, too.
I know my kids deserve a happy, healthy mommy. And I will continue to do my best for them until the point in time when things feel a little more manageable.
At which time, I’m hopeful I’ll be able to figure out who I am as an individual again.
But until then, I’ll find my joy in the things they love and accept being the nobody that forgot to buy more toilet paper. Again.