When you become a mom, it's easy to get swept up in that title and lose sight of who you are as an individual. Your identity feels lost. After my oldest was born, I don't think I fell into that too hard. I worked retail part time, and eventually full time towards the end of that season, which I think probably helped me remember Lindsey alongside Mom. When we moved from Colorado to Texas, and I had our second born, it was different. I was no longer working, we had just moved to a town where the number of people we knew was limited, and my husband worked long hours and eventually started traveling. That left me alone with our daughters, being Mom.
While I (thankfully) didn't suffer from PPD, I was in a sort of funk in this time. Not only was I going through the stress of all of the major life changes, but I couldn't even find clothes I could wear in the closet. For the longest time, I had primarily worn my work uniform (khaki pants and a black shirt), so what clothes I did have that were different than that were styles I didn't really enjoy anymore and what was left after that was too small. I felt like I was in some sort of limbo. I knew I needed to change it. I needed to do something that made me feel good.
I started trying to make a point of the tiniest amount of self care. At the time, that came in the form of MLM nail wraps (I know, I know. Don't judge.). It was just something for me to feel pretty and, since I never felt I was good at painting my nails and couldn't exactly go out and buy a whole new wardrobe, it worked for me. As silly as it seems, it helped. Between liking how I looked and the friendships I made in this time, I was gaining confidence and really solidifying an identity outside of “just a mom.” I moved on from the nails and focused on my writing again.
Being a writer is something I have dreamed of since I was in middle school and realized that that was even a possibility in life. I've been writing since at least that young, if not younger, but I never saw myself as A Writer until I clawed my way out from under “Just Mom” and made myself do something with it. I spent countless hours sitting at Starbucks writing short stories and arranging story orders while my kids played with the toy bin to create Paranormalish. Fast forward a few more years and Lost in Grey came. I'm not just mom: I'm Lindsey Behee, author. I love that this is who I am. It fits.
But still, I am Mom. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love being a mom and seeing the little individuals that my children are growing into. I would never change it for the world. It's just, as any mom can tell you, as much as you love it, it can be exhausting. Oh, the number of times I've said “I'm going to change my name for the night!” or “Can I just run away for a little while?” as the incessant calls of “mom” echoed in the house. Even in knowing who you are on your own, the weight of being mom can be a lot to bear. No matter the number of times you remind them, it feels like they forget that you're as human as they are with your own needs, wants, emotions. No, to them, you fear you'll always be “Just Mom.” (At least, until they're adults.)
That feeling is why I was so taken aback at our kids' open house last night. I snapped a picture of my 8 year old's drawing hanging in the hallway, where one part of it was intended for a person she admired: Mom. I was honored. In the stress of the busy, crowded evening, I didn't look closely at the picture, though. Once we were home and I had a moment to look at the few pictures I took, I zoomed in on that corner of her page. There, pointing at what must be a desk in front of me, she labeled “writing a book.” Across from me, she drew herself with heart eyes, labeled “looking at my mom.” Not wanting to make any assumptions, I showed her the picture and asked her what it said. She confirmed it. “You drew me writing a book?” I smiled as tears came to my eyes. “Yeah, I was thinking about that one book you wrote with [Anna]...what was it? Lost in Grey?” I smiled and thanked her. I then walked in the other room and cried. I had never felt so seen by my children as I did then.
See, we all know that kids see and hear everything. They're no doubt going to repeat that grown up word you just mumbled under your breath, and they're going to make their doll-Moms threaten to ground their doll-kids in a tone you swear you don't use. But they also see more than that. As much as we think that we're only Mom in their eyes, they see who you are and what you're doing. My baby knows I'm a writer, and not just because I tell her, but because she watches me, and she sees me.
There's absolutely nothing wrong if you feel your calling is to be a mom—in fact, I think that's great. But if you feel lost under the weight of that title, know that you can be more and your kids will see it and admire it just as much as they admire your mothering. Our kids, with their metaphorical heart eyes, see us.
Hello! I'm Lindsey. I'm a writer with a ton of random thoughts bouncing around in my head. So I share them here in hopes that they reach others with these thoughts.