A Mother Lost and Found
By Nadine Finlay
To lose yourself is a sad thing. To never be able to find yourself again is a tragedy.
No one told me when I became a mum, my self would slowly slip into the background like elevator music. Probably because I never thought to ask.
These days, social media makes motherhood look like the glamour pages of fashion magazines. Bodies are fitter, hair is shinier, lips are plumper and everyone seems to have a boat, a diamond and copious amounts of organic, hemp, hand woven, beach bleached kids clothing. How can the average mum keep up with this?
You look at yourself in the mirror and see sunken eyes, dry, almost always unwashed hair, oily, aging skin and you think to yourself, “Where have I gone?” “How do I find that person who made me smile in the mirror?” “Does she even exist, anymore?”
These thoughts consume. They are louder, sometimes than the voices of your family and friends. They are the thoughts that weave their way into your everyday life making you feel unworthy of happiness.
I remember the moment I felt most lost. A friend took a picture of me and when I saw it, I saw nothing. I was standing there with my son, smiling. He was happy and awesome as always, but my eyes scared me. My eyes held nothing. I looked at the photo and the fear I felt was all encompassing. I could see clearly, I had lost a bit of myself, an important bit. The part of me I always thought to be the most important. It’s not something I can put into words, but you know it. And you feel it when it’s gone. Snuffed out like a candle in a storm.
I decided, in that moment, to reclaim what I had lost. It was a mental shift, I instantly felt a little spark, like I found the last matchstick in the world and was desperately trying to light it up.
I thought about the things that made me happy. My son, yes. My husband, yes. My mum and sister, yes. My nephews, yes. My friends, yes.
Then I thought of the things that made me sad. I couldn’t find much. What made me sad? What was it? It wouldn’t come. I fell asleep that night completely shattered and disheartened but woke suddenly in the middle of the night (like all mums do!) with an epiphany. What was making me sad, was thinking I lost some of the things that made me happy.
I was sad because I wasn’t doing yoga. I was sad because I couldn’t find time to paint. I was sad because I couldn’t run around with my son because my hip was injured. I was sad because I didn’t go to the beach as often as I wanted. I was sad because I didn’t feel I dressed up enough. I was sad because people kept asking me why I didn’t have another child. I was sad because I was sad, and everything was making me sadder.
I got up the next morning and put on my yoga tights and told my husband I was going to yoga. I got there, rolled out my mat, closed my eyes and practiced for the first time in over a year. I felt unfit, weak, unstable and unsure but I bloody well did it and it was the best feeling in the world.
From then, I knew the only person who would make me happy was myself. Vey cliché, but clichés are born from truth bombs and this is a big one.
I spent a year “finding my self” again. I practiced yoga as much as I could get away with, I enjoyed the sunshine, I dressed up, I did scary things with my son (scary for me not for him J) and I found my way back to me.
I spent 11 days travelling through Italy with my mum. It was exhilarating. And all my fears were washed away with one simple mantra, “Your family is only as strong as the people in it.” My husband was fine; my son was fine. I came back home to everything all OK. I had no reason to worry and this made all the difference to my sanity.
If there is one piece of advice I could give to anyone – mother, father, person seeking happiness, person feeling sadness, person alone, person anywhere, doing anything – LIVE. Do your dreams, as far away as they sometimes seem, just do them.
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