Every holiday during my son’s first year of life I’ve made cards to mail to a small circle of VIP’s using his footprint. A footprint heart at Valentine’s Day, a footprint snowman at Christmas… you get the picture. This elementary school teacher turned stay-at-home-mom needs her finger paint fix! With Mother’s Day nearing, I broke out the paints and wrangled my never-still 8 month old into his high chair. Because Lord knows painting the feet of an infant requires restraint, and the high chair feels less inhumane than duct taping him to the hardwood. About fifteen minutes later and despite my efforts with the high chair, paint adorned his tiny hands (and therefore every other part of his tiny body) my shirt, and the dog’s head. But alas, our artwork was complete. A butterfly.
I chose a butterfly intentionally. Not because it was a cute, popular symbol associated with the particular holiday (my usual motivation when making these cards) but because in a unique way, I could identify with this creature on my first Mother’s Day.
A year ago, I was in the midst of a career that I’d worked hard for. I went to work every day and I loved my job. I loved my students, loved being challenged, and loved achieving my professional goals. I got up every morning and spent a good chunk of time getting ready for my day; shower, hair, makeup, and some days even heels. I accessorized. I packed a healthy lunch. I went to Zumba class before or after work. I listened to the radio on the way, or just drove in silence, thinking about the day ahead. Silence. Remember that, mamas?
Fast forward to my current state of being: If I get mascara and chap stick on, I’m content. I haven’t blow-dried my hair in three weeks. My previously flat belly is pudging over my yoga pants and I cannot remember the last time I wore earrings without a genuine fear of having my earlobes mutilated. And let’s be honest, the notion of silence is laughable. Some of my mommy friends have said, “The greatest challenge (with parenting) is letting go of the person you were before.” I don’t see it that way.
I’m not letting go of who I am. I don’t value myself, my goals, or my daily activities any less now that i’m a mom, despite the stark difference in my day. Motherhood hasn’t replaced one part of me with another. No. Motherhood has transformed every ounce of my being into something fully new. It has allowed me to evolve. The day my baby boy was born, my heart changed. Like a caterpillar that climbs contently into its cocoon and emerges as butterfly, I too have been made new. Motherhood is transformational, and there is more beauty in these new wings than I ever imagined possible.