Arguably the most disappointing thing I ever said to my father was, “I’m just going to marry my career.” He was driving me to the airport for one of my many work trips back then. This was 5 years ago. I had recently gotten out of my only other really serious relationship, had just bought a house and was elbow deep in building my career. (Notice I said 5 years ago btw? We are about to hit the 4-year mark). I felt so successful, proud. I had an incredibly clear picture of who I was at that moment, I was content. So, it’s funny to think that somewhere in the last 4 years I almost lost sight of my identity.
What I failed to realize that day was that that feeling of content didn’t mean the situation which elicited it couldn’t change. But, change it did. In the next 4 months, I fell head over heels in love with my boss, 11 years older than me with 3 kids under the age of 6. It seemed to on-lookers that I lost it.
Impulsive would be an understatement to describe that 5-year younger version of me. But the thing about life is it changes, constantly and unpredictably. 5 years ago I was marrying my career. Now I’m married to an actual human with 4 kids; a stepmom to 3 and mom to 1.
It’s no surprise then that I lost sight of me for some time there. It took me 4 years to arrive here, content again. Year 1 was the honeymoon. Years 2, 3 and 4 were simply accepting that “that” me, would be forever evolving. And I’m really proud of my evolution so far. See how that works?
But lost I was for that period. I pretended to still be a runner, something that was incredibly defining to me previously. I rarely went out with friends. It felt like I didn’t know what to talk about with my friends who didn’t have kids. And even with my friends who did have kids because well I didn’t really have kids, did I? Travel ended, leaving me mourning that love I once held so high. I was completely lost.
Realizing I Lost Sight
The craziest part of all that is I didn’t even know I was lost. To enter a relationship with your boss who is 11 years older and has 3 kids is pretty insane. Friends and family don’t get excited about that. They question it. And me, being a completely stubborn asshole, I just dug in more. Which sounds sort of awful. Husband, I swear I really do love you. But in digging my heels in, I just sort of took over this identity. And I was proud of that. I had become an instant mom to 3 kids under the age of 6 and I wasn’t perfect, but I was doing pretty good.
So, when I started to find myself bored, I got worried. What kind of psychopath gets bored with 3 kids? Me. Apparently. But eventually, and it was actually my husband who pointed it out, I realized I didn’t have anything that was just mine. I actually lost my shit on my son one time because he ate the last pickle. “Do I not get anything that’s just mine?!” I shouted this. It’s terribly embarrassing to admit actually.
I tried gardening. (Maybe my subconscious thought I could make my own pickles?) Not my strong suit. I did successfully make fitness a part of my life again. But that wasn’t enough either. I worked 10-hour days from home, worked out at home, I was at home all the time. But I also hated leaving home. Obviously, they’d all die without me. I mean, seriously, what a snob.
Getting Myself Back
Eventually, I decided to get my national personal training certification. And the funny thing is, certain parts of me never changed. As it turns out I am still a huge procrastinator. In college, I wrote my best papers at 11 pm at night with a beer. The week before my certification exam, I locked myself in my office with beer and M&Ms and studied my ass off. According to my husband, this was worse than my craziest pregnant lady fits.
In the moments, sitting in my car after I passed my exam, I remembered something. I thrive in chaos. I fucking love it. I need it. I am so good at navigating it. (Again, psychopath.) And that led me to realize something even more important. I’d been in there all along. I just wasn’t owning it. That same girl who planned to marry her career, she was in there.
Owning the Climb
You see, it’s not the career. Or the goal itself. It’s the chaos that leads up to it, the climb. That’s what I love. And I have no idea when I decided that as a mother I couldn’t still honor that. That I couldn’t still go after things with such conviction. Obviously certain things have to evolve, otherwise, my children would all be diagnosed with anxiety conditions. But, I still get to love the climb.
I might yell at my kids for eating my snacks sometimes, but mostly I’m proud of the person I am. And I can be a person who thrives in chaos, AND an amazing mother. I don’t have to just be one thing. I don’t want my kids to think that either. Living in a vacuum sucks. Self-isolation is stupid. And being a stepmom, a mom is hard enough.
So, whatever it is, however you arrived where you are. Remember where you came from. And remember that the coolest thing about being human is that we adapt, we get better. Take each day as an opportunity, choose what you want to carry with you and fuck the rest. Do you, honor you and never ever lose sight of your identity.