All my life I've heard mothers say that having children sort of makes you lose yourself and boy let me tell you...that is not an exaggeration.
I tend to create a highly romanticized version of my past self in my mind. I seem to remember myself as being far more disciplined and perfect then I probably really was. I lost a lot of weight after high school and taught myself to eat very well and exercise frequently. I studied my scriptures every day. My prayers tended to be more fervent and less 'let's hurry this up so that I can go to sleep already!' I read more often, wrote more often, played the piano and sang all the time, listened to music, hung out with friends every day, took spontaneous road trips, went running daily and wrote in my journal every night. Before I had kids, I had become, in large part, the person that I'd always wanted to be.
And now I'm just Luke and Samuel's Mama. I cook for them, clean for them, bathe them, change them, cuddle and kiss them, read to them (and trust me, toddler literature is not as fascinating as you'd think. There are only so many one-syllable words that rhyme.) wake for them, dance with them and take them to play with friends and attend all manner of toddler-appropriate activities to keep them engaged, happy and learning.
I don't run any more. Eating healthy now means adding green beans to the mac and cheese. I have 20 pounds to lose as a direct result of having carried and delivered two healthy little boys. My prayers are (sadly) often a race to the finish line so that I can complete the next task or crash into my bed. My scripture study has become a one-handed activity done on my smart phone during my nursing sessions. Church is now a battle-field on which I often admit defeat and hand my kid Angry Birds just to keep him quiet.
I have lost myself.
And while I struggle to find myself again and reinvent this new Mama version of me, it occurs to me that losing yourself in exchange for giving someone else life might just be the greatest sacrifice you can make. "Greater love hath no man than this; that he lay down his life for his friends."
My life has been laid down for you, my boys. I put myself away everyday so that I can give you the life and love that you deserve. My desires and fears and wants and needs are often put on a back burner in order to allow you the growth and happiness that you came here for. I don't know of any experience in life that better creates the opportunity to learn selfless service; to follow the example set by Christ and give your life for others. I'm grateful everyday that I am allowed to be your mother. I'm grateful that I am the one who can make you laugh. I'm grateful that my voice calms your cries. I'm grateful to be the person that you run to when you're hurt, embarrassed, shy or afraid.
Even though she is (for now) slightly nondescript, I'm grateful to be your Mama.