There’s a line from Mary Oliver’s most famous poem, The Summer Day, that I’ve always loved:
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do, with your one wild and precious life?”
And what do I plan to do? A lot.
Motherhood is an enriching calling, but it is often misperceived as the loss of individuality. Sure, raising children demands selflessness, but it is not the end of your personal fulfillment. Life shifts substantially when you become a mother, but it doesn’t stop. You can be a mother and develop your character. You can be a mother and hone your professional skills. You can be a mother and pursue your education, hobbies, social life, and marriage while navigating the challenges and blessings of motherhood.
It’s normal to miss your 'pre-motherhood' self and the independence you often took for granted, but at the same time, to not even be able to fathom who you would be without your children. (Or what you would do.)
When we think about discovery as a mother, we can look at it from so many different angles. Discovery can mean deep introspection into our beliefs and choices. It can mean seeking out different corners of the world and adventuring beyond your comfort zone. It can also mean finding out the who, how and why of your closest relationships.
So let’s look at it in three parts as we kick off this month’s theme.
Discovering yourself is not a journey to discover someone new but a journey to break down the barriers within yourself to discover your deepest truths. It is what has always been there, whether you were ready for it or not. As you begin to invest time in learning about yourself, you’ll turn over new leaves that reveal your most authentic self—the person you deserve to be. The journey of self-discovery can help satiate your cravings for clarity and a sense of direction.
Discovering the world looks different after you become a mother. Maybe pre-parenthood you were able to escape on a weekend road trip whenever you wanted or could hop on a cheap flight up the coast for some last-minute wine-tasting. And while your travel may not be as spontaneous once you have children, it doesn’t make it any less magical. There’s a reason they call it childlike wonder. Because when you see the world through your child’s eyes, you see it with a fresh, new perspective. Maybe you live by the ocean and barely notice it when you drive by each day. But the first time you dip your baby’s toes in the water and watch them squeal in delight brings a whole new element of magic to the seemingly ordinary experience.
Discovering motherhood is a journey that never ends. No one reaches a point in their role as a parent and thinks, “Well, that’s it. I’ve learned it all, I know it all, I’m good”. Long after our children are grown and have flown the nest we will still be wondering “Am I doing this right?” because there is no limit to what you can discover in motherhood.
You know the saying “It’s the journey, not the destination”? That pretty succinctly sums up discovery as a mother. We’re on a journey. No matter how prepared you think you are, you will eventually come to a fork in the road where you have to ask, Okay world, what can I discover today?
Let’s get lost in a little time travel. Write down how old you will be in 10 years, and how old you were 10 years ago. What can you tell your younger self, and what do you think your older self will be telling you? Get very granular with it. Write down a definition of yourself at all three ages. What traits do you hope to have? What qualities do you acknowledge you need to change?