After adjusting the laces on my shoes, I stepped on, set the treadmill, and started to run. With my iPod in hand, I scrolled through the artists and found what I was looking for, an oldy but goody recently added to my new iPod, Damian Jr Gong Marley, and pressed play. I ran for a few moments, my thoughts racing from my to-do lists to my worries, and then the chorus kicked in. Just like that, I was transported back six years ago. To a time when things were different. I was different. And in that moment, running, all thoughts disappeared but one.
You often hear new moms talk about the dream of getting back into their pre-baby clothes, and don't get me wrong, I wanted the same. After six months I was there...mostly. But, without even being aware, what I needed most, was to get back to the pre-baby me. That has been a horrendously long journey. Alice just turned four and I can finally say I'm there...mostly.
In that moment, running, I felt it and it felt terrifically familiar. The it being the old me. She was there and finally shining through.
At my baby shower, four plus years ago, seasoned veterans offered advice like sleep when the baby sleeps and take all the help that's offered. Everyone made it out like all you needed to be concerned with is the window of time when your new child is a baby. It came off to ignorant me like life would return when the baby started to sleep through the night. People neglected to inform me that not only would life never be the same again, I would lose myself in the process.
Lose myself I did.
I wasn't even aware. That may have been the worst part. I was no longer me and I didn't even know it. It has taken several years and unique circumstances for me to finally shine the light on myself and examine what I have allowed myself to become. I had given in to the role of mom and become nothing but. I had allowed myself to become unimportant. I was a mother, nothing else. I can see how it happened. I became so engrossed in the infant stage, survival mode in the trenches so to speak, and every stage of motherhood thereafter brought new and equally urgent requirements. I never stopped for a moment to look out of the trench, look around at life and see it all going by.
Until I did.
When I finally woke up and realized the old Nelly was gone, it was a relief...sort of. It sucked, but at least I was aware. It's like being sick for years, being told countless times we can't find anything wrong, and finally having a diagnosis. At least I could begin to work to dig me out from underneath the mom mountain I had created.
It's taken awhile and many changes, but seeing myself in the mirror, running, listening to Jr Gong, I saw me. I saw Nelly, not just Mama. And when I had finished working out, I retrieved Alice from daycare. As we walked out of the gym, her hand in mine, talking about the butterfly she had made and the bug that had been on the step the day before, she took my hand and wiped her nose with it.
And all was good.