A New Coming of Age Story
From ‘Me’ to ‘Mom’ to ‘Mom-me’
Our sneakers stamped across the wooden walkway as we shuffled tentatively forwards in single-file. We were escorted into a dark, claustrophobic trailer with long table-desks centered around a TV cart. The faces around me wore a variety of expressions - smug and overconfident, indifferent, visibly ill, confused. There were uncomfortable giggles, nervous whispers, and the sound of someone trying to catch their breath through panicky tears.
Abruptly, the door swung open with a crash and a small but intimidatingly powerful woman marched her way into the classroom. Her three-inch stilettos clicked across the linoleum tiles as she walked towards the TV cart to introduce us to my single greatest childhood fear. The Talk.
“Alright boys and girls. Today we’re going to talk about the biggest change you will experience in your life. Your bodies will change. Your hormones will cause your face to break out with acne. You will start to find hair in new places. You might feel like no one understands you. You might stop hanging out with your current friends. You might feel completely alone. There is no normal when you reach puberty. But the important thing to remember is that it won’t last forever. You will make it to the other side - changed, but still you.”
Where in the world was this lady when I needed her? My hormones were going crazy. My body looked ridiculous. My friends had no idea what I was going through. Attempting to make new friends was embarrassingly awkward. I felt incredibly alone. But most painfully, I had lost all sense of who I was.
No - this was not my transition from girl to woman. This was my giant leap from me to mom.
For me, this uncertainty and longing to find myself has always come in waves and I tackle it in any way I can in that moment.
I tried sharing advice with moms-to-be. I tried to make new friends. I joined different moms groups. None made me feel like ‘me’, until I found FIT4MOM in Springfield. I started working out. I tried Stroller Strides and immediately I found my village. Finally I was in a place where I felt welcomed, understood, and challenged.
Months passed. I felt a sense of belonging, but I was still searching for my identity. Could I be content with only being “Ryann’s mommy?” Could I be content leaving her with someone else and returning to my career? Was my career even my passion? Could I ever be the mother that my mom was to me? Could I ever be the mom that I wanted to be? Did I need to be?
I went back to work part time. I put Ryann in daycare. I made new friends. I chatted longer after Stroller Strides. I started going to class 5 days a week. Twice a week I went with an empty stroller. I was proud of who I had become as a working mom, but who was I beyond that?
I started a bullet journal. I became obsessed with learning to write in new fonts. I practiced the piano more. I watched Netflix instead of napping. I let the dishes pile up in the sink and the laundry spill out of the basket. Every available moment I could, I made an effort to put myself first, and I was happy.
But I constantly felt a tearing guilt to spend my time more productively. I made myself a schedule and immediately tore it up when Ryann refused to nap for an entire week. I made an effort to spend more time doing chores. I made an effort to put my husband first more often. I made an effort to reflect on and explore the things that made me happiest.
I switched radio stations. I started going to church. I started writing. I baked cookies. I planned more engaging lessons for my students. I pursued singing publicly. I read an adult book. I said “no” when my schedule was full. I let go of the guilt that accompanied that “no.” I stopped giving myself timelines. I accepted that I am good enough.
I’m still figuring out who I am. I won’t give up looking for what makes me ‘me.’ Each step I take towards finding myself, I am moving closer and closer towards that other side. When I hear my daughter call “mommy” for the first time or for the millionth, I will smile. She will always remind me that I am coming full circle, from me to mom to “mom-me”.
**Emily McCrory has been a member of FIT4MOM Lorton/Springfield/Burke/Woodbridge/Kingstowne since August of 2016. She is mom to her almost 16 month old daughter, Ryann, and works as a music teacher at Burgundy Farm Country Day School.
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