How Motherhood Shaped Me

Having a baby at 19 didn’t so much change me, as it did shape me. At such a young age, I hadn’t yet decided who I was prior to my daughter arriving. Being a mom was the only identity I knew.

Christi and her daughters.

When my five year-old daughter was beginning school, I had been a stay-at-home mom for 12 years. All I knew was married motherhood. I’d spent all those years caring for and nurturing 2 little girls, a husband and a home. And now my youngest child was leaving me with time on my hands I didn’t know what to do with. This new freedom left me at a loss.

My husband said, “Go out and do something you’ve been wanting to do”. But what did I want to do? I had been so busy the last 12 years shaping two young lives and now their absence left my own life shapeless.

At age 19 I was hurled into the role of wife and mother, completely unprepared. But I was amazed that my body seemed so naturally prepared to handle motherhood—caring for and protecting my baby before it was even born. Then, after my baby was born, I found that I was capable of motherhood. I could be strong, put my child’s needs before my own, be the kind of adult a child can depend on. Motherhood made me strong, motherhood fulfilled me.

Now, faced with the space and time to myself I sometimes craved when my girls were babies, I was afraid.

I desperately wanted to embrace this new identity, but I was petrified that I would lose all of that strength and confidence I got from my role as “supermom”. What if I couldn’t be both Mom and Christi?

Christi and her “Ladies Night Out” group.

I started to attend “Ladies Night Out”, and also began a part time job. I’ve met different people, and made a great group of friends. In doing that, I have found that my strength as a mother can also be applied to my friendships and work. I have learned that I am creative and fun-loving, and those qualities have been there all along, to help me to be a good mother. After spending time with my girlfriends or working, I feel rejuvenated and ready to re-embrace my role as a mom and wife.

Being a mom shaped me, but as my children’s lives were changing and taking shape, my life also changed. I’m now Christi-the friend, the worker, the volunteer, the wife, and—of course—the mother!

This article is part of a series on how parenthood changes us, and how children are changed by their parents. Each article explores themes raised in the new report, Mother Bodies, Father Bodies: How Parenthood Changes Us From the Inside Out.

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