Finding voice.

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No one told me how much I would change when I became a mother.

I don’t mean the obvious changes – in my body from pregnancy and giving birth, in our family as we added one new member and then a second, or in my perspective and capacity to love as my heart swelled to new heights.

Becoming a mother helped me become clearer as to who I am as a person – my own identity.

Growing up, I was happy to please other people. I am the youngest of three children and grew up in very typical Chinese household. My older brother and sister ran the show and I wanted to do everything just like them. I didn’t have strong opinions on many things. I wanted to do what was easiest for everyone. At least, that’s what I learned as I emerged from my tantrum-y childhood – I wasn’t supposed to make trouble.

That continued through my teen years, college and post-college days. I was happy but I often looked to others to take the first step and to guide me. I didn’t like taking the lead or speaking too loudly for fear of offending someone or looking silly. It also meant that I could slip by generally unnoticed.

And then, there came baby. After my oldest son entered into my life, the tables turned. Now, this tiny little person was solely dependent on me to take care of all his needs. I had to set down mile markers that pointed him in a clear and safe path. That meant that I had to know what direction to go. That meant that I had to have strong opinions and to stand tall and be sure of myself.

In tending for my son’s needs, I became acutely aware of my own needs as a person – things that I needed in order to thrive, to be fully present and to be a good mother. I realized that I needed to take care of myself first if I was even going to be capable of taking care of someone else. It made me realize that, after all these years, I do care and that I do have an opinion.

I realized that I had been letting myself be defined by labels – daughter, sister, wife, mother – but I wasn’t being defined by me.

It’s funny that it took the presence of a tiny little person, someone who only knew how to scream and cry to make me realize what my needs are and how to articulate them. He made me realize that there’s more that I want from life than just following the straight and narrow path, that there’s a spark within me that I need to nurture and grow alongside my family.

 

Christine is a freelance writer, certified yoga teacher, runner and wannabe surfer. She is also the author of the blog Love, Life, Surf, which was named to the Babble 100 Best Bloggers 2013. Christine lives in Brooklyn, NY with her husband and two sons.

 

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Comments

  1. says

    I think Christine wrote this for me…I too am the youngest of three. I was always the one to be quiet, not make trouble. But then my littles came along and I had to be their advocate. In turn, I had to find my voice. I’m a lot better than I was pre-kids but I still haven’t found my true voice yet.

  2. says

    Our roles as mothers is so important. And I believe that the more children are raised up in loving homes, these same children will grow up with loving hearts towards their own children. We need more of this in the world. All children need to be loved and nurtured. Thank you for a fabulous guest post. Now I feel all warm & cuddly inside.

  3. says

    I feel that motherhood changed me in similar ways. I too was they quiet, eager to please one in the family (though I was the oldest, not the youngest). Being in charge of a little person makes you do extraordinary things. Christine always writes so beautifully, thanks for sharing.

  4. says

    I think it’s awesome that you found your voice after having kids.
    I think I was the opposite for a long time. I felt like I lost a bit of myself after having my boys – it took me a long time to realize that it was OK to be more than just their mom!

  5. says

    Just beautiful Christine. It’s amazing all the ways in which those little people can change and shape your life.

  6. says

    No one tells you how motherhood will change you because you wouldn’t believe it if they did. Isn’t it amazing? Yet it’s not something you can quite convince other people of.

  7. says

    Oh, this is so true! I hate confrontation, but when I had kids I became ^that^ mom who asked about guns and smoke detectors when my kids had a new playdate or sleepover.

  8. says

    LOVE Christine and LOVE this post! I am almost there, but I do have to say that being single for almost 4 years has forced me to find my voice, learn about me, and accept me. It isn’t easy at times, but in the end I have found it so rewarding. I know I still have a ways to go, but that’s okay with me. It is a process and a journey and it is beautiful! XOXO

  9. says

    i waited a while to comment because i was soaking it in. Wondering how i will be as a mother. My voice. I await that day, but am always encouraged by the amazing mama’s like you and carla.

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