Steve and I were talking about a girl I know recently. She’s young, still, with essentially limitless credit cards, bills that are paid for her and a summer job just for the sake of a job, not for the money. But she’s a flake, at work, I mean. I was trying to defend herself, She’s lost, I said, She has too much stuff and no purpose. She doesn’t know what to do with herself.

I used to feel that way (without the limitless credit card). I always felt like I floundered at everything I did. I never felt… validated. My parents were the most supportive parents one could ever hope for, my family happy and healthy and while not without it’s dirty little secrets and bouts of drama, we loved and supported each other. And yet, I was floundering. I was insecure.

We compared this girl to another that we know: a military nurse. I don’t think a nurse flounders with ‘what to do in life’, I said, Something that tangible doesn’t leave you wondering what your contributing factor to society is. Steve countered that you don’t get a lot of floundering in the military, anyway.

So maybe this is a “Poor Little Rich Girl” problem. A First World Problem.

I’ve never wanted my children to be my sole contributing factor to this world. Does that make sense? I want an identity and a life outside of them, apart from them. Of course, it goes without saying that I love them beyond words, but I don’t want motherhood to define me. I want more than that.

After Leila was born, that balance was very hard to find. It goes without saying that when your world is drastically tilted on its axis, things take a while to settle. Being a mother overwhelmed me, and I wish I had known back then that it was very normal to feel that way. I wouldn’t admit it, but I was afraid that I had lost every other part of me. Alena’s birth wasn’t the same. Sure there were feelings of desperation some nights, but even the physical attachment (which with Leila had felt – at times- like shackles) didn’t bother me. I knew how quickly it would end.

Sometimes I worry that I love Leila more. I think of the profound way she altered every single aspect of my life, of the heart-stopping beauty that radiates from her face, of the way my heart explodes with love when I look at her. I fret, watching them. Until Alena looks at me, smiles, and yells Bye-bye! the moment before she runs away. I chase her, scoop her up and gaze into her dark brown eyes (the depths of which I’ve never seen) and my heart explodes all over again. She nuzzles into my shoulder asking for hugs and wraps her legs monkey-style around my ribs and I know that there is no favourite.

The most important things I have learned in my life have been to find patience and to discover strength. One has come from a soulful, giving spirit, the other has come from a tenacious, brave spirit. I do things for myself, but it’s for them, too. To be a better role model, to have more patience, to show them what a true loving relationship is with their father, to be a better mother.

They are my purpose, struggle against it though I may. I exist outside of them, I always have and always will.

But never apart from them.

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