So I was in my bedroom, and glanced up on my dresser, where I saw a photograph from a few years ago. The Little One was about 4 months old, so I was a new mama. It was one of our first photos as a new family, taken by my sister-in-law. It's an awesome photo. But. As I gazed at it tonight, my reaction was: who IS this woman? Because: I. did. not. recognize. myself.
No one can explain to you how becoming a mother will transform your very being. In my case, I truly became a different person. That's always true of us, as we age and acquire experience and (hopefully) wisdom. But there's something about the transformation of motherhood that is particularly profound, and it's something I'm still trying to comprehend. Because that photograph of me is so poignant and almost heartbreaking. I looked so YOUNG. I had endured those months of mothering a newborn, with all of the sleep deprivation and (in my case) postpartum crazy. But the experience hadn't altered me enough yet. It didn't show in the photograph. The only evidence of my transformation was the baby in my arms.
It happened to my husband too, for I hardly recognize him. He looks fresh and youthful in a way he hasn't in quite awhile (sorry hon!). I'm beginning to understand why it was so jarring to find photographs of my parents when they were first married and when my brother and I were first born. It was because we didn't quite recognize them. But we didn't understand why.
I've thought of changing the photograph in the frame on my dresser, as it doesn't represent who we are now, and I like to move forward rather than dwelling on the past. But I can't quite bring myself to do it. I'm not ready to let go of her yet. Not the baby that my daughter was, for there are far cuter photos of her from that period, and beyond. The person I'm not ready to put away just yet is the new mother that I was then. She was a person born out of the crucible of my experience of childbirth and the weeks that followed, which were sacred in their pain, terror, wonder, and discovery. She was someone I would very much like to go back to hug and reassure that it would all turn out alright. She is someone gone forever, yet still deep inside of me. And I don't want to forget.