Rochester Local

I Lost My Words, But I’m Getting Them Back

mug of coffeeGenerally speaking, I’m not one who is short on words. When I was young, my grandpa nicknamed me Jabberwalky. My foot has spent its fair share of time firmly lodged in my mouth. I cringe sometimes when I remember some of the things I’ve said out of ignorance or anger. Come to think of it, I cringe when I think of some of the things I’ve said when I’m neither of those things too. So how did it come to be that she who can turn a 2-minute phone call into an hour-long lunch could go radio silent from submitting to Rochester Mom for over a year? 

There are dozens of reasons. 

One of them is that I’m trying to take it all in. I’ve become better at listening and observing than ever before. My coworkers would likely agree that my words escaped me from the moment I got pregnant. I can’t count the number of times I’d be mid-sentence and completely lose all the words necessary to finish a thought.

In all likelihood though, my loss of words can be attributed to figuring out my voice: Who am I on this side of motherhood? 

I’ve spent all of my adult years as a mother. And until a year and half ago when our younger son graduated high school, I was all-in. Volunteer coordinator, pasta-feed mom, spelling test corrector, chaperone, confirmation mentor. If I could do it (and even if I couldn’t), I did! 

I worked bits outside of the home too, but I was largely a SAHM by choice and I wouldn’t change anything about it. But as the boys got closer to graduating and moving away, the less sure of myself I became. I’d ask: Who am I? What will I be when I grow up? I knew I was still a mother, but who would I be without sporting events, band concerts, church functions, and Skyward? What would I do with my energy if I wasn’t chasing down homework assignments, and harping on messy rooms and laundry? 

My personality screams for helping people. I knew that whatever I was going to put my energy into would involve making a difference somehow. I wouldn’t thrive in a cubicle. It’s just not my jam. I couldn’t spend all my years up to this point with changing faces and scenery only to end up in a space that didn’t bring me joy. Fortunately, my husband Brian didn’t think so either. He supported my quest to find who I am. 

During my first surrogate pregnancy, with Christian’s graduation looming, I spent sleepless nights and too many conversations musing over what the next step would be, and really, the question: Who. am. I? 

And then, the 4th trimester came along. Graduation was upon us and pregnancy behind us. I was deep in picture boards, invitations, and party lists. My postpartum emotions were relatively in check, but no mom can go through photos of their child’s life without a few tears. I had been talking about renewing my realtor license and rejoining the world of real estate when one day it became abundantly clear: I needed someone to listen to me, and maybe throw a load of laundry in or help me organize the graduation open house mess I was literally sitting in the middle of. I needed me, but like a clone of me. The person I needed was a postpartum doula. A postpartum doula’s role is to support women in their 4th trimester (the 3 months after giving birth). I didn’t have a baby to care for, but life continued on, and I was still healing from childbirth. I needed someone other than my husband to remind me that making myself a priority was ok. That crying over a pile of Christian’s baby photos was not a sign of baby blues, but rather a recognition of where I’d come from in my own motherhood journey. 

That’s when I realized that there had to be other moms who needed me, too. I researched, talked Brian’s ear off, reached out to strangers, researched some more, and finally began my training. I was sure. I. Am. A. Doula. I always had been, but finally it was official. 

It’s taken me a while–Christian graduated almost 2 years ago– but I’m coming into my own. I’m learning who I am, in my 40s. 

I used to envy (and still sometimes do) those who discovered who they were in college. Those who went to school knowing what they wanted to do, chased that dream and lived it from the get-go. I couldn’t relate to that certainty because, for me, the one thing that was absolutely certain was my Mom title. THAT was who I was. Am. That was my voice. Why did I have to want to do anything else? Why did people tell me that I needed to be something else? 

Becoming a birth and postpartum doula was the best fit for my desire to still be me. I don’t want to be someone else; I just need to be someone other than Mom. 

My boys have been excited and invested in my decision. Benjamin created my logo. Christian asked me questions, and helped me walk through early business details. And Brian? Brian quietly and endlessly supported me as he always has.  

My Mom Game is still strong. Only now, instead of harassing my boys about time management and the importance of eating their greens, I get to read invoices they’ve sent me to proofread before they send to clients, or propagate cuttings from my houseplants to help furnish their new apartments. 

My relationship with my boys has evolved. I don’t feel cheated by the clock. I gave them my everything even if they didn’t think they needed it. In return, they’re doing the same for me as I figure out this new stage. 

I’m still me. I’m learning what it’s like to be in my 40s and take on a new career at the same time. The people who are coming into my world through my doula work are unlike any I’ve known before (more on that another time!). And I’m growing confident in my new life as a mother to adult sons. Supporting women during their child’s birth and through their early days of motherhood, as I transition into this phase of my own mothering, is as poetic and fulfilling as the romantic in me could envision. Truly. My voice is coming back.  


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