8 years ago, my son was born. The moment the nurse handed my beautiful little Ryan the Lion to me I became a different person. Not better, not worse, just new. I even briefly became the “You’ll never know what you are missing if you don’t have children.” lady which shocked me. I managed to fight that brand new aspect of my personality into submission easily enough, but other changes took hold.
Before Ryan was born I read multiple books a week. I enjoyed yoga and was a recent running convert. I loved late nights watching trash tv with my husband, John. I spent hours learning new crafts on a whim. Most importantly, I was able to have a conversation that didn’t involve sleep schedules, potty training, or Ryan’s eventual language delay and autism diagnosis. All that was gone, replaced by total mom brain.
As Ryan grew, my life narrowed. We moved with John from Texas to Ireland, then to England. We settled in a small English city. I stopped working. I stopped making friends that weren’t directly linked to Ryan in some way. Without noticing my entire universe shifted until Ryan became the sun. 4 years ago, my daughter Aurora was born and my universe expanded just enough to allow me to orbit around her as well.
For a long time, I told myself that it was ok that the children were my entire universe. Not just ok, but good. If I surveyed friends and family to ask how they would describe me in one sentence I can promise that even the people who have known me for 30 years would say “Hayley is a really good mom.” My children are loved and secure. My own childhood included abuse, neglect, and eventual abandonment. I had worried for years that I would not be capable of loving any children I might have. Now they are here and there is no question anymore that I would do anything to make sure they know they are loved and safe with me.
What more could I want? The truth is after beginning medication for anxiety and depression I realized that building my life around anyone else was just never going to work for me. When Ryan or Aurora have a bad day, I have a bad day. When they had a bad month I would find that I seemed to be at the bottom of a large pit with no way out. I am not the kind of person whose whole identity can be “Mom” and feel fulfilled. No shame to you, if you are the super mom type. It’s just not me.
One day last year I was listening to One Bad Mother, one of my go-to podcasts. The hosts, Biz and Theresa were talking about how to hold on to yourself while parenting. They are so good at reminding their listeners that “You are a self!” I have loved the empowerment that Biz and Theresa have shared for a long time, but the idea that I could be a self was completely foreign to me. I think this blog was born during this episode, but it took another year to find the will to make it work.
This isn’t going to be a blog about exercise, though I will probably share any fitness-related goals. This blog won’t be about books, though I would love to hear your recommendations. I’m especially interested in fiction written by people of colour and neurodiverse adults. This won’t be a blog about crafts though you may find yourself inspired to make a crochet hat or two. This won’t be a blog about my child’s autism, though I will probably share plenty of windows into what it is like to be surrounded by “au-some” people. This won’t be a guide to recovering from childhood trauma, though I do have a lot of experience to share in that area. This blog will be a mix of all of those things. It will follow my interests with me, and I promise to do my best to take you along for the ride.
Hopefully, in a few years, my friends and loved ones with describe me with this sentence “Hayley is a wonderful mom and a really great person!”