Lose Yourself

Today’s guest post is from MJ Frandsen, who adventures through motherhood with a pen in her hand, a pony tail elastic around her wrist, cochlear implant batteries in her purse, and gratitude for the repentance process. She is constantly challenged and inspired by her boys; ages 3, 1 and 28–her husband, with whom she has been in love since she was 15. Now, a BS in International Cultural Studies and Masters degree in Public Administration later, MJ is the administrator in her home, dreaming of being an author while writing about her tragedies and triumphs as a mother and a wife.

Many strange things have happened to me as a mother. I’ve watched my abdomen balloon to the size of a basketball and independently wobble with life inside; I’ve become completely tolerant of touching many disgusting bodily byproducts; and, random line-ups of toy cars are an integral part of my interior decoration scheme (just to name a few). But, perhaps one of the strangest things that occasionally happens amidst all of the things I’m trying to find (sunscreen, keys, the card, the grocery list, the email responses, the dirty diaper, where Atrain may have put Fin McMissile, which side I fed Jdog on last, etc. etc.), is that it’s easy to lose myself in the mix.

It’s strange, really, when I search for the familiar sense of self I thought I knew so well, only to find pieces of that person and some undefined stuff in between. I hear my voice and the nagging, “Please obey me when I ask you the first time,” words I speak and I idealize the former version of myself, wondering where the fun, sweet, spontaneous me went. Next, I lose focus, which then inevitably leads to a harrowing, guilty conscience. Yesterday, I actually asked my mom, “Why do we do it?” The words tasted biter and full of regret as soon as they left my tongue.

Of course I know why. And the only reason I asked my mom such a stupid question was because I knew she would understand what I really meant: help. After a few good conversations and some un-tethered time catching up on my scripture study, LDS conference council and enjoying my kiddos sans household duties, my perspective is a lot clearer. I am a mother because I love God. I am a mother because I love my husband. I am a mother because I love the little souls I am blessed to nurture—so much that I want to turn myself inside out to protect them. I am a mother because I know that raising good kids is the greatest contribution I can make. Nothing is more important than this responsibility I chose to bear.

Perhaps that is why it is so difficult; I want to be the best mothering-me I can be, but I am still learning who she is. I’m sure I will always be, and I am ok with that. Recently, the words of a familiar scripture wrote themselves so clearly in my mind, and took on new meaning:

Matthew 10:39, “He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.”

I want to get lost in motherhood. I don’t need to be concerned about that me that I was when I didn’t have kids and how she compares to the me that I am now. I am going to focus on who I am becoming, rather than who I was. And, when I’m wishing for a little more of myself to go around, I need to remember that God can make more of me than I could have ever make of myself.

10 thoughts on “Lose Yourself

  1. Great post! I am currently expecting my first baby, and your words give expression to the many emotional pools I am only beginning to dip into. I vacillate between fiercely desiring to leave work and stay home to feather my nest and wondering why I chose motherhood now when I have a great job and a fantastic twosome dynamic with my husband. I, too, hope to lose myself in this next great adventure.

  2. I empathize a great deal with this. Losing self in motherhood is hard, especially since it seems like sovereignty of one’s own physical body has been stolen by a small creature; that caring for small children has changed an adult who seemed to be in control of circumstances and capable of choosing a future path into one who argues with a toddler over what will happen next–and the toddler is quite capable of seizing control through their innate use of agency!

    Ironically, I went through my mission wanting to lose myself, to become invisible in the Lord’s service. Now that I am losing parts of myself (and so many of them are parts I like), it is ever so much harder. I don’t have any real solutions but I do think that remembering why I chose motherhood (as you have done) is very useful in reminding myself that I also have agency and control–it’s not all in the hands of my lively and stubborn small children. Once I remember that I still have agency, it’s easier to use it to continue choosing the path I’m in. And once I am again consciously choosing that path, I resent it less on a daily basis.

  3. i totally hear you. I’m three weeks away from having baby four and when I pass a mirror, I think “Who is that lady?!” Not just the big basketball inside of me and sagging body parts, but seriously WHO IS SHE and WHAT DID SHE DO WITH THE REAL ME?

    In the moment, I’m uncomfortable and irritable and all sorts of up and down emotional but then I have those moments when I realize, this won’t last forever. My ability to have children. To influence them so intimatly. To be able to run around with my head cut off and have people understand and emphasize with me, “She’s a mother!”. So I wipe my tears and try to give myself a break. I try to enjoy the very smallest of moments and remember I’m so blessed to be able to have moments like I do. It’s hard though. It’s challenging. To not want to find myself…I think when I stop looking, I actually find my very best self.

    I’m right there with ya…still learning.

  4. Nine days away from having baby #9 and I was so touched today by the words of the hymns in Church. One reminded me of the sacrifice of fasting and the other that Christ gave his life, His will and His all for us. The Spirit whispered that the Lord sees the sacrifice I’m making to carry this child and give her life and He knows what I’m going through and why. As the giver of life, I’m following the Savior’s footsteps in my small part.

  5. Thank you for your words! I had always wanted to have children and we wanted many children, but after our 1st child, found we were not able to have any more. IT was a very, very difficult time and thing to handle because so often we were told our son needed a sibling…it hurt every single time. How much I wanted to give him one.

    Long story short, It was discovered I had a medical condition, making it difficult to stay pregnant. After medical intervention, months of hospital bedrest Child #2 arrived. It was a surprised to know 8mos later I was pregnant without intervention, but I was put on immediate bedrest…try that with a baby who has special needs and no one to help out during the day. 7weeks early children #3 & 4 arrived, unfortunately, #4 passed away before birth…in fact we didn’t know he even existed….despite intense weekly sonograms to check for strange things going on, we never knew. Almost two years later, our youngest was born, which we were told was our last and just had to be so . My dream of many more children was gone…

  6. Such a lovely post. I wrote a small poem about how Jesus must love mothers as we lose ourselves in service daily. (I write poetry when my emotions are about to burst.)

    I’m blessed with 5 kids. What a challenge and a joy to be a mom and a woman (hey, that’s what my lesson was on in YW today).

    I knew I had finally accepted myself as a mom when I wasn’t embarrassed to walk around with the “mom” keychain my son gave me anymore. It took till he was in about 6th grade!

    I think now that I’m almost mid-40′s, I am beginning to see more of myself. With one in college and one in diapers I am still spread pretty thin, but the effort to be a good mother enriches my life.

  7. “Perhaps that is why it is so difficult; I want to be the best mothering-me I can be, but I am still learning who she is. ”

    What a beautiful insight on the hard parts of motherhood. That nails it on the head for me. I think when my kids were little (and sometimes, still), I was so. worried. that I wouldn’t be enough for them quickly enough.

    But I’m learning that motherhood is as much about my own transformation as it is about what I might do for my children. And oh, what a process that is.

    But oh! What a process that is! I look back after 13 years and can see that I have grown. And I’ve grown to love the role of mom all the more.

  8. Hey Mel, I loved your post. It just seemed like yesterday I was staring at my ginormous belly about ready to pop with you (my 10 lb 1oz) baby inside. How was I going to manage with your sister who was only 14months at the time. And then came baby number three, four, five, and six and seven. I seriously thought those days would last forever and now here you are blogging about your own experiences with motherhood…

    Through all the trials, the tears, the runny noses, dirty diapers and wondering where the real me went, I’d choose to do it all over again. I’m grateful you are finding so much fulfillment and joy in getting lost in motherhood. Looking back I realize the real me IS being a mother. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    Hold onto these days and remember how fast they went for me… before you know it, You’ll be reading blogs about YOUR own sweet grandkids:)

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