Tuesday, March 29, 2011


We recently watched the Johnny Depp version of Alice in Wonderland again, and I was struck by something the Mad Hatter says to Alice when she is trying to figure out who she is. He tells her she has lost her "muchness." I can't even recall how many times, especially in the past 2.5 years that I have felt I have lost my muchness.

It is a difficult thing for me at times to reconcile my former life with my present one. Many of my friends when telling others about me or introducing me to others say that I have done an Ironman. While this is a true statement, it doesn't seem fitting that that should be the thing that defines me now, especially since I crossed that finish line 8 years ago.

It's so easy as a mother to lose your identity for a while. All the things that used to make me who I was 5 or 10 years ago almost seem like a distant memory or part of some other person. I keep telling myself that I am going to get back to doing xyz... playing the piano, taking more pictures, etc., but my free time is so limited that it often gets swallowed up in meal planning, visiting teaching coordinating, cleaning and some days just breathing and surviving.

That fiesty take no crap from anyone girl I once was today can hardly keep from getting her feelings hurt by her two year old. Having children has made me soft... or maybe it was getting married. Either way, my hard crusty exterior has given way to a squishy tenderheart for better or worse. A few weeks ago while at a friend's birthday party, two of my closest single friends here in the city were telling someone about how I used to be the heart of the single scene here. And I reflected on some tributes I read in the foreword of a book my good friend Justin made for me when I got married that was a compilation of the Muses I had written over the course of 5 years. They all talked about this girl who was vibrant, inclusive, adventurous, witty and always at the center of the social scene. I am bewildered at where that girl has gone.

I don't want to be the center of the singles social scene. I have been there and enjoyed it but have moved on to other things like chasing my 2 year old and attempting to bake bread. I swore years ago that when I got married and had kids that I would not "let myself go" like I had seen so many mothers do. But then there are days (more than I would like to admit) when it's 4 pm and I look in the mirror thinking, "I look like I got run over by a dump truck. I am so sorry that this is what Cameron has to come home to." My hair is a mess. I'm lucky if I have showered. My clothes are not glamorous and probably have spit up stains on them, which means I also probably smell like spit up. My nerves are sometimes frazzled from being spit up on 65 times during the day and trying to get my 2 boys to go to bed without getting up 29 times. When Cameron gets home, I am a disgraceful shell of myself.

And then I look back over my day and try to recall what if any of my to dos actually got done. On a good day, I would say I can cross 2 or 3 things off that list. But piano mostly goes unplayed. I still haven't really learned how to play my guitar. I sadly haven't taken any pictures of my boys let alone anything else. I haven't written anything except the opening sentence to a post that probably won't get finished for another week or two. And that all stinks because these are things that I love doing. But I did play cars with John and help him write the letter "J". I maybe made granola or brioche, or country bread. I probably made dinner and did a couple loads of laundry. I did make Grant laugh. I fed my boys and kept them alive and thriving for another day. Usually, the dishes are done. There were probably adventures, walks or trips to the playground. And often there are visits to people or playdates with friends. And I did read many books about trains or volcanoes or snow or any number of other amazing things. And I did do my best at loving my boys and taking care of them. For that alone, I have to feel like my days are largely successful.

And perhaps that is where my muchness now lies these days, and I should embrace that. I try to. But that doesn't mean I have ceased lamenting the muchness I used to have. And it doesn't mean I feel like a rock star at the end of the day. Most days, Cameron has to remind me what a good job I am doing. It's hard to see that sometimes when your 2 year old tells you he doesn't like you and he doesn't listen even though you have told him to stop spitting/hitting his brother/screaming/throwing toys for the hundredth time that day, or when I have lost my temper or said things I didn't mean/want to, or have made my children cry or at least not been able to soothe them they way I feel like I should. Man, being a mom is hard. But I always did like doing things that were hard... and there lies some of my muchness.

Someday I will let go of that girl who thought she could conquer the world and that she was invincible. And it will probably be right before I leave this world only to discover that I was that girl all along, and that I did conquer the world only in ways I never expected. And someday I will look back on my 30s and think about what a gay old time it really was not even pausing for a second to recall any of the challenges or remembering any of the million tears shed. I will only remember that I was a mom in New York City doing what most moms all over the world are doing - teaching and loving their kids. And maybe, just maybe, someday I will really begin to understand my muchness.


Kjelstrom Family said...

I love this post! You have great muchness! And if it makes you feel any more "much", I have really scary hair right now and never showered today either. :) I think it is just this "phase" of life to be in somewhat "Surviving Mode". I think we are creating better versions of ourselves through this chaotic selfless mission we are on as mothers.

You express so poignantly. I love it. And I love you!

You're the best, Nikks. Let's be next door neighbors. :)

Mom said...

You are so correct, being a mom can be hard. The hardest and the best job you will ever do. You will wonder if you have done all you could for your children and wonder if you did your best. You will wonder if your children can remember when you weren't at your best and when you were. And when they are grown and being parents you will look back and wish the time hadn't gone so quickly. You will want each of them to be small again and you could have more time to do all the things that take up so much time now. You have a lot 'Muchness' - it is there and you will see it. Remember to take some little time for yourself each day to fill your cup and it will be easier to handle. Love MOM

Nanette Purdy said...

I loved the talk about the "to do list" vrs the "to be list". I like the "to be Nikki" there is alot of muchness in that!! Much Love from a mom who's been there and then some!! Your other loving mom!!

Rachel McEwen said...

What a great post Nikki! I truly loved it:)

Eliza said...

Motherhood is so stinking hard and so worth it. For what it's worth I like this softer squisher version of you, granted I didn't know the kick-butt, single, city chick -- but I sure love the person I know today who is a wonderful, supportive wife and caring and fun mom. Perhaps we moms will find was we loose our "muchness" for a while we will find it in greater abundance later? The scriptures promise something along those lines, I do believe. My mom always says that motherhood is spiritual boot camp and the best prep for the celestial kingdom.

If you keep on keeping on - I will too! :)