Change happens overnight; but transition takes time.
I am not settling into the role of being a “mother.” The role that is expected of me – being a mother and hence the conventional responsibilities thereof – is not one that I embrace. Indeed, I do not know what this role entails.
I used to define myself by my organization and business card. After a few years of reflection and self-discovery, I was able to shake this off. I could define myself by me. There were no perceptions I needed to fulfill, nor did I have perceived perceptions I thought I had to fulfill.
However, becoming a parent brings this all back. The role of “parent” invades into my independent identity that I had safeguarded for the last few years. It feels again, that I am bound to fulfill expectations of what a mother is or should be by convention. Even if I went my own way and had my own methods of parenting, society has still prescribed this role as “parent”.
This additional role inevitably adds on to who I am, and how I am defined. From now on, my identity does not depend solely on me as “Nochie.” There is an added element of “Nochie, who is a mother.” The word “mother” implies that it is a role dependent on another, for by definition, one cannot be a mother without taking on some responsibility or change towards another being.
This is the transition that is slow, fuelling the denial and rejection I feel towards the change.
In the midst of my baby’s arrival, the sense of urgency to go back to work became frenzied with reinforced impatience. I did not have energy to sit and contemplate. I miss my alone time. I miss the time when I could go out to meet people and talk about my plans. I miss my calligraphy classes. I miss baking and cooking.
I could not help but feel suffocated again, as if I had just surfaced from a long dive only to find a huge wave swallowing me. I want to get out of the ocean but I am dragged by undercurrents, tumbling around, disoriented. My oxygen tank is running low and I am desperate to find my boat, anchored somewhere, floating, so I could take a rest, breathe, and move on to my next destination.
This career transition might take longer than I ever envisaged – but on those good days when I am calm and cheerful, I reassuring myself that these twists and turns will take me to a place more colourful than I dreamed of.
Changes and transitions happen all the time. Different changes arrive at different stages at different times. Thus, I arrive at different stages of transitions for each change, but all at the same time – I could feel elated and comfortable with one change, but in anger and rejection with another. It is not me being schizophrenic or bipolar with extreme opposite emotions. It is the way life is with changes.
I am the only one who can define the role for myself. It will take time. But it can be done.
The ocean does not wait for one wave to subside before forming another one. Instead of stubbornly rejecting change, it is more constructive to accept them, be aware of my internal transitions, and stay authentic to myself throughout the process.
More importantly, learning to let go, and accepting that changes are an integral part of life, is an attitude I want to adopt.