It feels like just yesterday I was sitting on my second hand couch with the springs that dug into my backside watching TV movies. I would make myself microwave popcorn and cocktail shrimp for dinner and the lack of air conditioning made me sweat through every summer.
I was happy.
In this ground floor apartment with its second hand couch and Ikea bedroom set, I was happy because it was all mine, second hand furniture and all.
I paid my own rent and bills. I planned my own meals and bought my own groceries. I hopped around town on the subway, not a care in the world. My time was mine to do with it as I pleased.
My paycheque was mine and after I paid rent, bills and groceries I could use the money to fill my wardrobe or travel the world; the choice was mine.
Some nights you would find me in the boozy hazy darkness of a sweaty club, bodies pressed against each other bouncing to the beat that pulsed through my veins. I thrived on the electricity of the streets of Toronto at night.
Other nights I would wander the mall, grab dinner with friends and end off at a movie.
Afternoons were spent chatting with friends in trendy coffee shops about our quarter life crisis. I went to film festivals and volunteered teaching English.
I was happy.
In my youthful freedom I was happy.
It’s been a while since I lived that life. I had forgotten what that life was like. Sometimes, I forget who I was when I was living that life.
I have moved on. I married and bought a house in the suburbs. I had one baby and then another.
This was my plan all along, this suburban life is everything I dreamed it would be, yet every now and then I miss my old city life. A couple of weeks ago I made my way into the city for a party full of Yummy Mummy Club crew and the memories came flooding back. As I sat on the Go Train and watched the CN tower slowly come into view I found myself missing the hustle and bustle of the city. I walked from the train to the venue through the downtown core remembering what it felt like to not have any responsibilities, to only have myself to worry about. Truth be told, in that moment, I missed that life.
I was someone before I met my husband, before I got married and had a mortgage and started a family. I was someone before I became a mother.
I was a girl who loved concerts and reading in the park on a Sunday afternoon. I met so many interesting people from so many walks of life. I volunteered in women’s shelters and refugee centres, which made me appreciate the kind of life I lived. I shed tears for some of those people I met and for boys who I haven’t spoken to since.
I made so many mistakes during those years. Each mistake bringing me a step closer to the person I am today.
I spent that train ride home remembering that girl I was way back then. Those were good memories.
As the train inched closer to my station I found myself anxious to get home. I couldn’t wait to tell my husband about the amazing night I had.
Yes, I miss that life sometimes. But I love the life I live now.
This quiet suburban life that I have worked very hard to create makes me so unbelievably happy.
That night, as I walked through the door of my suburban house I felt at peace. My husband smiled at me as soon as I opened the door and greeted me with a “how did it go?” My kids were sleeping peacefully in their beds upstairs. My puppy ran to the door, tail wagging, excited for me to be home.
As I headed up the stairs, peeling off the day’s layers, my daughter sleepily popped her head out of her bedroom door and whispered “mummy you’re home” rubbing her eyes and warming my heart. I gently scooped her up in my arms and tucked her back in bed and I felt totally at home.
I don’t know when it happened, those freedom filled, responsibility free city days feel like just yesterday, but somewhere along the line I fell into my middle aged life and I love it.
When I think back to that ground floor apartment with the second hand furniture it makes my heart smile. I learned some big life lessons in that apartment. I am grateful for that apartment and for the life I lived there. It has all lead to the path I’m walking right now; this beautiful, complicated, messy middle aged life and I wouldn’t go back for the world.
She stood beside me, watching my reflection intently. Her eyes followed my every move as I put on my makeup and brushed my hair. No words passed between us as she quietly pretended to copy what I did. She make believe brushed a blush brush across her cheeks, finger mascara-ed her eyelashes and swept a thick coat of Vaseline across her lips.
When I smiled at her in the mirror she said “Mummy, you’re beautiful,” and my heart swelled. “I wish I looked like you,” she finished and my heart sank just a little.
I was torn.
Too much of my life has been about struggling with who I am. Apologizing for my choices and opinions. Feeling as though I just don’t add up. Worrying about the way I look.
My daughter is beautiful both inside and out and it hurts me to think that she may not know just how amazing she truly is. I don't ever want her to feel as though she should be anyone or anything other than who she is.
I know that she will go through periods of her life when she is unsure of herself. She won’t always be happy with her choices and she will face some self-doubt. This is a necessary part of life. These uncertainties will help her grow. I didn’t expect it so early and watching it sure will be difficult.
I sat down on the stool in front of her and held her perfect little face in my hands. “You are beautiful,” I told her. “You are kind and smart and so generous. You’re a great friend and sister and you are a fantastic at taking care of puppies. You are strong and always stand up for what you believe in. All of those things make you more beautiful than you can even imagine.”
I’m not entirely sure how I am going to instill in her that her inner beauty matters so much more than her outer beauty but it’s a battle I have to take on and something I have to tell her every chance I get.
I spend so much of this motherhood journey searching for what it means to be a perfect mother and trying to figure out how I can be that. Yet I keep messing up. I do things that I instantly regret. I lose my temper. I forget about crazy hair day at school and every so often I rush through bedtime stories.
I am always rushing.
Most of the time I think my kids see me as a big sweaty oaf who spends most of her time running around frantically trying to get somewhere or searching for something.
Sometimes I just feel as though I am failing at this motherhood thing. Failing hard.
In that moment I was hit with the realization that my kids forgive me my trespasses.
They see me as nothing more than their mother.
To them I am capable, I am strong, I am beautiful.
They don’t need perfection. They love me just the way I am.
I am their mother and I am good enough, In their eyes I am the perfect mother.