My husband and I were sitting at dinner with new friends. We’d met a few months prior and had tried and tried for a double date, but schedules and young children made planning difficult. Finally, long overdue, we hired sitters and had an evening out of the house, sans kiddos. The food was great and so was the company. We laughed about toddler antics, messy houses, and crazy in-laws. It was so refreshing to connect with friends on such an effortless level.
Kids, the universal bond.
Topics shifted, and after discussing our favorite TV shows, my husband casually mentioned that I was a songwriter and had once been invited to audition for The Voice.
“Really?” Our new friends seemed shocked. “Gosh, MK, that’s really cool. I had no idea you played guitar.”
For a moment, I was taken aback. Anybody who’s met me knows about my passion for music. I’ve been singing and playing guitar most of my life, and songwriting takes up a huge space in my world. Well, it did before I entered motherhood, but I guess there hasn’t been space in my life for much else since.
I’ve spent my last two years as a SAHM, thinking my job was to create a perfect, happy world for my son to live in. Every activity and hour has been planned and intentional, with a 2-year-old’s developing interests in mind—immeasurable time spent at playgrounds and splash pads, in front of puzzles and board books; walking through the park and discussing the trees and flowers.
The world he knows is one that is carefully crafted by his mother, and crafting a world takes a whole lot of freaking effort. My schedule is full, my house is full, and my heart is full. The truth is, I love motherhood, but aren’t I more than a mother?
He came into this world a lucky kid. He was, many people said, the son of a nifty woman. She was an artist, a musician, a lover of horses, a reader and writer of fiction. Mary Katherine was a friend, runner, lover, cook, and Jesus-loving, cheese dip fanatic.
Fast-forward two years, and here’s how I introduced myself at Sunday school last week:
“Hi, I’m MK. This is my husband Ian. We have a wonderful 2-year-old son we call ‘Nugget,’ and umm, that’s pretty much it?”
All of this time, I’ve spent thinking my job was to create a bright and happy world for Nugget. Yet, in my efforts to create this perfect place, it seems I’ve forgotten: My son’s world doesn’t need creating. It needs discovering. It needs relishing. My job is to introduce him to all of the beauty that’s already here, and recently, I have neglected everything I found beautiful before I met him.
Yesterday, I found myself standing in front of a dusty guitar case. I was shocked by the butterflies that fluttered in my belly. It hasn’t been that long—has it? The case creaked open, and I hugged my old friend. Her wooden form contoured against my body, and I found myself clumsily plucking the strings. After an hour of strumming and humming, I found the words to an old hymn and let the song take me away. As I put the guitar back in the case, I smiled. My soul felt fed.
When I’m gone one day, I imagine there will be a conversation with my child that will start something like this:
“So Ben, tell me about your mom.”
In that moment, I hope Ben will recall how much he felt loved, that he’ll reminisce about how he had a secure, enriching childhood and his mom was, simply put, a great mom. But I wonder if he will talk about music, about how much his mama loved his father, about how she struggled with her weight because she loved cheese dip a little bit more than she loved running 5Ks. I hope Ben will know me as a person who relished and discovered the world around me, and taught him to do the same.
Because yes, I love motherhood. But I am more than a mother.