Motherhood is tough. As in really tough. I don’t know a single mom who doesn’t struggle with juggling being a parent, being a spouse, being a girlfriend, being an employee or employer, or being a stay at home mom. As a mom you have one (or more!) little being that you are entirely responsible for. Food, shelter, safety are the basics. Some days those alone are hard enough. Go further up the scale and giving your love, time, and attention to those little ones is time consuming. And did I mention, hard? Then there are chores to do, a job that puts food on that plate, bills to pay, school functions to attend, schedules to manage. That is a lot of time that we as moms used to spend on ourselves. Just gone.
Because part of being a mom means you want what is best for your children. Add in some medical appointments and therapies and IEPs and counseling, and (again) all the other things you need to do in life, it seems like that bank of time spent on yourself is the easiest to pull from.
However, I’m sure you are all familiar with overdraft fees. If you pull too much money out of your checking account the bank will charge you even more for the lack of money that is in there. That’s what I consider those constant stressors to be. Just continuous deductions from yourself until suddenly you’re not only empty, but in the deficit.
And it’s kind of embarrassing and sad to realize you’re there. Suddenly you look in the mirror and don’t recognize the person you are. At least that’s what happened to me.
I spent so many years completely engaged in caring for everyone else’s needs and kept pushing my own aside until I felt depleted. And not only did I not want to do anything “fun.” I FORGOT what it was I like to do for fun. I forgot who I was other than being my kid’s mom and my husband’s wife and the cleaner-upper of this house. (Sadly, I wasn’t very good at that one).
But I did wake up one day and realized that I need more to myself than “just” being a mom. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not diminishing the importance of that role. I think it’s still my most important. I love not only being a mom, but being my children’s mom. I wouldn’t trade any of them for anything. But in order to be a BETTER mom I had to take some time to just find myself again.
I rediscovered I love to write. I remembered walking in the woods and how much I loved it and began to hike again. I emailed a friend and said “hey, can I read your book? I can edit or give you advice, whatever” and suddenly that surge of creativity was released. I walked up a path up a very large hill, set aside my fear of heights and enjoyed the view. I started asking friends to meet up again. And followed through. In one day I managed to meet up with two of my best friends in the entire world. I smiled that entire day. I dyed my hair, cut it short and sassy, bought a pair of heels and new makeup and went on a date (or a couple) with my husband.
And I like myself again. I like my kids even more. By padding that account with a little bit of “me time” when they make a withdrawal (20 minute tantrum over what color bowl they want for their snack and running out of insulin when we are sitting in an hour long appointment) it doesn’t hurt as much. I’m not in the negatives. In fact, I’m still in a positive balance and by staying there the stress of “running out” isn’t there. I enjoy my kids more, I have the energy to clean more (no, my house still isn’t spotless), and I smile. I laugh and I include them on those fun things I like to do. While I’m writing my youngest usually paints (she’s better at drawing at four than I ever have been in my whole life), when I want to hike my girls will happily jump in the stroller and let me push them around. One at a time though–there’s not a stroller tough enough for the both of them together!
So mamas, I beg you. Take some time to do what you love to do. See your friends, read a book, go dancing, go hiking, or whatever suits YOUR fancy. Your kids will see the difference and I guarantee you you will feel the difference. If you feel like you lost yourself in motherhood, go find yourself again. You’re there. I guarantee it.