Maintaining A Sense of Self in Motherhood

During my NYE celebrations I was asked, “how do you manage to still do everything you want, with kids?” This isn’t the first time I’ve been asked this question and I doubt it will be the last, but I wanted to take the time to share a bit on how I handle the task. Being a mother is a non-stop, all day, limited vacation kind of gig. It isn’t the type of job where you can tap out simply because you don’t feel like doing it. It requires a lot and can be fulfilling, bring joy, and make you better. One thing I determined from the moment I found out I was going be a mom, was that I still had to be me. I refused to let my sense of self be lost in motherhood.

It can be difficult not to be consumed by your children. Their lives, their needs, the wiles of their imagination. It’s hard not to want to give them everything while protecting them from the world at any cost. But the most powerful gift I’ve found that I can give my daughters is to ensure I am whole and happy. That means going on trips without my children. It means sending them to bed even when they claim they aren’t tired. It means having a life outside of them. Some people associate that with a lack of priority and that’s unfortunate. My goal as a parent is to raise my children to be functioning full adults by the time they leave my home. Not to create a world solely entrenched in them that I’m lost when they go.

Often we see mothers of grown children who aren’t sure where to find their joy or pleasures in life because there isn’t a child to be tended to. For the better of their lives it was all about making sandwiches without crust or carpool shares. And while all those things are good they cannot be the full scope of anyone’s existence. For a long time I was the only mother in my circle. I was the only one who knew current cartoons or the ins and outs of nursing. What kept me cool was that I made sure I still knew what was important to my friends. But it also kept me sane. Instead of drowning in the sound of Calliou’s whiny voice, I went to a happy hour mid-week. Or a party on Friday nights. I understood early on that being a mother was a major part of me but still only a part.

If you like to travel, try and plan one trip for yourself, without your child or children. I know what it’s like to be a single mom with nothing but dreams and college debt, don’t be intimidated by what you can’t do and think about what’s available to you. Make it a day trip, try a staycation. Sometimes just some quiet and a bath can be all you need to stay charged up. Like to read? Bedtimes aren’t just for kids, they’re so you can get a moment of peace. Feel free to shut your house down at 8. My mother was huge on quiet times. There were days we just weren’t allowed to turn on a TV, I hated it then but now I understand. The point is do what makes you feel good. Don’t silence the inner you because you think it inhibits your ability to mother.

I’ve always thought it important that my children know who I am. That they see me joking, sitting doing nothing, being quiet, writing or working. I want them to know that it’s okay for me to not be doing something for them. That I am their mother but I am a person. Not a housekeeper, chef, genie, or magician who works for them. In fact I’m certain once they’re older they will kindly remind me of all the times I’ve said, “I don’t work for you.” Haha! But it’s true, I love them so I do for them. I work hard so they live well, but I also do it because it makes me feel good.

I want to challenge you this year to aim to do something for you every month. Something that doesn’t involve your children, their needs, or their activities. Get out a take a walk if you have been wanting to, buy a book you’ve been eyeing, take in a movie alone.

Make 2017 about being you in the midst of someone’s mom. You matter just as much as they do.

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