Recently, I realized that I was no longer me.
Somewhere along the way, we mothers lose ourselves. We are no longer the women we once were but instead become Trace/Ross/Julia/Jenna/Ryan/Emma’s (fill in your own blank) mother. Our lives revolve around the early milestones of our babies and evolve into taxi services transporting our older children from activity to activity. Before we know it, we spend most of our waking hours taking care of our children’s needs and neglecting our own.
I’ve pondered this lately. I love being a mom, obviously. If I didn’t I would have stopped with kid #1 or 2 instead of having 6. But lately, I feel that my children’s needs have over shadowed my own, almost to the point of my own resentment. When is it my turn? When do my own needs count?
I had the most wonderful opportunity to go away for 4 glorious kid free days. I met an amazing group of women, fellow bloggers, some of whom I already knew via the internet, and some I had never even visited their blogs. Thirteen of us shared a 5 bedroom, 3 ½ bath house in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. We laughed until we cried. We talked and bonded and created terms that will forever have new significance whenever we hear them (Hot Dish-Both Ways and That’s What She Said, to name a few.) I didn’t change a single diaper, serve a single child, wipe anyone’s nose, break up any fights. I fixed my hair EVERY DAY. I wore it down instead of my usual pony tail. I wore makeup and clothes without snot or food smeared across my shoulders and pant legs. I focused on me and I asked another mom the second day “Am I a bad mother because I’m not missing my kids even a tiny bit?”
I came home refreshed, relaxed and was greeted by a house full of children happy to see me and instead of being ready to jump back into my life, I came back reluctantly, unwillingly, and wanting for more. And like any “good” mother, I beat myself up one side and down the other for feeling that way. What kind of mother am I??? Don’t get me wrong, I was very happy to see my children but I continued to ask “What about me?”
Where along the line did we mother’s think that we had to give ourselves completely to our children and our spouses, leaving nothing for ourselves? And worse yet, when we do take time for ourselves, why do we find ourselves consumed with guilt?
I’ve tried to understand coming home from my trip only wanting more and I think I finally know. I’ve been running on empty for awhile and one trip didn’t fill up the “me” tank. Maybe giving myself permission to write a book and take a trip without my kids only made the need for me more apparent.
Our children are selfish creatures. I don’t mean that in a bad way, it's human nature. So the fact is that we will never give our children enough. They will always want more. It occurred to me this week that maybe we’re actually doing our children a disservice by focusing all our attention on them. They grow up selfish and egocentric. Maybe we’re actually doing them a favor if we show them that we’re real people, with real needs that sometimes have absolutely nothing to do with them. Maybe we’re teaching our daughters that it’s okay for mothers to have interests outside of their children. Maybe we’re teaching our sons that their future wives need time to themselves. Maybe, just maybe, we’re teaching our children that life isn’t all about them and to think of someone else’s feelings, even if the person just so happens to be their mother.
November has turned out to be the month of “me.” I’ve focused on writing my book so many nights dinner consists of chicken nuggets, frozen pizza and macaroni and cheese. I took my trip. This week I have activities 3 nights in a row (Wicked last night, New Moon tonight, a girl’s night out tomorrow night) and part of me feels guilty. But the fact remains that I’m there for my kids most of the time. I’m still taxi mom. I still kiss the booboos away, whether physical or emotional. My children still know that they are my favorite preteen/little girl/little boy/baby girl in the whole world. I read them books, tuck them at night and they know, hopefully without a shadow of a doubt, that I love them no matter what, with a love that knows no depth nor limit. And maybe, just maybe, if I love myself a little more, I’ll have even a little more love for them. The key, I think, is finding the balance.
2 months ago