Now that our oldest daughter is seven, we’ve finally come to the point where we can joke about how much of a shock it was becoming parents. Well, that and I think we’ve only just realised that we were even in shock.
People thrown into wars do what they need to do in order to survive, but when they come home they suffer with all kinds of issues – parenting is basically the same thing right? I mean I can’t even eat a chocolate in peace anymore, I have to sneak it in behind the grocery cupboard door like a thief in the night. Not to mention, before I was a parent it was obvious that the child screaming in the middle of Woolworths wasn’t mine. Now? Not so much.
One of the things that we regularly joke about is of a time just after Kyla was born.
It was a few weeks after she was born and both my Mom and Seth had gone back to work. I was ALONE with a little bundle that solely relied on me to stay alive. Despite the fact that this was what I had yearned for since, well, forever, it was a totally different reality to the one I’d imagined. In my mind we’d cuddle and she stare at me with love filled eyes, I’d talk to her about anything and everything, I’d dress her up in all her gorgeous little outfits and we’d have a super duper time. The reality was a lot harder than that.
Who imagines sleep deprivation when they picture holding a newborn baby? Not me – well not then anyway. I also didn’t picture looking like I’d crawled out of a garbage bin, smelling of stale milk, nipples so cracked and sore that I would have willingly ripped them off with nail clippers if it would’ve relieved the pain and having absolutely no energy to do anything about any of it. Guys, Seth would leave me in the morning cuddling Kyla on the couch and that’s exactly where he’d find me when he got home again. I just didn’t have the capacity to deal with anything other than her needs. Mine didn’t factor. Don’t even get started on the needs of the house.
And this? This is motherhood. I think.
You no longer exist to satisfy your own needs and desires. Now you have the responsibility of taking care of another (and another, and another) little person. It’s so freaking easy to get sucked up into Motherhood and let it totally take control of your life. And it should. To a point.
Where is that point? Well that’s up to you.
But for me, do you know what else was easy? When you’re holed up at home looking after a baby it’s really freaking easy to feel resentful of your partner who is out having a merry old time at work. Talking to other adults, buying fancy lunches (and not just existing on coffee and a rusk for lunch), going away for a night or two (for business) and sleeping through the whole night without any interruptions and just prancing around with their ridiculous freedom plastered all over their faces.
Yoh, I can’t tell you how many fights Seth and I had during those early years. The truth is that instead of really taking on motherhood with the grace and efficiency that I saw in my friends, I struggled. I struggled to adapt. I struggled to come to terms with my new life even though it’s what I desperately wanted.
I realised that for me to be a better mother (and let’s face it, a better wife), I needed to find me again. Big ups to those women who are thrust into the World of motherhood and freaking thrive. As much as I loved the new title of “Mom” I just couldn’t handle it being my only title.
So how do you keep your identity when you become a Mom?
First off, I’m no expert. Far from it. Everything that we do is a bit of a learning curve, we’re always trying new things and adapting as we go. But I’ve been doing a fair amount of thinking and essentially it comes down to making time for the things that you enjoy (outside of parenting which is the thing we MOST enjoy all the time right?). Finding your worth in more than just answering to “Mom” every 5 minutes.
But how do you do that exactly? Well, here’s my list. This is going to be vastly different for everyone because we all differ so much in our interests/needs/situations, but I’d encourage you to make your own list of things that you enjoy and try to make time for it. It will make the World of difference.
- Work – Being a working Mom is no joke, but I enjoy my job and I won’t apologise for it.
- Date – Before I was a mother, I was a wife. And long after my children are out of our house I’m going to be stuck with, uh I mean, living with my husband. It SO important to keep the relationship alive outside of our children – catching up on work problems, goals for the week, profound thoughts you’ve had and just laughing together. I cannot actually put this high enough up on the list.
- Read – One thing that I did on the regular before I had kids, was smash a book in a day or two. Literally just curling myself into the couch and reading the day away. I’ve found that I still need this. Our lives are just so busy that I need to get out of my own head on the regular to stay sane. Reading fills that for me like nothing else.
- Effort – I’ve noticed that when you enter this whole motherhood gig it triggers some kind of switch in your head. Yes we know that our kids come first, but that doesn’t mean that we get to come last all the time. Take pride in yourself and your appearance. If that means occasionally splurging on that dress you’ve had your eye on for a month, then go for it. If that means making time every day/week to go to gym/work out – do it. Want to dye your hair, wear make up or get waxed? Go for it. Just letting go might feel liberating for a little bit, but it won’t last. And then it’s really hard to get back in the game.
- Organise – Need regular girls nights? Want to entertain more often? Need a holiday? Organise it. I personally feel completely revitalised after any of these things and have recently decided to ensure that we do it far more often.
What would be on your list? How do you make sure you do lose YOU while you raise your kids?
And now for a few throw back photos because I’ve been looking through some now for this post and my heart is aching to bring back these younger days.