It happened slowly but also all at once. One day I was a working full time, taking weekend vacations, enjoying an adventurous life with my husband, and making my own schedule. I ate wherever and whenever I wanted -- and didn't have to share! And I showered. Every. Single. Day. Then, all of a sudden, I was a mom, and it kind of felt like that -- I was just a mom now.
I didn’t even realize how quickly my identity seemed to morph. I’m not saying that I don’t totally love being a mom, because I do. I 100% love (almost) every moment of it. But it’s hard. It stretches me, and it pushes me out of my comfort zone time and time again. And while that statement, “being a parent is hard," is often overused, it is not understated. It’s likely the hardest job you will ever do. Unsurprisingly, it often gobbles you up, takes control of every aspect of your life, and leaves you confused, stressed, and running on empty.
If you’ve experienced this too, then you know how discombobulating it can be when you come to the realization that you don’t really know who you are anymore. This hit hard for me the other day when somebody asked me a pretty typical question: “What do you like to do for fun?” Usually my answers are that I raise my kids, or do the laundry, or am a professional chore giver, but this time I was totally dumbstruck! I felt so knee-deep in raising my kids that I hadn't done anything for myself in so long!
Don’t feel sorry for me, though. This thought didn’t make me feel bad, it just really took me by surprise. It made me ask myself who the heck I am anymore. Besides being a mom, I know I have so much more to offer! I want my kids to see me as the happy, multi-faceted, eager person that I am!
I’m also not the type of person who thinks you have to have some grand “purpose” in life in order to be fulfilled. I'm okay if my “purpose” is being a mom, like a lot of other women. But I think it's tremendously important for me to find other things in my life that get me excited, that connect me to others in this world.
Finding More Than a Hobby
I think the solution is more than just "finding a hobby.” While I think that suggestion is meant well and probably is close to the advice that I need, I think I need more than that. I need to regain my sense of self, not just dump all my money into craft supplies and gym memberships.
I’ve delved deep into the relationships in my life to help remedy this self-crisis. I've planned more dates with my husband. I've spent more time with my girlfriends, without our children in tow. I've made more time to talk to my mom and sisters. I’ve reached out to neighbors I didn’t know as well and taken them up on their offers to spend time together. I’ve grown my relationship with my body, at the gym and through yoga.
While expanding these relationships and contributing to the conversations in them, I find myself feeling like more than just a mom. I feet like myself, like that person who wanted to have kids, try my hand at raising them, and make the smallest bit of difference in the world while doing it.
It’s not a perfect science. I can’t promise you that what has worked for me will definitely work for you. But I do know how important it is to take time for yourself, how important it is that your children see their parents as the best versions of themselves, and that connecting with other people in your life is of the utmost importance.