If I had one piece of advice to new moms out there, it would be this.
Don’t lose yourself to motherhood.
I’ve only been a mom for seven years, but amongst that time I’m created three little human beings. I’m a proud mom who is raising kids to “have fun, be kind, and learn a lot.” They are at the core of my family, and I can’t imagine life without them, but I’m raising them with an understanding that they will leave me one day. One day I’ll wake up and they will no longer be in this house. It’ll just be me and my husband. I think that many moms forget this, especially when the kids are young and you begin to lose yourself.
I used to work out at night. I would saunter in the gym around 7 and be oblivious to the children who were melting down because it was getting late. I could sit in the hot tub or sauna for as long as I wanted to and my biggest care was what I was going to do afterwards. Cleaning meant picking up the clothes you left on the floor from the night before and grabbing the one glass sitting in your living room. Other than basic life responsibilities, I was a free as a bird.
But when you become a mom, you quickly learn your life literally revolves around them. When they’re babies you’re on their schedule, and your biggest worry is diaper explosions and feedings. When they’re toddlers you’re chasing after them. When they get older your Saturdays are no longer free; they are all about soccer and tae kwon do, or some other activity. Your weeknights are all about dinner time, homework, family time, and bedtime. At some point in your life, you will look at your partner and realize how easy it is to become roommates. Your routine changes and it’s easy to feel like you’re constantly one step behind all these changes. You’re running to catch up and wonder when the madness is going to stop.
You wake up one day and realize you’ve lost yourself to motherhood.
You don’t recognize yourself in the mirror and wonder when that person staring at you became so good at the top knot in her hair. You squeeze your belly fat and question how it got there. You remember the days you could run a mile and realize all your steps on your FitBit are because you are chasing little ones. You stare at yourself and realize you’ve lost your connection to the free bird that lives inside of you.
How do I know this? Because I’ve been there. I’ve gotten lost in motherhood. It’s so easy to do. But, I’ve learned that I need to remember and nurture that free bird in myself to keep myself sane. I purposely make time to sit and write. I write my novels, I write my blogs, and I journal. I work out. I also make time for things like my hair.
Sound selfish? Perhaps. But, I enjoy it. I rarely take the kids and I focus on myself for those two hours. Sound impossible? In the beginning, I thought so as well. But I’ve learned that a relationship is a series of give and takes, so I shouldn’t feel bad about leaving the kids alone with their dad for a few hours so I remember not to get lost in motherhood. I ditch the guilt and kindly remind myself that people can live without my presence for a few hours and I leave. I feel guilty for about a block and then stop. I turn up some Dre and rock out in my mini-van all the way to the salon. Is it a bit stressful when I get back? Of course. I’m a control freak, Type A living in a Type B body that imagines she lives in a castle with a maid. However, it takes me about 10 minutes to clean up where to a standard I’ve grown accustomed to (drop your standards to stay sane) and I move on with my life. Those extra 10 minutes of cleaning are totally worth the two hours I just had. All. By. Myself.
So, to the mom who has given it her all, who is Supermom, who can’t imagine life without her kids: I feel you. I really do. But, promise me you won’t get lost in motherhood. I don’t want you to wake up one day and ask yourself “who am I?” Remember who you were before kids. Nurture that bird. One day she’s going to reappear and the last thing I want for you to be strangers with her. She’s the one who will stay with you until the end.