Finding yourself, who you truly are at your core, is hard.
Finding yourself during motherhood, at least for me, has been undeniably harder.
So often as mothers (fathers, too) we devote our entire being to raising our children and doing what they need, without much consideration for ourselves. Many of us (I fall into this category) give up any notion of a career or separate existence beyond being “mom” or “dad” in an effort to give our kids the best life possible. I have to wonder if it really is the best life though? Over time we can end up feeling worn down, emotionally drained, and simply lost in ourselves and who we once were. Sometimes, we even blame our children, because we see it as their fault we aren’t allowed to be anything else. The truth is, we are more than capable of being true to ourselves, having an identity beyond mom or dad and still being the best parent we can be. In fact, I find personally that I am a better mom and caregiver when I have something that’s just for me. My own identity.
For more than 12 years now I’ve been Mom – and mostly just that – with little else to consider myself. It has, at times, drained me to the point where I wasn’t sure I could keep moving forward.
There were moments I felt as though every other part of me had been stripped away and I wasn’t sure I was ever meant to be anything more.
If you’re a mother (especially if you’re a stay-at-home mother), chances are at times you’ve thought to yourself “who am I besides mom?” Then, just maybe, you’ve gone and felt guilty for thinking it. I can certainly attest to feeling “mom guilt”, and plenty of it. Every moment where I thought I needed more than being a mother, every moment I craved some peace and quiet, alone time, a solo vacation… anything that was devoted to being anything but mom – well, I felt guilty! This played into my eventual trip through anxiety and depression, because I was sheltering all the pieces of me that were my own. What I hadn’t realized at the time, what took me many years to realize, was that I needed to take care of myself and my own identity in order to best take care of my kids.
Over the past year or so I have begun to embrace the woman I had pushed down, and I’ve finally figured out the path I want to take her on. You can read more about that journey in my Transformation post or my Inspired Journey post. What I will add though, is that joining the Soul Sanctuary community has done wonders for my mind and spirit (tapping in to my inner child, if you will), and has encouraged me to add a yoga certification to my plans. Despite finally getting to that blissful place, I still struggle with trying to juggle my newly found identity with being a mom. I juggle quite a lot around here already, especially given that my husband is away, which can make it quite difficult. I’m sure if you’ve been where I am, in any variety, you know that it gets hard to embrace yourself and be everything that everyone else needs you to be.
Since worry seems to be my middle name, especially after I became a mother, it’s no surprise that I’m still struggling with them.
I often worry that I spend too much time on myself, attempting to practice what I’ve grown to love and desire to do, and that takes away from them. That’s the curse of being a parent, right? We strive to do things for ourselves but then we feel guilty for not dedicating that time to our children who are only with us for so long to begin with. It always comes back to that for me. Worry, and self-care.
Self-care is something we all hear about, and it’s encouraged for so many incredible reasons. One of my first blog posts was a piece on self-care and tips that can help you ensure you’re getting enough. I imagine, if you are anything like myself, despite loving your children greatly, they aggravate you. They can be incorrigible from time to time, downright monstrous… and frankly sometimes I get burnt out just being around them. We don’t ever talk about those moments, because then people frown upon us for admitting that we don’t always like our own children, but they happen. In turn we try to practice self-care to balance out the equation, and then sometimes feel guilty for that, too. It becomes a vicious cycle if you let it, and I’ve certainly felt it over the years. So, what’s the secret to getting that balance?
Honestly, I’m not sure, and I’d love any suggestions you might have for that one. I did however, find a creative solution to spending quality time with my children, which might help with that ever present mom guilt. I actually took a cue from a friend of mine and decided that I’d take the kids adventuring this year. Safely, of course.
Daily life can be mundane and tedious, and with trying to balance our own life (work, school, chores, etc.) with everything else, those precious little moments get lost. So, once a month we will plan an adventure – likely some form of camping (that tends to feel safer for me) – and head out to spend some quality time together. What I learned from the small travels that we did last year is that they enjoy making memories and having fun along the way (even when they’re complaining). My hope is that I can connect with them on a deeper level, helping to create a better balance between what they need from me, what I need myself and what matters most. I cannot say with certainty that it will help but it’s worth a shot. Either way, we’ll have one heck of a year.
Stay tuned for those once monthly travel blurbs on the next fun place we are off to.
If you happen to be on the East Coast and have any ideas on where we might enjoy travelling, feel free to let me know! I’d love some suggestions.