Guest Blog: Help! I need to find myself!
“You are still YOU.” This is one of the quotes taken from my friend and fellow blogger, Joanne Cook, who wrote the blog post below.
The timing of this post is very fitting, since I have been interviewing many moms regarding some of the struggles they are encountering and what they are afraid of. A common theme that emerged is that they (which may be you too) are afraid of losing themselves…or that they already have!
Joanne very eloquently shares some of her story, along with what she is learning along the way.
Guest blog: By Joanne Cook
You! Yes you! Don’t forget about yourself in the equation.
When you think about becoming a mom, you think about a sweet little bundle of love, all pink and new and squishy, wrapped in a warm blanket, cuddling in your arms as you gaze loving into their eyes, wondering how you could have created anything so beautiful. You anticipate all the trips to the zoo and Sunday picnics and everyone laughing around the table at family game night. It’s amazing and perfect and nothing is better.
Ya! What you don’t think about is the endlessness of teething and constant drooling, wrecking every cute onesie ever given to you. The poop that ends up in their ears, under your nails and covers everything in a 5-mile radius. The nights you don’t sleep and the days that never end. The continuous days of potty training, snack making, activity organizing and play-dates.
While being a mom is the greatest (and hardest) job in the world, it shouldn’t be the only job we have. We owe it to ourselves to remember we are works in progress. You need to devote as much time, love and grace to yourself as you do to your children.
Just yesterday, while waiting to pick up my oldest son at preschool, I struck up a conversation with a new mom (her daughter just joined after a preschool drop-out). She mentioned she is creating jewelry again, a passion she had before having children. She started having health problems and was feeling as though she needed to reclaim a bit of herself again and she felt stuck and didn’t know what to do. Then “out of the blue” this position at preschool opened up and she found herself with a little time to create jewelry.
First of all, there are no “out of the blue” coincidences. She needed a break and the Universe answered her call. That’s the way it works. Until you put out an asking, the Universe/God/Whatever-You-Want-To-Call-It can’t hear you. (I will have another post about manifesting your awesome Mom power soon).
Then she said “I need to start putting myself first. I need to figure out who I am again. Do you know what I mean?” She was rather sheepish when she was talking, as though she was embarrassed she even had these thoughts. After all, I was a virtual stranger she was confiding in. But I very enthusiastically agreed and said “yes you do! You HAVE to put yourself first! You owe it to yourself and everyone in your life to do what makes you happy and find some time for yourself.”
I think she was a little taken back by my animated response but I so wanted her to realize that she deserves to figure out who she is. She deserves some time for herself, to nurture her soul. If we don’t give to ourselves first, if our cups aren’t full and our needs aren’t being met – then we don’t have anything left to give…to anyone.
Ahhh – just leave the kids to raise themselves. They’ll be fine!
Obviously I am not suggesting you leave the children alone all day while you follow your every whim and fancy. You can’t neglect your responsibilities – even when your rugrats think its “art” to spread peanut butter down your hallway. Or vacuum the fish. Or flush money down the toilet. Or decide to channel an evil spirit from the dark side the second the phone rings. Or argue that smarties aren’t a treat and should be given equal consideration as celery. You gotta love them. You can’t leave them. Just drink more wine (I find that helps).
BUT – you are still YOU. You can’t lose yourself in the chaotic equation. You can’t put everyone and everything first and then expect to have enough for yourself at the end of the day, week, month, year.
We really need as woman – mom’s in particular- to stop equating “me” time with selfishness. Heave that notion out the window. In reality, it’s the least selfish thing you can do. You need time to feed your soul and be kind to yourself. Then, and only then, can you really shine as a mom, wife, friend, sister and woman.
Damn you – generations before us…
We have been pre-programmed to be good little girls. We have been told it’s a bad thing to look at our needs and take care of them. We have been instructed that once we have children and a family of our own, our needs take a back seat to everyone else. And it’s simply not true.
We need to stop defining ourselves in such a limited role: mom. We need to remember who we were before and keep growing into who we are meant to be. It serves no one – not your children, not your partner, not your friends and family and especially not yourself – to be anything less that you can be.
I know it’s hard, especially when the babies are young, to think about leaving them, even for an hour. I know we think if we go out, they’ll never survive. Our partners will never survive. The house will be turned upside and down and a police squad will be stationed in our driveway when we get home. I promise you – it will all be fine! And worth it.
You owe it to yourself (and everyone around you) to make some time for YOU!
Recharge your batteries by carving out some time for yourself and honor yourself by following through on that intention. Start small. Once a week, go to a coffee shop and just read or write or sit and do nothing. After the kids are in bed, take your iPod and go for a walk. Better yet, let your husband get the kids ready for bed and walk out the door guilt-free. Meet a friend for dinner. Go to a movie. Get a pedicure. Take a class.
Sit down for 10-minutes and come up with a list of things you really enjoy doing. That’s how I started to put myself back together. I really thought about what brings me joy. I thought back to what I really loved doing before I had my boys. I loved going to movies. I loved grabbing a coffee and mindlessly window-shopping along random streets. I loved going to markets. I loved meeting friends for dinner. I loved going for walks in the fresh air. I loved long lazy drives in the outskirts of the city. Then, I started doing those things.
It seems so obvious and at times, almost pointless. What can going for a walk or grabbing a coffee do for my soul? But it’s not pointless. To be the best mom you can be, you need to rejuvenate yourself. You need to take a breather. You need to connect with your self, with you soul, with your spirit. And I guarantee, once you do that, you’ll be a better mom to your children. Never mind the priceless lesson you are teaching them about valuing themselves as individuals.
Try it. Give yourself one month. And start to take (guilt-free) time to do something that brings you complete joy. Then tell me you aren’t better for it in the end. It’s your life. Don’t forget to live it!
“People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can’t find them, make them.”
~G.B. Shaw, Mrs. Warren’s Profession, 1893