Today marks 6 years, 4 months and 28 days of me being a Mom. Nevertheless, although I’ve spent 35 years, 8 months, and 5 days on this earth growing, evolving and developing my identity up to this point; when I stop and reflect on who I am as an individual—which let’s be real, is usually somewhere between 2:00-3:30am after making my grocery list and before worrying about things that probably won’t matter three days from now—the type of Mother I am is usually the first that comes to mind. Am I overprotective? Too lenient? Not flexible enough? Uninvolved? The list goes on….
Before I had kids, I was a fireball of endless positivity, almost to an obnoxious extent. And lately, I have found it more difficult to channel that energy that at one time was so effortless. But, before assuming this is another blog post written by a mother who is now “half the woman she used to be due to the constraints of new responsibilities and mundane routines,” I want you to keep reading.
I want to change the conversation women with children are having with themselves. NOW.
Being a mother is a privilege unlike any other I’ve ever had. Some of the best times of my life were those spent with my children. But with my son now in full-blown toddler mode, and my daughter who is now six-going-on-17, I’ve had an “ah-ha” moment so to speak. (Again, around 3am.) But this time it stuck long after sunrise.
The memories I’ve made with my children are priceless. At the same time, they aren’t my only memories. There are endless qualities and experiences in my life that define who I am as a woman, friend, wife, and daughter.
- I love to hike.
- Swimming is like walking for me.
- My favorite poet is Goethe and the most memorable book I’ve ever read is “The Bluest Eye”.
- I’m hardly an athlete, but was born with a competitive streak that could rival many seasoned Olympians.
- And if I ever need an escape there is no drug more powerful to me than singing.
Being a mother hasn’t changed any of that. It’s true that most of my hikes these days involve a grocery cart and novels are often replaced with nursery rhymes. But, I still have that fire, and I really hope you do too.
It’s time to change the conversation we have with ourselves from what limits us as mothers to what empowers us.
If we forget who we were before kids, not only are we letting ourselves down, but we are also letting down our children. After all, isn’t one of the greatest joys of motherhood sharing your passions in life? My heart skips a beat whenever my daughter mentions a “sherbet sunset” or a “Sliver Moon” because I taught her that, and it thrills me to no end that my love of nature has been captured in her spirit which in turn, she may pass to her children someday. That’s how we carry on, how we keep the fire burning and why we can never afford to let it burn out.
I challenge you to take some time every now and then and get away from your kids. For like, a day. Maybe even two. And here’s the catch; you can’t feel bad about it.
The words “selfish” and “lucky” and “guilty” should no longer be allowed to be part of the conversation with others or with yourself. The most important thing we can do for our kids is honor our own individuality and independence.
- Engage in conversation.
- Revisit your favorite author.
- Check off that bucket-list destination that you’ve always wanted to visit.
- Train for a 5k.
- Find a babysitter and “date” your spouse again.
And let’s be real; none of this is as easy as it sounds, but neither is pent up frustration and anxiety from living on 4 hours of sleep while folding laundry before heading off to a 10 hour workday—whether it be at home with your kids who demand constant undivided attention or at the office, where the very mention of family these days seems to be the ultimate faux-pas.
Last weekend my husband took our kids to Grandma and Grandpa’s house while he went turkey hunting. Did I feel bad about sending the kids? Nope. Not one bit. I celebrated my inner foodie and ate grilled octopus and oysters over a glass of Sauvignon Blanc with a friend who I hadn’t seen in ages. I slept in, took a solo field trip to Whole Foods, binged on Netflix and even took a run down to the lake.
And still, after all of that, my favorite part of the weekend wasn’t the extra 2 hours of sleep or the peace and quiet of having the house to myself. It was singing my kids to sleep on Sunday night to a song that my Grandpa taught me when I was just about my daughter’s age. It’s now her favorite lullaby.
By keeping the fire in my soul alive, I’m able, in turn, to pass it to my children who add fuel to my fire every single day.
Please don’t ever forget the person that you are, or the experiences and passions that keep your soul alive! It turns out that remembering what makes you, you may be one of the most selfless acts we can do for us and our children.
Writer, marketer and mom, Susan Madden, has a background working with the Fine Arts in Dallas, TX and Milwaukee, WI. Relatively new to the fitness industry, she enjoys sharing her experiences about the craziness that is parenting and wellness from a novice perspective. She is a native of Whitefish Bay, WI and now resides in Mequon, WI with her husband Mike and children, Samantha and Blake.