on losing myself

Monday, September 28, 2015

New parenthood is so many wonderful things. It's baby snuggles, that new baby smell, it's that feeling in your heart when your toothless child grins so big and complete at just the sound of your voice. It's an amazing time but it's not always easy. Being a new parent is exhausting and doing so while parenting a toddler, unbelievably tiring and all-consuming.

As a second time mom I'm cognizant that this first little bit is incredibly challenging. My days are currently made up solely of being 'mom'. I try my best to keep my two littles somewhat happy while also trying to ensure my house isn't in complete shambles (though, it usually feels like it is). The laundry is unfolded and the beds aren't made. There's an ever-growing and overwhelming list of to-dos. 

I don't have a lot of time outside of my role as 'mom' to be or do anything else. This is the most challenging part of parenthood for me. I'm at a point right now, because little man is so new, that I sometimes feel like all I am is mom. Don't get me wrong, I adore my children and I love being a mom, but I am also many other things. I am also someone who needs time to herself, to nurture her soul doing things just for me. Unfortunately for me, and most new moms, there often isn't time for that other stuff.

Currently, most times when I don't have the children I'm doing something necessary to the functioning of our home/family. Things like grocery shopping (though I do treasure a trip to the grocery store with no littles), bill-paying, laundry-folding etc. take precedence over things like going to the gym or yoga or getting a pedicure (all of which, I desperately need right now). 

The days of doing something with a minutes notice are gone replaced by planning ahead and remembering to bring diapers, a change of clothes and enough snacks. 

Sometimes as moms, our identities get lost in all of the things we need to do. Sometimes, we're so busy putting our children, our family and our homes first, that we wake up one day and realize that we have fallen to the bottom of our own list.

This happened to me last time. I wasn't depressed, I was quite content with mini-me and being her mom but there was  strange and unsettling feeling that lingered in me. I felt like something that I had before was missing, only I didn't know what that could be. I realized, after a night away when mini-me was just over a year old that what was missing was me. I had spent over a year completely focused on my daughter, on my role as her mom and trying to maintain my home that I didn't know who I was anymore. I had lost touch with myself. 

That night away, enjoying friendship, some wine, some dancing and some pampering was just what I needed to snap me out of it. It was at that point that I made a commitment to focus on myself and to put even a fraction of the effort I do in making others happy, into trying to make sure I'm happy too.

The point of this? I feel it happening again. That losing of myself. Thankfully, it's much earlier this time and I'm much more aware of what's going on.

I'm not nearly ready yet to leave for a night (part of my problem is being able to 'let go') BUT I am going to push myself to take some breaks. To put myself first, even if just for an hour. I need to conscientiously let go of this ridiculous 'mom-guilt' and put a little effort into fostering my identity and sense of self outside of my mother and wife roles. It may sound selfish, but I really think a little self-care goes a long way. When we care for ourselves, are happy with ourselves, and are kind to ourselves, we are better able to take care of others, delight in others and be kind to others. I know, without any doubt, that I will be a better mom to my children if I'm taking good care of myself.

So my friends, whether you have 0 children or 10, my challenge to you this week to embark on a little intentional self-care. Treat yourself to something, a massage, a pedicure, a meditation or a yoga class - anything that makes you feel good. Enjoy some time with yourself and plan future ways you can foster your sense of self. I truly hope to be able to do the same.