In spite of the many challenges that the pandemic has placed on families, the extra time at home has led to a closeness with my boys that I can’t help but be grateful for. I’ve strived to savor our time together and relish the fact that I’ve been able to watch them grow as I’ve attempted to soak up the sweet seconds together that I would have otherwise missed. And yet. Are you too losing yourself to motherhood?
For the past year, I’ve spent every free moment I’ve had at home with my boys and as much as I’ve cherished it, I have realized that little by little, I have become completely encompassed by it. After months of chaos and getting used to our “new normal”, our lives finally began to take shape, fall into routine, and feel familiar: wake up, get out the door, daycare, work, home, play, dinner, bedtime, repeat. Weekends spent playing outside, avoiding “too much” screen time, and finding opportunities to foster my babies’ imaginations.
Recently, my husband has to leave town for a few days, which resulted in a lot of quality time with my boys. Once my husband returned, he wanted to thank me by giving me a break and took the boys to the park so I could have some much needed “me time.” We packed the diaper bag, changed the kids clothes, prepared snacks and loaded them up, and I watched as the double stroller disappeared around the corner. They weren’t even out the door for five minutes when it hit me. Now what?
I spent days thinking about getting a break from the kids and now that it was here, I had no idea what to do. I soaked up the silence, digging deep in my mind for something I enjoyed to do. Shower? Scroll through Instagram? Go to Target? Watch a show without cartoons or singing animals? These weren’t hobbies, or things that even necessarily brought me joy, these were time fillers. As hot tears streamed down my face, I realized through my all-encompassing love for my babies, I had lost myself. Besides a mother, I didn’t know who I was anymore. Perhaps you too just realized you’ve been losing yourself to motherhood.
Since they have made me a mother, I have been so focused on nurturing my kids that I forgot how to take care of myself. I forgot who I was, but I’m determined to get her back. Finding an identity outside of motherhood is essential. It’s a balance that I have not yet mastered, but strive to accept. If you’ve found that you’re losing yourself to motherhood too, will you join me?
I know there will be a time in my life that my kids won’t need me so much, that they won’t follow me into the bathroom, or want me to race them to the tree in the backyard, but I also need to remember that taking time for myself is not selfish. That I cannot be there for every game of tag, bedtime story, or dinner and maintain my personal health. That there needs to be a balance of self care and motherhood. That the creative, funny, and spontaneous qualities that I once loved about myself are still there.
I just might need some more time and energy to unbury them. For now, I’m going to keep taking trips to Target by myself, singing to old familiar songs in the car, stealing moments of silence, and splurging on new books. At the end of the day, the best kind of mother is a mother who is happy.