When I meet other parents, the first thing we talk about is our kids. It’s natural, and provides a point of connection. But so many times we get so wrapped up talking about our kids, we don’t talk about ourselves at all. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing more amazing or important as my role as a mom, but after 12 years as a mom I’m left feeling like I don’t know who I am anymore.
Who am I?
I’m the mother of 4 kids, ages 11, 7, 5, and 3. I have been a stay at home parent for 12 years. My youngest child will be 4 this January.
The baby years with my last child are like a blur. Calling it a busy time would be a gross understatement. Those years felt like Survivor. Only it didn’t end with $1,000,00 prize after 30 days. The days when everyone got through the day fed, watered, pottied or changed, and I didn’t serve cereal for dinner I felt elated.
It wasn’t all difficult, but it was always tough. Some of my favorite memories from that time are being so exhausted that I would get the kids to climb into the big bed with me, we’d read a book and then all fall asleep; waking up later in a mess of tangled blankets, drool, and crossed limbs.
With my youngest being nearly 4, my life, which has been dedicated to raising my children, has suddenly become partly my own again. Life is more manageable, despite awesome new parenting and life challenges
that have arisen.
My children have always been my excuse for not pursuing my own dreams. They are easy to hide behind. I could focus my attention on them in uncomfortable social settings, blame them for having to miss a party
or event, and wrap myself in their emotions and needs to the point where one might worry about which color paint will be best for your newborn. Not that I’ve ever done that or anything.
Who I Am
It was not until I walked away from a local parenting group I was deeply involved in that I saw how much my identity as a mom had allowed me to ignore ME. After much soul-searching I had an epiphany that I could have it both ways. I could lead a dual life, fully immersed in being a mother, and fully immersed in being a myself. It seems obvious, but it is one of the hardest lessons I’ve had to learn.
Learn more: Stay At Home Mom Or Working Mom?
Who Are You?
You may not have a life like mine, a story that is filled with babies, and crying, and laughter so contagious it makes you dizzy; but so many people share the feeling of being lost in what we “do” all day. Putting off what we love, to do what we are expected to do. Having a full time job that is stressful, or not in line with your dreams can be just as challenging as being a full-time parent. Moving across the world with your toddler in tow, can be equally as challenging.
We all have parts of our lives that are difficult, or don’t fit with our goals. Yet from those places are born some of the most amazing ideas. For me it was the idea of saying yes.
As a woman and mother I’m often encouraged to say “NO!” Too many women I suppose say yes to everything and find themselves overwhelmed with too many obligations, too many roles, too many shoes to fill. My problem wasn’t saying, “No,” it was saying, “Yes,” to the right things. Ideas I was passionate about, things I loved. I cut away all the BS, and decided this was the time to only do what I love. I love being a mother, and being a wife, those are constants, but what else do I love?
This idea started small, when I said yes to something I thought was insignificant, but I felt amazing. Then another thing came from it. Then it started to snowball into amazing opportunities that I wouldn’t have even imagined a month ago.
Saying yes isn’t always simple, and I’m not always right. There is no map, no way to measure if my choices are right, only my instincts to guide me.
3 Steps to Saying Yes:
- Say, “Yes.”
- When you can’t say “Yes,” say “Maybe later.”
- Don’t say “No,”unless your 1st instinct is “No way, Jose!”
It seems very simple, but it’s harder and more scary than you can imagine.
Some of the things I’ve learned by saying,
- I can survive the NYC subway system.
- I can go to dinner with adults and not talk only about
- I can go on live television and not be nervous.
- I can ask for help, and almost immediately someone will offer.
- I can be a mom, and do something I love.
- I can tell people how good I am at what I do, and really mean what I say.
- I can say “NO!,”and when I do I really, really mean it.
Are you open to “Yes” in your life? What was the last thing you said “Yes” to that scared you?