I noticed that from the time I had my children, until they were young adults, I put aside all the things I loved to do in order to be a good mother 24/7. I used to have a life before they came along and I had varied interests too. But from the moment I found out I was pregnant, everything centered around what was best for the baby. And when they were born, I had them on a nice schedule of eating an sleeping, so they were very happy babies. We did everything around their feeding and nap times, so their routine would not be disturbed. Pretty much everything was done with the children in mind.
Instead of going to “adult” movies we went to every Disney movie that hit the theaters. Our vacations changed from Hawaii and Virginia Beach to Disney World and Busch Gardens. We used to go out with friends for dinner and drinks on the weekends, but that turned into visiting with the grandparents. I worked up until I had children, but I gave up my job to be a stay at home mom. Instead of going to the office, I was going up to the school to volunteer my time there. No more staying up late on New Year’s Eve, parenting magazines instead of People, Dr. Suess Books instead of Stephen King, jeans and sneakers instead of dresses and heels, until you finally feel like another person.
Don’t get me wrong, I loved every minute of being a Mom and making sure my girls were happy and healthy and making them the center of my world. But, as they got older and needed me less, I found myself at a loss as to what to do. I hovered over them a little too much. And, while they wanted their independence, they kind of knew I would always be there if a problem arose and they needed help. After a while the “mothering” role lessens, but the “housekeeper” role grows. There is more laundry, more shopping, more cooking and more cleaning and less bedtime stories, less helping with school projects, less spending time together as a family etc. So, you start to feel taken for granted and unappreciated.
That’s when it hits you! This isn’t making me happy. I am doing all these things for everyone and it goes unnoticed. I am going to start doing things for myself! Put myself first! Find things I am interested in and spend my time doing that. All women get to this stage sooner or later. Usually, from my experience, it hits mid forties unless you have had your children at a much younger age and then it will hit when they are in their mid teens and make it clear they are adults and have lives of their own. Some women will feel actually feel selfish, at first, to pursue their own interests and neglect some household duties to make time for themselves. But in time we all get to the point of realizing we need to get back to who we were before children. There is more to us than being loving mothers. We owe it to ourselves to be happy and fulfilled.
In my case, when I made this realization, I went back to school and pursued French. I hadn’t sat in a French Class since High School, 30 years earlier. I brushed up on it online and then went back to college to take courses. I surprised myself by getting A’s and loving French literature. Eventually, the undergraduate classes became too easy and my professors suggested I try taking graduate classes. I continued to excel even in the advanced classes and I loved every minute of it including writing the papers in French and the homework.
I wish I had realized sooner that I did not have to stop everything I loved doing in order to be a good mother. Sometimes, pursuing your interests can actually make you a better and happier mother. It’s also good for children to see you interested in your own activities and not just theirs.
I recall talking about something I did in my past one time, when my daughter looked up at me and said “you did that?” I said, “Yes, I wasn’t born a mother the day you were born, I had a life and interests before that.”
And now, it’s time fro me to get back to that person and find out what makes her happy and fulfilled.