Last week I set out to plan an evening with my mommy-friends. One of them emailed the rest of us suggesting a night out of town with dinner, drinks, and if we were feeling a little crazy, maybe even some dancing! After careful plotting with our husbands and many more exchanged emails, my friends and I finally planned a REAL ladies night out. Not a quick meal in town where one of us gets called home because of a screaming child, or an evening at one of our houses with a couple of diapered tag-alongs. But a real, makeup and heels night out!
After removing the carseats in my van and vacuuming up all of the cheerios, I was ready to pick up the ladies and head out on the town; maybe we should pitch a show called “Mommy Vans After Dark”? My friend Amanda was too cute, she must have said how excited she was about every two minutes during the car ride, which continued on in the restaurant. I just had to snap a picture of her excitement!
We had many laughs and learned a lot more about each other (which we didn’t think was possible).
One underlying theme that has been paramount when I have been chatting with other moms at the same stage as me lately is the feeling of a lost identity. Many of us have been so immersed in the baby and then toddler stage that we have left ourselves behind. Now that the dust has settled and we are able to start venturing out again, we are finding it hard to see exactly where our place in the world is other than being a mom and a wife. We are not quite the person we were before having kids, so who are we now?
About a year-and-a-half ago, I had already been home with my kids for three years and was fighting increasing depression. My whole life I had wanted to be a stay-at-home mom like my mother. She had always made it looks so fulfilling. But when it was my turn, it was not at all what I thought it would be. My son Holden was extremely moody and anxious for the first couple of years which kept me fairly isolated. When our adventurous and happy daughter Beau came along, I was so burnt out that I barely had the energy to enjoy the simple pleasures of being a mom.
I found myself resenting my husband Mike leaving to work everyday and not having a reason to get out of my sweats. I finally came to a breaking point where I decided I needed to get back into the working world. I had to remind myself that even my mother, an incredible stay-at-home mom, was also pursuing her dreams of singing on stage in the evenings with community theatre. So I joined an Interior Design firm and started to re-discover myself. After a year of working, I realized that this too was not the perfect fit. I did not feel very supported by my work about the fact that I was a mom, and I could also see the toll that the long days in daycare were taking on my kids, especially my son. I needed to find a happy medium.
It was time to start a new journey. I would do what I had always wanted to do: run my own business. With a lot of support from Mike, we pulled our kids out of daycare and put a halt on our spending (which wasn’t easy because we had just moved). It has been a balancing act but so far, so good!
There are days when my house looks like a bomb went off or I have to remind myself that I am still working and to be careful to protect my “working” time, but I find myself excited and fulfilled everyday. I still get out of my sweats, put some makeup on and style my hair even if I am just heading out to a playdate.
The biggest piece of advice I can give other moms is this: Motherhood may not be exactly what you thought it was going to be or you may not have everything as clean or as organized as you would like, but that doesn’t mean you are failing as a mother. Every woman’s path as a mother and a wife or partner is different and you have to carve out your own -- one that doesn’t just include your kids and your husband/partner but yourself as well. Whether you are working or at home, single or with a partner, make sure you are doing something that is also for you -- something that is yours and that you are in control of. If you are worried you might be putting too much on your husband/ partner for an evening here or a day there, they might shock you (and also pick up a bit more of the housework along the way). Trust me, you will be a better mother and wife/partner for it! We wear many hats and are trying to take care of a lot of other people. But before we can happily give so much to our family we must give to ourselves first.
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