Lose yourself. I mean it. Go ahead. Lose yourself in cloth diapers, in breastfeeding schedules, in the latest organic formula. Lose yourself in play dates and preschools and birthday party planning. Lose yourself in bottles and baby food and organic cotton play clothes, but, at the end of the day, find yourself again, momma. Find yourself.
It’s the most natural thing on the planet to become completely engrossed in your babies. It’s impossible not to immerse yourself in your family. It’s human nature, and, for sure, it’s a mother’s nature. You are going to buy 10 outfits in your husband’s collegiate color, even though it’s your worst shade, and you are going to outfit your kids to match. Maybe you decide that golf really is fun because you like driving the golf cart around and consider it good fresh-air fun. Of course, these sweet babies you baked in your belly are the very extension of you and their wants and needs are your wants/needs, but remember, momma, you are in there somewhere, too.
I tell you this because I lost me. I was knee deep in them and so far gone it was hard to remember what it was that made me “me.” The qualities that defined me I used to be able to rattle off at the drop of a hat. Suddenly those traits were illusive to me. Who was I? What made me tick? What are my hobbies? Or even more illusive, what made me truly happy?
The list of things that made me happy left me so silently that I never missed it, until, one day, I just did. I missed me. I remember it as if it were yesterday. I dropped my little guy off at preschool, and realized I no longer had to listen to Tad from The Letter Factory on CD and I honestly didn’t know which radio station to put on. What did I listen to before I listened to Fisher Price Kids and KidzBop? I wasn’t even sure anymore. I started at 90.5 and tuned-up from there. I’d love to tell you I got to a certain station, and heard a certain song, and it all came flooding back, but, instead, I was really confused and a lot depressed.
Clearly it was time for some soul searching. I had to dig deep. Who was I before you little people came along? Who was the woman your Daddy sat across from and thought “this is the one”? I honestly wasn’t sure. And so I took stock. I took a step back, and I made a list.
And, my list will look different from your list, but I’ll share mine as an example:
I loved the outdoors.
I loved the water.
I loved camping.
I loved space and quiet.
I loved fishing.
I loved cloud watching.
I loved the sound of tree leaves rustling in the breeze.
And I missed it all because I had forgotten to seek it out. No one asked me to give those things up. I wasn’t asked t give up my love of the great outdoors. I just forgot to keep in touch with my needs. So what did I do? I asked for it and I asked for help in getting it all back.
I sat down with my husband, and explained everything, and asked for his help in my quest for “getting ‘me’ back”. Adding my list of needs to the list of things we did as a family was easier than expected. I was specific, and I asked them to keep me accountable if I started to forget about me again.
You know what else I did? I started talking to my kids about me. Little stories about who I was, where I came from, what made me tick. I explained that Mommy grew up differently than they are, on a ranch in a far away land called Washington State, and that I loved camping and fishing and wide-open spaces and times to be bored. I explained that I wanted them to see and experience all of these parts of me too. But, most importantly of all, I made a pact with myself. I wouldn’t stop. I wouldn’t stop until I got “me” back.
The truth is, I wouldn’t trade all of the cloth diapers and KidzBop for anything in the world, but I’ve made myself a promise. I will not forget where I came from, who I am, and what makes me happy, because it’s my job to teach these babies to honor who they are and never settle for less than happiness.
So, mommas, it’s OK. Go ahead and lose yourself in their world for a while. Just don’t forget to find yourself again, because they really want and need to know you, too.