I am more than a mom.
This seems to be something that I forgot when I made the transition from being a 25 year old college graduate to becoming a mom.
Becoming a mom was the single most important event in my life thus far. It truly did change my life. Suddenly I had this little person in my arms that was completely dependent on me. And I loved him. It was instant. I loved him while he was in my womb, but I really didn’t know how much love I was capable of until I held him in my arms and got to see his sweet (albeit bloated) little face.
The best way that I can describe the experience of becoming a mom is to turn to Breaking Dawn (yes, I am about to quote Twilight). [Spoiler Alert!] There was a scene in the book when Jacob (ehem #TeamJacob) described how it felt to imprint on Renesmee.
Everything inside me came undone as I stared at the tiny porcelain face of the half-vampire, half-human baby. All the lines that held me to my life were sliced apart in swift cuts, like clipping the strings to a bunch of balloons. Everything that made me who I was – my love for the dead girl upstairs, my love for my father, my loyalty to my new pack, the love for my other brothers, my hatred for my enemies, my home, my name, my self – disconnected from me in that second – snip, snip, snip – and floated up into space. I was not left drifting. A new string held me where I was.
Jacob Black, Breaking Dawn, Chapter 18, p.360
As you can see, becoming a mom is a most definite life-changer. Often, we have to leave our jobs for a short period of time to care for our child. Some of us leave our jobs/careers altogether to become stay at home moms. Others, such as myself, opt for the work at home route. In addition to changes in our jobs/careers, many of us experience a drastic dip in our social lives. We don’t hang out with our friends as much anymore. We don’t have the time or energy (or maybe not even the desire) to pursue our hobbies or passions. The dreams that we were pursuing are often put on the back burner.
Sometimes we give up on these things altogether. I have seen many moms who say that these things no longer matter. That the only thing in this world that matters is their child. That they don’t care about having a social life and would feel selfish even thinking about having one. That the only thing they need to concern themselves with is taking care of their child.
My son means the world to me, but my world does not revolve around him. Nor should it. It is my job and my pleasure to raise my son in a loving, safe and healthy environment. I love spending time with him. I love watching him grow and learn. I love being his mom.
But I love other things as well.
I love being creative. I love writing. I love traveling. I love hanging out with my friends. I love karaoke. I love wine. I love reading a good book. I love having time to myself to just relax.
I can love all of those things AND be a good mom at the same time. Granted, finding the time to do all of those things now that I am a mom is more of a struggle. Being honest, I don’t have time to do all of them all of the time. But I make time to do some of them when I can.
And I don’t feel guilty about it. Why should I? I feel like this is something that many moms fail to realize. It is ok for us to have an identity outside of being a mom. We can still have passions. We can still pursue our dreams. We can still have fun. Being a mom is not a punishment. So why do we feel the need to deprive ourselves of all of the things that we once loved to do and actually feel like that is the way it is supposed to be?
Let’s be real: we will be moms forever. It’s not something that ever goes away. However, these cute little children that we love will one day leave the nest. They will be adults with their own passions and dreams. They will go out into the world and live their lives. We will no longer play the role of mom in the same way as we do now. They will not need us to be there 24/7. If we live those entire 18 (or more) years being focused solely on raising our children to be happy, healthy, and productive adults, what will we do when it is time for them to move on?
I honestly think that is why empty nest syndrome hits so many of us so hard. We spend nearly 2 decades (at least) pouring 100% of our time and energy into parenting, without taking time to invest in ourselves. Then, when it comes time for our kids to “fly the coop”, we suddenly no longer have that role to fill. Then we don’t know what to do with ourselves. We are lost because our entire identity for that time has been “mom”.
I choose to be more than mom. I choose to be Tiffany. I am a mom. A friend. A daughter. A sister. A cousin. A creative. A blogger. A writer. Lover of books. Lover of Netflix. Lover of travel and experiencing different cultures. I am a multifaceted person and there is nothing wrong with that.
I still chase my dreams. I firmly believe that by chasing my dreams, I am happier. Happy mom, happy family.
I still take time for myself. Granted, as a single mom, this doesn’t happen very often. However, when it does happen, I embrace the opportunity. I admit that at this point, it still feels a bit weird to have a large chunk of time to myself. I have left Christian with my family a handful of times for a few days for blogging and business events and I admit to feeling a bit sad and guilty. However, I didn’t let those feelings keep me from doing something beneficial or enjoyable for myself. You know what happened? I had fun. I learned. My son had fun. We missed each other, but both of us benefitted from the time apart.
I still find some time to hang out with my friends. Again, it doesn’t happen as often as I would like, but when it does, I enjoy myself. A lot of the time, our kids are with us, but it is so nice to have a friend to talk to and have fun with. In fact, I CRAVE that time that I spend being social. As moms, we often make a big deal about our children being properly socialized. We think it is important for them to have friends and to do things outside of the house. We send them to daycare even if we work from home because we don’t want to deprive them of those opportunities to make friends. We set up weekly (or even daily) playdates so that they have time to connect with other kids their age. That’s because we understand that these connections serve a tremendous role in their growth and development. What we need to realize is that WE need those same types of interactions.
The moral of the story is this: Becoming a mom doesn’t mean that I stop being Tiffany. It took me a while to even realize how much of myself I had sacrificed or set aside when I became a mom. It took even longer for me to not feel guilty for wanting those things back. But now I realize that there is nothing wrong with wanting to reclaim Tiffany. The key to anything in life is ensuring that you find a balance. So this is me…balancing all of the aspects of who I am and what I want in life. Granted, the balance is not perfect. Sometimes one thing takes priority over another. Some things still get set on the back burner for a while. But now I will no longer feel that same guilt over wanting to pick something back up and continue where I left off.
When was the last time that you did something that was purely for your own pleasure?