I think back to before I had kids, (and I still see it happen around me now as well), how people 'change' once they make babies. To some extent, it's required, and good. But some aspects of it used to creep me out. I mean, I've known since I was 2 years old that I wanted to be "a mother". I've looked forward to it for years, and now I'm blessed with 2 little ladies that add to my feeling of fulfillment. But that's the point I'm getting to. I mean, it wasn't meant for us to spawn and then forget completely about who we are as an individual in order to be an effective parent.
Don't get me wrong. I do understand the primary motivation for them to eat, sleep, and breathe their children, or place a photo of their child under their names on their social-networking sites... They are happy. They are proud. They are in awe of these amazing, funny, charming little people. I get that. I also get that we are inundated with our kids day in and day out in a way in which we truly could not have expected or prepared for until we were in the thick of it! But, what I don't get, is the fact that these people often seemingly can't hold a conversation that doesn't involve their kids! There is a difference between pride, and "this is all I know/ do anymore..." It's your name - and your child's picture. Yes - you can be proud of them. But you are not your child now. Perhaps a photo of you WITH your child is appropriate? Indeed! But I don't understand when people want to identify themselves that way.
I used to see it and think, or even say out loud to Joel, "PUKE! Don't let me turn into that... I want kids, but I don't want to lose my identity over it..." That's essentially what this whole blog is 'dedicated' to. I mean - we adore our babes - but we also have to remember that by becoming parents, we don't give up everything else about who we are. There's a line between selfishness and self-care. But if you ask me, that line isn't exactly thin. And don't forget, we are setting examples!
I know that I talk about my kids often. And even if I'm in conversation with someone about something completely non-kid-related, often they will ultimately instigate the transition in that direction. The girls are my most photographed subject, and they are where I place the majority of my efforts and activity daily. But I have a strong sense of self, and the desire to really continue to BE. I am determined to incorporate all of the other things that matter to me into my life. I recognize that I'm limited for the time being - because of the young age of my little dependents. And, they will always come first for me, of course! But I still have goals that don't include them - both short-term and long-term. I don't think this makes me any less of a mother. In fact, I think it strengthens my bond with the girls when I am with them, and it keeps me alive, energized, propelled forward, and happy. That can't be a bad thing for them to be around :)
TIP! What's important to you? What do you value? If you didn't have children, what might you be doing right now? Really think about it - and make a list. Across from each item, think about ways that you can incorporate those things, or bits of them, into your life - either currently, and/ or in the future... Continue to add to it or make adjustments as you continue to grow along with your kids. This alone can help us 'get back into our groove', if we feel we may have been drowning in a swath of "baby puke"!
Important to me: (Re)Incorporating it into my life:
~Alone-time ~Wednesdays off thanks to my Mom & Dad in-law :)
-Time with Joel -Regular Date-Nights, arranging for sitters; wknd nites=us
~FUN family time ~Regulate how many photo shoots I acquire; weekends-off are family-first
-Time with the (big) girls -Bowling nights! (Even if I'm just cheering this year)
~Photography ~Actively seeking business doing weddings, etc.
-Writing -Mommy-blogging! (At nap time; girls nap together; also when I
complete house-work, etc.
~Travel ~Acquired camper; paying off debt; planning trip for 5yr wedding anniversary with just Joel; family camping trips annually; in next 2 years begin incorporating family-road-trips; when girls are older = more distant trips alone as a couple, & as a family; when Joel is able = annual winter trips; when girls old enough = longer winter trips (just Joel & I and/ or with kids when school is not a factor/ or they can remain with family members.) ARIZONA annually? - ehem, winter! :)
-Bubble baths! -Once finances are available: make my bathroom my own/ fix add tile/ find claw-foot tub/ update counter & make fit/ add more candles! One day: HOT TUB - outside, w/ TV for J & me
~Being Active (has to be fun!) ~now, Winter:stationary bike in front of tube! Spring, Summer, Fall= daily river-walks with girls & biking (kid-trailer!); Once girls in school: more yard-work during days & dancing.
-Bonding time with the lil' ones -Currently = bonding-overload! ;) Get 'em to myself each day (aside from Wednesdays), and nite + weekends = team-effort with daddy home. Once school-age: special outings &projects on days off & all summer! (& weekends as a fam.)
** [Sorry for the crappy outlining of this. "Blogger" doesn't really allow for tabbing over, etc... and the way it looks as you type is not quite the way it looks once published. Groan.]
This gives you a good idea... it's the bigger overall type of things that I've listed. There are lots of little things too - that get worked-in where applicable! For motherhood to be fulfilling to me - I have to be fully fulfilled... and that means there is more to it than solely mothering. While they are always my priority, I recognize the value & importance of staying true to myself along the way. I hope you will too! ~Cheers