I remember a conversation with my boys not that long ago where I was trying to convince them that I really used to be a fun and interesting person, recalling a long gone pre-kids era. I didn’t see what was so incredibly hard to believe. Instead, both boys looked at me dumbfounded as if horns had grown out of my head.
It took a minute or two bu then it dawned on me. My kids couldn’t believe it because they had rarely seen it!
My kids are accustomed to seeing me perform my usual maternal responsibilities of keeping them on track and as organized as possible. Or they easily view me from the perspective of my “day job” as mom’s alter ego away from home. These things are easy for them. Fun? Interesting? Not exactly two adjectives readily identified with mom.
Before I was immersed in motherhood, I had a social life, hung out with friends, went to concerts, read lots of books and did fun things that normal people do. Even after my kids were born, I managed to maintain a garden, collect comic books and still pursue my many varied interests.
But somewhere along the line slowly and insidiously more and more of my interests gave way and faded away as their extra-curricular activities swallowed up time. My interests deferred to theirs.
My household was running along just fine. My kids were okay. I could check my husband off my list as present and accounted for. Work? Check. Everything was in reasonable order…but I wasn’t myself. In fact, I no longer recognized myself.
I could only remember the things that gave me joy as faint memories because I had deprived myself of them for so long. Everyone else in my household was moving along just fine, but I was lost. I lost myself somewhere along the way of trying to be everything to everyone.
I’m not quite sure what prompted my revelation but I guess another birthday may have had something to do with it. When I realized that I have probably lived half of my life already, I had a new found determination to actually enjoy my life!
I concluded I was doing myself a disservice by robbing myself of precious “me” time (locked in the bathroom away from the rest of my family would no longer count) and that I was robbing my kids as well.
If my world always revolved around theirs, I would be lying to them. The real world doesn’t operate that way and there was no valid reason to set them up for such an unrealistic expectation. I also realized that instead of smothering my personal interests I could not only enjoy them but also share them with my kids.
My kids now have a vast knowledge of the Marvel Universe. This may not be the most useful information ever, yet it is oh so entertaining as we can discuss super-heroes until infinity.
My oldest son is now a most excellent baker of cookies and cake from scratch. My youngest is a self-proclaimed pizza connoisseur, his home-made pizza is far better than any take-out. Both kids have absorbed my love of cooking and nearly fight each other in their attempts to conquer the kitchen.
My kids absorbed my passion for writing as well. They now write their own comic books and graphic novels creating characters and sketching them out. I am now “interesting enough” to consult about plot ideas, themes and costumes!
When we as parents allow parts ourselves to die, no matter how insignificant it seems at the time, we actually kill opportunities to share with our kids.
This decision to not just cast aside my own personal hobbies for my kid’s casual interests gave them a newfound respect for me as a person and not just their mother.
I can’t provide a balanced example for them to aspire to if I lead an unbalanced life. Lingering or latent resentment because I made a choice to diminish myself for the benefit of my kids actually benefits no one.
They don’t need a martyr. The do need a mentally and emotionally fit mother!
God created me not one-dimensional but with layers. I am daughter, wife, and mother each persona with varied facets. We are all gems that when turned toward the sun (or more accurately, the Son) reflect various degrees of light depending on how much we’ve been cut, honed or polished.
Sometimes we need a few cuts to better absorb the light. Sometimes we need to polish ourselves so that our best selves shine. Pursuing those interests that speak to us allow us opportunities to reflect God’s light on others and share His love with those we love.
It is in fact our responsibility to “use it or lose it,” in regards to those talents He has given us (Matthew 25:15-29). For what God has given us is not to be buried but multiplied instead! We multiply our talents when we share with others what we know and have. To bury our gifts is displeasing to God.
Learning that I don’t have to obliterate my own talents under the obligations of motherhood but that I can nourish them and share them with my children, provides them opportunities to learn new things, engage in new adventures and stimulate their curiosity in ways no video game or DVD ever could.
God loves me; of this I had no doubt. I had to re-learn to love me enough to nurture my talents and interests as God intended.
My kids and I now have more things to enjoy together. I have relinquished my role as just their “taxi driver” and relish my role as contributor and participant.
If you have lost a bit of yourself, I challenge you to find yourself and those things once held dear to you. Unearth those gifts, share them and allow them to make room for you!
It still takes a bit of diligence to maintain a good balance between me, them and us but it is well worth the effort.
“Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me, I once was lost, but now am found, was blind but now I see,”