One of the major observations I have made in my almost-9 years as a young mum is that mums (parents) all over the world are losing parts of themselves.
I hope that by reading this, even just one of you will take a look at your life and give yourself a gift. The gift of yourself.
I remember going to see a movie with a friend, a mother of two young boys, so going out to see a movie was a big feat for her. It was wonderful, just us girls. As you probably know if you are a parent, the logistics of organising any outing sans children is a delicate operation that must be made around bedtime, feeding, work, marriage, babysitter and sleep schedules. If you are going out with another mum … prepare yourself, it probably won’t happen for months!
After the movie, we went down a rabbit hole of conversation. This was the first time in months we had expressed excitement over our own interests. We talked about interior design, creativity, fashion and dreams. I found out that she had a huge collection of designer clothes that she had collected and preserved diligently, that she had not taken out of her closet in 4 years … why? Stay-at-home mums don’t dress like that.
I call bull-shirt. We both called bull-shirt!
We made a pact to re-discover the person we once were … no, the person we still were!
Fellow mum, you are still in there! YOU … not your kids, not your partner … YOU!
All of the things you enjoy doing, the things you’re passionate about, interested in … they’re waiting for you to pick them back up. Waiting for you to prioritise yourself again.
I am not saying you should abandon your babies and move to New York to start your own empire. I’m not even saying you have to go out sans children every week (though if you have the means and the babysitting support and this is what you want/need … then great, have a good dance, and champers for me!) I know a lot of you cannot get out of the house for a myriad of reasons.
What I am saying is that you should do everything you possibly can to stop those passionate, creative bits of you from drowning under the weight of everyone else’s needs and wants. To do this you may have to chat to your partner, friend of family member and schedule in some time to read a book, watch a trashy show, refurbish that old side table, write your story, or spend some time in your closet putting tomorrow’s outfit together. This is not selfish; it’s self-care and it is important!
Perhaps, to do this, you may need to accept a messier house than you would like, put off that load of laundry or, shock horror … take a look at the kid’s huge extra curriculars list and let them go without one … and join your own team.
It was so liberating when together, we gave ourselves permission to have our own interests. Something that was just ours. The next day, my friend knocked on my door, dressed to the nines (she looked amazing) with her pram, burping cloth and a little package for me. Some coloured pens and a note that told me she planned on keeping her end of the bargain and so, I had to keep mine.
I started small and bought one of those adult colouring-in books, and finished my first page. After that, I pulled out my notebooks and started writing again.
That night, something changed for my friend and I … and I have been encouraging other friends since. I found out one of my friends desperately wanted to start a podcast, another was passionate about photography, another painting and crochet and one of my best friends explained that she just wanted to watch the new season of Outlander, uninterrupted. I had no idea she even watched it! Or that any of my other mum friends had these hobbies, because every time we got together, what we did for others dominated the conversation. They found out new things about me too.
Of course, sometimes we need to discuss the nappies, relationships, recipes, allergies, sore and cracked nipples, or whatever life is throwing at you at that time … this is essential! We need to remember, we … you are more than a mum … you are a human.
I would even stress that by taking care of your own interests and passions you are setting the best example for your kids. You are teaching them how to look after themselves in another way. Also, I personally found that my hubby loved seeing that spark again! Bonus!
So mumma bear, are you in there? I can see you peeking through from behind that breast pump! What are you going to do? What are you passionate about? What have you always wanted to try?
You really don’t have to wait until the kids are older! By then Outlander will probably be cancelled anyway!