One of the issues I often hear discussed among new parents is how to retain a sense of self after becoming a mom. I can relate to that worry. Once I became a mom, nearly everything about my life changed immediately. Life was no longer about what I wanted or the plans I made...it became all about my two girls.
I often think back to the days before Addison and Mackenzie came along and wonder what the heck I did with all the extra time I must have had. I have come to realize that I wasted an awful lot of time napping, watching mindless tv, and bumming around town just to fill the time. After the girls were born, time became a much more precious commodity, particularly "me time".
I remember feeling like my life had spun out of control in those early days with the girls. I could barely function enough to get a shower and get dressed, much less manage to do any of the things I enjoyed doing. Feeling out of control was probably the absolute hardest part of those first few weeks, and that was partly related to the way my life changed SO drastically seemingly overnight. In many ways, I really did feel like I had lost a big part of my self for awhile.
Eventually, I realized that if I wanted to do the things I had done before, I was going to have to specifically carve out the time to do them. One of the first things I remember doing is picking up a book, Christine Coppa's Rattled, and starting to read it a few minutes at a time. I kept it close by so I could pick it up during those precious few minutes when the girls fell asleep for their fifth or sixth short nap of the day. As I became more comfortable maneuvering tiny babies, I began to take advantage of the hours upon hours when it seemed I could do nothing to please my girls except sit and hold them. And what do you know...looking back, I regard those quiet times on the couch with two babies sprawled across my lap and a book in my hands as some of the most precious moments of early life with my girls. (Oh, what I would give now for them to snuggle with me on the couch and let me read a few chapters!)
One afternoon while the girls were still too young to be mobile enough to get into anything, I spread out my craft supplies in the living room floor and painted some canvases for their room (which still have yet to be hung, but that's beside the point). I let the laundry go during naptime, and instead focused on doing something for me, something that reminded me that I could still do the things I enjoyed. Even if it had to be compressed into short bursts of time while the girls were sleeping or otherwise engaged, I could find ways to get some time for myself. I felt some of the 'old me' coming back.
Still, I had to wonder in the back of my mind if I was still the same person I was before April 2009. In many ways, of course, I'm not...none of us truly are after we are blessed with these children who so completely change our lives.
But in many ways, I AM still the same person. I still like nothing more than curling up on the couch with a good book. When the girls go to bed (ok, sometimes before), the tv switches to my same favorite shows. I still go stir-crazy if I am at home too long, so sometimes we go to the store just to get out for awhile. I still love to eat out, even if it is a lot harder right now. We make time to do it, and make sure we invite family along to eat with us (or run after children, whichever the case may be). I still love dinner with girlfriends, even if it happens less frequently than before and our conversations are now 85% kids and 15% everything else. We are the same girls after all, just busier and with different priorities now. My house is still messy...becoming a mom didn't enhance my cleaning skills much, and I'd still choose a nap over a clean kitchen any day of the week.
The few days I had to myself away from home last week looked eerily similar to the many trips I took before having kids. I found I didn't want to waste the day by staying in bed too long, but other than that, most things were the same. It was a bit surprising, but what did I really expect? That I would sit around and not know what to do with myself without work or two babies dictating my day?
The point is, even though my daily life looks a little different than it used to, and even though my heart is much, much fuller than it was two years ago, I am still me. A lot of things are different, but most of the basics are the same. Same friends, same interests, same personality...just with two little sidekicks and a lot more love!
What about you? Do you feel like you lost a bit of yourself when you became a parent? What do you do that brings back some of those 'old me' feelings?