Mom or Me?

3738758_sing3From the moment my oldest son was born I dove head first into motherhood. I quit my full-time job. I traded in community theater for snuggles and Elmo’s World. I put my novels on the shelf and cracked open picture books.

I’ve loved being a mother. It’s all I wanted to be.

But it’s not all of me.

Somewhere along the past 11 years I lost a part of my identity.

I stopped playing the piano. I stopped putting together jigsaw puzzles. I stopped staying up late reading the latest novel in the series I’d been dying to catch up on.

I chose to transform myself from an individual into a caregiver. And that was all right. It was a choice.

But then my kids started getting older and didn’t need my as much anymore.

Then I was lost.

I’ve spent the past year or so trying to find myself again.

Who am I if I’m not pregnant or nursing? Who am I if a baby isn’t on my lap? Who am I if I’m not playing Legos or Ponies? Honestly I didn’t know.

If I had any advice to give my early mom self, it would be to not lose yourself completely. Devote your heart, your mind and your time as much as you can to support and love that little baby, but realize that you are still you.

Find the time to stay you.

I took my kids to the dollar showing of Sing this week. As I sat and watched Rosita, the mama pig character, I felt like I was her. She had 25 kids whom she loved and cared for but deep down inside she knew she had other interests, other talents.

I nearly laughed out loud when she asks her husband to tell her kids that she really is a good singer. Because to them she was just “mom.”

What does she do? She hits the stage and starts singing.

She organizes her family and sets up pulleys, ropes and recordings to take care of her chores when she’s gone. She figures out how to make things work and her family survives just fine while she is gone.

At the end of the movie, when her kids and husband see her on stage, they stand up and cheer. They are proud of who she is.

As I’ve been developing different talents and finding out who I am again, I have noticed that my family has been just fine when I’m gone.

My husband has filled in the gaps. Neighbors, family and dear friends have helped when needed.

My kids have been able to see someone pursue their dreams and develop their talents. I can’t think of a better thing for them to witness. I actually think they might be proud of me.

Proud of a mom who still takes care of them but also takes care of herself.

So those of you moms out there who worry about leaving your kids with a babysitter so you can go to book club, or finding someone to take them to their basketball game because you have a community class you’re taking, or heaven forbid if you are worried that you are leaving your child while you go work part or full-time, remind yourself that you you love being a mother, but you are also a person. And if you don’t start acknowledging that you will end up lost like I was.

A lost mom is not a happy mom and happy moms make better moms. Be true to yourself. It will make your whole life better.

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