I read a quote recently that said something like,
“I don’t live for my children; I live alongside my children.”
This little phrase might just be my official mom motto. I am a mom, but being a mom is not my whole being.
I’ve always been someone who has strong passions. I love food. I love travel. I love theater. I love music. I love movies. I love art. These interests haven't gone away just because I became a mom. Rather, they've been rejiggered to fit my life with kids and now there's often two little ladies experiencing these interests along with me.
When your kids are little, parenting is so all encompassing. During the newborn and toddler stages, a parent is endlessly exhausted and mostly in survival mode. It's hard to even find time to shower. Your only escapes from the chaos is a quick trip to CVS for more diapers. Family and friends come over solely to gush over the baby. Even your spouse or partner starts to look like merely your co-parenting helper and nothing more. It’s easy during this stage to feel a complete loss of self. It’s easy to believe that your life will forever be dominated by your kids’ needs, and that whatever you enjoyed before kids, and whoever you were before kids, is gone forever.
But even then, every once in awhile, try to push the limits of baby life to do something that makes you feel like your old self. It'll be very hard at first - I remember a restaurant visit where our older one cried so hard we had to leave our dinner mid meal; and a vacation in Boston where my husband pushed our younger one in a stroller most of the night to try to get her to sleep.
After disasters like those, it was tempting to give up and just hunker down at home 24/7. But keep going. If you regularly incorporate your interests and passions into your parenting routine, you might eventually find that your kids actually enjoy those things, too. They’ll ask you play that indie rock song you'd been playing for them. They’ll start to devour Tacos Al Pastor from your favorite Mexican restaurant. Kids are kids, no doubt, but they're also little human sponges. Why not encourage them to soak up some of your passions, along with their own?
Now that our kids are school aged, there is so much more opportunity to reconnect with our personal interests, and to weave these interests into the lives of the little people we created. I love sharing my hobbies with my daughters now - we sing our favorite songs together, we try out new restaurants together, we've do Broadway shows together, we travel as a family. Sharing what makes me happy with my daughters makes me that much happier.
And as they grow, my kids will continue to develop their own interests - some will overlap with mine, and others will be wholly different. What fun it will be to learn about new things through them!
For now, I hope I’m showing my daughters (and the folks who read my blog) that motherhood does not have to mean loss of self. I am a mother and I’m also still Marissa.
Guest post by Marissa Millman