Earlier today, I watched a television show, where a lady talked about how she had been married for twenty years, was a mother of three–the youngest now in high school, and she was unhappy with her life because she felt she was no longer important or needed and she no longer knew who she was. She went on to explain that after being fully immersed in her role as a stay-at-home wife and mother, once her children grew older and no longer needed her the same way, she didn’t know what her purpose in life was. She decided the season with her husband had ended, just like the role she played in her kids lives. Desperate to find herself, she filed for divorce, got an apartment, and decided to look for a job after twenty years of being home and unemployed. Feeling “old”, disconnected and out of touch with the world was the catalyst for her to find out who she truly is.
Being a stay-at-home wife and mother, who puts 110% into taking care of my family, I understand and recognize the challenge of trying to be the best wife and mother while maintaining a sense of self. It’s easy to get lost if you’re not careful. As the caregiver and nurturer of the family, everyone’s needs come before yours. It’s funny when the kids notice I’m the last person to sit down at the kitchen table because I’ve prepared, dished and served everyone before taking my seat. Grant it, they don’t notice I’m still “working” until after they’ve received their food and beverage, but it’s still sweet to hear, “Mom…it’s time for you to sit down!”
We sacrifice everything humanly possible to make sure our family is taken care of. Keith and the kids are all-consuming in my thoughts and mind every day. When the kids were much younger, I was their whole world. Everything from cleaning to feeding to nurturing and caring came from Mom, and that’s a mammoth sized job to have. As they get older, you’re needed in other ways. Rather than nursing, changing or wiping their bottoms, they need shoes tied, or noses wiped, or their dinner cut in bite sized pieces. Once they’ve mastered basic skills like brushing their teeth, washing their faces (I still have to remind daily, by the way), and bathing themselves, a new list of “mom duties” develop. The job never ends…just evolves.
The reality is it’s hard find time to meet your own needs when you’re meeting the needs of others, and that holds true for moms and dads alike. It’s imperative to find a balance, where time for “self” can be incorporated into our lives. Only when we find happiness and fulfillment within ourselves are we able to be our best selves for those we love. In an effort to maintain a “balance“, I’ve decided to do a few things for myself. My first step was starting the blog. Even though the blog idea was born from my “40 Days to 40” birthday list, I’ve realized it serves a greater purpose than I had anticipated. Blogging gives me time and opportunity to reflect on things that are important to me and share my reflections. It started out as an exercise to fulfill a list, but it’s now a part of me, and even after my birthday passes next week, I’ve made a commitment to myself to continue writing at least once a week.
Painting a picture and framing it was also on my “40 Days to 40” list. I’ve always been a hobby and craft lover, which is why I’m a self-proclaimed “Project Chic”, but for the past several years, rather than focusing on my own hobbies, I’ve put all of my energy in the kids school project and Halloween costumes. Rather than waiting for the kids to have a project, I’ve decided it’s better for me to have my own projects, rather than half-way fulfill a dream through the kids. Inspired and determined to strengthen my skills in painting, I’ve decided to make it a regular hobby, and that makes me happy. It would even be great if one day Keith and/or the kids would paint with me. I’d love to share something that means a lot to me with them.
It’s important for my kids to know I have dreams and aspirations. I want them to know how special they are to me and I’d do anything for them, but it’s equally important that I’m important too…not just because I’m their mom. If I can get a grip on this “balance” thing, it will yield a positive impact on our family. I must show them I’m important to me, so they will understand how important they are to me, and I’m up for the challenge!
My “40 Days to 40” exercise is nearing the end. Lots of items have been scratched off my list, boxes are checked, and it has been an amazing personal experience, but when May 3rd comes, my work on “self” will not be done. I’ll have new lists to make, new boxes to check and new things to do that will allow me to make time for me. My family deserves it. I deserve it.