Losing one’s identity can be a difficult part of early parenthood. At least, this has been the case in my experience. Before being a parent, I was so many things and I had enough passion to fill an entire room. That passion is not gone, it’s just channeled into different things – because it has to be. Because right now, my stage of life is feeding children, cleaning bottles, doing laundry, tidying the house, playing with kids, rinse, lather, repeat. And that’s okay. In fact, it’s more than okay. And truly, it’s been my choice. I love my children more than I can possibly express, and spending time with them during these early, formative years is a blessing – one that I will always treasure.
But as much as I am grateful for these experiences, I also need to nourish the other aspects of myself and my life. In a way, this feels hard to do. It’s much easier to go with the flow of life right now, as opposed to take the time to fill myself up in ways that are meaningful and honoring to my soul. But if I am to be a good parent, a good spouse, a good friend, and a good member of this society, than I must – MUST – do so. I must take care of me too; as I’ve said before, and encouraged many others to do, fill my own oxygen mask before assisting others. As I’ve realized before and am realizing again, I am no good to anyone else, certainly not my family, if I’m not taking care of myself.
Last night a friend with three children older than mine mentioned some ways she puts herself at the top of her priority list, and maintains all the important components of her life and passions while ALSO managing to be a mother. She takes “Mommy Field Trips” once a month, and visits museums or exhibits that pique her interest and get her out and about learning new and interesting things. She also tries to challenge herself each year, by taking on a particular hobby or doing something in which she has to confront, and overcome, a fear. This year she joined a tennis league, and mentioned being nervous on the first day, as she didn’t know anyone, or the culture of the league, etc., but she faced the fear, and is now really enjoying the activity. I LOVE these ideas, and the ways in which she ensures she does not get lost, and is continuously living, defining, and redefining her passions and identity.
The fog of depression is starting, slowly, to lift, and speaking to this friend last night was inspiring for me. It got me thinking of all the ways I’ve let myself go – not so much physically (although there is that too – thanks to hubby for pointing out that I’m always in sweats and a ponytail!), and stopped challenging me. I am a creative, spiritual person who gains energy from fulfilling her passions, such as writing, connecting with like-minded people, helping others, exercising, and more. Though it sometimes feels like it, these parts of me are not dead. They are just buried, for the time-being, under the overwhelming heap that is this current stage of life I am in – a stage, by the way, that I truly am grateful for. But it is my goal to uncover these important parts of me, to engage in the activities that fulfill me and spark my soul. I firmly believe doing so will make me a happier, healthier and more interesting person, which in turn will make me a happier, healthier, and better mother and wife. It is all related. I will do my best to continue to fight this hard fight, and win. I will do my best to unearth myself – all the parts of myself – from under this messy, at times suffocating, but also beautiful, rubble.