Your thoughts?

I’ve been thinking lately about the natural progression of change we go through when we become mothers. We spend nine months in anxious anticipation and pee-your-pants-excitement to meet our new child. We think more about what we consume, start to worry about the what if’s, and begin changing our lives to suite a little one.

Then the baby is born. Everything we’ve been preparing for the last nine months, all our hopes and fears, everything, it’s done. And it’s a bit overwhelming. Just the very thought of something bad happening to our child can send us into tears. All the sudden we realize that our entire life is ALL about them and not really anything else.

I think as we live our lives completely for our children, there’s a point we get to, and I think it’s different for all of us, that we realize that we used to be a different person and start to miss that person. It happened for me after I had Honor. I was suddenly living my life for TWO little people and I think it was a little overwhelming. I wanted time for myself and I wanted just a minute of uninterrupted solitude. I wanted time with just me and my husband. And I felt really selfish.

Sometimes I still feel selfish, maybe I AM selfish. But there’s got to be a balance. My life isn’t all about me, but I think it’s ok if it’s a little about me.

I’d like to hear your thoughts on this?

Category: parenting struggles 18 comments »

18 Responses to “Your thoughts?”

  1. sarahgrace

    It absolutely ok if your life has something to do with you. After all, if you loose your identity, what will have to give your kids. And when your kids are grown and gone, then what do you have? It’s very good to develop your interests and yourself. Not only does it give you a launch pad when your kids are gone, but it sets an example for them of how to develop themselves. And I think it makes you a better parent to spend alone time. You aren’t as stressed out, and you end up missing your kids, and since you’ve filled your tank, your better able to fill theirs when you ARE with them.

    Hope all that makes sense…

  2. loo

    Word! to sarahgrace.

    I know how you feel, especially the guilty twinge you get just for feeling it. The other day I was looking at my hand through my camera and trying to take a good picture of my wedding ring. That’s when I remembered that I used to have tons of rings on each finger and I thought to myself “Does this mean I have lost my identity?”

    I have accepted the fact that I will never be the “old me”, the one who a friend can call on at 1 in the morning and go out to the club, but I also know that the “new me” shares all of the great qualities that the “old me” had. Does that make sense?

    While the “new me” wouldn’t be able to drink you under the table, I would be able to offer you gentle advice on diaper rashes, booboo healing and stain removal.

    I do make time for myself and time for my husband and myself as well. After all, I couldn’t prove to my children that I would drop everything for them if all I am carrying is them.

    Thanks for giving me the oppurtunity to ramble…I hope at least some of it made sense.

  3. LeAnne

    Wasn’t I just feeling tremendous guilt last week for doing my job and paying the bills (for which I had to spend time away from my children)? I am still not figuring this out, but we as mothers get this guilt. My husband (who is not the kids’ father) and my ex-husband (who is) don’t feel it. Ever. They say, “are the kids worse off because you were away?” “Are they suffering?” I guess we think of it differently. There is so much at stake when you raise a child/children and we are the primary caregivers. We can’t screw up. But, to be a healthy moommy, you have to show your children that you are a healthy adult and to do that, you need time away from them to develop yourself, even if it’s just a drive to the video store to rent something for you and Jim only, after the kids go to bed, or a trip to the yarn store, just for an hour, to look at patterns.

  4. Heidi

    Hi everyone,

    This is the first time I have ever posted on here, but I have been coming here for a few weeks now. I love all of the fun stuff on here – the toilet thing – is just classic!!! I really felt a need to write today when Allison started the discussion. I have 2 boys of our own and 2 foster children that are brothers. JoHann (yo-hon) 7 and Bjorn 1 are our boys. Karl and Zac (20-17) are our foster boys. They are going to be with us for the rest of their lives. Anyway! I think that your kids need to see that you are a person outside of the role as caregiver. If they dont, they wont know how to develop as a person themselves. They will only see that you have “taken care” of them. They will feel such a strong need to do that – that I believe they will become a “needy” person or a complete caregiver taking care of the whole world. Now, I dont have a lot of hobbies because of our large family and we farm for a living. We live in Wisconsin and I work at a zoo as a keeper. I have always had a “job” off of the farm, but I have recently realized that being an “athome” mom is the biggest job of all. There are no breaks or time off, but you do get the little perks. :) Like fishing washcloths out of toilets. Where else can you get entertainment like that!!! Not at the video store!! I am older than most of you gals, I have been to a couple of your sites – they are all great. When you get to be about 30 it all changes again. So – hang on to your hat! :) I am rambling – sorry- But dont feel guilty for taking care of who you are – they need you to be yourself and to see you develop into more. It gives them the incentive to grow themselves. Good luck Gals!

  5. Tish

    You’re life has to be about yourself as well. You have to be the most important person in your life and take care of yourself first, because without it you really can’t give as much to the people you love. I think it’s really easy to slip into giving for everyone and forgetting yourself, but eventually I think people start to resent the others. You give the people you love all of yourself and then resent them in the end. Wanting some you time is a good thing, and I completely think you should give yourself that time, even if the only excuse you can think of is that it makes you better for others. It’s not at all selfish.

  6. Kari

    Here I am, in the middle of my second pregnancy. My son will be 7 when this little one joins us. I often find myself wondering if I can start all of this over and if I really want to. Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited to have a new life, but my oldest is so self-sufficient and has always been a relatively easy child. It’s hard to imagine loving another one the way that I am head over heels for him.

    I do have to say that I felt like you, Allison, when Cade was small. Once he started school-and now that he’s in the first grade- I have all this time to myself and I miss the little guy like crazy. I don’t really like going to the grocery store without my “little boyfriend” but am enjoying my napping time these days.

    Enjoy the time you have with them, they’ll be in preK before you know it. But at the same time, take an hour or two to get a few things done, run to the gym or just run to Jim. =) But do what you need to do, even if it’s not every day, to grasp a sense of who you were before the babies. Or more importantly, who’d like to become on this journey for your precious guys to remember you as.

  7. Brooke

    Well, Brian and I, I’m sure, have a different parenting philosophy than most, but I’ll share it any way. We do the things we find enjoyable and Madison becomes a part of them as well. So we instead of changing our life around a child, we welcome the child into our life. We started Madison skiing before she was two so she could enjoy and be a part of that aspect of our lives. We took her to High School football games, camping, boating, and many more activities we enjoyed before “parent life”. I have found that by doing that, and still making time for me to enjoy some “adult – pre child” things, I am less upset by the sacrifices that we do make in our lives for our kids. So in response to you, Allie, I defiantly don’t think you are selfish for having the want and desire to do things that YOU want to do and enjoy, with out your kids! You are a great mom, and a sane person for having those feelings!

  8. Heidi

    Life changes us on the way, regardless of the fact that we want it to or not. I once heard that you cannot mourn for the person you were, but to look forward to who you are becoming and how you can add to what you really want to be. Everyday is another oportunity for us to do that and I personally think that women can do it better than anyone! :) You can still be some of who you were (pre-kids) and all of what you have always wanted to be. Kari, you are right on the $$$ honey. Good luck with baby on the way. My oldest is 7 and youngest is 1. It is a bit of a span, but they are a lot of help too!

    My granny used to tell me that if you dont think your crazy once in a while, you really are! :)


    O.K. I am so glad that I am not alone! I have a two year old, Daniele, and three year old, Taurie, and twelve year old, Chuckie. These three people mean more to me than the blood in my body! But,,,,,, I have accute anxiety. I am also extremely anal retentive! Almost everyday, I wonder if my children really love me, Or just depend on me so much, that they think thats love. I make alot of sacrifice to have “Stephanie” time. I also get very frustrated when they Interupt “my time”. Am I a bad mommy? No!!! I make it a point, no matter what happens throughout our day, To let them know that they are what drives my life. I just keep telling myself that soon, I can be an artist again, full time. I hope that is enough. Because it’s all that I can do without wearing myself to DEATH!!!

  10. Cara

    Ahhh the mother’s guilt. I’ve heard so much about it and have been experiencing it myself for the past almost 4 months. Everything you said, is so right on. No way is it selfish and I think it’s very important to have our own identity and I think our kids would greatly benefit from it. But it is still hard to let go of the guilt and actually do the things we desire. Very overwhelming to say the least.

  11. Sarah E.

    You know, I really went though this when our son was born. He was so small and needed me so much, well, he just needed so much in general–and I wanted to meet those needs. I felt like it had to be me meeting his needs if I wanted to be a good mama.

    As he got older, I really started to feel burned out on never having any time away from him. It was hard at first, but I gradually started having a couple of hours on my own at night every couple of weeks. When he was about a year I would leave him with my husband at night occationally and go out with a friend. I found these nights to be very refreshing to me.

    We try to incorporate him into our lives as much as possible. He is a part of our family. However, despite his consistantly angelic behavior, there is no two-year old in the world who enjoys browsing through a yarn store, hunting for used books, or having a relaxed evening drinking coffee and reading magazines at Borders. Someday he’ll be older. Maybe then. Until that day, I’ll need to take time to do the things I enjoy on my own or with Peter or a friend.

  12. tricia

    Oh how I remember those days, wanting just a little time when I didn’t have to think of anyone else. I was fortunate enough to have family and friends who would take my girls for an afternoon so I could have time alone. I usually spent it cleaning my house…..but it was nice to do so without any intreuptions.

  13. rachel

    i am still in the peeing pants stage, but I think that I am not really prepared for how much things will change. No more going to work guilt free, no more hours to do anything on my own, no more spare room….. i think that the changes in your life will be massive, and i am sure that you are doing well with them- i guess the thing is to keep a balance (or try too)

  14. Carol

    I only think it’s selfish if your kids suffer. I also think that we should give all of ourselves to our children for that first year of their lives, taking only the time that we can spare to take without it affecting them. After that though, if we don’t take time for ourselves we probably aren’t able to be the best mother that we can be.

    I remember a time when I felt like I’d lost my identity and that all I was was a mom. Being a mom is important! But I want to be MORE than a mom. I want to be a mom and someone who is successful in her personal and professional life as well. I think that if we want that for our kids we need to emulate it for them :)

  15. kelli

    I think about that all the time! I do feel guilty. I have a hard time really enjoying myself when I do go out. It’s like I wanted this time so badly, then when I have it I’m thinking about my kids. I always try to think about what I like to do and sometimes I forget. That scares me a little. I think maybe I should go back to school and pursue nursing or biology, something I enjoy. Maybe one day but right now it’s not happening. If I’m stressed out now I cant imagine having to write a paper on anatomy or bio-chemistry AND have to get up in the middle of the night. God bless those mom’s that work,go to school and take care of their kids. So I’m forever on the quest for a happy medium! This was a great post! BTW, the enchilada casserole was awesome thanks!!!!!

  16. Candice

    I know all about mommy guilt! Guilt that you are tired, guilt that you aren’t nourishing your children’s growth enough, guilt that you want to go to yoga twice a week. It is funny how you lose AND gain your identity. It is a struggle, a balancing act, for sure.

  17. Dawn (glass_princess)

    I think there has been some great insight already posted so I won’t try to add more.

    I will say I was going through this ever since George was born. I’m not sure if I’ll ever not feel some guilt… I do know that I can’t be his mother without taking care of me too.

    I believe getting Geo to participate more in his care has helped. So now I can spend time with George and time with me without a heavy heart.

  18. trudie

    there’s not much more i can add here. i do agree with brooke about incorporating the child into our lives as opposed to the other way around–they learn so much that way, too…(great article at reader’s digest, of all places, about ‘the perfect childhood’ that the school head turned into a lecture for us parents–it was awesome…) but i do know that i AM a better mother (and a better wife, too) when i have some ‘me’ time.

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