Lots is written about being a mum. Not so much is written about being a person after having children. When you have a baby you become a mum, but what becomes of you?
A few months ago, my (rather brilliant) sister said to me that the most important thing she felt a mum could be was to be a whole person – my first thought was “what the bloody hell are you talking about?!” but then I began to think.
I put a lot of thought, time and energy into how I parent my daughters – into being a mum – what they eat, what they play, where we go, where they will go to school, what groups they attend, what experiences I provide for them, what they wear, how I discipline them, how I talk to them, our daily routine etc, etc, etc…
But that conversation with my sister left me wondering how much time and energy I invest in being me. Of course I am a mum, that is me, but is it the whole me, and more importantly, should it be?
How often do we read and hear quotes such as “my children are my whole life”, “my children are everything” and how often do we question this?
That conversation made me realise how I was beginning to lead my life. Was I in danger of losing me entirely to being a mum? In my life before children I had a career, I loved to travel, I loved fashion, I loved to eat out and I loved art. I chose to give up my career so that I can stay at home with my girls, and in the haze of being a mum to two little ones I realised that I gave up on all of the other parts of me as well. I had so little energy due to lack of sleep and so much less time that it was just easier to devote all of my energy into my girls. It wasn’t even a conscious thought, it just happened. Motherhood took over.
That said, even in conscious thought, I would willingly sacrifice pretty much anything for my girls. But, I am attempting to raise them to have drive, to have ambition, to be brave, to lead a passionate and exciting life filled with laughter and adventure (and more). So, I must lead by example. I must be a role model. It would be so easy to allow it, but I cannot make my girls my everything. I cannot burden my daughters with being my only passion. That is an unfair weight for them to carry.
I am thankful every day for my girls, to experience being a mum and everything that comes with it (even the crap bits). I know I am blessed beyond measure. My daughters’ lives are ridiculously important to me – but they are their lives, not mine. I cannot live through them.
I love being a mum. But I am more than that.
I am not who I was before I had children. I never will be. Motherhood has fundamentally changed me and changed my view of the world. But, for my sake and for the sake of my girls I know that I need to make the time and find the energy to be a new and whole me. To be a person who is multifaceted and complete with interests, likes and dislikes so that I can inspire them and offer a rounded view of the world.
I am not (unfortunately) Wonder Woman. I am still tired. I still have less energy. I still find balance hard. I am just now learning to live a life where being a mum and being me can co-exist, to let go of the guilt and live some parts of my life just for me. But instead of “my children are my everything” my slogan reads “my children are incredibly important to me, I love them to bits, but I do also have other things in my life that I am passionate about which might sound a bit selfish but it is important for me and my children”. Doesn’t quite roll off the tongue but still….