Editor's note: This article was originally published on Aly Brooks' blog, Entirely Eventful Day. It has been republished here with permission.
When I chose to be a mom I had no idea what I was getting into. I thought I knew. But let's face it, all I really knew is that I wanted to have babies! I wanted babies more than anything! Little did I know that those babies only stayed small for a short time and the job of being a mom would test me as a person more than any other possible experience. It's crazy hard, and yet, I do it willingly again and again. I have found more joy in motherhood than I could possibly find in any career, hobby or talent. Yet, I still find it necessary to have a career and hobbies and to develop my talents. Here's why "
You are a person!
I swear sometimes my kids don't get this. I can't tell you how many times I have heard the words, "Because you're the mom" come out of my children's mouths. I remember feeling that way about my mom when I was a kid. I felt like certain things were her job because she was the mom. I didn't care much for her feelings, I didn't really consider the fact that she was indeed a person. It's true that as a mom you are responsible for your child's well-being, but, just because you're the mom doesn't mean you wait on your family hand and foot. It's important to take time for yourself to do something you love to do and do it just because. Give yourself permission, you don't need permission from anyone else. Taking time to remember that you are a person will actually make you a better mom.
You can't help others until you help yourself
You know when you're on the airplane and the flight attendant gives the safety instructions? In the unlikely event of a change in cabin pressure ... secure your mask first ... and then assist others. I think of this just about every time I head out the door to go to the gym or for a night out with my friends. Sometimes it doesn't feel like the right time to go, I have a lot going on, I'd rather veg on the couch ... but when I go and do something that helps me connect to myself, I feel so much better. It makes me a better mom too!
Absence makes the heart grow fonder
When I am away from my kids for a few hours, or heaven forbid, a few days, I am happy to see them when we're reunited! My first child did not leave my sight for the first year and a half of her life. I took a job coaching a high school volleyball team for a short time while she was about one and sometimes I could bring her with me and sometimes she hung out with my mom for the hour I coached. I had to quit because I couldn't stand being away from her FOR ONE HOUR. I felt like I should be with her, caring for her, every single moment. I remember when I quit that little job the head coach thought I was crazy for not being able to leave my baby with my mom for an hour. I thought she was a jerk.
Here's the thing that worked for me at the time. I was so smitten with that child there was nowhere else I would rather be. Eventually I loosened my grip, although I am still obsessed with all my kids and have to know where they are and what they are doing at all times. Now, they don't necessarily have to be within eye shot. My oldest is 10 now and I really appreciate a couple hours, or even a weekend to myself.
I want to make them proud!
What are your hobbies, passions, interests? Share them with your kids and take some time to develop your talents! Do not feel selfish when you do this. Your kids will love it. They will admire and look up to you for doing cool stuff. They might even brag about you to their friends.
I grew up with a mom who was always there when we got home from school and had usually baked some whole wheat bread for us. She worked hard at being a mom. I really appreciate everything she did for me growing up and the things she continues to do for me. That said, it always bothered me that she didn't really do anything other than be my mom. If you had asked me what my mom liked to do ... well, I couldn't tell you. She had been a sculptor but she gave that up when she had kids. She used to paint, but she only did that when she was teaching us how.
Thinking back, I would have loved to see my mom claim a space in the house for her art studio and put aside an hour a day when she went in there and we weren't allowed to bother her. So maybe I take this to the extreme in the opposite direction. Being a mom is always my highest priority. BUT I love doing all sorts of fun stuff and my kids think it's super cool and totally support me!
Eventually your kids will grow up
One day my youngest is going to move out of the house leaving my dear husband and I to our own devices. Famed author, Steven Covey, in "7 Habits of Highly Effective People" states that we should begin with the end in mind. To me, this means that I have these precious years to nurture and love my children, but during these years I better not forget to work on becoming the person I want to be because at some point these sweet babies of mine will be grown-ups and I won't be mommy anymore.
Being a mother is the greatest blessing of my life! I love the opportunity I have to teach and learn from my little ones. My advice: while you are enjoying the blessings of motherhood, don't lose sight of yourself.