Being a parent is an extraordinarily precious thing and a job not to be taken lightly. It takes grit, compassion, patience, and endless responsibility.
So does nurturing your self-identity.
I am a mom, but I am also a wife, an artist, career-focused, and friend; someone who loves to garden, and finds my spark at music concerts.
Before my “sonshine” came into the world, saying ‘no’ to events and activities was a rarity. Plans with family and friends occupied our weekends. I was beginning to step out into the creative community, gaining confidence in my artistic abilities and seeking out opportunities to enrich my craft. I was just starting to discover who I was and what I thought I was here for.
Then this wonderful thing happened. We created life. My son became my everything, my purpose. All minutes and seconds revolved around this little boy, caring for him, changing him, bonding with him during feeding time. When he was away, I craved his smell and baby soft skin, and ached when I heard other baby coos and cries. More than anything, I wanted to be home with him. I found moments of difficulty separating my purpose from my passions. My identity was no longer my own, and those passions I had been unearthing dissolved.
Sometimes it takes the smallest event or connection to trigger a flame. Although I was fully prepared to embrace a life of helicoptering and rushing to my son’s aid at every fall, literally and figuratively, there were some realizations in my life that gave me pause. Again, I can’t stress enough how rewarding being a parent is, but taking a beat allowed me to experience personal realignment. During this pause, I started realizing that losing myself in parenting was not going to benefit me, nor my child. If I didn’t start refocusing some of my time, I may not be as inspiring to my child. Just like I am proud of seeing the milestones my boy is blazing through, I want him to be proud of me for seeking out opportunities, no matter if they bring success or failure. I want my child to know that he can do anything, because he can do anything. Limiting my own goals and achievements would minimize his confidence to reach for the stars. Once I realized that being proud of myself carries through into my parenting, I have been able to rediscover so much of what I liked about myself, tenfold. It is so important to maintain and feed your self-worth, and to do things that make you joyful.
So, mamas and papas, if you find yourself lost in the routine of raising littles, while shelving your zeal for the things that really mattered to you pre-tiny-humans, take a beat. Know that it is okay, if not mandatory, to take some of that time dedicated to your children, and unselfishly refocus it onto yourself. Redefining your individuality in this new stage of life is so important, while still being the awesome parent that you are. Your children will be inspired by your spirit, and in turn, gain courage and determination to accomplish anything they put their minds to.