Today the girls and I headed out to the bookstore in town to spend some time reading books, playing trains and sipping coffee (me!) and chocolate milk (them!).
While there, I spent some time perusing magazines, and I came across an interesting article about women and the way that we sometimes give up ‘who’ we are when we get married, have kids, take on a great job, start college, or make some other major life turn.
In short, we take on our major role at the time (mother, wife, boss, student) and we become that person – and that person only. This is the person with whom we completely identify. The other things we love fall to the wayside.
The problem with this, stated the article, is that we lose the rest of us when we become only one ‘person’ or tackle only one ‘role.’
We have children and suddenly we are ‘mom.’ We aren’t a conglomeration of what we used to be – photographer, manager, accountant, friend – but we are mom. We take on that role and at least for a while this role becomes our sole identity.
In addition to becoming only one ‘person’ we give up the things that once interested us. One friend of mine used to scuba dive regularly; after having children, she stopped.
Another friend wrote; she no longer does.
In some cases, these are the sacrifices we make to become mothers.
How can you jet away to an exotic location in Tahiti for a few days of scuba diving when you have a young baby at home?
In other instances, we are giving up things that we should be able to continue – writing – to focus solely on one thing – motherhood (or whatever that other role happens to be at the time).
Have you seen this happening in your life recently? Have you given up the things that used to interest you and started to focus on only motherhood?
If you have, and you are feeling burned out, perhaps this is the reason.
When we narrow our field of vision and focus only on one thing constantly, be it a task at work or our family, we can become run down and frustrated. The way to change this? A new change of pace, viewing some fresh scenery, and wrapping our minds around other interests.
As mothers we sometimes do not want to do this, as we believe it will ‘take away’ from the things that we love (our family).
In reality, expanding our interests and carving time for ourselves gives us more to give back to those we love. It is important for our families to see us as multi-dimensional women; as women that enjoy cooking and baking or biking and running. It is wonderful for them to hear us get excited about a movie we saw or a book that we read.
So, if you’re feeling a little claustorphobic, here are some tips for expanding your interests:
- Write down the things that used to interest you (writing, reading, hiking, running, movies, photography).
- Create a brief schedule that outlines when you would have time each week to pursue these interests and then . . .
- Follow it! If you want to do yoga three nights a week from 8-8:30, make sure you are doing it at that time. But . . .
- Be realistic. If you want to go out of the house once a week to shoot pictures around town, chances are this may not happen (kids get sick, family needs to eat, you know the drill!). So make plans but be realistic in doing so.
- Bring in some help. You won’t be able to pursue your own interests until you have the help and support of the rest of your family. How do you do this? Tell them how much it means to you. Explain to your kids why you want to go out and run on a regular basis. Show them what you do when you are gone. They’ll get it, and they will support you!
- Don’t beat yourself up if you aren’t always eager to get going. Sometimes it is tough telling the ones you love that you need to explore something on your own. Yet they need to see you in other roles, too. We are more than just one thing. If you want your children to explore interests and be involved in life, you have to show them how to do this. And you must, above everything . . .
- Let go of the guilt. It is okay to be a part of something that is not your primary role. It’s okay to be a student and a teacher, a wife and a guitarist, a mother and a writer – all at the same time.