Everyone gives you advice leading up to your wedding day.
“Don’t go to bed angry.”
“Make time for date night.”
“There’s plenty of time to have kids.”
One of the pieces of advice that stuck out to me came from my mother. She said, “Be yourself – don’t lose your identity. Don’t lose Valerie!”
Almost seventeen years later, I think about that – particularly as it pertains to motherhood. I’ve had many roles in my adult life, and one of my favorites is being “Mommy.” But as all mothers know, being “Mommy” means sacrifice, in many different forms.
The big question is: does it have to? Are we sacrificing things, not because we really need to, but because we somehow feel like we should? Do we have to give up pursuing our talents, demonstrating our passions, spending time with our friends, eating before our food gets cold, or going to the bathroom alone?
More often than we would think, the answer is a resounding “no”!
Certainly there are stages and seasons of life where some things do have to fall lower on the priority list. We gladly give up sleep (though it isn’t necessarily enjoyable) to soothe our newborns. Needy toddlers can’t wait to be served as well as older children can. We spend time tutoring our children so they can succeed at math instead of watching our favorite TV shows. But let’s admit it- your husband can hold the baby while you shower (or a bouncy seat can do the job as well!) A babysitter you trust can give you time away. You can teach your family to let you eat before plying you with requests.
Even better, our children would benefit from seeing their mom as a person with actual interests, hearing about the subjects and topics that excite and interest us, and learning from our example that women can pursue education, talents, and careers while being wonderful mothers!
For example, I am a musician. I started playing the piano in kindergarten, the flute in fifth grade, and have never really looked back. My major in college was music education, I was in the marching band, and then worked as a high school band teacher for five years.
When I had my first child, I left my teaching days behind for two reasons: first, I had always wanted to be home with my babies, and second, because I knew there was no way I could be the mother I wanted to be, and be the committed band director my students needed. I left behind 12-16 hour days so that someone else could give them the commitment they deserved.
Somehow, along the way, my pursuit of music also fell by the wayside. It was too difficult to play the piano with sleeping babies and toddlers, and when they were awake I would be frustrated with their “helpful” banging of the keys as I attempted to play. As for my flute? The high sounds caused crying or startled my babies, and as they became toddlers they would try to grab something that was delicate and expensive! My musical talent was relegated to occasionally playing the piano at church, and once or twice a year being asked to perform on the flute.
As with most talents, in playing an instrument, it’s use-it-or-lose-it. My low point came a while ago when I performed for my church group on my flute, and had lost so much endurance that what would have normally been a simple piece to play became a struggle. I went home and cried and cried. What was the point of all those years, all those hundreds of hours of practice, if I could barely play a simple church song?
Then I realized, my children are older. There was no reason I couldn’t pull out my music and practice – just for fun. Maybe my children would like to hear me play! Maybe it would inspire one of them to play a musical instrument! Being a flutist is truly a part of me, one that I don’t want to give up. Life is busy, sure, but with the support of my husband, I’ve been able to play in community groups. I look forward to doing that more throughout my life. My children will survive without me for a few hours, and I will feel better about myself.
You know what they say: Happy mom, happy home!
Can you identify an area where you are needlessly sacrificing YOU? What is something you can do to celebrate your individuality as a person and as a mother? How can you share your passions and interests with your children?
If you’re a mom, you’re going to be busy, no matter what stage of motherhood you are in. Let’s reclaim our individuality and make time for the things that are important to us.
It just might be the best thing you do for your children.
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