I filled many roles and was so many things before I became a mother: a school psychologist, a daughter, a sister, a wife, and a friend. I spent dreary weekend afternoons reading in the Barnes and Noble Café, playing Scrabble with my husband, dancing around my living room with a pen-microphone in hand, and going to the gym. I fixed my hair daily and put a little thought into my appearance.
Two and a half years into motherhood, I barely recognize the girl I just described—the girl I used to be. Don’t get me wrong, I adore my children, and my husband, but I do miss aspects of my pre-baby self.
Over these last few weeks, I’ve realized that I may be experiencing a bit of an identity crisis. I am a mother, but who else am I? Shouldn’t motherhood be fulfilling enough? Why do I want more?
Cue guilt-trip for wanting more than to take care of my children.
I think my current crisis is due in large part to not working outside the home. Since relocating a few months ago for my husband’s job, I’ve been unable to find work. So, I spend my days caring for my three-month-old and my two-and-a-half-year-old.
My husband works long days, leaving me alone with our children for up to 16 hours a day. They bring smiles to my face, and I am happy to have this time with them, but I’ll tell you what: it’s freaking exhausting.
Our two-year-old has had a rough time adjusting to the new baby; pair that with intense two-year-old tantrums, potty-training (she decided a week after we brought home her brother that she wanted to start using the potty), and phasing out her pacifier, and you have a recipe for one tired mama.
My days are a cacophony of “Hey, Mama!,” “I’m hungry,” new baby gurgles, and cries. When my husband finally gets home from work and tries to offer the assist, both children melt down because they’re so used to me taking care of them they don’t know what to think of good old Dad. It’s difficult for me to justify going out for some “me” time when our newbie cries so hard he begins choking and our toddler clings to my legs, begging me not to leave.
All these changes are compounded by being in a new place, one in which I haven’t made any friends, trying to secure employment, and managing our finances on one income. I’m not one to whine, but I’ll freely admit I’ve had some pretty bad days.
Other than continuing to submit applications and hope for the best, there’s nothing I can do about my employment situation at the moment. As hard as it may be, though, I’ve realized that I need to start doing something, anything, for me, before I find myself in real trouble.
Yesterday, I sent my husband and children to my parents’ house for the afternoon, so I could clean the house. During those few hours, I sang into my broom microphone, engaged in some laundercise (a term I coined for working some of my sweet dance moves into folding/putting away laundry), took an uninterrupted shower, fixed my hair, and put on make-up (the latter, things I haven’t done in a long time).
I realize my life will never be the same as it was before I had children, and I don’t expect or want it to be, but I lived a full life before I had children, and I don’t want to lose that life entirely. I need to make time for things that make me feel happy and fulfilled.
Maybe I’ll get back to my blogging routine. Maybe I’ll take up kickboxing (a way to channel some of the frustration that comes from caring for two very needy little people). Or, maybe I’ll just send my family away once in a while to clean the house, laundercise, shower, and drink wine in my wine pajamas.
Tell me, moms, am I alone in my feelings? How do you manage time/activities for yourself while working and maintaining a household?