One of the biggest battles of parenting is not losing yourself after the universe has handed you a precious bundle of joy. You have no idea how it will affect your life until your in knee-deep and your world is flipped upside-down. Suddenly, it seems like all your plans change and what you thought was important in life seems like something so small now.
In the midst of parenting, you grow into a different person. Goals, the future, and your perspective changes because your world is no longer centered around you. It is centered around them. I became a parent of 3 when I was 18 years old. My stepchildren mean the world to me, and now the little girl that was 7 when she made me a mother, is turning 20 in a few days and away in college. The two little boys that I created are now 6 and 3, and I am starting over in my parenting journey.
The Messy Truth About Parenting
It’s hard, some days you are tired. Some days you don’t feel well or you are overwhelmed. Parenting is not like having a job. You can’t just take a day off and play hooky. It’s hard to control their world and let them be free to find themselves as well. It’s hard to protect them and let them discover who they are at the same time. It’s all rough, and 13 years after becoming a mom to 3 amazing bonus kids, I still feel like I have no clue what I am doing when it comes to parenting.
While there are no perfect parenting models, it is hard to stay true to yourself when your life revolves around someone else. Even alone time or trips to the spa are filled with thoughts about them. What they are doing? How they are feeling? Are they getting schoolwork done? All the questions you have simply because you are not with them.
Here Are A Few Honest Thoughts And Tips I Have Learned Over The Years
You Aren’t Losing Yourself
It feels like it, I know! The person you meet in the mirror after the first time you hold your child or after the positive pregnancy test isn’t the same person as before. You change. You grow. Every breath you take after that is into the future.
No, you won’t go out and party as much. Your idea of a great time will be cuddling on the couch and reading while your child watches Frozen for the thousandth time. Instead of going to a concert. You don’t have to completely lose who you were, you never do, but you do grow. Sometimes it feels like you are growing into a different person, but isn’t that what growth is all about?
You Have To Trust Yourself
Nothing will make you feel like you are losing yourself more than trying to fit into someone else’s expectations. No one has ever been YOU raising YOUR CHILD. Find what works for you. Trust your gut. Follow your own path.
It’s hard, yes, but it is so much harder if you’re trying to be someone else. You would never look your child in the eye and tell them they HAD to act like someone else. You love them for who they are. Do yourself the same favor.
Every Child Is Different
After 5 kids, I can tell you they are all different. No matter how much they look alike, act alike, or how close they are in age, they all need something different. This is where trusting yourself comes into play. Those parenting books weren’t written about YOUR child. Your mother-in-law never raised YOUR child.
Even if you are parenting multiple children, follow your mom gut. I went into the pregnancy of my second rainbow baby thinking, “Hey, I kept the other one alive, how hard can this be?” Not only was my second child different, but I was too. I had grown in the 3 years since I had my last newborn.
My first co-slept, he had tummy issues and as a baby, he slept better next to me. My second couldn’t sleep unless he was in his crib, and then he started sleeping straight through the night at 2 weeks old. I could go on all day about the differences, and that’s two children with the same parents, in the same environment.
We All Get Lost
I struggled the most right around when my littlest was 2. They were both rainbow babies, and I immersed myself in being their mother. Almost suddenly, they both became more independent. They played with each other, instead of me. They didn’t need me to hold their hand all the time. It was best for them that I take a step back from constantly being on hand and allow them to develop.
I had suddenly gone from being needed all the time, to just standing guard to watch them and help if needed. I struggled with who I was. I thought too much. All I was left with was the person who had only been a mother. It sounds odd, but the little things I would try to sneak time into doing left me bored.
Finding OUR Passion
It took quite some time for me to get in the habit of thinking I could be myself and still be their mother. To find things that I could do for myself, but with them.
Do the things you love with them. If you love exploring nature, there is nothing better than sitting back and watching your kids find themselves and play. It’s a beautiful thing when you give someone just enough space to be themselves, this includes you. Explore new things. Do things you used to love. Find new hobbies or crafts. Put together a puzzle. You would be amazed at how fun it is to watch your children find passion in the same places you do.
Be Easy On Yourself
We all get overwhelmed. We all get burnout. We all have an identity crisis sometimes. Ask for help. Find peace when you can. It is hard, but sometimes even just motivating yourself to do yoga instead of rest or surf social media while the kids watch TV helps more than you realize. Take those small moments when you can. Draw, color, write, do something that makes you happy.
Remember, every day they are growing, but so are you. You are not lost, you’re in the middle of a growth spurt. Sometimes it is overwhelming and people will always judge how they want, but the fact is, they are judging anyway, so you mine as well focus on what is good for you and your family.
Show yourself some love. Try to imagine your child standing in your shoes. You would not be nearly as hard on them as you are on yourself. You got this.
As Always, Thank you for including me in this part of your journey!