Gasp! I miss old me. More carefree(ish) me. I miss old me. More carefree(ish) me. I miss cussing me. Traveling me. Endurance races me. Long wine soaked discussions into the night with friends me. Spontaneous road trips with my husband, kayaks and flasks of rum in tow me. I’ve been living in a vacuum. Devoid of the air that makes me, me.
But how can this be? I love my girls with a crazy kind of urgency. I love being their mom, every second of every day. I never want to speed a “stage” along, and love every time they reach for my hand or ask me to still rock them to bed. I feel nothing but joyful contentment when I think about our decision to bring them into this world. Believe me, this mama adores her kiddos.
While pregnant, like many before me, I was convinced we would do things differently. So many parents looked stressed out, tapped out, and strung out. They looked… Miserable? I vowed to do different. I was going to have fun. Enjoy it. I would still travel, after all, traveling was an integral piece to who I was b.c. I would still hike deep into the Sierras alone with a journal. I would still have pints with friends, swear like a sailor, and dance at weddings into the wee hours of the morning. Hell, I would download the EXPLICIT versions on iTunes. I would know no limits.
Right after having our first baby I met a mom of 3 young kids who was terrified to do anything. Travel, drive downtown, even stay up late unless it was helping her kids with a school project. She refused to paint her toe nails because “Who has the time, and besides I just don’t prioritize “me things”. Uh, okay.
But then something began to happen to me. I started slipping. I started being afraid, and started losing me. I thought showers were “me” time, and would ask if it was okay to take one? I was jumping at my family’s every little whim. Healthy dinners, snack of grapes cut in half to diminish choking hazards, pick up your lovie because it’s 2 inches outside your reach? I can do all that! I can spend an entire Saturday moving stuff from one room to the next while the little ants in our home (that we affectionally call “children”) move it all back to different rooms. And I can work full time, with no discernable evidence that I was pregnant or even had a baby. I puked in the hallways of conference rooms pre-baby, and post-baby I’d pump tucked away in corporate bathrooms. I spun all the plates at lighting speed. I didn’t want my kids to feel the strain of mama working, and I couldn’t let my work feel the strain of promoting a woman with children. Jesus Mary Joseph, where did we go so wrong?
I can do it all! I can do it all! I can do it… all? I closely watched other moms. I took cues from them. I concluded this must be how to parent in the 2 thousand-teens. I fussed over car seats, organic ingredients, teething gels, and audio stimulation. Goodie bags? What’s that? Oh I’m supposed to do that too? I don’t want my kids ostracized due to lack of goodie bags—so I’m on it. I was doing it all “right”. Except that I’d been all over the world, literally, and l knew there was more than one way to live. But somehow, I thought parenting was different. Every other mother on my small street in suburbia knew better. They memorized the developmental milestones, knew entrance dates to kindergarten, and had “structured play time”.
Fuck. That. Noise.
I’m done with all that horseshit (tossing hands and Pinterest to-do lists into the air). I’m reclaiming my life. I’m rediscovering me. And in the process giving them liberty to do so as well. Not only am I raising these girls, but I’m also teaching them what it means to be a woman and a mother.
All these Perfect Mama hoops for me to jump through, they aren’t enhancing their lives much, if at all. So I’m done with it. I’m done with the supposed-tos. The shoulds. I’m living NOW. And my family’s lives will be better for it. But I can’t wait for their permission. I need to charge ahead without it. And figure it out along the way.
I’m still working through what this new life looks like. How the pieces fit together. But I want a life full of camping, hiking, rivers, travel, late night talks about life, lazy summer days, and joyful badass living.
And through all the stuff I’ve done with them, you know what I find makes the biggest difference with our girls? What matters most to them? That I listen when they talk, I mean really look at them and hear their words. Oh and that I play their favorite P!nk song in the car. That’s the big rocks. Everything else is just sand between.
Yeah, it will get more complicated as they get older, but I’ll figure it out then. For now, I’m enjoying the ride, and a helluva lot more than I used to.
I write this from a cab in Mexico. We barrel through the streets, windows open, sun shining on the sun-kissed faces of our girls. Much to my continued surprise, they turned out to be excellent travelers. We are enjoying life a lot more these days. Days before leaving for Mexico, we also booked a long trip to Spain. Our family is growing leaps and bounds with these experiences. I’ve learned, just like the me before children, I can still go my own way. My own style. A blend of American and mutt, hippie and corporate exec. I’m all of these things and so so much more. And these girls just might be too.