Me, Myself and I

Me, Myself and I

“We can’t be afraid of change. You may feel very secure in the pond that you are in, but if you never venture out of it, you will never know that there is such a thing as an ocean, a sea. Holding onto something that is good for you now, may be the very reason why you don’t have something better.”
― C. JoyBell C.

“Starting a new way is never easy so…keep starting until the start sticks.”
― Tim Fargo

Well, here I am 21 years after having entered motherhood and dedicating the bulk of my time, thought and energy (very willingly, I might add) to my four daughters. Two of my girls are now out of the house and in college, one more leaves for college in July, and the fourth one will be a sophomore in high school this fall. After all of these fun, exhausting, delightful, frustrating, and extraordinary years helping and watching the girls grow up to follow their dreams, it is almost time for me. And I’m terrified!

When my kids were little I longed for chunks of time alone when I could do things for myself, be more than “just” a mother, be a real person separate from my kids. As the time grew closer to the girls leaving, I became a bit nervous about all of this time heading my way. Who was I outside of being a mom, middle school teacher, and wife? Who/what was I before I was a mom? I find that I don’t remember and this is more than a little scary to me.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited about the possibilities for my future, it’s just that I didn’t expect to be afraid or overwhelmed when I for once wasn’t surrounded by children all clambering for my attention. I thought I would know exactly what to do with myself and think, Yes, finally!! There was a time in my life when all I hoped for each day was to be able to sleep in until 7am. Seriously. That was it.

It shouldn’t surprise me that this change scares me. All of life’s major transitions have somewhat thrown me for a loop in one way or another. I was over-the-moon excited about becoming a mother for the first time and then shocked beyond belief at how much of myself I had to give up in order to be the kind of mother I wanted to be. I felt guilty whenever I wasn’t interacting with and stimulating my new baby’s developing brain. I felt guilty because I wasn’t as warm and fuzzy as the other moms. I felt guilty because I was mind-numbingly bored staying home and briefly considered going back into teaching. Most of all, I felt resentment towards my husband because he was still himself and he got to be a dad too. He went to work, traveled to cool places like Japan and Australia, talked to adults on a daily basis, and had interesting stories to relate at the end of the day. I used to be a teacher and myself. Now it seemed like I was just a mom…no more me.

After my bumpy start I settled into the role of mom and whole-heartedly loved all of it. My next unpleasant life transition came when my youngest daughter went off to full day kindergarten. Rumbling around alone inside of my silent house was no fun. I felt uninspired and quietly desperate. Rather than enjoying this long anticipated gift of time, I was kind of depressed. What??? I’d been waiting for this for years!!! I tried hanging out with friends, going to the gym more, volunteering at school, crafts, joining the Officers’ Wives Club, etc., but it all felt so empty. Filling the hours with “stuff” until my kids returned home from school was not how I wanted to spend my days. It was time to rediscover me again. I decided to look for a part time teaching job, but was scared into inaction for a while because I seemed to have misplaced my confidence somewhere along the line. Is this what happens when you lose yourself in motherhood? What if I wasn’t a good teacher anymore? Those new helicopter parents, could I deal? What about all of the new technology? What’s a PowerPoint? My husband loaned me some of his confidence until I found my own and I soon found myself a job I loved. This allowed me to strike a nice balance between being a mom and a teacher.

So the next road I travel, which is destined to be filled with potholes, will be that of navigating life without children living at home. I’m glad I lost myself in motherhood; it’s been a beautiful and priceless journey. I’m not really sure what’s up next for me, but I do look forward to reclaiming myself, even if it does seem a little daunting at times.

34 thoughts on “Me, Myself and I

  1. I think there is security in what is familiar, and it is scary to step outside of that and try new things. I’ve been working on “reclaiming myself” for a few years now- even though my youngest is only 8, I have 2 grown kids so I’m more than ready to live for myself a little. And it feels wonderful, in some ways it’s like being a kids again, rediscovering the world and figuring out what I’m passionate about.

    Blogging helps, I think. It keeps me focused, gives me a chance to reflect on what I think and feel outside of mothering.

    • I agree, blogging definitely helps me sort out my thoughts and that is one of the main reasons I am writing. And wow, you do have quite an age difference between kids!

  2. .. And so the new part of your journey begins. I have one child (of four) still needing me (but only a bit as she is now almost 16) and it is, indeed, a matter of will to decide the next part of my journey also.
    Well written, by the way.

  3. I can relate. My youngest is graduating from high school next month. I have been frozen, stuck, afraid and now this time has come! You are definitely not alone in this and you’re off to a great start!

  4. As a new-ish mom (i have an 18 month old), I am currently in that wishing-I-had-me-time place, though I do love being a mom. It’s not easy having my personal ambitions move at a snail’s pace! I try to remind myself to savour this kid-focussed time in my life because everyone says it will go too fast.

    I really appreciate your perspective!

    • It’s weird, the time thing. The minutes can drag by, but then in a flash a whole week or month has gone by! I really like your blog and your whole outlook on life.

      • Thank you! Oh my gosh, it’s crazy the way the time flows (or really, stop-starts and flies.) I was discussing this with my husband the other night, just trying to explain how strange the time chunking in the day is. It’s a big shift from pre-baby life!

    • Jean, raising children doesn’t take away from you being all you can be. It adds to it. it makes you more than you thought you could ever be. You learn amazing things about yourself. Don’t look on this time as a time when you put “yourself” on hold until your time is yours again. This IS your time!!
      PS – I’m not a stay-at-home Mom.;-)

      • Thanks, Kathy! Yes, I try to keep the example from my own mom in mind. She really found herself and her professional ambition after being a mom (she did an MSW and became a parent educator and family counsellor after staying home with us).

        Thanks for the reminder. “This IS your time!!” That’s a great outlook!

  5. Really interesting to read! It must be daunting to enter into this new stage of your life but see it as an opportunity and an open door! Start a new hobby, do the things you enjoy in life! I look forward to reading more of your posts 🙂
    Sass x

  6. Blogged about this very thing today for #zerotohero. Still finding myself again. Maybe there wasn’t enough of me in the first place. That may be a problem with always putting others first. When there are no others to put first what is left of you? I wish you the best!

  7. Your post is ringing the little triangle in my head, actually it is hitting a very large triangle with an exceedingly large hammer, and setting off a triangle cacophony. 🙂
    I have been thinking the same things for a while now. I have 2 daughters, 17 & 19, the oldest will soon be leaving the nest to move in with her man, and the youngest has 2 years of local college to complete and then maybe off to the mainland for University.
    We have always been three since my husband died when they were very young. I cannot comprehend what I am going to do on my own – now I’m crying, sorry.
    I know this is what I raised my children for, to be confident adults to go out into the world and forge their own lives, I know I will adjust, but it is scary. I am resistant to change, but life keeps throwing it at me, and I eventually learn to accept. 🙂
    Happy Easter break to you.

    • Thanks for your comments. I totally understand your feelings and what you are going through as I always seem to resist the changes too! I have long believed that one of the best gifts we can give our children is to be happy, settled and satisfied in our own lives. Our children worry and fret about us just as we do about them and freeing them of this burden is invaluable. It sounds like you are closer than they typical family so I know this will be hard. Good luck with your transition, I know you’ll do just fine!

  8. Been there, done that.
    Children are excited, yet anxious, about starting a new phase of life, such as the first day of school, going off to college, etc., This new phase is a phase which they may have otherwise chosen not to take, yet know they must move on. It’s life and this is how it goes.
    But we, as Moms, KNOW that one day our children will leave the nest and we will be entering a new phase of our own lives, but we feel badly about having the same sense of excitement and anxiety.
    It’s as OK for us, the parents, to feel excited/anxious as it is for our children. However, it is NOT OK to let that feeling stop us in our tracks, any more than it would be for our children to stop and refuse to accept this next phase.
    You are still the parent and you still provide the primary role model for your children. Be honest and accept the fear of the unknown. But be brave and face the future. It’s going to be exciting and better than you can possibly imagine!
    You can do this, ladies!!!

  9. I stopped by to check out your site after you visited mine and was blown away while reading this post. Oh my gosh, is there actually another person out there who has experienced the same feelings I have during my journey as a mother and wife? I could even relate to the momentary fear you felt when contemplating your return to teaching. I took time off from teaching after my first daughter was born and didn’t return until my youngest was a toddler. I was so nervous that I swear I sabotaged my first few interviews. Once I finally had my own classroom it felt as if I had never left. But I digress…
    I look forward to reading more of your posts. Cheers!

  10. It’s so encouraging to hear how things were for you early on. Being a stay-at-home mom with small children can be incredibly isolating and most people don’t talk about the struggles. I find sometimes that I am going through life with a foggy brain and I just try to push through and survive. Anyhow, hearing words from someone who has survived brings clarity to my own situation. Thank you!

    • You are welcome! I think I would have loved having a blog when I was a young mother…connecting with other people when I couldn’t leave the house! Motherhood is very rewarding, but it does have its challenges and it is a lot easier to talk about them here and now that I have passed through those times. There is so much guilt attached to being a mom because you never feel like you are doing enough, or at least I felt that way! And it could get so competitive with the other moms…oh my! That would be another post. Again, your kids are adorable!!

  11. I can relate to so many of the feelings you express in this post.
    It seems like the empty nest stage is one of the few that give time back to us. Coming out on the other side of this stage, I can see clearly how great it can be. My relationships with my kids are at a new, enjoyable level. This is our time to shine. Have fun with it!

    • Thanks! So far so good with the flying back home. I’m finding some new hobbies and enjoying the new-found time to myself. It hasn’t been as bad as I thought it would be! 🙂 Thanks for reading and commenting.

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