As mothers we devote ourselves to our children and families. It happens the moment we give birth (or fall pregnant), and it happens so quickly and naturally that we don't always notice our former-self slipping away. Over time we think of the person we once were and the things we once enjoyed, but we are so thankful for the beautiful blessing of our children and family that we don't dare let ourselves miss it too much. If your anything like me then you might have thought about trying to find ways of doing some of those things that you previously enjoyed - but then you felt guilty for wanting to do anything that takes you away from spending time with your children. It's the plight of a mother - trying to find the balance between your life as a mother and your life as a woman.
Before having my wonderful children my life was very active. I was a keen surfer and snowboarder and spent most of my free time doing those two things. They were more than just sports to me. They were my way of life. I loved the sport, the culture and the outdoors. I always felt closer to God when I was out in the mountains or in the ocean. It centered me. It gave me immense joy and peace. And I'm so sure that being outdoors and appreciating our Lord's beautiful creation brings Him joy.
When my children were born I quickly learned that it was not as easy as I thought to just get back to doing those things I loved. Physically I was able, but we now had naps and feeds to work around, my husband had his own sports, and my family were not always available. I started to think it might not happen. Or maybe I would just have to wait until the kids are older. I tried to make peace with it and tell myself that I didn't miss it - that I was happy to devote myself 100% to my family without thinking about my own needs. But slowly, I began to notice that my personality was changing and I was beginning to feel like I didn't really know myself anymore. I missed the old me and I wondered whether my husband missed the old me.
Our stress levels were growing. Our children were used to being the center of our universe and our lives revolved around them. We began to notice that this was making things difficult whenever we did try and do something for ourselves - they would not understand, wouldn't know how to behave and weren't able to handle the change well. I wanted our children to be well-adjusted and to be able to to see and respect Mummy and Daddy as people, not just their parents.
I decided I needed to make a change. I began to realize that I was not going to be the best mother and partner I could be unless I began taking care of myself and looking after my own well-being. Deep down I knew that I was a great mother who invested a lot of time into her children. It was going to have to be okay that they learn to let me invest a little bit of time into myself as well. I made a commitment to myself to start looking after myself again. To get fit and active, and to find a way to do some of those things that I loved to do. I made a commitment to find 'me' again.
This commitment was nearly three months ago, and although it hasn't always been easy, I've managed to get fit again. I've learned to spend some time on me, learned to rest and not feel guilty about it, and I've started a blog to share and encourage other mothers who are in a similar place. But until yesterday I hadn't managed to go for a surf.
Yesterday I had the opportunity to go surfing but I nearly let it slip away. It was getting late in the day and it seemed like a huge mission to get the kids into the car, down to the beach and home by dinner. I decided it was going to be too hard, but thankfully my husband and father had the sense to encourage me. Without them I would have taken the easy route. The familiar route. But they encouraged me and helped make it happen. As I paddled out into the surf I knew we had done the right thing, and as I jumped up on my first wave something inside me stirred. A passion. A zest for life I'd been missing for quite a while. A forgotten joy.
I'm writing this post because I want to encourage you. It is so easy to forget ourselves while looking after our families. I truly believe that if we want it bad enough we can find a way to be the loving wife and mother we want to be while still maintaining our own identity and taking care of ourselves. I can't emphasize enough how important it is to look after ourselves, get the exercise that we need, and do the things that we truly love. Its not always easy to find the time (I struggle with it constantly). But try to find a balance. I really believe finding that balance will allow me to be a better wife and a better mother. By watching us live and enjoy life, our children will learn to live their lives to the fullest. They will learn to find things they love and get wonderful enjoyment out of them. They might even find they enjoy the same things as you - and what a blessing it would be to enjoy them together. Today HJ (3 years old) watched his Mommy getting ready to go for a surf. He asked if he could come. I promised we would let him have a turn. HJ hasn't always been confident trying new things so watching him get on a surfboard for the first time and paddle around with his Daddy warmed my heart. He was so proud of himself. He had been brave, tried something new and had an awesome time. What a wonderful experience for a little guy to have.
Doing the things you love and looking after yourself will make a difference to your life. You're children will see and feel your joy and it can't help but rub off on them.
Don't let lack of time, circumstances or obstacles stop you from doing the things that you love. Keep trying, keep looking for ways, keep making it a priority. You will find a way that works for you and your family.
Be kind to yourself. Don't be afraid to be the wonderful woman you know you are. Make a commitment to yourself today. Find 'you'.
This was a post I wrote in January that was published over at Miss Banana Pants. If you want a giggle check out her facebook page - she is hilarious and keeps me giggling all day with her funny yet insightful anecdotes about parenting.