I am the mom of two wonderfully beautiful boys. Since the day they were born, I would do anything for them. It’s a crazy thing being a parent – one second you don’t know these tiny creatures at all and the next they are your whole entire word. This is not a brag, I am not special in feeling this way. I would actually argue that I am completely normal in these feelings. Like many other moms today, I let parenting absorb my identity. I forgot who I was outside of being a mom and honestly, I didn’t see a problem with that.
Being a parent has changed my life for the better in so many ways, but it also made me forget there was a me before children. While that person grew and adapted over the years, I still existed outside of being a mom. After my kids went to bed, my husband would use that time for his hobbies and I would not know what to do with myself.
I ended up feeling lost.
When I would tell my therapist about these feelings she would always push back on me to produce a list of things I was going to do for myself. This was such a challenge for me. I had such a hard time coming up with things that I wanted to do that didn’t involve taking a nap or doing something with my kids.
I decided to start participating in a mom group specifically aimed at making friendships. The group had begun doing virtual events, due to the pandemic. I decided to try it out hoping this would help get me out of my funk. I could at the very least see what other parents were doing.
This was not your average mom group.
Whatever I had expected this group to be was not at all what I found. This wasn’t like other mom groups on Facebook. The focus was on creating friendships, but independent of my children. WHAT? I was in shock, creating friendships based on interests and not my kids? I immediately thought this group is not for me. The events made me uncomfortable because I had to be vulnerable and talk about myself. I had been deflecting any me talk with discussions of my kids so long it could have been my superpower.
While my immediate reaction was this is not for me, I continued to participate. My knee-jerk reaction is that it felt closed off and cold not talking about my children, but it was so far from that. There was no drama on the page. No snide comments. No outward judgment. Just moms trying to make connections. More importantly, I saw a group of women, a lot of whom were like me. They were looking for a space to exist outside of being a mom. This was that space.
In order to talk about me, I had to know me.
After joining and participating in the group events and conversations, I started to reexamine myself. In order to let others get to know me, first I had to get to know myself. I dove into crafting, cooking more, and started a book club to force myself back into reading. My family wanted to support me in this goal and all chipped in to buy me a Cricut for my birthday. Soon I started using my spare time to make cards, mugs, shirts, and all sorts of other projects.
Before I knew it, I was enjoying my own company. Being myself became so much easier. I felt freer and happier being in my own body. Finally, I found myself connecting with people on a deeper level because people were actually able to get to know me and not just my kids.
I don’t think I will ever stop being a work in progress, but I have seen so much growth in myself this past year. My children will always be my number one priority. That isn’t going to change. I just made room for me to also be a priority. Being a mom is such a huge part of my identity. It shaped me into being a stronger more confident person. But in order for me to be the best parent I can be, I also need to find a way to be happy outside of parenting. I never expected Facebook and crafting to have helped me truly learn about self-care and defining myself on my own terms.