Lost: adjective unable to find one's way; not knowing one's whereabouts. "Help! We're lost!" Found: adjective having been discovered by chance or unexpectedly, in particular
When I first became a parent I was overwhelmed like so many other mothers and fathers. It was a victory to get to the gym for 30 minutes, or even find the time to have a moment to myself. I loved being a mom but felt an incredible responsibility, that sometimes felt like a burden. I made the decision to stay at home with my son, thinking that it would be best for him, and best for our family. And I was grateful for the ability to do so. But soon it consumed me and the only reading material, or interactions and conversations that I had became about breastfeeding, sleep training, baby products, signing classes, potty training and the list goes on.
When my former husband and I would find time to go on a date we had little to talk about other than our baby at home. We soon became divided as he went back to work, working long hours while I was home alone with a sometimes screaming baby. And the question of who was working harder became a constant struggle within us. Negotiations of time were about who would get to do their preferred activity, would I be able to sneak away and take my aerial silks class, or would he be able to take his jiu jitsu class? And what about us, when would we get time together?
I hear this sentiment among many parents and friends of mine now, and although we live in a world seeming equal between men and women still somehow the rules of mother=caretaker and father= provider exist. Sure there are plenty of examples of how people have broken through this barrier, have found a way to make this work, but I don’t think I was alone in the separateness and aloneness that parents feel once there is a new child in the mix. Just nobody wants to talk about it.
For other reasons than the struggle it takes to be a parent my former marriage did not work out, so I’m not here to say that becoming a parent is the demise of your marriage/relationship. I more interested in talking about what I believe is of a concern when we become parents, and that is that we forget ourselves.
When I split up with my former husband we also decided to share 50% custody of our son. But I wasn’t really prepared for what that would mean. My son had become my whole world, everything I did revolved around his every need. On the first days and nights of him being away I paced my house, moving and shifting things around and occasionally pausing to sit on the couch or lie in my bed to cry. I was a wreck and totally lost.
The irony is that as a parent all you long for is a moment to yourself and a good night’s sleep, but once I had that, I simple didn’t know what to do.
It took some time before I was able to enjoy my time away from my son. I took up running, and started taking piano lessons. I bought a guitar, read lots of books, started teaching silks classes, traveled to Europe and I decided to start my bootcamp business that I had always wanted to do. I began performing aerial silks, started writing a blog and dedicated myself to finding self love and creativity.
It was a luxury and gift that I think most parents do not get.
Here is the thing though, when I started to get all this time to myself I realized that I was using my child as an escape from really doing the things that I needed/wanted to do. As parents it is very true that your life will change when a new person is here. It is also true that you will change. So even if you do get the chance to have some time to yourself, or do something you want to do, or reconnect with your partner you will do it from a different place, you will be a different person.
That is what I think is so painful when we become parents and also so beautiful. As a new person arrives so does dies with them the old person that you used to be. Maybe along with your dreams and goals, likes and dislikes, maybe even who you are in relationship or who your partner becomes in relationship.
We would like things to always remain the same in some instances, because predictability is comforting, but the truth is that we change all the time and with bigger changes comes bigger transformations.
I realize there are real reasons that finding time for ourselves is simply not possibly, that the luxury of having a babysitter, or grandparent, or day care are true concerns. But if our cups do not get filled in some way, every day, we have little to give back to our children. I’m not implying that things need to be perfect, look perfect or even be significant, but I do feel that if there were a parenting bible nearly 90% of it should be on self care, self love, and encouragement, the other 10% can cover the rest.
I write this post mostly to remind myself when our new little M arrives and I will be in the trenches of bottles, breast pumps, napping schedules, sweat pants, dark shades, and sleepless nights that I must be gentle with myself in the transformation of yet another version of me.