Eleven years ago, I walked out of my office.
“See you in six weeks!” I shouted as I waved to all of my co-workers!
Personal photos still sat on my desk. Notepads had my writing scribbled all over them. My favorite passion tea was waiting in the break room for my return.
Eleven years ago, I became a mother for the first time.
Motherhood Changes You
I suppose I thought it would be more like having your wisdom teeth out or breaking your arm. Like having a baby is a thing that happens TO you and you need time to recover before you’re back to your old self.
I didn’t fully grasp that motherhood CHANGES you completely until I got home with my new baby.
I sat on the couch 15 minutes after we got home from the hospital, my new baby swaddled in my arms, and sobbed to my husband, “I can’t go back to work!”
I’m pretty sure this photo was a few minutes after that conversation while my husband was looking at the budget and trying to see how we were going to make it work.
I never went back to that office as a full-time employee again.
Being the Best Mom Means Being More than A Mom
Mothering well isn’t a sacrifice. The things we have “given up” just don’t compare to the honor of caring for babies and being the primary caretaker for our children.
But as the years of being pregnant and nursing have passed us by, as constant supervision is no longer needed for busy toddlers, it’s an interesting shift to have more time and mental capacity to see myself as a whole person, and not just a mom.
I’m realizing that there are many things I used to enjoy that I might still enjoy. I’m noticing that there are things I would like to do but automatically tell myself I can’t (because of home responsibilities, childcare, not wanting to spend time away from family, etc.)
I am the best mom when I am my best self.
For me, that means:
- self care (like actual self care- shaving your legs, joining a gym, getting a hair cut, going to bed at a decent hour, going to the doctor)
- quality time with husband (regular date nights at home or out)
- adult friendships & a social life
- living creatively
Inspiration to be More Than a Mom
I’ve read two books recently that have inspired me:
I heard about Fair Play on the Simple Families Podcast. I read the book and eventually bought the card deck too.
I’ll warn you, Eve Rodsky isn’t for everyone. She’s passionate about women’s equity in the home, which to me can come off as condescending and abrasive to those of us who have chosen to stay home and serve our families.
What I took away from that podcast and after reading her book was that all time is created equal and women deserve to be interesting too.
I don’t want to spend two decades mothering my children, doing dishes and laundry, and then be a skeleton of my self with no children left in the home.
We can be interesting now! And it’s OK for us to reclaim the time and space to do that.
My husband is an amazing partner in creating the life we want for our family, and I’m so thankful he has been receptive and engaged 100% in adjusting some things to find that fair balance in our home, where both of us get to be our best selves.
In my quest to find out what being interesting means to me, I re-read one of my favorite books, Big Magic.
Creativity has always lived inside me. Since I was a little girl, I wrote stories and made up plays. I was in band and played music all the way through college. Photography and creating video have been something I’ve loved for years. I never pass up the opportunity to plan a themed party.
Elizabeth Gilbert gives us permission to live creatively without fear of what’s next.
I can be creative without it having to turn into a business, without relying on others to approve of my creative pursuits, and without having to think through all of the other “better” ways I could be spending my time.
What I’m doing to be More than a Mom
So here’s all the ways I have embodied creative living in the past few weeks:
- I’ve been practicing the recorder. I ordered a book of classical music pieces arranged for recorder, and I really love playing!
- I’ve been reading fiction! This is a luxury I didn’t often give myself time for, but it’s so nice to escape into a book for a bit.
- I got a clarinet (from our local “Buy Nothing” group) to add to my instrument collection for doodling around when we want to explore music. We now have several pianos, two guitars, a violin, a trumpet, a flute, and the new clarinet.
- I got back on Instagram!
- I’m using my real camera more.
- I signed up at the local art school to take an Intro to Wheel Throwing pottery class.
- I am enjoying watercolor painting with my kids in a family entomology journal
I also took a job with my old company to produce a fashion show last weekend.
My oldest daughter, that baby that made me rethink everything about my life and career, came with me to work last weekend. I introduced her to my old boss, who jokingly reminded me that I insisted I’d come back after having her.
I wasn’t ready then, but it was a treat to get to spend a weekend with my daughter working and engaging parts of my brain I haven’t used in a long time.
Being more than a mom can look different for each of us. Maybe you’re passionate about cooking and want to try out new recipes each week, maybe you love to dance, maybe you’ve always wanted to write a book.
Whatever it is, I hope this can be an encouragement to you that it’s never too late to be interesting.
I originally sent this post out as an email to my subscribers. So many moms could relate to this struggle, and I got some amazing responses back. I want to keep a list of all the ways our community is finding as we work together to pursue interesting lives apart from motherhood.
Here’s a few ideas that I’ve gotten from our community so far:
- audition for a play with local community theater
- bike riding
- piano lessons
- make pottery
- roller skating
- start hosting on Airbnb
So tell me…what interesting things are you doing in your life? Leave a comment and I’ll add yours to the list!
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