Over the past decade or so, I have often heard some variation of the following:
‘Enjoy ______ now, because you won’t get to do it when you have kids.’
‘Once you have kids, you’ll never get to do ______ anymore.’
‘When you’re pregnant, you’ll be too absent-minded to ______.’
‘You only like doing ______ because you don’t have kids yet.’
I have been told I will no longer have dates with my husband. I will not be able to go to school or take a class because ‘pregnancy makes you dumb’. I won’t enjoy cooking or baking anymore. If you add these comments together, it appears the person I am, and have always been, will cease to exist once this blessed event occurs.
One of the benefits of waiting so long to have children is the opportunity I’ve had to see so many different people venture into motherhood. I have observed new mothers who become completely different people when their children are born. I’m not talking about priorities changing. That goes without saying. For example, I spend less time with certain friends because they are busy being moms. I fully understand that. But some mothers become a different person entirely.
Suddenly, they are incapable of discussing anything beyond child rearing. They moan and complain and sometimes don’t even seem to like their children. Nothing happening in your life is as awful, happy, or important as the latest events in their own life. There is a difference between making your children the center of your world (which makes sense), and expecting them to be the center of everyone else’s (which is a lot to ask).
I also find it ironic that many of the moms who tell me all of these things have plenty of time to watch TV, play around on the computer, or take long naps daily. I find it insulting when someone tells me I’ll have to give up digi-scraping when I have kids because I won’t have the time, but can also tell me the latest goings-on with a number of current TV shows. Contradiction, anyone?
Although I have never experienced motherhood, I am observant enough to know that things will change immensely. Time will be precious, and some things I do now will either be eliminated or have lower priority. I know that my number one mission will be to care for my children. I look forward to that!
But to jump from that to assuming all of the parts that make me who I am will disappear upon entering motherhood is crazy. I see many moms out there who have not lost themselves. In fact, motherhood has helped them discover more about who they are.
I have a couple of friends who have taken up photography, because taking pictures of their children opened up a creative outlet they hadn’t acknowledged in the past. Practically all of the cooking and baking blogs I follow are written by moms. I have attended college classes with many pregnant women who were anything but ‘dumb’. And, I am pretty sure I have seen couples who have children out on dates. Less often? Oh, yes. But never? Not necessarily.
Growing up, I knew a million things about my mom and what she enjoyed. I knew her favorite type of exercise was to work-out in the pool. That was ‘her’ time and I got that. I also knew she loved making people feel beautiful and was creative with hair and make-up. I knew she loved watching mysteries and crime drama on TV. And guess what? She loved all these things before me, she loved them while I was young, and she continues to love them today. That is who she is. I wonder what she would have thought if someone had told her she would no longer enjoy doing these things while she was a mom, and what that same person would have thought if (several years later) they saw a little girl snuggled up to her mom watching The Rockford Files on TV, or sitting on a booster seat in the salon chair while her mom practiced hairstyles on her. Loose myself in motherhood? My mom sure didn’t!
I love those future kidlets of mine, and I want to give them every part of who I am. I want them to know the interests, passions, and creative outlets that make me ME. Maybe I’ll be digi-scraping late at night while they sleep, but I’ll still be doing it. Maybe I’ll trade in my experimental recipes for kid-friendly ones, but I’ll still love to bake. I want them to know how important their father is to me and if it means they’re spending a night at the Grandparents’ every once in a while, well, I can think of worse things than that!
When it comes down to it, I think it is a choice. It may take effort, but I’m pretty sure you can hang on to a scrap of who you are during motherhood, without becoming a neglectful parent. Why can’t you include your children in what you love and watch those talents grow? Couldn’t it be argued that you could be a healthier, happier mom if you hung on to some of those things you enjoy?
Maybe I am just a naïve wanna-be, but that’s what I believe.