My friend opened up and told me she was tired, feeling alone and desperately needed time away with her husband to reconnect and remember what it felt like to be “her” instead of the mom of three kids. She needed five minutes to NOT be a mom, to be herself – not the mom that had subjugated her personality for her kids.
Take a moment right now, and ask yourself, how do you see yourself, and how do your kids see you? In my mind, being home, dealing with sick kids was a temporary stop, a stop on the way to FINALLY being able to return to work- back to the life I knew and desired it to be. To paying off ALL the medical bills and having money to travel and experience all the FUN things I longed to do. To my kids, a mom was someone who helped them study, fed them, cleaned the house and took them to various practices and games and doctor appointments. In their minds, my highest purpose and calling was to clean the house and take them where they needed to go – a glorified chauffeur.
My kids could not imagine a fun, crazy, younger me. I was just mom. And my middle child, brought up, “My mom isn’t really that much fun. You know, she’s not CRAZY”. A friend that overheard this comment, laughed pretty hard and proceeded to tell my daughter that she had stories she could tell her about me, her mom! This happened five years ago and the experience startled me. It woke me up and helped me realize how important it was to keep from losing myself. To keep from losing, ME, while I was in the midst of raising children with a variety of issues.
Raising kids that have ADHD, learning issues, autism and auto immune issues tends to be an all-consuming job. My primary job has been scheduling and researching the best and next therapy, and administering supplements and antibiotics that my kids needed. I’ve really missed working outside the home, but instead of being in the thick of a business development deal I’ve been in the thick of wading through research and getting my Doctor of Google as I researched the best therapies and doctors across the country. I was often researching until all hours of the night, starting at 11:00 when the house was quiet and working until 3 am, or talking on the phone late at night with my friends that were across the country and dealing with similar issues. Talking to like-minded friends, who were struggling with similar issues really helped! And through it all, realizing how different our life was because of rude neighbors that were afraid “autism might be catchy”, and different because of the sheer volume of research and discussions we had to complete and have with our team of doctors.
In the midst of this rambling adventure, I realized that I’m blessed. My whole family is blessed. This adventure has helped us to see that we don’t have to go through life pretending that life is wonderful, wearing a mask and trying to figure out how to make our children more popular or be part of the “mommy mafia”. Instead we’ve been focusing on the things that matter. We’ve focused on our kids, getting them better, helping them to feel good about themselves and paying forward our hard won learning. And through it all, yes there’s been times where I’ve felt like I’ve lost myself, but mostly it’s been a journey where we’ve built our own village.
The next time someone asks how you’re doing – what will you tell them? What is your truth…..good or bad or somewhere in the middle? Are you able to see the silver lining, even during the bad times? My challenge for you is to slow down, to stop, take a deep breath, hold it for 8 seconds and then slowly blow the air out and do this for 2-3 minutes. And while you’re at it, slow down long enough to take 15 minutes, just 15 minutes a day or a week to start taking care of yourself. Keep adding those minutes up until you’re ready for an overnight get-away- either with friends or your spouse. You’re worth it and you need to start finding the joy – what makes you happy? What is your prescription for happiness?
Stay tuned for “What is your Prescription for Happiness?”
Also read The Faces We Wear – Part One.