You hear a lot about how easy it is for women to forget who they are when they become mothers. Their worlds become so wrapped up in their little ones that they forget what made them, them. I think I can safely say this has not happened to me. I don't make a big deal of it in my everyday life, I just practice simple things everyday that keep me connected to other things in addition to mamahood.
I am so happily Micah and Asher's mom, but I am also happily me. Some of the things that make me tick are a love of reading, traveling, adventure, playing games, time with friends, shopping (more like browsing since I rarely buy anything), walking around the mall, savoring a cup of white chocolate mocha, listening to sermons. These are the big ones. So these are some of the ways I keep these a part of my life:
The boys go to bed at 7pm and I rarely, rarely, rarely do any housework, or anything remotely resembling it, after. I do housework throughout the day so that when they go down for the night, I'll simply straighten up (mostly just Micah's books) and then settle in and relax. I'll read blogs or a book on my Kindle, check facebook, take a bath, or just lately, I've tested having my quiet time during this time (I'm still seeing about that, it's not my favorite time of day for it).
Often I'll put on sermons during the day while we go about our day. I like it for two reasons: a) you just simply can't hear enough of good, solid Biblical teaching, and b) neither can your kids, no matter how young they are.
Traveling and adventure are huge for me, always have been. Thankfully my job at the airlines makes this possible. When Micah was between the ages of about 12 and 18 months, staying overnight with him at other places was a nightmare. For some reason he totally fought sleeping in new places and it was such a struggle to get him to settle down. But something we value is mobility and flexibility, so rather than hermitize for 6 months, we simply stayed with it, and even though we always came back exhausted, being where we were, as a family, making memories, having adventures was worth it. And now he's completely over it. Even just going to Minneapolis and Mall of America for 24 hours totally refreshes me and meets my traveling needs.
Oftentimes I'll meet Matt in town after he gets off work and we'll walk around the mall, get dinner, let Micah play on the slide. I'm such a people person that oftentimes after being home alone with the boys during the day I just simply need to be around people. I also go to a women's Bible study on Thursdays which gives me the chance to connect with other women and moms.
Speaking of other moms, have you ever known a mom that seemed to use her children as a shield? Sometimes even literally? It seems like they don't know how to be without their children, or talking about their children. I love talking about my boys but I also love talking about other things. This is also the fun of having different friends because different parts of your personality come out, depending on who you're with. When I'm with my friend, Jami, we happily talk about kids much of our time together. We compare naptimes, eating, sleeping, fears, funny stories, anything to do with our boys. And it's fun. When I'm around other friends, different conversations take place; I just think we need to make sure that we remember how to relate with others, outside of just our kids.
If I've had a particularly rough day, my absolute favorite getaway is to head to a bookstore, and settle myself in for as long as I possibly can. Matt is so great about this. I'll text him while he's at work to see if it'll work, and then as soon as he gets home, I head out. Often I'll grab a coffee or a quick dinner, and then I could stay there for hours.
(Quick kind-of-related story... my parents always had a cleaning route when I was growing up, and when I was about 12 or 13, they would drop me off at the bookstore by our house at the beginning of their route and pick me up after, usually about 3 or so hours later.)
We love our friends and spending time with them. We just had to tweak things once we had kids. From the very beginning we made sure our boys were used to noise, so often (more before Matt started school) we have friends over after the boys' bedtime and we'll play games, hang out, eat dessert, just have some good quality time. We love this time and since Matt is as people-y as I am, this works well for us.
So these are some of the ways that I still stay me through this journey of motherhood. I don't feel like I've lost me or been diminished, I feel like mamahood has added to me. And, like any mama will tell you, it'll definitely grow you.