That’s the mantra of moms everywhere. We have no life. We, those fun, witty women who used to go out to karaoke on Saturday nights and slip out for cocktail on a Wednesday. We, who used to read books and magazines and get together in coffee shops to sip lattes and talk about life. We, who dressed in stylish clothes and actually OWNED a pair of dress boots to go with our jeans, used to have a life.
Now? Now we’re women in ponytails that roll out of bed in the morning, grab the first pair of pants that smell halfway clean and slog to the kitchen, ready to start another fun-filled day of ushering our children through the finer points of life.
“Mother” Is the Name Synonymous with God in the Heart and Mind of Every Child
See that little quote right above here? Those 15 words are probably the most misinterpreted in human history. (Right up there with “I’ll do it tomorrow.”) That one little phrase inspires mothers everywhere to drop everything and come running the minute their kids are awake, burying themselves in the minutiae of their lives and their laundry until the minute they go to bed. At which point, we lovingly fold even more laundry, wash the day’s dishes, and collapse on the couch to watch the only hour of adult television we’ll see all day.
A warning to all moms, and one I really, REALLY wish they’d publish in those parenting books they’re always going on and on about. If you’re not careful, motherhood will consume you. You’ll wake up one morning and realize that you’ve been so busy being a mom that you haven’t talked to your friends in a year. You have no idea when you last had a girl’s day out. All those hobbies you used to have? Gone. All gone.
Suddenly, you realize you’re not a mom. You’re a nanny drone. When you’re away from your kids, you’re not (insert your name here). You’re just the weird lady with the messy bun at the grocery store without a lick of makeup on, staring at the broccoli in horror trying to figure out where you went wrong.
Time to Stand Up for Our Right to Get a Life
If you’re not happy with yourself, if you don’t feel you’ve got balance in your life, you can’t be the best mom you could be. It’s on headlines everywhere. Single Dad Laughing is working on a whole series on it. But it’s not something most of us have time to think about.
Cause, you know, the laundry breeds the minute you turn your back on it.
You don’t stop being a woman just because you become a mother. A friend told me that shortly before my first was born, and I wish I could frame it for each and every woman I know. Balance is vitally important. Who you are with what you are.
The question is, how do you balance motherhood with actually having a life?
1) Stay in touch with your friends. The beauty of text, email and Facebook is that it’s easy to stay in touch with your friends. Fifteen minutes a day can cement old friendships, help you stay up on the news and yes, have conversations that have nothing to do with diaper rash and Fisher Price.
2) Go out. At least once a month, get together with your friends. Not your spouse. Not your kids. Have coffee. Go to a movie. Go out to dinner or hiking or dancing or bowling.
3) Avoid the urge to live in sweats. This feels a little hypocritical, given the fact that I’m writing this in yoga pants and a sweatshirt, but spending the day lounging around in sweats makes it easy to let the rest slip away. Enjoy your sloppy days, but don’t forget to get up, get dressed, curl your hair and put on your game face before you go out to face the world. You know, the way you did before you were a mom!
4) Make time for your hobbies. When I was in school, I was a musician. At least an hour a day was dedicated to half notes and whole notes and trills and scales. Except for the occasional Christmas carols for the kids, I haven’t taken the time to play that flute in years. And I miss that. Take time for your hobbies. They’re part of who you are.
5) Make friends with people with kids. Keep the friends you had before you were kids, but don’t discount the value of making new friends too. If there’s one thing that really makes trying to balance having a life with being a mom, it’s that motherhood brings children into the mix. Tracking down a babysitter every time you want to go hang out is expensive and impractical. And impractical doesn’t even scratch the surface of what having a conversation with the kids in the room feels like.
So, go to story times. Go to playgroups. Join committees at school. Make friends with people who have children. Let the children play while the grown-ups do the same.
How do you balance motherhood with having a life?