There are days when I can’t remember my life before my son. I think, what did I do when I didn’t have to mother him? I have begun to define myself by this role and allowed being a “mom” to seep into other parts of my life. At work, I mentor new teachers. At home, I dole out advice to friends (sometimes unsolicited). Even in romantic relationships, I have tried to mother or care for more men than I’d like to count.
But now, I am ready to give that title back.
Please don’t misunderstand and stop reading; I don’t want to give my son back. I just want to give back the niche I have carved for myself as mother to one and all. It’s exhausting. We all know being a parent is a thankless job – so what happens when all of your jobs are thankless? It means you disappear. I have given away pieces of myself to sustain and nurture others, and I’m left feeling empty.
I used to love to read, act, and bake. Lately, I find myself reading more Eric Carle than anything else, acting like I’m not mad that my son spilled his second glass of milk (this time on his homework), and baking to bribe my students to work on their college essays. I am not unhappy or dissatisfied when I’ve completed these tasks – I love seeing the smile on my son’s face when he recites “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do You See?” with me. But, it seems, these things that I used to get amusement and self-gratification from have now turned into tools I use to help others.
Even when I’m alone with a glass of wine and my DVR, I’m brainstorming solutions to other people’s problems. I can’t escape it. So, I am hoping all the moms out there can help me answer the question: when and where do you allow yourself stop being a mom and just be you?