I was parked outside my youngest daughter’s school a couple weeks ago. You have to practically be two hours early to get a parking spot anywhere close to the school if you’re lucky. This day however, the stars were aligned and I was within sight of the school parking lot.
Being the extrovert that I am, I love to people watch. I was watching all the new parents to the school picking up their little kindies – I’m pretty sure my kids were never that little – how does that happen? Anyway, I’ve spent some time observing Mom’s over the years picking their kids up from school. There’s the Mom who is always on her phone with her kids 10 steps behind, there’s the Mom completely engaged with her kids asking them everything about their day super interested and excited, there’s the Mom who is frazzled beyond the point of no return – you just know she needs 5 o’clock to roll around so she can hit that bottle of wine… except she probably has to run them to hockey, or dance and doesn’t need a DUI to add to her very long list and then there’s me – who is to the point where I just wait for my kid to get in the car – ahhh… sweet bliss…
Its always the frazzled ones that catch my attention. On all accounts I had the easiest babies and toddlers ever. I think the universe knows what buttons she can and can’t push – so I was blessed with kids that wouldn’t test my patience… the teenage years are becoming another story – ask me in five years how I fared...;-)
I have walked in many, MANY shoes… constantly feeling the inner pull of trying to balance and justify every single decision. When I had my first daughter, I knew I wouldn’t want to work full-time but at that point, financially it was necessary and I was also very young – I didn’t want all my university to “go to waste”. I went back part-time for a while, again always feeling the guilt of being away from my baby. I am almost positive that the second baby came along so quickly because I needed an “excuse” to be back at home full-time.
I didn’t enjoy being at home. I was constantly agitated, my anxiety was horrible I was sleep deprived and basically just not a nice person. When my youngest was close to two, I decided to try medication to make me feel better. I also went back to work again, part-time, enrolled them in pre-schools and gymnastics, baby ballet, preschool skating – we were busy. Although I was out of the house way more, I still felt pulls from every direction. Just never content, so I thought maybe working from home was the answer. I was graciously allowed to move my office from work to my home. No more worrying about daycare, sick kids, not being home… but still something wasn’t right.
I continued for several years to work from home sometimes part-time, some contract, some full-time. I also volunteered a lot at school when the girls were little. I became the PAC chair and us ladies had such great times doing great things for the school. I loved getting out and being with people.
I thought a lot about my Mom, who worked from home. I often tease now how I knew nothing when I moved to university because she did EVERYTHING for me and my brother… and by everything – I mean EVERYTHING! I rarely made a bed, seldom helped with dishes, never packed my own lunch – heck – she even made our lunches when we came home for the summers! That was her job – and she took it VERY seriously. Her job was to raise the best two humans she could – and I think she did very well. My brother is a Doctor of analytical chemistry and I have a degree in commerce – and have had many great jobs and many different paths… we both live very happy lives with our families.
However, I also remember my Mom when my brother and I left home one year after another. Her home was now empty. No beds to make, no meals to prepare for four anymore, no laundry, no hustle and bustle of our friends roaring in and out looking for baking and snacks. Her job was ripped right out from underneath her and she wasn’t prepared.
My Mom was the one who encouraged me more than anyone to become my own person. While she definitely thought being a stay-at-home Mom was best for my kids, she knew my personality and that I wouldn’t be completely satisfied staying at home. It doesn’t take away that constant guilt we feel though or more so the pull – the desire to be who we need to be but yet provide for our families. Throw into it all of the over-thinking and emotions – no wonder us gals are half-nutty!
What happens when we can’t fulfill our passions and our needs? What happens when we can’t find that balance? I believe we lose ourselves, our spark and even our motivation and drive. Sometimes, we go looking in the wrong places. We try and find affirmation or acceptance through actions that might jeopardize our true self or even our families. Through losing ourselves we might just end up pushing away the very ones we love the most.
This is the point at which I “receive” many of my female clients. So many have given so much and continue to give until they have nothing left to give themselves. They’re emotionally drained, perhaps overweight, depressed, tired and at rock-bottom. “What happened to me?”, they often ask.
Somewhere along the line – you forgot about you. We all have an inner-most need to nourish our spirit. As women we need to strive to find enough balance in our lives so that we have room to give ourselves the time to take care of US! How do we care for others if we can’t take care of our needs? Keep ourselves healthy on the inside and out? We need to stop saying “yes” to the over-time, the volunteer work, being the super-mom, the doting wife for at least one hour a day. Do yoga, go for a run, bike, take a class, or go to the gym. Take the time to nourish your body with healthy foods, read a book, do a craft, find a hobby. When your kids have left, when you have retired, all that’s left is you and you want to be around for a very long time to enjoy all the hard work you’ve put in.
Don’t get me wrong. Its never going to be perfect. The pull will always be there, but what I’ve learned much before my Mom did (thanks to her) is that when my kids leave, life still happens. I’ve also learned that while they are here at home, I am a happier, better Mom when I take care of myself. I’ve also learned that my passion revolves around people. I can’t work behind a desk as I did for years. I need to be up on my feet and helping others. My family knows I need my fitness and my job. They also know when I’m with them, I’m 100% all theirs.
Its not easy. It takes practice to say no, it takes time to make time for yourself. So whether you’re a stay at home Mom, a woman who works 50 hours a week, retired, a Grandma, sister, friend, wife… take that time for you… make you healthy inside and out… I can guarantee you will be 100% happier