Figuring out the balance between mehood and motherhood.

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Lauren says she wants to hear about ‘how being a SAHM is for you.’

Ever since reading her suggestion, the sentence that keeps popping into my head is, ‘It’s not enough for me.’ And it’s not that I don’t love my kids, or that I’d rather go to work every day rather than just see where each day leads. Because both of those things are great. I just feel like I’m losing me. (And did I feel this way before we moved? No, I don’t think I did. So this may be because we are somewhere new, floating with no tethers: friends for me, friends for the kids, a car, routines, and trapped inside by constant rain. But it may be something more. I guess we wait and see.)

Ever since I was a kid, I was attracted to labyrinths. And not just the sort that featured Goblin Kings. A few years back, I read an excellent blog post about early motherhood and the labyrinth. I’m going to try to hunt it down, but the author’s thoughts have stayed with me and helped me more fully comprehend and explain what I am now going through.

A labyrinth – you start at the outside and walk your way in. There are turns, twists. But there is no wrong way to go – only ever more inward. Once you reach the core, once you have navigated those turns to get to the heart of the matter, of who you are, the only thing to do is turn back around and make your way carefully back out again. You journey back towards life, armed with a deeper knowledge of your Self.

I’m in that labyrinth somewhere, trying to hold the faith that there are no wrong turns. It’s impossible to not find your way in or back out again in a classical labyrinth layout, though of course the time frame varies. Are you a walker, a ponderer? Do you run with the exuberance of a child?

Me, I have ventured in. I am deep, deep in there and I’m trying to figure out things on a pretty basic level. How do I turn around? Is it time to walk out? Where can I get a new pair of shoes for the journey?

I think much of what I’m feeling must be held in common with many mothers of young children. The job definition – whether you are a SAHM or not – means that you are no longer the number one priority. All the stuff I used to do – sleep in late, spend all day cuddled with TMD on the couch watching tv, attending and completing a grueling (and rewarding!) counselling training – it doesn’t happen anymore.

Every day I have to change nappies, wash dishes, do laundry, and suppress myself in some way. I think some of this feeling will be lightened once it finally stops raining (I’m writing this on the 29th, and it’s been raining steadily since the 14th) and I get a car. But some of it won’t.

The battle for me is: how do I give my children the best AND honour myself? Right now that seems like a seesaw. For every thing I want to give them, it means less that I can give myself. And much of what I want to do in raising creative, brave explorers of this world seems to negate me being able to have these things for myself. I tell myself it’ll get easier as they get older.

And while I’m sure that is true, I also know that it feels like my SELF – the part of me that exists independently to my wife or children – is on hold until….when? The kids are in university?

Every day I grow as a person because of my children. Every day. I would not trade being here with them, trying to help them experience and grow in the world, for anything. They make me laugh, they make me love love love. But I need something more than simply growing in relation to them, to being a mother. I need to find a way to create space for the old me, or the new me, or just me. A hobby? Dedicated time to write? Time to go out by myself?

I want my children to see me as a creative, dynamic person; I want to model that life for them not JUST for them, but because it is the life I wish to lead.

I feel like I want and need something big. A larger purpose. And is it possible to figure this out, to try to pursue dreams, when I am at home with toddler twins? Maybe.

I’m in that labyrinth, after all, and I know I’m no longer on the way in. I’m in the middle, and I’m probably facing outward. Now all I have to do is walk that path, trust in the twists and turns, and keep going. Because sunshine is there, purpose is there, connectedness is there. If I keep going.

I hope.

This post brought to you by my compelling desire to write, and complete inability to do so. Generous people have given me funny, thoughful, and factual suggestions for posts. Click here to see them, or add your own. I’ll work through them all in time.

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5 Responses to “Figuring out the balance between mehood and motherhood.”

  1. mamacrow Says:

    loved this. want to say lots about it but my brain is mush.

  2. On balancing out « Don't wake the baby! Says:

    […] liked this post from Existere today in which she talks about her feelings about being a stay at home mum to toddler […]

  3. Jenny Says:

    Really like this post and the thought of it being like a labyrinth. The whole discussion inspired me to my own post quoting you, hope you don’t mind. http://jenmum.wordpress.com/2012/05/02/on-balancing-out/

  4. pajamamommas Says:

    This stuff is hardhardhard. It is so wonderful to have kids and to share so much time and energy to share with them. And yet, it makes it hard to have any time/energy left for oneself.
    It sounds like you have some ideas for what would help (time on your own, time to write, etc)–can you try putting one or all of those into practice for a while and see if it makes things feel better? I also wonder if finding some grown-up friends in your new city will help–no wonder it feels like your whole world is the kids, when they ARE your whole world at the moment. Maybe chat up other parents at the playground/library/etc? Or go out one evening a week to some sort of grown-up class/workshop/activity?

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