They say there are three things extremely hard in life: Steel, Diamond and Self discovery.
Parenting can be so fulfilling and rewarding that we often immerse ourselves totally in the exciting waters of school runs, wiping running noses, loving, making endless dinner / breakfast, settling squabbles, etc while trying not to forget our names through it all.
I remember how much I looked forward to being a mom, soon after signing my name away to cleave to hubby. You know, making that transition into parent-hood can be so magically beautiful, life-changing and disorienting all at the same time.
Sometimes you think you have it all figured out and this is all you have been waiting for all your life and the next minute, you are asking what hurricane hit you, sweeping all your ‘old’ (pre-parenting) dreams and aspirations away.
Completely life changing so much that we sometimes forget (except for a few exceptions) what we were like ‘pre-kids’, it all become so hazy and everything now revolves around our little patters and thumps.
The haziness may soon turn to a loss of identity.
With our space and privacy went our identities on this journey of chaotic bliss.
I mean we cannot even use the toilet in solitude anymore without the little ones coming right after us…arguing behind the door, trying to drown each other’s voice…to report each other…to get heard across the slightly open door…
Smelly bliss. Noisy bliss.
As much as I like to see myself as having transitioned nicely and having a good grip on all the balls I pretend to juggle, life has never been the same since my little munchkins came.
My boss at work can testify to that!
My ‘friends’ have a greater testimony as I have lost all save one or two! I simply lost touch with the real world and across the screen is as much contact as I could muster -‘post-kids’.
Truth is we are always so close to losing touch with the real world and even when we just manage to perfectly do the balancing act, the guilt, doubts and uncertainties are our constant companions.
In this quagmire, none is left out -stay at home parents or working parents. And talking about SAHMs / SAHDs, I always mentally doff my hat!
For any mom or dad to choose to willingly set aside their careers or to creatively contrive to work from home or to work flexible hours in order to be at home with / for their children is a laudable lesson in sacrificial love.
Yeah, I know. We do not feel like we are doing anything special. But we are.
This does not preclude the full time working mom / dads who have little or no option than to keep working away from home.
Either way, these sacrifices often come with a loss of identity.
We become our children. Our children are us. Our lives intersect, they become intertwined.
We live and breathe sweet smells of baby oil, sweats from hard play (if you have a couple of hard-playing little ones), thrown up cereals, poos…arghh
For one, ‘stay at home’ parents might become plagued with a sense of identity loss and guilt.
Guilt at ‘discarding’ their professional qualifications and career pursuits while friends are making giant strides, not contributing financially as much as they want to the family’s upkeep, etc.
And full time working ones (like me) constantly battle with acute guilt at dropping the kids off at the play center even while they are meant to be on holidays, struggling not to cry as they kick against going anywhere near school when they are supposed to be on holidays, carrying their (temporarily) down cast countenances with me all day and wishing I could just pull out and be with my boys all day!
Ironically, my very good friend who is a stay at home mom is desperately craving to leave home and do something more ‘meaningful’ with her life and education while I desperately crave a 6-figure job that would enable me be around my children, every second.
We both struggle with a sense of guilt. And (maybe) some form of identity crisis.
That goes to show that no situation is perfect. Maybe we really cannot have it all. But one thing we (can) have is our identity. Who we are.
As our little ones grow up and slightly away from us in their independence, we can only hope that all we have been through have succeeded in making us better, stronger, wiser and happier as humans, first and as parents, second.
We really do have a choice.
A choice to redefine ourselves, our values, our beliefs. A choice to have our identity back. Self discovery.
A choice to re-discover our identity or to refine where it has never been lost.
Journey To Self Discovery : 6 Routes to Try Today
Here are suggested routes to try on our journey to self discovery:
- Re-discover your passion besides changing diapers -think: swimming, writing, golfing, sports and all of those positive stuffs that used to keep the adrenaline pumping.
- Devote some time to nurturing your dream – this dream may take the form of writing, starting an NGO, launching a clothing line, getting an additional degree, etc
- Schedule time-offs for yourself ONLY, and adhere strictly to it – for your well being.
I have a friend who recently mentioned to me that she gives herself time-off, everyday. I never thought it possible to actually shut the door on my little ones and simply be ME, for 2 minutes!
But she opened my eyes to that. I do not even want to rationalise that it is easier for her because she has two hands-on aides / nanny to keep her little ones busy while she’s in her ‘me-zone’. I do not have anyone with me but I daresay it can be achieved if we want it.
Just 15 minutes of me-time, every day.
PS: Escaping to the toilet does not even count here.
- Take Care of yourself: take some time off and pamper yourself. Visit the SPA (I have been longing to do this for 3 years running…), get some manicure and pedicure done. take care of your body. Buy some new feel-good clothes, shoes, whatever makes you feel happy and alive…be nice to your self.
- Do something new, something that matters to you a great deal…other than being a referee.
- Start a new business if you are inclined. Explore, try, fail, try again and again until you succeed at it.
We may re-discover our identity through doing some of the above highlighted routes and other stuffs that matter to us as opposed to what the society dictates or what our mummy brain imprints on our minds to do.
As preposterous as this may sound, in order to nurture our little ones successfully, we need to put ourselves first, nurture ourselves -first.
For instance, our mummy (parent) brain would hardly give us a break from our 24-7 job of nurturing our little ones, even while they are at school and we are at work (at home or away), we never really take a break from thinking, worrying and caring!
To give our best, an easy way might be through regaining our identity (if we manage to lose them like we are wont to do)
When a child is born, a parent is also born. They never existed before. The wo(man) existed before, but the parent, never. A parent is absolutely new (paraphrased from Bhagwan Ranjeesh)