I have slightly mixed feelings about Mother's Day, which we here in the UK celebrated yesterday. (Even if you don't have children yet, keep reading. Nobody tells you this at the prenatal courses!) Why? Perhaps because I never saw myself only as a mother. Did you ever feel the other aspects of you were neglected, by you or by people around you, after you became a mother? Did you ever think your whole personality was sucked out and is now tightly stuffed into a nappy or a school bag?
It's only now, 5 years after I had my twin boys, I can fully reflect on the shock of becoming a mother. I'm not going to list the exhaustion and physical ruin that motherhood does to you, we've all been there. I'm talking about the loss of identity. It's only now I can fully admit how stressed I was, not because of the demands of motherhood, but because I was struggling to re-establish all the other aspects of being me that I had lost when I became a mother.
The business woman was gone, she completely disappeared from the face of this earth for many years. The sexy girl in fishnet stockings - what happened to her? Or the funny friend that could drink red wine until the sun came up? All those lovely aspects of me disappeared. And the stress that followed has done some lasting damage.
What aspect of your personality did you loose? Did people around you start to put pressure on you to act in a certain way now that you were a mother? Were there things that you were supposed to enjoy just because you had become a mother? Were there things that you weren't allowed to do anymore? Did you throw out fishnet stockings and all-nighters with friends from your repertoire?
I started fighting back. I didn't want to loose all the aspects of being me. I didn't feel complete just being a mother. I didn't think motherhood should destroy the life I had, it should complement it. And the biggest learning for me was that you can't just add the other aspects back as they were. You have to learn to re-build them into your new everyday reality. But build you must if you are to keep your sanity in the long run.
Mother's Day is a great invention. It reminds the society about the work and endless nurturing that mothers do. In our household I don't let my husband arrange any celebrations, however, for one single reason. I'm not his mother. I'd like him to celebrate me as a lover, a friend, a fun person to hang out with, and a person he can share his parenting tasks with. But not a mother.
It's easy to forget all the aspects of being a woman once you have children. You don't even realise your relationship is drifting apart because running a family and having a job makes life so overwhelming. You spend less and less time caring for yourself and doing things that matter to you. And have you really had any time for proper 'me' time and self-growth for many years?
Will putting all your focus on just one area of womanhood bring good results to the very area you want to excel in? Being just a mother and neglecting all the other areas you used to enjoy will end up in a disaster. Over time the relationship suffers, work turns stressful and dull, and your body tells you it's ready to give up.
A day after Mother's Day celebrations I think we mothers should schedule celebrations for all aspects of being a woman, the woman we want to be. Pick up your calendar and mark down The Lover Day. The Friend Day. The Fun Person Day. The Best Friend Day. The Intellect Day. The Business Woman Day. The Sports Personality Day. The Healthy Woman Day. The New Me Day. The Self-growth Day.
What ever you want to be, put a day in your diary now to invest in it. To celebrate it. To get excited about it. If you don't allocate time for doing changes, nothing will actually happen. Creating time and taking action are crucial!
And because being you should be as important as being a mother, the new celebrations should be shared with your loved ones to help them understand how important it is for you to be you.