I am a chef, chauffuer, crisis counselor, event planner, playdate organizer, extracurricular scheduler. I wake up to panic that we forgot to turn in the field trip permission slip, and I fall asleep to worries that our recent move might not have been the best thing for them. I kiss injuries, wipe dirty noses, bake surprise cookies, break up sibling fights, and assist with homework meltdowns. And most of the time, I am grateful… “How did I get so lucky to be their mom?” I wonder, sometimes aloud.
But other times, I am filled with doubt and longing. The other day, I was on a walk with my mom (and double stroller with kids). And I asked her, is this IT for me? After a childhood full of dreams and career goals, and an extensive education that cost blood, sweat, tears, and excessive student loans, is this really how I am supposed to live my life? I was not a little girl who dreamed of being a mother. Every “what I want to be” worksheet had a proud picture of a doctor blasted across it. And here I am, not in an operating room, but deep in the trenches of motherhood. This is where I choose to be, this is where I WANT to be. But is this it for me?
And she stopped me and told me that this is a season. That I am still that eager little kid, with grand plans and zest for life. That the work I am doing right now is profound, but that it is temporary. And in the midst of diapers and drippy noses and belly laughs, I can still nurture myself.
And so I did something drastic and impulsive (as drastic an impulsive as one can be in the midst of motherhood). I went on amazon, and I bought a guitar. Weird. I am not musical. I took guitar lessons as a little kid, and I remember none of it. I bought blindly… 4.5 star review? Sold. And when the box arrived two days later, I pulled it out with nervous hands and absolute uncertainty. And I announced to the kids that this guitar belongs only to mommy. That it is my toy, and that I am going to try to very hard to learn to play so that we can make music as a family.
Each day I carve out 20 minutes of time for my “lessons”. I found an excellent free program online, and I strum away to the lessons. Occasionally, I am interrupted to fill a sippy cup or change a diaper or help with a difficult homework problem. But most of the time, they respect my time and watch from a distance as I teach myself something unrelated to motherhood.
The coolest part? Most afternoons, when the older ones are home from school, we head into the backyard. I lay down a blanket in a sunny part of the grass, and I bring snacks and my guitar. And I practice. Despite the fact that I am usually repeating the same song 20 times, and the fact that I have a horrific voice (apologies to my neighbors), they gather round. The older two bring their homework out, and work on it beside me, and the little ones snack and play around the grass. And it is magical. Because I am doing it for myself, but it is still blessing my family.
Want to nurture the “you” in mom? Take a risk and try one of these:
- Learn a new art medium… pastels, watercolors, ceramics. Research online classes or check out an introductory book from the library.
- Become a writer. Only tools needed – a beautiful journal, a pen, and some quiet time.
- Become a student of photography. Second-hand dSLRs are extremely reasonable. My all-time favorite book is
- Dive into the culinary arts. Experiment with a new cookbook or a new type of cuisine.
- Challenge yourself to a new exercise routine. Not a runner? Train for a 5K. There are amazing free apps to support this goal.
- Study the art of meditation. Rise an hour earlier each morning to meditate.
- Learn to sew. Dust off your mom’s old machine, check out a library book, and go to town.
Who knows? Nurturing yourself may light a fire you forgot was there, and may inspire your kids in ways you never knew.