I became a mom for the first time 13 years ago. As soon as my daughter was born it became 100 percent about her. My whole life changed in an instant. I now had a little human being that needed me in order to survive, so my life became consumed with being a mom.
I jumped right into mom life. I even started wearing mom jeans complete with the mom inverted bob haircut, yes you read that right, I had “Karen hair.” I felt like I was ready to take on the world.
For three years it was all about Cadence. Everything I did revolved around her. I was the doting mom on Facebook who posted cute pictures of her every five minutes. And then I became pregnant with Nathan. When you insert a second child into the mix you really have to step up your mom game. Not only did I have one child to focus on, I had two. Suddenly my inverted bob switched to a pixie cut and my mom jeans became leggings. I was Steph the mom, but what happened to Steph the person?
Oftentimes when you become a mom you get so busy taking care of everyone else that you forget to take care of yourself. Your whole identity changes. You get busier than you have ever been in your life. And you forget about things. You forget to shower, you sometimes forget to change from yesterday’s clothes, you get so busy with the baby that you forget to eat. You forget about you.
It may take years to realize that you have forgotten about yourself. I know it did for me. But when you finally break out of that mom cocoon it can feel refreshing to finally do something for yourself. It can be as simple as sitting down for 30 minutes to read a book or as elaborate as taking a kid free vacation to recharge your batteries. The reason I am writing this is to remind you that in the middle of the chaos, spit up, and dirty hair, you are in fact a person. You are still you.
Now that my children are older and don’t need me as much, I have embraced the Steph that I used to be. I have been able to go out without my children or make coffee dates with my friends, well, when we’re not in the middle of a pandemic anyway. I can go to the store by myself and buy something for me without also picking up a pack of diapers. It’s not all about bottles and spit up anymore. It’s about living your life and remembering who you were before you earned the title of mom.
Now, I don’t want this column to sound like I have left my kids on the side of the road and started thinking only about myself. Obviously, that is not true, my life is still centered on being a mom but I have learned you can be a mom at the same time as being a person with interests and hobbies. Don’t forget about the things you used to like. Just tweak them a bit to fit into your life as a mom.
Being a mom is like a juggling act. You juggle schedules, feedings, diaper changes, school, and extracurricular activities. But don’t forget to throw in another ball that includes taking care of you. You can’t be an effective mom if you leave yourself behind. Wake up earlier than your children so you can have a moment of free time, get that pedicure you’ve been dreaming about for months, go on that coffee date, take that shower. Don’t let yourself be left behind just because you have a new title of mom.
Being a mom lasts a lifetime. But remember you also have a life outside of that role. You are a person, you are not forgotten, you are important, and you have purpose. It is possible to be both Steph the mom and Steph the 36-year-old woman who likes to have a drink with a friend every now and then. Don’t feel guilty about hiring that babysitter. Your physical and mental health are worth it.
Steph Hightree is a hot mess mom who is fueled by stress and too much caffeine. She is a Three Rivers native who talks about the good, the bad, and well, everything else about parenthood.
Any views or opinions expressed in “#MomLife” are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Watershed Voice staff or its board of directors.