This mom gig is no part-time job. It is literally 24/7. Even when I do try to “step away,” I find the hands of motherhood wrapped tightly around me, willing me not to get too far away. I’m reminded of my “momdentity” when I go to grab my wallet and find a half-eaten banana in my purse (maybe that was the kids, maybe that was me… but we’ll blame the kids) or reach for my chapstick and find a bite taken out of it (that was definitely the kid). There are traces of my children all around me, and if it isn’t some visible reminder, there are plenty of other things reminding me of those precious tiny humans who I fiercely love, but desperately need moments apart from as well. When I am away from them, something as simple as the sound of another child laughing or crying can make me feel like I need to drop what I’m doing and run back to them that very second.
When I became a mother, I immediately took on a new identity. In an instant I was no longer, “Kassidy,” I was “Mom.” So, how do I hold on to Kassidy? How do I make sure that she doesn’t get lost in the trenches of motherhood? Well, to sum it up in one word: Self-care. That sounds simple enough, right? Truthfully, it isn’t. It takes intentionality, it takes grace, and it takes awareness. It can feel awfully selfish to leave your kids with someone else to go do something you enjoy. Sometimes I will plan an outing and when it comes down to it I will have this ugly self-dialogue that goes a little something like this, “What kind of mom wishes for time away from her kids? What kind of mom leaves her kids to go get her nails done? You should be saving that money for something more important. Girls night? You should be home tucking your kids in bed.” This is where the awareness part comes in. I hear this voice inside of my own head and I have to put her in her place. I have to tell her to sit down, be nice, and quit being so rude. I am not a bad mom for taking a few hours to myself. I need that time in order to be a more patient and present mother all other times of the day. Those moments that sometimes make me feel like a bad mom are actually the moments that end up making me a better mom when I check back in.
These stretches away from my children remind me of who I am outside of being a mom. Another way I keep my identity is by staying active and keeping a fitness routine. Is this easy? No. Most days I wake up at 4:30am to try and beat the kids awake so I can have some alone time and work on myself. I start with writing down and acknowledging 3 things I am grateful for, I read my devotional, and then I do an at-home workout. This is something I do for me. It is my time. It boosts my energy, challenges me inwardly and outwardly, and gives me confidence. There are days when I have little feet pitter pattering next me doing their own hilarious version of burpees and that’s ok too! My cup is still getting filled.
Another form of self-care and keeping my identity is quiet moments when I allow myself to do whatever I want while the kids nap. 10 times out of 10 there are other things I could and should be doing, but I put them aside and do something I enjoy. Depending on the day, it might be taking a hot bath, taking a guiltless nap, reading a book, eating some ice cream, or just aimlessly creeping on social media. Whatever it is, it allows me to just be me for a bit- to surrender to the demands of motherhood and relax. The sink full of dishes and laundry will still be there, it isn’t the end of the world if I ignore them for a bit in order to keep my sanity.
Keeping my identity outside of “mom” takes intentionality. I know I have to do things I enjoy, which oftentimes takes planning and grace to keep that mom guilt in check. I am not selfish for investing in myself. Afterall, you cannot pour from an empty cup. So, let someone keep your kids for a few hours and go aimlessly wander through Target with a latte with extra whip. Crank the music up and jam out like your high school self would have done. Join a sports league and tap into the competitive side of you that has been dormant for years. Call up an old friend and meet for coffee or a glass of wine (mimosas are acceptable any time of the day, right?). Journal. Read. Learn to knit. Teach yourself how to play the ukulele. Whatever it is, just do something for yourself. Don’t lose yourself in motherhood, you are more than “Mom.”