Finding Balance: Being a Mom While Still Being Me

A couple of weeks ago, I was having a moment. I really wanted to express to my sons how much they mean to me, and I needed to write them a sort of love letter. img_7960I hope they always will know how much I am truly obsessed with them. With that said, today I wanted to address a different side of motherhood. Something that I’ve learned in my eight years of motherhood that I feel is extremely important and adds value to their lives, as well as mine.

As moms, it’s crazy how much of our days and our minds are constantly consumed by our babies. Even now, I’m scribbling away, trying to wrangle my thoughts, in between trying to feed my toddler macaroni and cheese that I’ve already had to reheat twice. If I seem like I’m a little all over the place, I probably am. Everyday, from the moment they open their little eyes, my brain is a never-ending, and never completed to do list. Change the baby, get Levi in the shower, take him to school, feed the baby breakfast, start a load of laundry, remember to put it in the dryer. What bills did I need to pay today? What did I need at the store? When was his dentist appointment? When was it I was supposed to send marshmallows to school? Do we have baseball practice tonight?img_7961 I’ll spare you more, but these are just some of the daily checklists that I go through before 9 a.m. Our mom brains are always going in a million directions, and we manage to control the overwhelm to the best of our ability, because of the massive amount of love we have for our kids.

I’ve been managing the mom chaos for over eight years now, and most days I still can’t believe I’m legally allowed to be in charge of other human beings. I’m absolutely positive that there are many, many things I still have yet to learn. I’m sure at this point, I’ve not seen the best or the worst of motherhood. But one thing I’m trying to remind myself of everyday, is that while it’s natural for my life to mostly revolve around my kids, it’s still important to remember that I’m a person, not just a mom.

Before those precious little boys came into this world, bloody and screaming, I was a real person. I had friends, and hobbies, and things that made me, me. I don’t know how it happened, but I suspect like most things, it was a slow erosion over time. At some point, I became so wrapped up in my new role, that I eventually just pushed the things that I liked to the side, because I just “didn’t have time.” Or I, “didn’t have the energy.” Or I felt guilty for not spending every possible second with my boys. Curse you mom guilt. The first time I realized that I was losing sight of who I was, was after my divorce. My days had been filled with Levi and work for the past 3 years.img_7959 During the week, Levi would go to be with his dad on the days I was working, since I worked twelve hour shifts, and then every other weekend. It was those weekends that were the worst! I had no idea what to do with myself. I would sit at home, by myself, in my quiet little apartment. For a while I would catch up on movies or scroll through Facebook, but after a few months, I was completely lost. I had forgotten in those short three years what I used to do for fun, and I was bored to tears.

I remember when I first started going to the gym, a few months after my almost 2 year old, Tyson, was born. I was going to Planet Fitness, which was the perfect price, but also meant no child care. That wasn’t a problem with Levi, because he was in school, but I had to find somebody to watch the little guy. Thank God for my mom during this time, or I don’t know how I ever would’ve made it. Even though my mom was happy to help, the inevitable mom guilt would still creep in from time to time. I would tell myself, “You’ve been at work for the past two days, you should really be home with him,” or, “you really don’t have time for this, you’ve got so much laundry to do when you get home.” Even though every other second of my day would revolve around someone needing their butt wiped, or someone screaming for milk, or someone chucking a ball at the side of my head, I still felt like taking this one hour out of my day for myself was somehow selfish.

I really had to train myself to look at things objectively and realistically. I had to remind myself over and over that I needed to have that time for myself, not only because I was obese and physically hurting my body, but also because I needed that mental reset to be a happier, less stressed out me for them. And really one hour out of twenty four is still pretty heavily in their favor.

I want my boys to grow up knowing that their mom as a real person, that I’m not just their mom. I want them to know that although they and their dad make me extremely happy, so do other things. I want them to know that I like watching funny movies, and movies based on true stories. I love writing, reading the classics and random personal development books. I love spending my free time going to the gym, img_7875and learning how to make things. I want them to see me accomplish things and set new goals, so that they can take that as permission to do the same when they grow up.

The further I get into motherhood, the busier life gets, and the more I have to make an actual conscious effort to make those things that make me happy a priority. If I don’t find a few minutes to go to the gym or learn about something I’m interested in, the day can so easily get away from me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about going out clubbing every weekend or getting plastered at a bar somewhere. I’m talking about making time for the things that you do by yourself, for yourself.

If you’ve found yourself just kind of slogging through the day, moving from one task to the next, until you throw your unwashed greasy head into bed at night, I totally get it. It amazes me how we can be so busy, stressed, devoted, and bored all at the same time. But I think it happens a lot. I really encourage you to figure out how to steal little bits of time for yourself. Whatever it is that makes you lose track of time, or forget to check your phone, do that! If it’s been so long you can’t even remember, maybe think about the things you enjoyed doing when you were a kid. For me it’s reading and writing. I loved reading when I was a little girl, and used to write little stories with illustrations for my mom to read. If I can remember correctly, mysteries were a favorite of mine to write. I also, like many other little girls, loved to color. Why do you think adult coloring books are so popular now? Even if you can only find twenty minutes to read a book while you’re sitting in the school pickup line, kudos to you for making time for being you!

Going to the gym has also become one of those things that helps me feel like myself. I go in with greasy hair, covered in someone else’s snot and slobber. But I put in my headphones, blast my non kid-friendly playlist,img_7962 and walk out feeling like Wonder Woman. Even though I’m still covered in oil and saliva, I convince myself it’s sweat and walk out of there like I’m The Rock. That is, if The Rock had a baby on his hip. Details.

So please by all means keep being the awesome mom and caregiver you are, but really try to find small moments to remember that you’re also a person, a woman, a friend, a writer, a reader, a painter, a poet, a knitter, a lifter, a yogi, a hiker, a photographer, a gardener, a baker, or a candlestick maker.

A Love Letter to My Sons

Anyone who knows me, knows that I’m not an extremely emotional person. After years of working in Labor and Delivery, I’ve gotten pretty accustomed to pushing my feelings to the side, so that I can focus on the task at hand. But I think when a young person tragically loses their life, especially a young mother, you can’t help but feel the weight of it. It’s only been a few short days since this tragedy hit my community again. We were only acquaintances in high school, but I know she was very loved by those that knew her best. I think when something so devastating happens to someone your age, with children the same age as your children, it’s only a matter of time until you think about how easily it could’ve been you.

Becoming a mother is scary. I think from the moment you see those two pink lines, along with the joy and excitement, comes this terrifying fear about every minuscule thing that could go wrong. From ultrasounds, to the fear of birth defects, to obliterating your most tender areas during childbirth, the list goes on and on. You make it through pregnancy and BAM! A whole new list! What if they see something on TV that scars them for life? What if he grows up and blames me for every one of his shortcomings and neurosis? What if I’m remembered as the tyrant mother, who never let them do anything fun?

For some reason when I became a mom, from time to time (usually when I would hear of the passing of another young mom), another fear would pop in my head. What if something happens to me, and they’re too young to really remember me? What if they don’t remember how it feels for me to cuddle with them before bed? What if they don’t remember how I sing in the car, or how I smell when I first wake up in the morning? I’m so sorry this isn’t my typical post about weight loss or diet mindset, I just really felt like I needed to express to my beautiful sons what they mean to me. And I didn’t want it to get lost in a notebook, or tucked away in a drawer where they may never find it.

Tonight as I was driving home from baseball practice, I looked in my rearview mirror that is permanently positioned on my son’s face instead of the road.img_7582 I saw his big blue eyes staring back at me. Even though we’ve looked at each other like this a million times, tonight when I saw those long eyelashes, and those two middle fingers glued in his mouth, I immediately thought, “The hope of you changed my life.”

Like I said before, I’m not a very emotional person, so this really came out of nowhere and smacked me right in the face. I thought about how blessed I am to have two healthy little boys that call me Mommy, and felt that I needed to find a way to tell them how special they are to me, because I may not always be here to tell them.

Phew, get the tissues ready.

To Levi

You changed my whole world from the moment I even realized I needed you. I ached for you to be mine. img_6221Before you were ever conceived, you were the only thing my mind could focus on for months. You came into my life and completely changed it forever. You turned me into a completely new creature, you made me a mother.

I love your fearlessness, your strongwill, and your huge imagination. I love how you’re growing into a big boy, but still sometimes want to be my baby. I love how you know all the words to every Michael Jackson song ever written, and I love when you still want me to snuggle you before bed. I love my life because you’re in it. You impact every day, every thought, and every decision of my life.img_6704 There will be times when you’re mad at me, and I’m frustrated with you, but I want you to know that I love you with every part of me. I’m so proud to be your mom, and I can’t wait to see what you become.

To Tyson

I haven’t known you for as long, but you’re revealing more of your wonderful personality to me everyday. img_6742You were the baby I wasn’t sure I would ever have, but the dream of you changed my whole life. I ached for you, just like I did for Levi. When I was told I couldn’t have you, it flipped my whole world upside down. I became a single mom, and the possibility of you seemed like it was getting dimmer everyday. And then like magic, I met your Daddy. We fell in love, and he wanted you just as much as I did.

I love your big blue eyes, and your sweet little toes. I love the sound of you running through the house yelling, “SHOOT!” I love the way you can’t fall asleep without holding your belly button, and I love how you say, “Ah Boo,” (“Love You”) when I lay you down at night. img_6041I love how you make silly faces and how you whisper to make people laugh. Even when you’re screaming in the car like a lunatic, I want you to know that I still see an angel looking at me in the rearview mirror. I’m blessed to be your Mommy, and I’m so happy you’re finally here.

My love for these little boys is beyond description. I grew them inside of me, and I’m forever connected to them. And then God blessed me with a bonus, Carson.

To Carson

You came into my life as a five year old, well beyond your years. You have your own Mom, that is forever bonded to you and loves you like I love Levi and Tyson. But God saw fit to let me create a life with your Dad and with you and now your little brother. I love that I’m able to be a witness to your life, your Mom and Dad are doing a remarkable job with you.img_5318-e1520996614630.jpg I love how smart and curious you are. I love how you can name every player, in every position, on every NBA team, that ever graced the court. I love how you talk in your sleep and hum in the shower. I love how you always try to do your absolute best at everything you do. And I love how much you love your Dad and your baby brother. I love that I get to be a part of your life, and I know you’re going to do great things.

I know this post had nothing really to do with weight loss, but these little boys are why I get up in the morning. They’re why i’m always striving to do better, and to be better. Everything I am is because of them, including being a swollen faced, sobbing mess right now. I just want them to not have to rely on their memories to know how I feel about each one of them, but to read my words, from my heart, and know how much they are loved.