Apparently, by the time we reach “Mom age,” our tastes are supposed to have changed. We’re supposed to like meeting our other mom friends for coffee after the kids get off to school, dressing our children up in matchy-matchy outfits, and shopping for garden art.
Yeah….I’m NOT that kind of Mom.
What I am is a Mom who will kick your ass if you mess with her family – including her dogs. I’m a Mom who takes Krav Maga classes and teaches people to scuba dive. And, most of all, I’m a Mom who’s teaching my son that experiences, not things, are the most important belongings.
But for every Mom I meet who seems to want nothing more than to talk about their children, I meet a Mom whose backstory is absolutely incredible. (*Side note – I’m always amazed and a little jealous of the women I meet who knew they were meant to be Moms from childhood. I just didn’t.) From military service to international travel to professional dancing, I’ve met Moms who gave up way too much of what they loved when they had kids.
Of course, there’s going to be some of that – I can’t drop everything on a Friday and fly to Vegas anymore as I did on occasion before marriage and children. But what’s breaking my heart is the extent to which, myself included, the Moms I know gave up things they were passionate about, things that made them feel alive. Is it any wonder, then, that more than 30% of married women with children in their 30s and 40s have a diagnosed anxiety disorder?
Giving Up “You” to Have Kids is a Myth
Do you truly believe that it’s necessary to give up your needs in order to raise children? Maybe that’s part of the problem – we’re raised to believe that! Think about it for a moment…in traditional cultures, even back to hunter/gatherer days…did the women stop doing all of their other work to raise children? I don’t think they had that luxury – but I also don’t think that they considered their contribution to society complete once they’d had children.
Yes, you may have to adjust some of your hobbies, or the expression of things you’re passionate about, for a time while your children are little. But if you’re dropping them entirely, you’re running the risk of starving your soul – skipping out on the things that really make you, YOU.
But, once you have met your children’s basic needs – food, shelter, medical care, you also have a responsibility to model life for them. All too often, this idea falls behind the oft-discussed ‘mommy guilt’ – where Mom feels bad anytime she does anything that doesn’t involve the children, whether it be going to work or going out with the girls.
I don’t know about you, but I want my son to grow up knowing that it’s okay to pursue his passion, instead of just pursuing a career that pays well. And, no matter how many times I tell him that, it won’t speak nearly as loudly as simply modeling this behavior myself.
We’re Depriving Our Kids of Well-Rounded, Badass Female Role Models
The single biggest reason you need to be pursuing your passions even as you raise amazing children? Imagine a world where our children watch as Dad goes to work every day and goes golfing, fishing or playing poker with the guys on the weekends. Mom, instead, always stays with the kids; leaving the kids with the impression that, while Dad has other interests, Mom is just…well, Mom.
I don’t want my son to grow up expecting the women around him to have no other interests beyond motherhood. I hope he’ll want a woman by his side in life that pursues her own interests and has a zeal for life. By showing him that, by modeling these behaviors myself, I can help promote balance for future generations, instead of old, outdated ideas about male and female roles.
This is part of our legacy, right now – leaving behind progeny who pursue their passions and follow their dreams, regardless of whether they fall into accepted norms.
So the next time you’re feeling guilty about enrolling in a painting class and leaving the little ones home with Dad, don’t – instead, show them that Mom has a full, well-rounded personality and interests too. And if you can take the little ones along on part of that journey? All the better!
I promise you’ll come back to your chlidren happier and re-energized.
Funny, I was interrupted reading your post to go help hold one end of a long board my wife was cutting on her table saw. She is building some shelves to go in one of our kid’s house. Our kids are grown but when we were raising them they got to watch her add on to our house with a whole second story. They know she can outrun me in marathons, out shoot me on the gun range and has a way better win/loss record on her tennis teams than I do. She even out bass fishes me. Come to think of it skiing might be the only thing I’m better at! She has modeled for our son and two daughters that she has her own life and is her own person. She was a great mom, still is, but she never made her whole life to be about them, or about me. We are very lucky to have her!