Can somebody, anybody tell me when being mom became synonymous with “i have no flippin idea who I am anymore because my days are filled with looking for things I didnt lose and scheduling things for people I dont even like half the time?”
Recently a friend told me to watch Sex/Life on Netflix and as I am watching the show it felt like someone had taken a page from my mental diary (because writing down some of those thoughts on paper would leave too much evidence) and made it play out on the big screen. I seriously felt like there should be someone I could call to tell them that they had stolen my personal property and released it without my permission. Now, before I say anything else… I do love my family. They are a set of the most amazing and frustrating humans I have ever had the pleasure of doing life with HOWEVER, somewhere along this mom and wife journey little pieces of myself got chipped away. Here I am 44 years old and when I do get the chance to have some alone time, I often cannot find things that I like to do just for me and the main reason is that I have no idea what those things are anymore. I get away to get my hair done once a week and that time is usually cut short afterward because I have to get back home to either make dinner or something I promised a week ago to do with a kid. My girlfriends and I have made a pact to get together more often and just let our hair down but even those moments are stolen by talking about our kids or husbands and significant others. Vacations often include the kids, which means I have to think of things to do for multiple age groups, pack the clothes, buy the plane tickets and figure out which hotel has free breakfast that includes gluten-free, dairy-free, dye-free, lemon free options, and a gym. My brain has become so full of dietary needs and daily routines that don't benefit me and calendar invites that it seems to never stop feeling like there is something I am supposed to be doing when there are rare moments that I’m not.
Even my kids think I am “sooo strict” and of course “I just don't understand”. I am the fun killer to them apparently. I don’t ride roller coasters, can't get on things that go too fast because they give me a headache, I can’t drive after it gets too dark because of my eyesight getting blurry, and usually after 2 drinks I am ready to take a nap. When the hell did this become my life? Get up, manage and schedule, work, watch a show on Netflix while folding laundry, and repeat. I used to be the fun one. I used to shut clubs down and be the last one on the dance floor. I have never been a big drinker but I used to be able to handle more than 2 before getting sleepy. I used to have hobbies and love doing things that only involved me. I used to love my own company and know exactly what to do with my free time. I used to find joy in little things and I was the one that my friends came to when it was time to hang out and do something wild. I was the fun patrol leader and could be found dancing on a table (or a pole depending on who you asked) or at the lakefront walking and listening to the waves. I have had sex in my car (several times), in a roped-off construction site (we won’t talk about it), and even in a public pool (I feel like you’re judging me). I had zero inhibitions and would get in my car and drive to Mexico just because I felt like it. Money was not this thing I worried about. If I ate, I ate but there was no pressure to fill a fridge or be concerned about other people’s needs. I did what I wanted with the money I had and was truly happy. I can remember in college 4 of us (2 couples) went to stay in a friend’s lodge in the Dells. Between the 4 of us, we may have had $200. We cooked instant mac n cheese (it was so gross), steamed broccoli in a bag, and some kind of chicken for dinner and considered it a feast. We laughed all night into the morning in a cabin filled with ants and probably other bugs we didn’t notice. We rode go-karts and played games, we walked around and met some very strange people and we watched movies that made us laugh until we cried. It was one of my fondest memories in my young adult life. We didn't care that the place wasn't fancy. We didn’t care that we couldn't afford to do to all of the parks and rides. All we cared about was that we were together and we were having a blast. At the end of the weekend, we drove back to our dorm and lived for the next adventure.
I don't remember being stressed about money. I don't remember being stressed about much besides getting up and going to classes. There was a certain magnetic energy that surrounded me back then. I believed anything was possible and that things would take care of themselves. I didn't worry. I had no responsibilities other than to live the life I had been given. I was at peace and was confident. I was secure with who I was and did not question my decisions. I lived each day as if it was my last but along the way after having my daughter that shifted and I watched pieces of myself get chipped away slowly. I knew it was happening but for some reason as life continued on, I didn't stop or maybe felt I couldn't stop to pick the pieces back up. My life became a routine and here I am 18 years later just existing. Somewhere along the way, I stopped believing I deserved more than that and as I talk to more and more of my girlfriends, they are experiencing the same sense of loss. Is this a normal occurrence in a woman's life?
Somewhere on this journey of mom and wife I lost the right to live. I can't help wondering where did that other girl go? Where did being a mom and wife mean I no longer could be me even come from? When did putting them first mean I no longer existed? I know adulting means that things of the past have to change as well but does adulting mean that you completely lose yourself and all the things that comes with it? The bigger question is how do I get back to her? How do I find the thing that jazzes me again? The thing and space that does not involve my husband nor my children but exists only for me. Find the free headspace that does not include grocery lists and schedules but is only reserved for me and things I like to do and want to think about. Find the passion in my own eyes again. Figure out what things in life I want to do just for me. In what ways do I want to leave the world better than I found it. Watching that show made me realize that I have to find my way back to her. I have to find the path that leads me back to a place of living each day like it is my last and finding the joy in each moment. I have to make the space in my head and encourage these humans in my house to use their own brains. It feels like there is this rule book that moms and wives (maybe just me and not you, I am not projecting) have read that gives us permission to lose ourselves. I honestly want to know where this very idea comes from and how to reverse it. There has to be a line between the responsibilities that come with being a wife and mom and being a woman. Being a woman with the desire to have sex on the moon if I want and at the same time making sure my son’s gluten-free dietary needs are met. I am realizing that my survival as a person depends upon me finding her again and listening to what she wants and needs. Just existing through life and living for other people is no way to live and is the fastest way to hating my life and doing stupid things. So if you see me coming out of a roped off construction zone zipping up my pants, like Tabitha Brown says "that's my business."