How I learned to rediscover myself in the chaos of parenting
Becoming a parent for the first time was an experience unlike any other. It was a decision that I made willingly, with open arms and a heart full of excitement. It wasn’t something forced upon me, but rather a journey that I readily succumbed to and relished from the very beginning. And although the journey has been filled with ups and downs, one thing remains constant – my love for my child.
As a new parent, I found myself making countless compromises for the sake of my child’s wellbeing. From sleepless nights to forgo-ed career plans, the sacrifices were many. But each one was made willingly, without hesitation, and with the knowledge that they were all in the best interest of my little one.
In my quest to be the perfect parent, I started letting go of the things that once defined me. I stopped going out with friends, stopped pursuing my hobbies, and even stopped taking care of myself. I became so consumed with my role as a mother that I lost sight of who I was as a person, without even realising it.
Over the years, our family grew from us three to us five and so did my commitment to be the perfect parent my children needed, or rather I should say, an idea of what I thought a perfect parent should be. I was so focused on being the best parent I could be that I forgot about the person I was before having children. And the worst part is, I was ok with it. I assumed it came with the territory. It’s easy to fall into the trap of comparing ourselves to other parents or feeling like we need to conform to certain standards.
So how did that train stop for me? One day, I was having a conversation with my 10-year-old daughter about how talented she was and how she could contribute to society in a meaningful way. I was subtly trying to teach her about gender equality and how important it was for women to be active and successful in the world. But then, to my surprise, she turned to me and asked me how I was achieving that as a person. I was stunned. I realised I had been so focused on teaching her about these values that I hadn’t taken a moment to reflect on how I was living them myself. I felt like I was the worst role model for my kids and it was gut-wrenching to come to this stark realisation. As much as I want my children to feel and relish the joy motherhood brings, I would never wish for them to lose themselves in its fold and forget who they are as a person.
It was a wake-up call for me. I knew that if I wanted my daughter to grow up to be a strong, independent woman, I needed to be a role model for her. I needed to show her that it was possible to pursue her dreams, contribute to society, and still be a devoted parent.
So, I started to make some changes in my life. It was a gradual process, but I started by taking small steps. I went out with friends again, even if it was just for an hour or two every fortnight. I started carving out time for myself, whether it was taking a long bath or reading a book. I started volunteering in my community and took up yoga as a self-care practice. I picked up my hobbies again and even found new ones that I never thought I had an interest in before!
And the funny thing is, as I started to reclaim my identity, I found that it made me a better parent. I was happier, more fulfilled, and had more energy to give to my kids. I started to realise that being a parent wasn’t about sacrificing everything for your children, but rather finding a balance between your own needs and your children’s needs. So, I made sure to set aside time for self-care and personal growth, knowing that a healthy and fulfilled parent was the best example I could set for my daughter.
It wasn’t always easy, and there were times when I struggled to balance my responsibilities as a parent with my own aspirations. But each time I felt overwhelmed, I thought back to that conversation with my daughter and reminded myself of the example I wanted to set for her.
I embrace both my identity and my role as a mother. I’ve learned that it’s possible to have both, and that being a parent doesn’t have to mean giving up who you are. It’s a journey of self-discovery and one that I’m grateful to have experienced.
I find it so ironic that something that caused me to lose my identity ended up being the catalyst for me to reclaim it eventually. My daughter has not only brought light into my world but she’s also helped me rediscover a missing piece of my heart that was essential for my personal growth and happiness.
I learnt that it’s important to remember that being a good parent doesn’t mean sacrificing your own identity and dreams. In fact, pursuing your own passions and taking care of yourself can make you an even better parent.
As the writer Joyce Maynard once said, “It’s not only children who grow. Parents do, too. As much as we want to see what our children do with their lives, they are watching us see what we do with ours. I can’t tell my children to reach for the sun. All I can do is reach for it myself.”
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