May 10, 2022 10 min read
Pop quiz. Which roles of mothers describe you?
If you picked more than two, chances are you’re also feeling like you’re doing all the things. There’s a sense of pride that goes with that feeling. You might feel like a supermom juggling all the roles that were automatically assigned on the day your little one was born.
You willingly took on all those new roles, without a second thought, and instantly your introduction changed from ‘Hi, I’m Ali’ to ‘Hi, I’m Juniper’s mom.’
Which reminds me of a random encounter at the soccer field last week. I ran into a mom who I hadn’t seen in a while, and our conversation started like this:
Me: Hi! It’s been a hot minute, how are things going in your world?
Her: Oh, you know. We’re here and there, still doing all the things.
All. The. Things.
Those three little words, packed so full of meaning, that make my blood pressure rise. They’ve become a badge of honor. Identifying a mom who slingshots between multiple roles and versions of herself, compared to a mom who…doesn’t?
Please don’t whip your pureed applesauce at me as I say this, but I think it’s time moms stop playing the role of martyr. Like it’s shameful to ask for help. Or we should feel guilty for not being somewhere, or for not doing something.
We can get so busy doing all the things, that we lose track of who we really are. We can get so wrapped up in our kids, our babies, that we forget what life was like before they changed our world.
It’s perfectly ok if today’s version of ourselves is one we love (I wouldn’t trade my role as mom for the world), but it’s also ok to miss the version of you that existed before babies.
Do you remember you?
I loved to travel. I loved spontaneity. I loved watching smut reality shows. I hated wearing shorts and battled with my curly hair. I’m a mom, but I'm also many other things.
Your turn. It’s high time you re-introduce yourself to the world.
So if you secretly want to ditch some of your roles as a mother, or if you want to re-commit to finding back your sense of self, you’re in the right spot. I’ve got tips that will help you reprioritize, so you can live a happier life as mom.
You don’t have to be all the things. You just have to be you.
When we spread ourselves so thin, are we really accomplishing what we set out to do?
Back in grade school, my 2nd grade teacher taught us that food, shelter, and clothing are necessities (and maybe water, my brain has aged). Everything else is just fluff. Which makes me wonder, how many of the things I do each day are just ‘fluff’.
I’ve racked my brain, and polled my mom village, and we’ve come up with a list of roles for moms that we often identify with. I’m challenging you to go through, and tally up how many you relate to. What do you need to be doing, what do you want to do, and what can you let go of?
I’m curious…when it comes to roles of mothers, how many did you check off? How many did you realize that you’re doing, without giving yourself credit?
But let’s dive into this from another perspective.
For a Mother’s Day craft at school, my youngest answered a series of questions about me, and wrote his responses. Here’s how that went…
Sure. I do enjoy my job, the bedtime series we’re reading is pretty entertaining, and I clean more than any other Fulcher in my home.
But is this how I want my kids to remember me? No so much. Not at all for that matter.
From the vantage point of a 7 year old, motherhood is basic. Explained with a single word. Or the things that our kids like, are assumed to be the things that we like.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not bashing my sweet, sweet child. I’m merely pointing out that what’s important to moms, doesn’t always align with what the family sees.
While other moms recognize the effort that goes into momming, our kids don’t necessarily share that perspective. Instead, they boil the roles of mothers down to these:
For now, my boys would much rather have me building a fort, taking them out for a walk or for ice cream, or shooting off stomp rockets. Instead, I’m doing the dishes, folding the laundry, and packing lunches for school the next day. Dare I say it. Doing all the things.
Except for those things that are actually going to matter in 15 years, when my house is quiet and my kids are grown. The things they actually might remember, more so than things like me being the best toilet scrubber alive.
You’re probably thinking, ‘but Ali, it still all needs to get done.’ And you’d be right, my friend!
But before we get to the strategies that will help you reprioritize your day, I want to let you in on a secret...
You might be wondering if it really matters how your kids view you. Or maybe you run a tight ship, and a clean home is super important to you. And that’s totally fine.
I’m not here to convince you to throw your current routine to the wind. Rather, I’m encouraging you to remember who you were before kids entered your life. To realize that someday when your kids are grown, life is going to look a whole lot sweeter if you have an identity other than ‘mom’ to enjoy.
Here are 3 reasons why that matters.
I truly believe that kids model the behaviors they see. If they see mom cooking, cleaning, working tirelessly, that’s who they’ll become. While those are all great skills to have, there’s so much more for our kids to get out of life. We’d be remiss if we didn’t show them that it’s perfectly acceptable to engage in a little fun on occasion.
We’re not raising little working robots. We’re raising little humans who will someday run the world. Let’s give them better examples of how to work together, how to enjoy life, and how to marry the two.
I’m sure you’ve seen a sitcom or two, when the kids grow up and leave the nest. The parents left behind can hardly stand each other, and they’ve got nothing in common anymore. Imagine how your future looks if you’re so busy being chauffeur, chef, lifeguard, etc.
If you’re able to find purpose outside of motherhood, you’ll be on much stronger footing when the day comes for your kids to head off into the world. We’re not raising little needy monsters. We’re raising little humans to be independent, capable adults.
Now picture even farther into the future, when your kids come back to visit, maybe with their own families. Are they still bringing you their dirty laundry? Do they still think cleaning is the best thing you do all day?
When we hide or bury our authentic selves, we’re damaging the future relationships with our kids.We’re not raising kids with tunnel vision or with a warped view of what parenthood is. We’re raising kids who see the full picture, good, bad, and ugly.
Ready for those strategies? Let’s learn how to reprioritize your day, so you can still accomplish all the things, but in a way that’s healthy, and that will remind your kids that you’re more than just ‘mom.’
I want you to know that you are the one who defines motherhood. Your version of it can look like whatever you choose. Whether you decide to go all-in on these strategies, or pick and choose, the beauty of it is that you’re in charge:
As moms, we’re constantly telling our kids, ‘you have 5 more minutes.’ What would your day look like if you took 10 of those minutes to do something that you used to love. Or to find something new that you could love just as much. It might be reading, doing yoga, taking a walk, or painting.
Think about it. Are you more likely to find 10 minutes to pursue an interest at 5 different times this week, or to find 1 slot of 50 minutes. Baby steps.
Although this may be age dependent, there will be a day when your babies become capable of helping around the house. Let them. It might take longer in the beginning, but they’ll learn, and will be so proud of their accomplishments.
You can even find ways to make everyday chores fun, and it starts to feel more like quality time together than checking off another box. Try weeding the garden together, washing the car in swimsuits, doing dishes with a silly dance, or turn your laundry basket into a race car once it’s empty.
Not to be morbid, but stop to really think about how you want your kids to remember you. Jot it down, I’ll wait.
Mom was a really great cook, she could scrub the dirt off anything, and really killed spaghetti stains. Or… mom made it a point to enjoy life with us, she rocked a mean air guitar, and kicked butt at corn hole.
I can about guarantee this one will put things in perspective.
Whether with your partner, or a group of friends, take time to connect with someone outside of the roles of motherhood. Trust me when I say that you’ll come back feeling refreshed, rejuvenated, and ready to dive back into motherhood.
Have you heard the phrase ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’? There’s truth to it. Taking a break, even just a shower, can be the breath you need. You might even show back up with more pep in your step, flying through your mom duties with twice the speed.
Not familiar with this? Here’s how it works: you ask yourself ‘what if’ and run through ‘would you rather’ scenarios until you find the answer.
Here it is in action: My youngest asked me to go on a bike ride, right when I hit my stride folding a load of clothes. What if I said no? He’d sulk away and find something else to do. I’d finish the laundry and feel guilty.
What if I said yes? He’d be happy, and I’d be happy that I made him happy. Worst case scenario, the clothes get wrinkly and I have to throw them back in the dryer. Is that the end of the world though?
Would I rather have a child who wants to spend time with me, or neatly folded clothes? In an ideal world I’d have both. But sometimes when we’re doing ‘all the things’ somethings gotta give. And you better believe my kids are more important to me than my laundry.Related: How to Kick Mom Guilt to the Curb
Now who’s ready to reinvent their role of mother?
These roles and strategies came from all different types of moms, but they all have this in common: they’re redefining their roles as mothers and reconnecting with their new identity.
Pick one of the strategies above that feels doable and get started today. A few baby steps will pay off in the long run!
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