I recently looked at my husband, not knowing exactly how to articulate my thoughts, and said, “I feel like the most used tool in the tool box, and lately it’s been hard for me to feel like a woman.”
Since November of 2013, I have dedicated my body and mind to growing, loving, and raising our girls. It has been almost four years of pregnancy, nursing, pumping, IVF, and oh yeah, all the day-to-day responsibilities.
The majority of my waking hours are devoted to facilitating life for my two girls. As a mother of a toddler and a four-month old, I feel ultimately useful. If I am not dressing them, playing with them, or wrangling them down for a nap, I am preparing food, nursing, pumping, finally bathing myself, or driving them to a play date. Does this sound familiar to anyone?
Now, if you’re a mother, you know being a mama comes with great joy and an inexplicable amount of growth…
“The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before.” –Osho
…but I have found, with littles, it is very easy to get caught up in the tending to and raising of our children and forget that we are women, too.
Before we were also mothers, we were dancers and singers and painters. Before we were also mothers, we were risk-takers and runners and readers. Before we were also mothers, we were women who laughed and who weren’t afraid of spontaneity.
After our oldest was born, I dealt with some postpartum depression and part of the way I combatted it was to deliberately seek out things that brought me joy: What would make me smile? What did I love to do? What could I do that when finished I would feel great?
Dance. I could dance.
So – I found a dance class and attended regularly. It was a joy-booster. I loved it. With every move I felt my endorphins rise and the stress melting off my body. I shed tears every class because I could feel the rigidity brought about by my ever present “to-do” list breaking apart. It was so good for my spirit that I contoured my life around being able to attend 3-4 times a week.
But then life happened, and we added another sweet baby to our family; and my dancing – my joy-booster – fell through the cracks.
In the past four months, I have quickly rationalized not going to dance class. “Class is during dinner time, and that’s inconvenient,” or “It’s fine if I just go for a walk in the neighborhood – that way I don’t fight traffic,” or “The time is better spent going to the grocery store so I don’t have to go tomorrow with the girls in tow.” It seems that I can always rationalize allocating my time to something more productive. Yes, I end up being more productive – but I also end up being less joyful.
I know motherhood is all about seasons, and I will not always be in the season of nursing and pumping and diapers – soon I will be knee-deep in recitals and soccer practice and pre-school. Life will look different, but it will always be busy and if I let it be so; and I’ll always be able to find a reason to nurture my family before I nurture myself.
But you know what? I’m tired of feeling like the most used tool in the tool box. I want to feel like a woman, a wife, and a mom. Maybe that’s too much to ask, but I’m going to try.
So tonight, I’m making a one-pot dinner and letting my husband reheat it. Tonight I will not be around for bath time or for bed time. Tonight I am going to deliberately boost my joy, tonight…I’m going to dance.
What’s something that brings you great joy (outside of your family)? What’s something you can do to nurture your spirit so that you feel joyful?