Ever since I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a writer. I wrote my first “book” when I was in Kindergarten, and as soon as I could I joined the Young Authors Club at my elementary school. From fifth grade until I graduated high school I participated in my schools’ journalism clubs, putting together the morning “news” programs, and when I went off to college it was a journalism degree I sought. Out of college I started my career at a local news station as a producer, and then transitioned into marketing, copywriting, and, finally, blogging. In 2011, I reached a huge writing milestone by writing my very first novel, and halfway through it, I discovered I was on my way to reaching a very different, albeit arguably more monumental, milestone.
I was pregnant with my first son.
When I had Dax, everything naturally became about him. My life became one that was dictated by maternity leave limits and feeding schedules and nap schedules and babysitting budgets and pumping breast milk and all things baby. Shortly thereafter I had my second son Case, and I experienced double the joy, double the chaos, double the change. That’s the nature of parenting, of course, as any other mother out there can tell you. And it was beautiful and messy and absolutely more than I could have ever dreamed of.
But it also got in the way of my writing – my thing.
When I once could effortlessly articulate all of my favorite books and authors and blogs, I was suddenly unable to effortlessly articulate much of anything. I could feel myself dissolving into this nebulous Lindsay-shaped mom amoeba, void of anything that could differentiate me from any other mother walking down the street.
Up until recently, I was able to explain all of this away by the frenzy of new-motherhood. Being up all night nursing and then being up all day chasing a toddler left hardly any brain space left for me to feed myself let alone pour into my writing. If I couldn’t assemble a sandwich, how could I expect myself to string together a coherent sentence? So I didn’t.
And it was fine. Until one day when it wasn’t. And I was crying on my kitchen floor, wondering who I was and what I was called to do.
Though I had been doing a great job of pouring into my kids, I wasn’t pouring into myself, which meant my soul-bucket was dry. By ignoring my thing in order to care for these tiny humans, I was actually doing them a disservice; I wasn’t giving more of myself, though it felt like it. I was giving them a dry-bones, barely-there version of myself, and anyone who’s ever met them can tell you that they deserve so much better.
I started insisting I get some set-aside writing time from my husband, and he was more than supportive. At least one night a week (but sometimes more than that) I am free to retreat to a coffee shop to do my thing. I get to refill my soul-bucket so that the remaining days of the week I can be a fuller, more whole, and better me. This means I get to be a better wife and mother to the most important people in my life.
The new year is here and so the idea of New Year’s Resolutions is right in the forefront of our minds right now. Some of us might make the same vague resolutions we do each year – work out more, eat more healthily, spend less money – and that might be fine. But I’d like to offer up a challenge to those of us who feel like changing who we are is just not an option at this point because motherhood has done too much of that already.
Resolve to be who you are and always have been. Resolve to do your thing. And let your kids see you do that thing. Whether your thing is playing music, or building model airplanes, or brewing your own beer, be intentional about showing your kids that depth.
Yes, you may have to budget for a few hours of babysitting a week. Yes, you might miss a family dinner or two to make it happen. But I promise you; your family will forgive you for giving to yourself. Not only will it gift them with the reality of a better mom, but it will also show them how important it is to keep a firm grasp on your own identity, regardless of how many children you have.
Do your thing. Be a little selfish. And watch how your life begins to blossom again.