By Jackie White
She wakes before everyone else to enjoy a bit of coffee before the chaos kicks into high gear. In this time, she doesn’t think too much of what she plans to accomplish for herself. She needs to focus on what needs to be done. Assessing the day’s needs like laundry, cooking, cleaning, picking up the kids, dropping off the kids and helping with homework occupies her time. She doesn’t really mind, she says because her family is the top priority. She would never be ungrateful for her children and husband, but every now and then she catches a glimpse of the woman in the mirror and she doesn’t recognize her. She is fairly sure she doesn’t recognize her, but then again she faintly remembers that she once knew her…
Women have a special place in life. When a woman is young, she has been provided opportunities to pursue whatever she wants in life. Maybe it’s a career in business or law or hairdressing, the only parameter is what she is interested in. She begins her career and starts to climb the ladder. She works hard and takes on the challenges and puts in the long hours. She wears pantsuits and jackets and carries her Starbucks into the office and manages lots of paper. She is getting in the groove of her life. She is proud of her accomplishments and works to recognize that many women before her may not have had these opportunities. She feels fortunate. Then as life is “supposed to go” she meets Prince Charming. They get married, and the wheels begin to turn. This is when it starts.
Soon, there comes the 2.5 children, the mini-van and the white picket fence, that actually needs painting, but hasn’t made it to the top of the To Do List yet! She’s the Mom. She’s the family manager and all life’s activities revolve around her ability to organize and execute against a massively complicated spreadsheet of activities. There are the dance lessons, that cost an arm and a leg and oh by the way, require her to purchase a tutu, find specialized ballet and tap shoes and sew a costume by next Monday! Did anyone tell the dance teacher that she can’t even sew on a button? She knows what to do, she’ll just Pinterest it! There’s got to be a no-sew costume she can fashion out of a trash bag or something! She will peruse Pinterest right after soccer practice which happens twice a week across town during after work traffic. Practice ends at 8:30 PM and she needs to cook dinner, help with homework and say hello to her spouse before she can begin the hunt for a no sew costume. Maybe she will wait until the weekend-end, but no, she remembers the weekends-ends, are a tad bit busy with 80 soccer games that play in 3 different communities on Saturday and all of Sunday.
She’s busy. Busy is good – right? She is juggling the activities and loving her children as they grow. She listens to their dreams and lets them know they can be anything they want to be. That’s when it hits her. Where did her dreams go? Where did she go? As much as she loves being Johnny’s mom, she’s forgotten what her name really is.
She feels bad because her spouse pays the price too. The kids need her focus and he takes a backseat. She can’t keep all the balls in the air. They do date night on occasion and she’s happy if she has a shower before she throws on the yoga pants and walks out the door bare-faced. She remembers thinking she’d never be one of those moms who looked disheveled and confused. Where is her Glam-Squad? Does she even own any clothes that don’t have stains? She tries to enjoy the time with her husband and her night off of cooking. Well, it’s not really a night off because she had to make something for the kids before they left. She explains it away as it’s kind of a night off from cooking. Right? She tries to remember what they talked about before kids, but she can’t seem to dust her brain off enough to expand into those lost corners that house intellectual conversation. Instead she says something about somebody pooping their pants and that the drain is plugged. Ugh.
In between caring for her children and her husband, she must keep a watch over her parents. They need help with shopping and errands. She visits them and nods her head to her mother’s tales of retirement. “Darn Velma keeps screwing up her Bingo cards and that Ethyl needs to quit complaining about every last GD ache she has”! Don’t get her wrong, she is blessed to have her parents with her yet, but the care of them has fallen upon her. She makes the best of it and hopes their health stays stable. She can handle the 50 calls a day from her dad telling her there is a recall on shredded lettuce or from her mom who thought something terrible had happened since she hadn’t heard from her “in a while”. It’s only been 2 hours, but it’s ok. She wonders, how did I get here?
It’s true, this story is much like many moms out there who wonder where they went? Who were they before kids? Are they anything else besides a mom anymore? Again, knowing that the job of being a mother is possibly the most important job there is, it can feel like you have lost you somewhere in the shuffle. The raising of kids is really a seasonal gig, the catch is, the seasons keep changing and you don’t know what’s coming down the pipeline. That is, you finally have a schedule for getting the baby to sleep and the toddler has stopped roaming the house at night. You enjoy what you think will be Life from then on for about 3.7 days and then one of the two decide it’s time to move on to another challenge in life such as insisting on a drink of water 62 times a night. All of us moms get it. So how come we all tend to lose ourselves, but no one really talks about it?
The time has come to talk about it. It’s your life too and you need to carve out some time for you to be you. Because raising kids takes varied amounts of effort and time, the time you can carve out for yourself may be only a small amount at first, but will increase as the kids get older. So, how do you start taking care of yourself?
1. Take time to remember who you were and what your dreams are. Try doing the 100 Dreams exercise to jog
your memory: Write down 100 things you have accomplished or want to accomplish.
2. Exercise – start with 10 minutes.
3. Yoga – exercise and quiet your mind. This is like a mini vacation.
4. Meditate – start with 5 minutes. You will be amazed how centered you feel.
5. Journal – write your gratitude, intentions and/or write after meditating to capture your quieted mind
6. Get a Massage: even if you have to do a quick massage in the middle of the mall at one of the kiosks.
7. Read a book – Not a kids book! One you choose to read.
8. Get out of the house – shop, walk, just get in another space.
9. Get together with a friend. Laugh and be carefree!
10. Make an Absolute No List: this list is your pre-determined list of things you will no longer accept in your
life. For example: I will no longer volunteer for everything. I will no longer accept that I must manage all
household duties myself.
Erika Fehrenbach Prell is passionate about inspiring and educating, others on their path to complete wellness-mind,body, and soul. This desire led Erika to the helping profession of nursing, and she obtained her Master's Degree as a Nurse Practitioner in 2007. Erika specialized in cardiac surgery, largely influenced by her personal experience with heart disease. While she loved working with this population, her heart's desire has always been to impact lives on a larger scale and from a proactive, not reactive, place. The universe answered when her path crossed with Jackie and SoulShine was born. Erika finally feels she is walking in her purpose and is excited for this journey to unfold.