My children are already 13 and 10 years of age, and now that their father takes them a couple of days a week, I finally have some time to myself. But because I have been “just a mom” for so long, the woohoo–freedom feeling didn’t come naturally, and so, I had to re-learn how to invest that precious time into something other than doing laundry.
Life has not been easy and it probably never will be. To stay strong and connected as the mother of two children with significant disabilities, I built this world in which my professional career is strongly connected to my personal life. This has created a circle of comfort around me. I can’t complaint, it has been great and has brought us so much satisfaction and pride as a family. Speaking as an individual, however, many times I have felt completely disconnected and isolated in the typical world, not knowing how to rediscover myself as someone who is more than a mom.
My “mom-personality” devoured my individual personality and I started being perceived as an amazing mom, and that’s it. To be honest, I have never been a saint; quite the opposite, I have always been sarcastic, funny, and adventurous. What happened is that in the struggle of adjusting my life to meet some unexpected challenges, I have to admit that I lost myself. On top of that, and because people only know me as a mother, sometimes they don’t even treat me like a real person. All they can see is the advocate and the tireless warrior serving her children. Throughout the years I have lost many friends, many friends that feel my life is too complicated, and so, they have nothing in common with me anymore. I have gained many as well, of course, who have so much in common with me. But we all need balance and friends with nothing in common with ourselves to change the conversation once in a while. That simple equation has taken me time and effort.
It has been during the last couple of years that I have gone through a process of reinvention to find myself again. I have worked hard to break the dependency on my children to understand that as much as they need me, they need to learn to trust other people that love them and will be there for them if one day I am not. I have worked hard on regaining the self-love to dedicate a couple of hours a week to loving my body and doing something special and positive for my mind. I have learned to control my anxiety. I have made new friends and I have given myself the right to waste time talking about silly, superfluous things, and laughing about nonsensical stuff. Sounds easy, right? But it was not.
It’s not easy to be more than a mom when you feel your children need you so much.
It’s not easy to be more than a mom when your children have special needs that you are not always able to fulfill. Whether it’s another therapy appointment or an extra hour of tutoring, it is sometimes too exhausting or not even affordable anymore.
Honestly, it’s not easy to be more than a mom when your work is so demanding, and when your children depend so much on you.
But in the end, something that I have learned is that life is more than the struggles. We’ll all face so many inevitable tough moments, we shouldn’t choose to add more. It just doesn’t make sense to choose to always be waiting for the next problem to arise when we can instead choose to have fun and be joyful to positively recharge our hearts and souls to be strong and hopeful when faced with unavoidable adversity.
It’s never easy to be more than a mom and to have to fight against the prejudicial stereotypes that push us to believe that we should forget ourselves in order to be good mothers for our children. Don’t punish yourself with a goal of being better. On the contrary, praise yourself, love yourself, and celebrate who you are. This is the only way to teach your children self-love, self-esteem, and faith in themselves.