Written by Amber Knights;
A mother to 3 children and a house full of animals. A lover of all things adventurous, she has travelled the world, undertaken triathlons, various voluntary work, written a children’s book and adores anything creative. She is now in her final years of studying to become a Gestalt Psychotherapist.
Love YOU to the moon and back …
With three children under my belt it’s fair to say that I’m a veteran when it comes to nappy changes, sleepless nights and clothes that have experienced all the different food types. I’ve also had to sweet talk my way out of many an embarrassing moment. Motherhood is a special time in a woman’s life, however, no matter how prepared one is, it still hits you like an unexpected tornado. Overnight those little bundles of joy change your life forever in the best possible way. I must say that although parenting class 101 explained to me how a child is born with a knitted uterus, they failed to mention that life as I knew it was over. My new role would throw challenge after challenge and apparently these little youngsters will continue to do so well beyond their teens.
Chaos becomes an integral part of your daily routine, juggling all the mundane daily needs of a household whilst little people run between your legs with endless needs and 1 billion questions in the space of a minute. Why natural selection has not given us more arms is quite surprising! A number of mothers also have a job thrown into the equation, if you ask me that’s definite grounds for a nobel prize. Gone are the days when pampering was at the top of the to do list for the day, or even just a quiet 5 minutes to pick up a book and get lost in the details of a beautiful story. With motherhood comes the acceptance that your highlights are going to grow out, that your nails will look like you clawed your way out of a sewer and your clothes will be so worn you won’t even recognise yourself.
Joking apart these are all trivial things that we can let go of as they are all part of ‘growing up’. What is of utmost importance is not to let go of our identity as a human being. When we become parents we are thrown into a whole new world and new identity which we embrace with pride and love. It is one of the most important (and rewarding) roles that we will ever undertake and that is not to be taken lightly. From there on in we strive to be our best whilst continuously learning from our mistakes along the way. But what of our original identity that often remains buried under a pile of nappies, dummies and life saving muslins?
In our journey of fulfilling that identity of caregiver what happens to the identity of ourselves? Who am I in all of this? What I have learned in the last decade is that I can fulfil my role as a parent as well as fulfilling the identity of me. In our society we are so used to being exposed to the ‘perfect’ parent on social media that sometimes we feel inadequate and strive too hard to fulfill that perfection, whilst losing site of who we are. I am not being an imperfect parent by looking after myself, in fact it is quite the contrary, by fulfilling my identity as me I am also giving my children a wonderful role model. Someone that they can look up to, admire and hopefully strive to be like.
As much as we all adore our children and would give our right arm for them we must also be aware that it is important not to forget what makes us tick. It is our natural instinct to foster the needs of our offspring in a selfless act, but, we must also consider taking care of ourselves because if there is nothing left of us then what have we got to give to our children?
I don’t mean that you need to get up tomorrow and book yourself on a month long trip hiking up Kilimanjaro or base jumping in Peru, there is no need to do anything out of the ordinary and beyond your means. It depends entirely on what puts that twinkle in your eye. Embrace the fact that as a parent what used to be the simple things in life are now so special. What you do for yourself can be as courageous or as easy as you want it to be. Something as simple as picking that book up again that has been gathering dust for the last few years, taking that time out each day or even every other day, to sit down with your cup of tea or gin and tonic (if that’s more your thing) and allowing yourself to get lost in that story. A gym class once a week or meeting a friend for a coffee, splashing some colour on those disastrous nails, the options are endless and the only limitation is your imagination.
If reading doesn’t tickle your fancy then perhaps you can pick up an old hobby you used to love or even try your hand at a new one. Even going out for a glass of wine with friends is enough to make You feel alive again although perhaps a little worse for wear the following day, but it’s all worth it. It is these moments that give us the little pleasures that we so very much need. The whole point of this is to nurture and nourish yourself, to find what really fulfills you as the person that you are.
With tight daily schedules it couldn’t be easier to say I don’t have time, most of us don’t, but I believe in the philosophy that if you really want something badly enough you can make time for it. Perhaps easier said than done, and surrendering ourselves to our kids seems like the only option.
One thing that I’ve come to learn and understand in my training to be a psychotherapist is that we can have more than one identity, we identify with being a mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend, so why not give just as much importance to our identity of ‘self’. My personal challenge has been to allow myself those moments without feeling a sense of guilt and I’m sure I am not alone in saying that. Keep in mind that we all want our kids to look up to us and admire us for the person that we are so why abandon our identities once they come along.
Apart from the gift of unconditional love that we all give our children we can also give them the gift of a nourished Mother. A Mother who listens to her needs, who fulfills her sense of self and does it with fervor and relishes in the beauty of who she is.