I have recently started a yoga course one night a week. It runs for six weeks and frankly it’s like a little slice of (somewhat pain filled) heaven. Motherhood is a funny thing. It fills me with so much joy I sometimes feel as if I might burst and then simultaneously makes me wonder where ‘I’ went… ‘Ladies and Gentlemen – Kate has left the building’.
I recall watching ‘The Biggest Loser’ once (I know, this is a whole other post) when a mum of three was participating and she sat there in floods of tears talking about how she had moved so far from who she was, she had forgotten. She had forgotten what she’d liked, what had made her happy, what her dreams and goals were – for herself. Not for her family (who she adored), but for herself.
I think one of the things that does mothers a great disservice is our ability (whether it is our own fault or that of the cultural expectations that have driven motherhood to where it is) to let go of ourselves in order to love our little ones. At first it is a beautiful, almost divine quest. This little person (and subsequent persons) is our light – our purpose. After growing them and nurturing them for so long, it’s hard to shift our focus anywhere else.
But what about our own needs? What about maintaining and sustaining our own identity? Or does our identity need to be redefined once we’re mothers?
I do remember when I watched this episode (yes, back to the Biggest Loser again) I had one daughter who was perhaps 16 months old and I sat there and thought ‘well, that’s just stupid – you have to find time for yourself in order to be an effective mother’.
And yet here I am, a mother of three under 4 years, not entirely sure of who I am or what I want. I should add here that typing that sentence makes me a bit uncomfortable – selfish and uncaring towards my children. But in the cold light of day, looking at the ‘black and white’ of things I know that in order to be a good mum, I have to have dreams and goals for myself that extend beyond my children.
I wonder if I would feel the same if I had returned to work between numbers 2 and 3…. And most of all I wonder if all women go through this…
We had some family photos taken a few weeks back – to capture that moment when our family was made ‘complete’ with the arrival of my beautiful son. The photographer spent the session chatting to us, putting us at ease to create beautiful natural photos (which by the way are just gorgeous). She asked me what my husband’s passions are and I immediately answered ‘music and football’ (with the complete knowledge that his children were a given in that). When she asked my husband the same question there was a blanket (and awkward silence). I honestly had no passion or hobby or interest outside of my children.
And that can’t be healthy. So, I’m taking up yoga… And I might just look at getting a bit better at photography…