After having my first child, the idea of wanting “more” couldn’t have been further from my mind. At the time, all I wanted to know was, “What is the LEAST that needs to be done today?”
The list to follow looked the same every day:
- Keep the baby alive.
- Sleep for more than 10 minutes.
I was also trying to figure out how to make it so that I would never, ever have to leave his side.
Nothing else mattered.
Showers, wearing make-up, what I was going to wear, exercising, all of those had little place in this new life of mine. I got a job working from home, thus adding one more thing to my list of what was the least that had to be done.It was the happiest time of my life. It was the most exhausting time of my life. Looking back now, it was all a huge blur.
Fast forward to nineteen months later. Hair still not brushed, I had just had my first shower in four days when I gave birth to a baby girl. (Yes, I too was surprised I managed to get pregnant considering the condition I was carrying myself around in – props to my husband for that one.)
My list changed a little:
- Keep two babies alive.
- Sleep for more than ten minutes.
- Get as much work done without getting fired today.
But this time around, I started dreaming of adding other things to that list.
For months, I laughed those dreams off. There’s no way I’d get out to exercise regularly. Go to a concert? Oh, honey, those days were long gone. I had kids now. Life wasn’t about me anymore. And if I made it about me, well, then I was a bad mom. Plain and simple.
Whenever I would feel the desire to do more things in life, I’d look down at my beautiful children and wonder what is wrong with me?
Why wasn’t this enough?
While this was happening, my teenage (step) daughter had just graduated from high school and was about to leave for college. She had an exciting future ahead of her. A lifetime of possibilities. But what if she wanted to have kids someday? Would that mean she’d have a limited amount of time to live her life and follow her dreams before it was time to give it all up for them?
After all, that was the message I was sending, wasn’t it?
It was then that I realized every time I pushed down my desires to take care of myself, to feed my soul, to further my purpose in this life, I was modeling that for my kids. Was that what I wanted for both my daughters? Was that what I wanted my son to expect from his wife one day?
I began to think differently after that.
How does keeping my true self, my best self away from my kids make them better people?
How was it making me a better mom? It wasn’t.
Instead, I was stifling myself. I was keeping all my unique ways of handling life, situations, and people away from my children. I was cheating them and the world out of the wonderful, imperfect, silly, romantic, passionate way I approach life.
I want to show my children what following your dreams looks like, rather than have them think that only celebrities and athletes can do it.
I want my children to see me persist despite my fears, not just watch as I point out examples of other people who have done so.
The best way to teach my children about serving and being a kind human being is by showing them.
I was definitely thinking differently, but things didn’t change right away.
It wasn’t until a few months later when I lost my job. While looking for another, I made the bold decision to dedicate some time towards working on MY dream.
I started on my coaching certification.
No, I wasn’t suddenly gifted with an abundance of time and money. I found another job shortly after and I was making much less money. But I was able to make it work, all because I was finally able to accept the possibility of being a good mom AND having more.
It was that one decision to do something for myself that made all the difference. It also led to a domino effect of paying attention to who I am and what is really important to me.
These days, I exercise at least three times a week. I shower almost every day (but definitely on the days I exercise). I have started two different businesses that I love, and I pay attention – real attention – to my children FAR more than I ever did before. It’s easier now because I have more energy to be present for them, rather than in the past when I was walking around in zombie-like mode. Also, I like myself more. And liking myself more makes me a much nicer person to be around.
It took me years to realize that wanting more in my life isn’t a bad thing. It took even longer to give myself the permission to do it.
It isn’t something deserving of the dreaded mom guilt and extreme self-judgment we put ourselves through.
It’s about living by my values. It’s about serving and being a kind, compassionate human being. It’s about sharing my stories and contributing to the lives of others.
I’ve been through all four stages – SAHM, WFHM, out of the house part-time working mom, and building my own business while part-time working mom. All of them are difficult, rewarding, and exhausting in their own way, none of them “better” than the other. It’s a matter of who you are and what makes you feel like you. For me, the last option has made me feel the most fulfilled, the most like myself and the most like the mother I want to be.
And there’s no better way to be an amazing mom than being yourself and letting your children learn from your example.
Since the day I became a mom, I’ve made decisions based around my children and what is best for them. None of that has changed as I have progressed into a woman, who happens to be a pretty good mom, that takes better care of herself and lives more consciously by living beyond mom.
What’s holding you back from wanting and living for more? I welcome your comments and questions below.
Anjannette Figueroa-Bess wants to live in a world where moms follow their dreams without guilt, every day feels like autumn, and all women are always aware of their worth and importance. She is a transformational life coach who believes that in order to raise confident, courageous human beings you must model being one yourself. Anjannette works with moms who are overwhelmed, overbooked, and who desire to feel good about themselves as both a mom and a woman. You can connect with Anjannette and get her free guide, 5 Simple Secrets Amazing Moms Know here.
Image courtesy of marcisim.