Really. It’s not easy having a life outside of being Mom. It’s a pretty all-consuming job. You can’t turn it off or clock out or decide that it isn’t the career path you want to take anymore. Once you’ve committed to this job, you’re in it. No advancement, no career change.
It’s easy in this mess of motherhood – especially those early baby/toddler years – to lose pieces of your life that aren’t required to make your motherhood happen on a daily basis. We’ve already established that when you are in survival mode with little ones, things like relationships (with yourself or with others) tend to take the backseat.
People have always told me that it is important to have friends you can relate to – you know, that are in the same “place” in life that you are. That is true – no matter your stage in life, you have to find someone who gets it.
Even the beginnings of my blog come straight from emails with my irreplaceable mom-friends. They have gotten me through times where I could not even begin to see (or smell) beyond the full diaper genie bags and nursing pads. And the potty training days? Well let’s put it this way: during potty training days my sister called me and asked me if I was evacuating ahead of the storm. My response? “What storm?” Sis: “Have you been under a rock [I may be paraphrasing]? The biggest Hurricane in US history is headed straight for you! Get out of there!” —- I had not turned on a TV that wasn’t on PBS or the Disney Channel in weeks. And I wasn’t even sure where one would find a newspaper. Radio? Uh-Uh. Toddler Tunes CD on repeat. All day; every day. — Her phone call (coupled with a few others) prompted me to figure out on which channel one would find local news and weather. Once I managed to commandeer the TV from the revolting littles to see what was happening, we packed up the circus and left town.
So, the point is that during those times I had absolutely NO connection to what was happening in the outside world. The real one. Where people were normal size, wiped their own rear ends, and spoke the English language in a way that included more than one or two-word sentences. My only shred of sanity came from holding onto those late night email chains between us – my mom-friends. They were my rock.
However, something else, vitally important was also a fixture during those times. Someones, actually. Some particular friends (a couple who were also family) who happened not to be “mommy”. Never wavering in their presence in my life, though goodness knows why. There were times when it could not have been easy.
The friends I have that happen not to be moms are just as irreplaceable as my emailing mom-network. And wow, am I ever so grateful for them! They’ve stuck by my side and remained true through the toughest of years. You know. Those years when I hardly knew what day it was or the last time I had a shower, because I was so busy with three petit monsters. When I could never commit to doing things with them because I didn’t know what would be happening with the kids. And when I actually made a date with them, it usually either had to be cancelled due to a sick child… or an absence of a babysitter required that our great girls’ lunch date would include a high chair and a kid’s menu. Those were the years when I did a terrible job of initiating phone calls or emails. And when they called, I was constantly interrupting them because someone was climbing, crying, throwing, hitting or shitting. Sometimes on the floor. (Sorry for the language, but there’s just no other way to put it.) And believe me, they heard about it all. All. The. Time. When your life is consumed by your motherhood, it’s easy to forget that there is a life outside of it.
How did they stand it?!
Having these friends.. well, they reminded and challenged me (maybe without realizing it) to find that dormant me in the midst of my motherhood. And while it is easier to do during some stages of motherhood than in others, they have brought things into my life that I had forgotten existed. * During those rare moments I could manage to steal away with my non mom-friends (and I didn’t have to accessorize with a diaper bag!), they reminded me that I didn’t have to spell certain words in their presence. I could actually say the real words. They banned me from saying “potty” when talking to other adults and encouraged me to use multisyllabic words. They gracefully – and sometimes, not so gracefully – pointed out that my fingernails – etc. – needed some attention (I still ignore the nails, but appreciate that they cared.) They’ve re-introduced me to music that is not sung by a group of people with a pet’s name (i.e. “the Wiggles”). You know, music that has lyrics that don’t include such things as brushing your teeth and flushing the toilet (although my kids should evidently still be listening to those songs at 13, 9 and 8). They have challenged me to set personal goals for myself that I thought were unreachable – goals that were physically and emotionally healthy for me and help me feel accomplished at each year’s end. They remind me that there are restaurants that serve food that doesn’t come with crayons or a plastic movie endorsement… I mean, toy.
And most impressively they have loved me AND MY CHILDREN despite all those things. They’ve come to countless baby showers and birthday parties baring beautifully wrapped gifts. They have called to check on the kids’ health and well-being –even taken an interest in my kids’ interests. They have formed bonds with my kids. They’ve become part of our family.
Some of them have since moved into their own motherhood worlds. But there’s one in particular..
..That helped me get a life. A life outside of my motherhood.
I don’t know how or why they did it, but they did. And I can’t thank them enough.
*Mothers, try not to forget that there are these things called current events (which funny enough, my 13-year-old now reminds me that I need to keep up with).