I had my son almost 2 months to the day of my 30th birthday and I shared with you in my very first post on this blog how that made me feel. I was going through some type of identity crisis. Not only was I a little depressed but I really did not know who I was anymore. I had this new identity of “mother” and now that was what I was supposed to be right? I did not take much time thinking about what I was going to wear and often wore my hair up. I stopped most of my hobbies and never spent any time with friends. I jumped right into the mother role but I forgot about another important person…ME! I find that many parents, especially mothers, spend so much time taking care of their children that they forget to also focus on themselves. Being a parent does require a lot of sacrifice. This is something that all good parents know but we are no good to our children if we are not at our best. As parents, we have to take time out for ourselves. Fortunately for me, I learned this fairly quickly.
A few months after my son was born, an acquaintance of mine asked me what was wrong. I used the word acquaintance because this person was far from a friend. To tell you the truth, I did not really even like her. I answered her question by saying, “Nothing. Why do you ask?” She quickly responded by telling me that I had lost some of my flair: the flair that she knew as Belinda. Now, I already mentioned that I was not very fond of this person so you can imagine the look on my face when she said that and I will leave what I wanted to say to her to your imagination as well. But, after I really thought about it and as much as I hate to admit it, she was right. I had started to dress differently, sometimes still wearing maternity clothes. I threw my hair up in a clip quite often and everyone who knows me know that I normally keep my hair done. What make-up I would wear would be the little bit I would throw on in the car, as that was not me either. Being so engrossed with taking care of my son, I did forget about me. At that point, my outlook on what being a mother is changed.
My son was and remains my first priority. He is my strength daily and I love him more than words can say. But once those “you have lost your Belinda flair” words were said to me, I realized that I was not giving him the best of me. If I was not at my best, then how could I realistically give him my best? Who wants a mother that does not care about their appearance? I wanted my son to know that a real woman carries herself with class and respect but I was already not doing a good job at portraying that. How was he going to learn how a woman should carry herself if he did not learn it from me? How was he also going to learn that taking pride in your appearance and having a little fun sometimes is also important? I was already cheating my son by not giving him the best of me. He was still a newborn at the time I realized this so I am somewhat thankful for the acquaintance that made me realize that so early on.
I find so many parents, especially mothers, whose children are older that have not realized this. My advice is to be the best parent you can be. Love, guide, teach and discipline your children. It is important to remember that through all the demands of parenthood, take time out for yourself. Set a bedtime for your children that will allow you to have some quiet time at night. Take time out to go out with your spouse or significant other, get your hair done, get your doctor’s appointments and exercise in and hang out with your friends from time to time. Look to your family and TRUE friends to help you get that me time in. All of these things are important to creating balance in your life and hopefully will help to relieve some of the stress that comes along with being a parent. When we feel and look good, it is portrayed through our actions and reactions. We are cheating our children out of the best of us when we forget about taking care of us!