This is a guest post from my amazing friend, Andrea. She’s a fantastic mom and still manages to have more fun and do more stuff than most single twenty-somethings I know. What’s her secret?!
When Sarah asked me to write a guest post for her blog, I was not only honored but also sort of bemused. After all, my life feels so…mundane! I have fun, sure, but it’s of the pretty ordinary variety. But that’s what she asked me to write about…how to have fun in MY (mundane) way. Or, as she phrased it “How To Be An Awesome Mom and Still Have a Life.”
I’m a mom of a precocious, adorable, sensitive and smart-assed little boy, Alex, who is 4 going on 27. His dad and I are amicably divorced and we share 50/50 custody. I’m (hopefully) an awesome mom (Sarah seems to think so, and she knows her awesomeness when she sees it,) and I (hopefully) have a life.
I always wanted to be a mom. I knew this even as a wild-child punk rocker running drunkenly through the streets of Uptown and managing a tattoo/piercing/clubwear shop in the 90s. It would happen someday, I knew. Oddly enough, I didn’t think about the marriage/partnership part so much – that didn’t seem as important. I just knew that someday I’d be Mommy.
I married a good guy, got pregnant as planned, and promptly gave up most of what defined me. I was a Mom, first and foremost, and that was what now defined me. Alex came before my husband, my friends, my pets, the activities I’d enjoyed before being a mom. I didn’t go out as much, neglected my marriage, and became unhappy. I was a mother – I had what I’d wanted. So why did I feel something was missing? Because something was—me.
I failed at marriage but realized I had a second chance at a fabulous life. The trick, I found, is in nurturing your own self as well as the little shadow of you…be Mom, yes…but also give yourself permission to play (semi-responsibly) with the big kids, too.
You CAN balance motherhood, a career, and a fabulous social life with a bit of thought and planning…think of the three areas as the legs of a tripod or, for nerds like me, a Venn diagram. I can focus on one or two of the three, but without all aspects I am never whole. (Please note this is NOT to say that women who are not mothers are not whole – NOT AT ALL. I have tons of friends and colleagues who don’t wish to or cannot have kids and their lives are completely rich and wonderful. But for me, I need the trifecta.)
With 50/50 custody, it’s actually pretty easy. I elected for this custody agreement mainly because I don’t think it’s fair to Dads (or their children) to be solely “weekend parents.” If both parents are able and willing to raise their child(ren), then both of them should GET to. But this also left me with a best-of-both-worlds situation.
One week, I’m Mom all the time. Cuddles and forts and T-ball and swimming lessons and coloring and Play-doh and kissing scraped knees. I love it. I revel in it. I’m good at it. On the alternate weeks, I’m still a mom, of course, and I call Alex every night…but I am Andrea, NOT solely defined by being a mom. I still play and kiss and cuddle and build forts…but with the grown-up kids in my life. My patient and accommodating friends and dating partners work around this schedule and I’m so grateful for it, and for them.
For those parents who don’t have another person to parent/share custody with, it is harder but still doable. Try this:
* Nurture yourself in addition to your little one(s)
* Find adult interests (new or pre-kid) and MAKE the time for them
* Do things for you and you alone…it sounds selfish but in fact you’ll be a more complete person and a better parent for it.
* Remember that you’re a woman, a friend, and a rock star in addition to being a mom.
I don’t know. I might be full of it but I think I’m a pretty good mom and I DO have a lot of fun, so I must be doing something right. What do you think? If you’ve got little ones, how do you make time for yourself and the things you love?