When I became a mother, I was shocked that the tables had turned and now I was being looked up to as a role model. I threw myself into motherhood, determined to create fun-filled, stimulating lives for my daughters. To be frank, I was equally determined that if my daughters did end up on a therapist's couch in later life, I wouldn't be the main villain in the drama of their lives!
As I lived my daughters' wonderful lives with them (a social whirl of play dates, stimulating classes, and fun playgrounds), I met some amazing women who happened to be mothers. What I began to notice was that so many of us were putting our lives on hold to "mother" our children in what we thought was a very unselfish way. Although our motives were honorable, it struck me that we were teaching our children how to take care of others without taking care of their own dreams and desires. Was that really our intention?
I chose to work from home when I was pregnant with my first child, as I knew instinctively that I wanted to be at home with my children. After a couple of years, though, I had this awakening when I realized how sad I would be if my daughters were doing the same thing. It wasn't the staying-at-home part, as that has been an amazing experience. It was the total immersion in motherhood to the exclusion of all other aspects of who I am.
In response to that "a-ha" moment, I reflected on the things I had always loved and took a stand-up comedy course. I found myself on stage performing at Stand Up, NY and Caroline's Comedy Club and was amazed by how energized I was when I introduced a passion into my life. Energy is definitely something modern moms need more of! In addition to the energy boost, I felt that I was finally uncovering my true identity.
Innovative life coach Martha Beck states, "If you don't keep your dreams alive, you are teaching your children to forget their dreams too. You set the example. Encourage your kids to pursue their dreams while pursuing your own."
If immersing yourself in motherhood to the exclusion of the rest of yourself isn't the answer, what should we strive for? Psychologist Alice Miller interviewed a number of adults about their mothers. Most said, "I know that my mother loved me, but …." Dr. Miller then spoke to one man who, when asked about his mother, smiled and responded, "My mother loved life." How powerful is that?