As a mother, it is a challenge to see myself outside the scope of a parent. I almost cannot remember my life without my daughters. It seems as if I have been raising children my entire life! I love my daughters and I want to provide them with the very best experiences, opportunities and lessons but sometimes I ask myself: “Can I be an excellent mother and still be true to myself ?”
I vividly remember the day I was thinking of going back to school to obtain my master’s degree. I had a job that I loved but I felt the urge to do something more. I thought about it long and hard and finally mustered the courage to apply to a graduate program and was accepted to my school of choice! I was elated. I made the announcement and I will never forget the response I received: “Go back to school! What about Alleea?” At the time Alleea was six years old and I factored in how I would raise her and attend school. The backlash continued and I soon reconsidered going back to school. I worried and wondered if I was being selfish and if my choice would have a negative impact on my daughter.
That was sixteen years ago and I have had to make thousands of similar decisions. Each time I would try to maintain a unique balance of being true to myself and being a great mother.
There are three things that I would contemplate that helped me make these decisions. Maybe these three things can help you as you balance your personal growth and raise your daughters.
1. “To Thine own self be true.” In order for me to be a great mother I have to feel as if I am growing and expanding who I am as an individual. If you are wondering if I went back to school when Alleea was six the answer is “Yes!” I couldn’t control the urge to grow. In order to maintain a balance I did not move out of state instead I commuted to school and kept my daughter’s life as “uninterrupted” as possible. In essence I compromised the full experience but still stayed true to myself.
2. Am I Leading by example? Our daughters are always watching us. They learn our sayings, our habits and ultimately they are learning how to parent in the future. When we are confident and take chances we teach our daughters to be bold and dynamic. Our growth is their growth, so do not be afraid to take a leap!
3. Me time..time to ponder. My daughters know that I require “me time.” My nine year old daughter Kennedy came to me recently with a story about her friend from Girl Scouts.
“You know Jennifer’s mom is the leader for girl scouts and she is AlWAYS there, and today for the first time Jennifer’s mom had something else to do,” Kennedy expanded. “Jennifer complained the entire time that her mom wasn’t there and even cried during our troop meeting.”
She looked at me and said, “I feel bad for Jennifer’s mom because she needs time for herself too.” I was shocked! Kennedy expressed exactly the way I would like her to respond when she becomes a mother. I would like her to know the value of “me time.” Although I do not get a lot of “Me time” I do appreciate that my daughters understand the value of self reflection, meditation and honoring time to self discover.
I would like to leave you with one last thought…before you became a mother you were a girl with a dream. Balance your dreams and motherhood, and see your life flourish.