Motherhood changed me.
|Danielle Rose as a brand new mother of two|
That’s kind of funny to say, isn’t it? I mean, doesn’t it go without saying? Where there was once one, now there are two… two bodies sharing a body, two schedules to navigate, and two egos competing for space (and despite what anyone says, babies’ egos are huge!).
Then there came two… two children that is. And no one tells you that having two kids isn’t twice the work of having one—it’s ten times the work. Because with one blissful baby it’s impossible to see how the intersection of bodies, schedules, and egos multiply exponentially.
Ultimately, what happened was that I lost myself in the wild tangle of everything childhood. Motherhood became an all-encompassing title that didn’t define me in the least. It was something I was, something I was engrossed in, something that dictated for me what I did, how I felt, and when it all happened, but there was very little of “me” in it. Or at least that’s how it seemed.
I want to tell you that I loved every moment of it. That I wouldn’t give it up for anything. That now that my kids are (slightly) older (4 & 6 to be exact), it all makes sense. But I would be lying. That’s not to say I don’t love my kids. Because I do, and I wouldn’t give them up for the world. But sometimes I wish there was a way to have them, and all the good memories, without having a good 3/4 of the past six years as well.
I thought you were talking about relationship-with-self, you ask.
Well, I am. For the past half decade I’ve found it nearly impossible to evaluate my relationship with myself—even though I invested more brain and heart power into trying to figure that out than I had in the thirty years prior.
It’s given me quite a perspective on the importance of making myself the most important person in my life. I’ve written quite a bit on this. I had always been adventurous, and always sought out activity. When I was a mother of one, I brought my oldest with me on these adventures. She was small enough not to complain, and easy-going enough to let us lead the way. She was the most important thing in my life, and I knew that if I wanted her to live and lead an adventurous life, I had to show her how to do that. (Read more about this and our adventures together here).
Then I had my youngest and, for the reasons listed at the start of this post, my options for adventure became severely limited. My girls were both the most important thing in my life, but rather than trying to teach them how to live an independent, self-sufficient, and adventurous, I plummeted into survival mode. Everything I had went to them, and there wasn’t much time for sleep, proper meals, or even regular showers. I still can’t go into the bathroom without a “life-threatening” disruption (“She hit me and I’m bleeding!” “I spilled a pitcher of lemonade on your computer!” “The kitchen is on fire!”).
I had a life-changing opportunity to travel to France and take a class with an artist whose beliefs and work had changed me many times over. This was not an opportunity to be missed… Still, I almost threw away the pamphlet for the class when I received it. I struggled with the decision to go for many months until I had no choice but to either go or let the fantasy go. Despite much criticism from family and others, I left my 1 year old and 3 year old with their father and stepped into the airport to the image (it’s still burned in my mind) of my oldest crying from the back window of the car as they pulled away. (Read more about how I was finally able to make that decision here).
|Walking the heath in Dublin on a layover after my class in France in 2012|
The trip truly did change my life.
And it made me realize….
How can I ever take care of my girls if I’m not taking care of myself?
A few years passed before I was able to implement the energetic “work” that changed me while in France. Without that “work” I doubt that Mind Key would be what it is today, or even exist at all. Without that work I would be a shell of a person… but today I am a richer, deeper woman because I was able to face adversity and fear, and my own self-doubt, to do something I knew I was meant to do.
Somewhere in there was a list. I called it “The Rules.” They were written to remind me of what was important. The girls were at the top of it … then I realized I needed to be at the top. Why? Because if I’m not eating well, sleeping well, If I’m not healthy, and deeply fulfilled… then how can I possibly have anything at my disposal to give them?
I am still on that path, today. It will never end. The choices are only getting tougher, and the consequences more intense.
|Me walking the cliffs in Newport, RI, after another game-changing life decision in 2015|
But if I can recall (and sometimes I actually can) the feeling I had in France—the changes it wrought in me, and how I had to overcome the fear, self-doubt, and criticism…. Then. THEN I know I am doing ok.
I know I have to follow my gut. I know that I have to take care of me first. Because until I do, I’ll never be able to take care of my girls. I’ll never be able to give them what they need to grow into strong women. I’ll never be the “good mom” I want to be—the one that thinks she needs to sacrifice in order to give to her children, but is finally learning to sacrifice for herself first.