The other day I was perusing an article on the differences between American and French parenting, and one of the things it mentioned was that French women don’t stop being who they are before they had children, once they have had kids. Apparently French women make time for themselves, their husbands, and their friends much more often than American parents, and they do it without an iota of guilt.
This was a revelation!
As someone who turned her entire world upside down once I had kids, I wondered what my life might look like if I had continued on my original plan of becoming an Oscar winning costume designer.
How I lost myself…
When I met my husband I was fairly young at age 24. We got married when I was 26 and because he is 8 years older than I am, I knew we would have children within a few years of being married. This wasn’t nearly enough time to claw my way up the ladder of the movie industry into a position that would give me more flexibility with my schedule.
My father was a camera operator so I knew what kinds of hours the movie business entailed and what kinds of strains it puts on a marriage. So I decided to leave Hollywood and focus on a more traditional career in fashion.
The reason I mention what is now ancient history is to illustrate the fact I changed my life because I wanted a family and I wanted to be there to raise them in a way that the movie business wouldn’t let me achieve. My life before I had children, and after they arrived were completely different.
I have mentioned that the transition from working woman to stay at home mother was quite difficult for me. I completely bought into the notion that a mother does everything for her children and sacrifices herself to keep them happy. I ended up fat, shlumpy, and lost in a life I didn’t want. Once I recognized how unhappy I was, I decided to change my life and turn it into the glamorous enterprise you see now. As a matter of fact, this blog was started to document the change from frump to fabulous!
With that said, after I read the article mentioned above, I realized that even though I am very happy in my life as a glamorous housewife, there was one thing I had let slide- my leisure time. Between my husband, the kids, my blog, and my friends I felt as if I was always rushing around and never had time to relax!
Choosing to change…
Last winter I wrote about how my husband and I were in therapy. I was angry at him all of the time and it was putting a huge strain on our relationship. With the help of our therapist I realized I was burning the candle at both ends and it was time to make some changes in my life. I was treating my schedule as if I had little babies and young toddlers and had to do it all myself. But this simply wasn’t true. My two boys are ages 10 and 12 and fairly independent. My 3 year old is still young, but no longer needs me the way a baby needs her mother. It was time for me to acknowledge that my family was growing and changing and I was free to grow and change along with it!
I decided it was high time for me start branching out. I have a wonderful husband who is fully capable of being at home with his kids while I go to a museum, or get a cup of coffee, or even just walk down to the beach and bask in the solitude.
I must admit, I feel like a bit of a fool to even be writing this post because what kind of person thinks it is ok to give all of the time and not receive? Why am I making such a big deal out of taking time for myself when most people do this naturally?
But then I posted a question on Facebook and asked my readers what they do for leisure time. Many responded with a list of hobbies, or getting exercise, or going out with friends. But many women mentioned they too have no time for relaxing!
What is it about being an American that leads us to believe that we have to give up ourselves in order to be good moms? Why do we think we can do it all and still be happy and fulfilled? When did this crazy notion become the norm?
Ladies, I have decided that the idea we can be all things to all people and sacrifice ourselves for the “good” of our family is a lie. It is a lie we tell ourselves in order to make ourselves feel better about the fact it is possible to lose oneself within one’s life. For those of you who are like me and feel as if you don’t get enough leisure time, it is time to give yourself permission to take time out of your busy day to just be.
Because here is the thing. When you don’t make the time to be who you are, you will begin to resent it. It starts off slowly, but through time you might find yourself feeling more and more exhausted, and more and more angry about all of the things you do for your family that don’t get reciprocated. I have seen marriages break apart because the woman feels as if she is doing everything and getting nothing in return except grief.
The good news is, if you are feeling at all like what I have described above, you can change it! That is the beauty of being an adult- we have the ability and the freedom to recognize when our choices aren’t working for us and then we can make different choices!
For more inspiration…