Finding Freedom in Motherhood
Before my son was born, I valued freedom above anything else. The freedom to do what I wanted, when I wanted, where I wanted, and with whom I wanted. I loved freedom so much that by the age of nineteen I made the fool's choice to move out of my mother's house. I was not mentally or financially prepared to live on my own. This bad choice led to a series of missteps that led me down the path of becoming a single mother by the age of twenty-two.
My story is not one of failure, but of overcoming adversity. I belong to the class of thick skulls who must go through the school of hard knocks. Now, thankfully, I am graduating from that school of pain and learning important lessons on achieving balance and finding a sense of freedom in motherhood.
The transformation from single woman to a single mom was not easy. Prior to becoming a mother, I had a ritual of getting my hair done, nails done, hitting the club, and meeting up for Sunday brunch with the girls. Every week it was the same. But all that came to a screeching halt once my son came into my life.
I remember the morning that I gave up the club. Tipsy and tired I staggered home at 6:00 am. I was greeted by my mother's death stare. My son was awake and crying. The new grandma went to bed. I, the new mom, went to work doing what I was supposed to do, and that was to take care of my baby.
I was often exhausted. My childless friends did not understand. I couldn't go clubbing with them every week. I couldn't make it to Sunday brunch with endless margaritas either. Hair and nail appointments that I kept faithfully every two weeks were moved to every three or four weeks until I stopped making them. The remnants of my old life were self-sacrificed in the name of being a good mom. Giving up the things that I loved left me stressed, bitter, and overwhelmed. What I did not realize was that I needed balance.
Motherhood is not martyrdom. Many years back when I first began screenwriting, I attended a pitch fest, which is something I hope I'll never have to do again. The highlight of the pitch fest was meeting a female producer who wasn't the least bit interested in my script, but she gave me some amazing anecdotal advice. She said that women, particularly mothers, often put their needs on the backburner because they are too busy taking care of other people, which is not always a good thing. If you are on a plummeting airplane, you must put an air mask on yourself first before you can put the mask on anyone else. As a new mom, there were times where I felt like I was plummeting. Instead of reaching out for my air mask, I ignored the signs of trouble and forced a smile as I crashed to the ground.
A decade into motherhood, which is still relatively new, I learned that it is imperative to maintain the balance of taking care of yourself and taking care of everybody else. There is room for freedom in motherhood. Every Friday afternoon, when I get off from work, I try to do something for me. It may be as simple as having a cup of Pinkberry frozen yogurt in the park or taking myself to the movies. There is a movie theater near my job that sells wine and the chairs recline. It's heaven. These mini retreats on Friday afternoons are what keep me sane. It's good for me and it's good for my family that I am sane, grounded, and happy.
Mothers have a hard job, but it's one of the most important and rewarding jobs in the world. Take some time for yourself whether it's one afternoon per week, an entire weekend, or just one hour, and don’t feel guilty about it. For your family to thrive, you have to thrive. Find your balance, your happy place that is all yours. Find your freedom in motherhood.