Along with all the snuggles, giggles, and childish wonder, motherhood brings exhaustion and sacrifice.
I think we’ve all been there. Before kids, you swear you won’t let them change you.
You will still catch up with your friends on Friday nights. Still wear those high heels. Still make time for yourself.
And then reality hits.
There never seems to be enough hours in a day. By the time the kids are asleep, you are basically a walking zombie and any plans you had for some “me time” fall by the wayside. “Maybe tomorrow,” you mumble as your head hits the pillow.
One day you wake up and look at yourself in the mirror and wonder, What happened?
You used to be fun. Then you catch a glimpse of a curious three-year old studying your face in the mirror and remember you traded a piece of yourself for the joy of watching a tiny person find their place in the world.
And there’s new fun to be had.
It is so easy to get caught up in the daily grind of raising kids and other commitments you may have that you forget the person you used to be. Or you remember and you are desperately trying to hold onto that woman, in fear if you let her go she may never return.
I’m here to tell you that you’re not lost.
That woman has just been hibernating, keeping her cubs safe and warm. And when she emerges from her den, she will be stronger than ever.
But it’s easy to read and write these words. When you’re in the thick of parenting, you feel like you’re so far in that you’ll never get out. You’ll never find that woman. My advice? Try.
Are you able to reclaim all of your freedom you had before kids? No, and that’s okay. You make due with what you have.
You have to make the time for yourself. This probably means sacrificing something else, but try not to let it be more of a burden on you. Maybe it means cancelling that play date. Or ordering that pizza. You deserve to find time for you.
Maybe it looks a little different now.
I used to be an avid painter before kids. Most of my spare time was spent putting brush to canvas. But painting is a time-consuming activity and therefore considered a luxury these days. Instead, I looked for a creative outlet that I could practically fit into my schedule.
This is where writing saved my sanity. I’ve always been passionate about writing and had goals for myself, but never took the leap. That’s another funny thing about motherhood: even though you feel you have no idea what you’re doing raising kids, it gives you the biggest confidence boost. If you can handle children, you can handle anything.
So I started writing and I haven’t been happier. I got a little piece of me back. Whatever used to bring you joy in your pre-kid life, find a way to work it in. Go ahead and reclaim a piece of yourself. You deserve it.
This post originally appeared on The Maternal Canvas