Young and in my early twenties, motherhood wasn't on my mind. I didn't think much about things of that nature. At that time I didn't want to be married, much less be a mother. Those feelings changed when I met my husband. It wasn't until after we said our I do's that I realized children and being a mother was something I did, in fact, desire.
When I was pregnant with our oldest Lola , I distinctly remember feeling her move and kick in the womb. Feeling her move was the very first connection I had with her. It was amazing! When I held her for the first time, it was unlike any feeling in the world. I mean, you know it's indescribable. I'm not a highly emotional person. Those first few moments with her, I couldn't hold back my tears. I had a cesarian section. I only got to hold Lola but a few moments before the nurses took her away. As I was being wheeled to my room we passed the nursery. I could hear a baby crying. I asked if it was Lola, and sure enough it was. Could you bring her to me? Once she was back in my arms she instantly stopped crying, and there we were gazing at one another. This moment was very overwhelming for me. It was incredibly surreal that she knew who I was, instantly. The bond that formed between us while she was in the womb, continued to intensify and strengthen on the outside. Just like that, you can't ever imagine your life without your children.
When Lola turned three, I was in my mid twenties. I was still really young. At the time, all of my friends weren't married, nor had children of their own. Initially I didn't feel like I was missing out on anything. Then I started hearing about and seeing them going out, posting their adventures on social media. Here I was at home with my little girl. I felt my own identity start to quake and shift. I began to think, what could I have done differently? I could have gone to school... My problem was I didn't even know who I was. I had totally thrown myself into my daughter, and as a result lost myself. Besides taking care of Lola, what did I like to do? Back then, I couldn't have told you. I spent every moment with her, so much so, I disconnected with my husband too. It wasn't until I was on the phone with sister Christina, who was living in Japan or New Zealand at the time. She is telling me all of these great stories, and I realized all of my stories were only about Lola. All I ever talked about was my daughter. I don't think this is a bad thing, but that was the moment I realized how disconnected I was with myself as a woman. Again the question, what do I like to do for me? After that phone call, thus started the search for myself that continues today. I picked up books again and started to consciously take time for me. Which I hadn't done in three years. I realized it is just as important to be a woman separate from my role as a mother. There had to be a balance, otherwise I would have gone crazy. In fact, how can my girls look up to me, if didn't even know who I was? I can't just be a mother. I need to lead by example of how to be a woman as well. The example of how to take care of yourself. Taking care of yourself includes taking the time for yourself and being confident in who you are.
During my second pregnancy, with Daisy, and after she was born I did things very differently. Every night I was reading, which was- and is- so wonderful because I genuinely enjoy it. I was taking the time to be me, and also taking time with my husband more seriously. With Lola I over scheduled myself. Prioritized her, my siblings, and parents above my husband. After Daisy was born, there was another shift. I began to back off those obligations and prioritize my marriage and relationship with my husband above those things. My husband and I started taking small trips together. Even though I miss my girls terribly when I'm away, I know I need it, we need it. I always feel more refreshed and recharged when we come back home. When I step back into the role of mother after time away, I feel like I can conquer anything.
Three girls later, I couldn't imagine it any other way. Raising little girls to become young women, I find I really emphasize the ideas of self worth, respect, and compassion for others. When Lola is teased by boys at school I don't tell her it's because they like you. I let her know, that it's not okay and they aren't worth her time. ALL of my girls know this. All of them know that if someone likes you, they should treat you with respect.
I'm very proud that we taught our girls to be compassionate and kind. I know that, at school, my girls stick up for others. If they see a peer sad or by themselves they'll always try to include them or cheer them up. I pray this continues throughout childhood and adulthood.
I admit, I have very high standards when it comes to academics and athletics. Sometimes I really have to step back and remind myself of their ages. That no one can give the one-hundred and ten precent all the time. I know I can be hard on them. It's not something I'm particularly proud of, and I continue to work on. I believe it's because my parents didn't push me in those areas and they could have. My parents could have pushed college, and made that a priority. Success and college is something that I want for all three girls.
I hope my girls don't grow up too fast. My oldest, Lola, wants join Instagram and social media. I refuse. I want her, as well as her sisters, to experience childhood. Free of media that tells them how they should look and feel. It's hard, because what they can't grasp is that growing up isn't as glamorous as it looks. So many responsibilities and burdens. Childhood is where the magic happens and I want them to stay here as long as possible. I want them to look back and remember that it was happy, innocent, filled with fun and lots of imagination.
Growing up, anytime I had a problem I'd go and talk to my Aunt Angie. I could always count on her to give me the best advice. As a mother, Angie was very laid back. Today I reflect on her parenting style and realize it's okay to let my house go to spend quality time with my children. Time with family is more important than a spotless house.
When I look back on my journey so far, my advice to my three daughters, Lola, Daisy, and Juliet is get down and play with your kids. We have the most fun when we let the house stay messy and go on a walk as a family. Forget about the chaos inside. The house chores can wait. Life is messy, so enjoy being in the moment because you're not going to have a chance to get it back.
My life feels so much more balanced now than it's ever been before. I suspect discoveries about myself will continue. I want to finish school. I want to pick up painting and drawing and see where that could lead. I think searching for oneself is an ever evolving process, much like my journey as a wife and mother.