Every once in a while you find yourself in a place that feels like home. Oddly, you find a sense of familiarity in its foreignness. You feel content. It isn’t so much the surroundings as it is the way it makes you feel. In your heart. It sheds light on parts of you that you forgot existed because they were dormant. It awakens feelings that were muted. And, you are happy.
I love being a mother. My kids are everything to me – they give me truth, perspective, and above all, unconditional love. And, for the past seven years, that was my sole purpose – to be their mother. I was fulfilled. Life is full of so many milestones their first few years, it is easy to become wrapped up in your children’s lives and forget that you have one to live as well. You are so fixated on their happiness and the joy that they bring to you that you forget what exists outside of that world. And, you lose a bit of self-awareness in the process.
I see now that there are stages to parenthood. After the toddler years, you are no longer in demand and have time to be you again. It is an unfamiliar place – not being needed. Being “in demand” can easily fill up a whole day. So, for the first time, in a long time, I am contemplating what makes ME happy, I will admit, this stage is difficult. I am struggling to find ways to be present and not hover over their lives. I don’t want to let go. But, time doesn’t really wait for indecision. I am forging ahead, re-learning to be the person I was before I had children. Because she was pretty great too.
I recently traveled for work. I was away for a week. And, while other people try to fill their spare time while they are away for work, I was still. My eyes open wide, I breathed in the new experience and was appreciative of that time to be me. And, I realized something very important that is going to carry me forward in to this new stage of parenthood. I actually like my company – I am still curious, silly, and full of enthusiasm for life. I am still a romantic. I love to explore new places, meet new people, and immerse myself in new experiences. I still love food, art, and taking photos. I love talking to strangers, laughing at nothing, and having no agenda.
I also met someone while I was there. A man who said something so profound that I know it will stick with me for the rest of my life. He said, “you have to be an architect of happiness in your own life. No one is going to do that for you.” I don’t even remember his name, his wife’s name, or recall how we met. But, he said exactly what I needed to hear at the exact time I needed to hear it.
As I enter this new stage of more independence and discovery, I am more aware of my surroundings and perhaps, more aware that I need to find a place that is just mine. I also have higher expectations for who and what I do with my time because the company I have kept these past few years is a hard act to follow.