It’s really easy to forget that my identity extends beyond that of wife and mother. Only hearing, “Mommy, mommy, mommy” all day can make you forget you even have a first name. Days when the telephone rings, and the person on the other end asks for Kristi, I have to break out of that mental bubble of “mommy” to coherently reply, “Speaking.”
Before kids, me-time involved working out for hours at the gym, taking classes, kayaking, camping, reading books for pleasure, and maybe even getting my hair done on occasion. My interests have changed pretty significantly since then.
I haven’t been kayaking or camping in six years. I’m lucky if I get a professional haircut once a year. Instead of getting a haircut or my nails done, I’d much rather spend the alone time getting my nails dirty in the garden. I still love working out, but my workouts now involve running in our neighborhood with a running stroller, instead of doing an hour-long Pilates or kickboxing class. I have always and will always love reading. That will never change. It’s just that now, it takes me about 4 months to finish a book, whereas before it only took me about 4 days.
So where does that leave me? I’m still Kristi, obviously, but my priorities are completely different than before. My kids are young and really dependent at this stage in life. While it can be exhausting to have to meet the needs of others 24/7, it also makes you appreciate time to yourself in a new way. After kids, you learn to cherish the small moments. You go to bed late, just to have a few blessed hours of silence and alone time. Grocery shopping, while the kids are home with daddy, may take about 30 more minutes than it should. You linger just a few moments longer in a piping hot shower, before getting out to face the day that will inevitably be full of poopy diapers, snotty kisses, and mushed bananas.
I’m working hard on remembering to introduce myself as Kristi. Not just a wife. Not just a mom. Kristi. So, I will start here. My name is Kristi and I love to garden. I love getting my hands dirty on a project all my own. I love hiking. I love fishing. I love staying up into the wee hours of the night reading and re-reading Diana Gabaldon books. If given the choice, I’d rather ride in the car in silence or listen to only classical music. I love cooking from scratch. I love baking, but I have a horrendous sweet tooth and absolutely no self-control when sweets are in the house. I love collecting antiques that are still usable. I grind my daily coffee beans in a hand-turned coffee grinder from the early 1900s. It belonged to Kevin’s great, great grandmother.
Becoming a mother doesn’t have to mean losing yourself to motherhood. It just means reinventing yourself in this new role in your life. You don’t stop being you once your kids are born. At least you shouldn’t. Try to find ways to meet your wants, needs, and interests with your kids. Show them your interests, and get them involved. Have them help you in the garden, bake with you in the kitchen, and go for family hikes. Having kids doesn’t mean the end of all things enjoyable. It just means you have more people to enjoy those things with you.