I learned a big lesson in 2017. In the first three years I spent as a mother, I didn’t feel like I needed help from anyone. The saying “it takes a village to raise a child” bothered me. I didn’t believe I needed any help raising my children. I never really felt the need to take time to myself or be away from my children at all.
This was true when they were babies. Caring for my babies was easier than caring for my toddlers. They weren’t mobile, easily portable, and took regular naps. My babies were both exclusively breastfed and they wouldn’t take bottles, so no one could help feeding them anyway. Keeping my babies close to me was essential in building the bond we now share. It was manageable when they were babies. Partly because I didn’t want to be away and they couldn’t be away from me for long. I know now that I was wrong for thinking I could do it all on my own.
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Time Away From My Children
I’m starting to rediscover who I am as a person. I am a mom and I LOVE that role. But I have reached a point in my life where I need recognition for more than just this. I have started to realize that I find satisfaction and fulfillment in things outside of being a mom. Some of these things *gasp* don’t involve my children at all. I like to go out to lunch, dinner, or coffee with a friend, shower alone or work on my blog. I could go on.
This year my boys will be 5 and 3. They aren’t babies anymore. My almost 3 year old is less and less toddler every day. In addition to me rediscovering myself, I’m realizing what an impact other have on their lives. I didn’t think interaction with different people was so important when they were babies. Now, everyone they spend time with makes an imprint on them. Since we plan on homeschooling, this is extra important for my boys. I want my boys to feel comfortable and confident making connections with new people and familiar people. They get to interact with other kids and people of all ages every single day.
It was a shock to me the first time I craved some time away. Not just a shower to myself but I actually wanted to GO and be away from my children. We were invited to a wedding and I decided to surprise my husband with a room where the wedding was being held and his parents keeping the kids over night.
This was also the first time EVER I didn’t try to check on my kids at least hourly while away from them. In fact, my phone died before we finished dinner. I had an amazing time. I ate dinner, drank a bit, and danced all night. It was so refreshing and liberating to be seen as a woman and a wife, not a mother.
Discovering The Village
After that wedding, I started to discover that there really is a whole village of people around me willing to step in anytime I need or want a break. I’m currently sitting at Starbucks writing this. Over a year ago I decided that a couple mornings a week I would get up early, go to Starbucks, and work on my blog for a few hours. I made friends with a group that comes everyday so when they get here I socialize a bit with them before going to run some child free errands.
My husband has been so amazing. He has always been eager and willing to do anything for our children but now that I’m actually taking advantage of his help, I love him even more. I even went on a weekend vacation without my family a couple months ago. My village at home stepped in and supported my husband in caring for my little guys while I was gone.
My boys are lucky enough to have five wonderful grandparents. They love them all. I love that I have this amazing set of people to turn to when I need some time to myself. My mom is always willing to love my babies for a couple hours if I want to run errands or whatever. I love being able to drop them off with her. There is something special about asking the woman who raised me to care for my babies while I take some time to myself.
I was extra spoiled by grandparent help when we lived with my dad and step mom for almost two years. Several times a week my kids would run down the hall to go play with granddaddy and grandma. Each time I heard their door open and them welcoming my little boys in to play, I let out a huge (involuntary) sigh. Then I would go through the mental list of things I could do to take advantage of the free time. I usually ended up cleaning or vegging out on the couch but I was so grateful for the break. I miss this luxury now that we are in our own home again.
My husband’s parents are also only a call or text away if we want or need them to watch the boys. I know I can call on any of these five people to step in if I want or need some freedom. I am humbled and grateful for their willingness to help.
The Village Is Bigger Than You Think
I have also started calling on neighbors and other babysitters for help. My dad rented his basement to a young married couple while we lived with him. For about six months my boys went down to play with them for a couple hours a few days a week. They all love it. The boys constantly asked for her and ask if it was their day to go play. While they were gone, I usually used the time to clean or fold laundry.
Last but not least, I am thankful for the other mothers I have made friends with so far, and the ones I’ll make friends with in the future. It’s fun to get together for playdates, peak at each others lives on facebook and snapchat, and be able to turn to other women who are going through similar challenges.
We are in this together as mothers. We are all busy in our own mothering but I know they are just a text, call, or snapchat away if I want their opinion or need words of encouragement. I have some mom friends I hope I keep in my life for a very long time. The chats I’ve had with some of these women have lifted me up when I needed it most.
I’m Grateful for my Village
I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to express to all of these people how grateful I am for their love and support in my journey through motherhood. I don’t know where I’d be without people to lean on. Each person in this village I have discovered means so much to me. I know I will be taking advantage of the people in my village for years to come because it really does take a village to raise a child.