On Losing and Rediscovering Myself

By Sarah Aterrado - April 10, 2015

While everybody was on a holiday break yesterday, I was out working. And while everyone is working today I'm home and reflecting. The past months have really been a blast. With all those getaways and new things that I have tried, I am seeing my old, free-spirited self again.

It just reminded me of the last four years of my life. That time when motherhood caught me off guard and everything suddenly stopped—in both good and bad way. That time when I would just drop anything to attend to my son's needs. That time when round-the-clock feeding started to take its toll on me as I was never getting enough sleep. And sometimes, I feel dejected that I have found myself on the brink of giving up.

Okay, let's be realistic here. Motherhood, no matter how fulfilling it gets, is not the greatest thing you will ever accomplish in your life. Harsh much? That's how I see it. It comes with a lot of headaches, frustration, and a lot of bad days. It is a lot of work. And I am definitely not okay with that. I love my son and I wouldn't change a thing about having him, but I could never kid myself that motherhood is the best thing that happened to my life. Fellow moms might tear me apart and may call me selfish, but that is how I truly feel.

Mothers go great lengths to care for their children, and I guess, losing yourself is part of being one. I was no longer able to do the things I used to do. Motherhood experience transformed me in ways that I could not imagine. But then again, I found myself still trying to balance the transformation on being the best parent and still keeping a reasonable sense of personal identity. But it's terribly difficult.

That was my struggle back then. I was bounded too much by my own inhibitions. I was afraid people will see me as a bad parent that I gave in to the unrealistic standards the society sets for a mother: the more hands-on you are, the better mother you become.  If do this, you're a bad mother. Or if you don't do that, you're selfish. Yadda, yadda. So I let go of my hobbies, dreams, and my passion because I want to become a better mother. In short, I gave in to martyrdom. My eyes were locked on my son almost 24/7, I never missed a milestone, and I knew just every color of his every poop in the first four years of his life.

But then resentment started creeping in because I am definitely losing sight of myself. Part of me doesn't want to be "just" a mom. I know this could sound selfish and awful, but I am just being honest here. Brutally honest. I want to do something for me too. Something that would make a difference. Something that would bring back my self-worth. I understand we lay down our lives for our kids, we make sacrifices, we put our children's needs over ours, but then shouldn't we also take care of our selves for our kids too?

It took me four years to realize that I have totally forgotten about myself. While I was trying to be the best mother the society expects of me, I was unconsciously hurting myself more than I know. And I'm not just talking about those pressing household chores, or the exhaustion of working two jobs just so I can give only the best for my child, or sore nipples, or any form of physical pain.

For four years I have hindered myself to all forms of fun and pursuing my dreams. Even my friends stopped contacting me whenever there are gatherings because they know I would only give one answer: Dili ko pwede kay magbantay pa ko'g bata (I can't because I have to look after my kid). And if I say I am coming, I wouldn't show up. I have stopped existing around the people I know. I have stopped dreaming. And it took me years to realize that the moment I stopped dreaming, I also ceased to experience life.

For the past few months or maybe over a year, some people came into my life and rekindled my dying passion. For the past months, I have learned not to be cruel to myself and gave in to the things that I have always loved. I have started to love myself more by doing the things that made me feel alive and it feels much much better. Hence, for the past few months, I've been going to places I've never been to and doing those things I have never tried before.

Yes, for some time, I have been selfish. I believe I need time for myself too. Because more than the lack of sleep, the lack of time for self is worse because it only induces frustration and depression that could lead to becoming an unhappy parent that could eventually lead to bad parenting. But that doesn't mean mommy duties is taking a back seat.

I am really thankful I've got time for myself now. They say it takes a village to raise a child. And I am so thankful for all those people who have shown concern and love for my son—who, in a few months will be an awesome first grader. And of course to my mom who's been spoiling my little kiddo so much. Without them, it would not be possible for me to have a ME-time. And I don't think I could ever be grateful enough. :)
Last night, Red said he'll surprise me with something the next day. And just this morning, I woke up with these. I know he just took this from our fridge. But just by his simple action, it melted my heart as fast as I devoured these in less than 60 seconds. LOL.

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