Written by: Woman of Many Hats
No more school bells to race for, lunches to make, homework to finish, and clothes and uniforms to have ready for school or that extracurricular activity. And what about those last minute requests for home baked cookies or brownies for some kind of school function or fundraiser? Wait! Is this list for the kids or the parents? I think you know. School can be stressful for children and youth, but it is also true for parents. Draining and worrisome for all parents, but especially those who juggle work and children. It can be even harder for the single parent, or the parent who is caring for children and their own aging parents. And let's not forget that parent who stays at home to tend to children, but who may never get a break from dealing with challenging behaviours or special needs. That can feel very lonesome too.
So... Once those school bells start ringing again and the mad morning dash begins in just 8 weeks or so, "What is going to be different"? Will this be the summer that you begin to pay attention to yourself too?
The psychological shift in becoming a parent is huge; from being responsible for oneself only to being responsible for a child are worlds apart.
Before I became a parent "my house" was in pretty good shape, and so was I. Despite having a very, very busy and stressful job, I found time to tend to my physical being, my emotional /relational self, and my creative/spiritual interests or callings. I used to sleep more; I could eat and drink more of what I wanted; I could always find time to read a good book; travel and explore; go to a concert or the movies (and see a film that I wanted, which tended not to have a cartoon as the main character!); talk to friends and family without interruption and about grander topics than just schedules and family life. I certainly had more expendable income, too. Ah, those were the days!
I thought life was challenging then. And it was, but not in the same way that parenting is challenging. Although I knew becoming a parent would be difficult at times, it was something I was ready to take on and do well. Not perfect, but well. The psychological shift in becoming a parent is huge; from being responsible for oneself only to being responsible for a child are worlds apart. Little did I know how much of myself would go into parenting. Each and every day. There are some moments that I wonder how much of "me" is left at the end of the day. Where did the rest of "me" go? When is it coming back? Sometimes I feel she is buried under the baskets of laundry in the living room waiting to be folded. Sometimes she is in the dishwasher, waiting to be emptied and refilled. Sometimes she is lost on the "to do" list for me and my spouse. Sometimes she is hung on the wall, next to the two dusty guitars, or the three piles of to-be-read novels by the bedside table. Or even on the "my list" section of the next Netflix series that I am waiting to binge watch.
But most days she is waiting patiently to be recognized and acknowledged and asked to come out to play. These days I pay less attention to my former self and more attention to my new self. The self that is more concerned about doing the best job as opposed to a perfect job. The self that has built a family based on love, differences and acceptance. One that is centred around effort, not outcome. The self that focuses on changing previous maladaptive patterns; for kids and adults. One that sees the beauty in differences and explores histories and futures. One that strives to walk the "high road", which is often the road less travelled for many people these days, but, I find, it has the much better view and is worth the extra effort to get there. A self who is based on doing things the right and kind way, not simply the easy way. A self who would rather have a family of forgiveness for all the flaws exhibited and hidden, able to find our own strengths in being individuals and achieving our goals, both big and small.
It is true that I may never see my former self again and be able to give her all the attention she deserves and craves from time to time, but most days I prefer my new self. Imperfections and all. Bags under my eyes, more grey hair than ever before (hidden under my natural colour, of course!) and "curvier" than my younger years. But, this is a more evolved person and one who strives to continue living, learning and loving. Including myself a little more each day.
I plan on this being my summer of self care. But it will just be the beginning of another leg in the journey. Where will your personal journey take you this summer? Summer has officially arrived; school is out and the weather is lovely. Are you going to invite yourself out to play?
More from Woman of Many Hats
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International Self Care Day
July 24th is International Self Care Day, how do you take care of yourself? Tell us on Facebook, Twitter, or in the comment section below!
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