Today on the blog I am welcoming Autumn Baughn from A Whole Story. She’s sharing her heartfelt story about the rollercoaster of emotions moms endure when their kids get older.
I’m a mama to two little firecracker kiddos who are best friends, my girlies are 7 and 5, and life is just getting brighter, different, and more open every day. As they grow in their independence, capability, and adventurous spirits, I have found new space. New ability, and? Some major identity crisis.
I threw myself into motherhood full force. Nursing on demand, creating Mama groups on FB, and forging new friendships based in our commonality of motherhood and babies. It filled me up, time/brain/body/heart. Everything about the baby years was all-consuming. But what happens when the baby years trickle away into toddler… and now school aged?
When the girls hit around 3 and 5 the time they occupied themselves began to stretch out. I often sat, listening to them play, a bit lost. Their imaginary world growing richer and deeper by the day, and my identity slipping into new territory that felt confusing and strange.
I jumped from nursing and napping babies every hour, to basically providing snacks to fuel their intense play. I felt confused. This was all I wanted when they were 1 and 3.
This was what I had hoped to be setting them up to be; strong, capable, independent, and great at imaginary play.
The new space felt awkward, confusing, and left me on edge.
To be constantly on the edge of needed, but not needed. I never knew if the time between them needing me would be 20 min or 2 hours. The discomfort in that time between needs was palpable. My job felt hollow. I’d gone from being so intensely needed, to kind of disposable feeling.
This is where I need to backtrack a moment. I am a bit different than most of the Mamas I know. For me, having children, answered my questions. I had my kids young, and becoming a Mom felt like a big deep sigh of relief.
The answer to: Who am I?
I never felt like I lost myself to motherhood. But I sure as everything felt lost when my motherhood got easier.
The years of intensely mothering babies, nursing non-stop, never sleeping, researching everything, and going to doctors appointments SO freaking often, that felt strong, right, and filled me up with This Is Me feels.
As that trickled away. As the conversations grew more sophisticated. As the kids got older, needs changed. I felt lost. This space I thought I’d ached for arrived and it left me feeling upended.
My girls love of alone time, best friend time, and independent play has only grown these past two years. Now, at 5 and 7, it’s often most of the day long. All with the still hanging obvious need’s of kiddos. We’re home-schoolers so there is that job, always present. But beyond that we have incredible conversations, bizarre dance parties, and intense board game sessions. However, those times between? Ever growing, and I’m finally comfortable in
Ever growing, and I’m finally comfortable in them, and wanting to share a bit about what got me there.
Here are a few of the things I’ve done these past two years to find my Who Am I with growing up children.
First, I created a 20 Minute Solution to the things I deem most important to my mental and physical health. I have a whole blog post sharing about this, and a YouTube video, but the base is this; Set a timer for 20 min and spend that time doing ONLY that thing. For me these are typically cleaning, quality one-on-on kid time, yoga, writing, meditation, social media.
This keeps me boundaried in things that I can often binge on (hi, Instagram! bye, two hours!) and on task for things that I often rush through, spin my wheels on, or end up wasting time coming back to and leaving behind again and again (cleaning my dang kitchen, what?).
Within the 20 Minute Solution I found out some big things about myself, and have grown those into what is filling up the newfound brain space and time I have as my little have grown.
- Meditating and Prayer to really hone in on what I want to do with space. I thought about education I may want to pursue? A new business venture? Or a season of rest? Sitting and listening has been the best way for me to really hear what I am led to next. It’s a practice, it took a lot of 20 min timers to get myself to calm and quiet enough to hear.
- Journalling. Spending time doing some free writing (aka; write whatever comes up!) and if that is feeling overwhelming just try a list. I’ll often just write a header; Dream’s, Goals, Feels; and then a list!
- Nature. Getting outside and walking, running, moving, experiencing gorgeous views or new spaces always gets my brain into a place where I am more open to seeing the Big Picture of who I can be for myself, and my family, with these new space opportunities.
As my two kids get older, I am guessing these feelings, need’s, and the kind of space I have will continue to evolve.
Through this season I’ve found new facets of myself, new skills, and new curiosities. And, it seems, my kid’s mirror me as they are finding the same and we are all sharing in the spoils of a growing up family together.
Has your parenting and identity made big shifts throughout the stages of motherhood?
Being on this first little precipice, looking back on babyhood, it leaves me wondering what other peaks and valleys I’ll be looking over through the decades of my Mamahood. I’m so excited to see how this little family of 4 grows and changes together as we only tackle new stages and ages.
Want to learn more about Autumn? She is the creator of A Whole Story, a healthy lifestyle blog with a heavy lean on body positive fitness, self and relationship wellness, whole foods recipes, and family adventure. Administrator and creator of the Abundant30 Facebook group and Whole30 Ladies Facebook group. She is a self-proclaimed social media addict, active on most all platforms, but most commonly found on IG.