You’re Not Just a Parent, man.

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This morning, as I logged on to edit this blog, I read a FaceBook post that a friend had added on his wall:

“Watching Duck Dynasty.. Just heard some solid truth.. Parenting is a struggle between making your kids life better and ruining your own…”

True. And exactly what I have been trying to articulate lately.  I recently observed that my husband and I are both struggling to hold on to the people formerly known as “us”, and to regain some of the fun, health, and energy that seems to slowly “bleed” out of our lives these days.

We went on a family hike the other day in the mountains, and I am telling you, there is a recurrent theme on our family adventures.  We are always behind schedule, or lost, which results in a certain degree of “marital discord”, the kids will find a way to bicker, act-up and ultimately, someone will either get injured, lost, or say a bad word in front of a nun. My husband and I will completely miss the “fun and relaxation” part of the day because we are so busy disciplining children, or trying to keep them safe, or putting on polysporin and bandaids.  We consider it a good family outing if the kids have anything positive at all to say about the experience and/or we get 2-3 good photos of people smiling to post on Facebook, so we can reminisce and pretend that the day went as planned.  There is rarely (never) the former peace, serenity or “nature-high” that we used to get when we went for a hike in our child-less years.

I think as members of a family, we all need to compromise our own needs, wants, and even dreams, to a certain extent, for the good of the “whole”. It is the right, noble and often necessary, thing to do when you are a member of a family, particularly if you are the parent. But compromise upon compromise can, and has in my case,  lead to a life drained of many of the things that once nurtured my soul as an individual, as well as us as a couple.

Hockey fees use up the extra money we once had for date nights and weekends away.

A glass of wine on the deck gets knocked over by a Nerf bullet that wasn’t supposed to be shot in the first place.

The sophisticated dinner parties get swapped out for crazy backyard barbecues, and eventually those fade out because there is not enough time to host parties anymore.

Holidays are spent in water-parks and “kid-friendly” restaurants, instead of mountain lodges and spas.

The former peace we felt in church is now spent trying to keep kids from laying on the ground, farting out loud (and laughing), or colouring Star-Wars characters on the pews.

Am I a bad parent for yearning for the days when some of our money and time was ours to spend on ourselves?  When I could take a yoga class without feeling guilty because it means less swimming lessons for the boys? HECK NO!  Am I going to listen to the people who tell me that it goes so fast,and that there will be “time for me and my husband when the children are gone”, and to put my children ahead of myself and my marriage for the next decade until they are grown? HECK NO! Now matters.  For all of us. All of us matter NOW!

I have a plan for this winter.

I am going to buy a mid-week ski pass at our local ski resort.  No one else is getting one.  Just me.  And I am going to ski every week, at least once a week.  I haven’t skied since I was pregnant with my first son.  I used to ski all the time.  There has been so much compromise, that we have become unbalanced in the process.  So much has been side-lined in support of my family’s needs, wants and desires.

Skiing was traded-in for baby classes, tots gymnastics, private preschool and Baby Einstein videos

Climbing was traded in for exer-causers, swing-sets, tricycles, bike helmets, and swimming lessons

Riding horses was traded in for home renovations, hockey camps, and a minivan

Magazines and movies? Traded in for field trip fees and Scholastic book orders…

The career, that paid for all of these “extras”?  Traded in so that I could be at home with my children as they grow, and support my husband in his new career.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t regret my choice to have children, nor that of giving up my career to be a stay-at-home Mom.  I DO regret not paying attention to the slow degradation of the quality and health of my own life, and my marriage, in the process of becoming a parent to a large family.

If you are a parent on a tight budget, with little time for yourself, you know what I am talking about.

My husband calls it “the slow bleed”.

It’s fun at first, when you are expecting your baby and excited about all the changes.  And as parents, we all want what is best for our kids, and to give them great experiences.  But at some point, I just hit the wall and questioned: “Hey?  What about us?  What about me?  What about you?”  We matter too!

Sure, we decided to have kids.  We knew it would mean sacrifice and hard work. But we didn’t agree to lose ourselves in the process.

I’m taking “me” back. Man.

This winter, I’m dropping those little “fellers” off at school in my ski pants.  BIG KISS.BIG KISS. BIG KISS….Mama loves you!  And I love me too….which is why…

…Mama is hitting the slopes!!  Gonna make some turns and “find myself” in a bowl of fresh powder!

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Before you hit the slopes, check out Sillymama’s favourite picks for your little ones’ Apres-Ski-wear at www.sillysouls.com

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