I feel as if I’m in a rut and can’t pass Go to collect my $200. When I made the decision to have kids, I knew that there would be compromise. No one expects to bring new life into this world without having to make major adjustments and sacrifices.
It’s expected, and it would be foolish to think that you could continue with things as they were before. It's not possible. Your entire routine and responsibilities are flipped upside down, inside out and multiplied by infinity. You are now responsible for the well-being of another person. That’s big and overwhelming, but exciting and rewarding at the same time.
When children come into the picture, your world as you’ve known it pretty much ceases to exist. It’s not just about you anymore. No one really prepares you for parenthood – not even your own parents. Yes, there are a ton of books out there to read up on before your little miracle makes its debut. I know because I read most of them: What to Expect When You’re Expecting and all the sequels for each stage of child development thereafter, Dr. Spock – heck, even Dr. Phil has advice for the nervous parent, the bad parent and the exhausted parent.
But it’s not until you actually experience parenthood firsthand, thrown to the wolves, so to speak, that you really get it. At least that’s how it’s been for me. I’m a kind of “learn as you go” person. I wanted to educate myself enough so that I would have enough knowledge to make practical decisions for my family, but I crave the experience of spontaneity, too. What I didn’t expect was to feel lost along the way. I seemed to have tripped the tracks and fallen off course and have misplaced myself in this process. Nothing that I have read told me this would happen.
Maybe it’s a pre-40 identity crisis. I’m 37 years old, and I don’t really know what lies ahead. It’s been a rough few years, and maybe stress is taking its toll on me. I find myself dissecting my life and asking myself if I’ve accomplished the goals I had set for myself early on that I anticipated to have achieved at this stage in my life. The sad answer is no.
The fact is that so many unexpected twists and turns have happened along the way that I’m on a completely different path. I never envisioned being a divorced, single mother managing a home, career and kids on my own, which has changed many things, mainly time and opportunity. I haven’t written the books that have been trapped inside my head for years (I still aspire to be an Oprah’s Book Club pick!). I fully intended to have my first novel published by age 21, then 25, 30, 35 … you see where this is going. I know that I am in control of this happening or not, but when my days are filled with work, homework, house maintenance, everything that goes along with raising a family, time is never on my side.
At this juncture, I also hoped to have visited numerous countries, or at least see the rest of mine. I don’t always manage to even get in a real family vacation each year. And although I have had the fortune of a solid career, I question what I still want to do with my life. I had the false presumption that at my age I would be comfortable and secure on many levels. It seems over the years that I’ve taken the time to take care of everyone else, that I haven’t always taken care of my own needs or fulfilled my own dreams. Is that the expectation when we become parents?
I’ve decided I am not going to conform to this mold any longer. Setting the example to my kids that personal goals can and should be achieved is important to me as a parent, even if in baby steps. I'm already creating a new vision board to help keep me focused. Keep watch. Maybe, just maybe, you’ll find my name on the New York Times best-seller list one day soon. I'm determined to find Me again.
Ready for some alone time? Here are some activities for kids in Largo. Try teaming up with another parent and take turns giving each other a day off.