Welcome to the club…soccer mom by day and well, soccer mom by night. You’re in the mom zone. We’ve all been there. Heck, most of us are still there. We spend our high school days growing inside and out, becoming the people we want to be. Then it’s college, or the military…. straight to the workforce or taking a year (or 10) “finding yourself”. We make great friends, fall in love once or twice, travel, spend every dollar we make and flourish into that amazing, beautiful butterfly our parents always told us we’d become! Time to fly!!
Right smack dab into the windshield of adulthood, marriage and kids. Guts smashed, windshield wipers rolling you over, around and upside down, broken antennas, the works. Gone are your cute clothes and nights out – you’re all t-shirts and flip-flops and soccer practice at 5:00.
Why do we spend the first twenty-five years of our lives working so hard to become this majestic, individualized person only to throw it all away when we become moms? Look, I love my kids. I love them with every fiber of my being. I love them from their stinky feet to the tips of their too-long hair. But when did my life become a constant tug-of-war between caring for them and being me? Who the heck is “me” anyways at this point?
Our family calendar hangs on the side of our amazing Whirlpool double-door stainless steel fridge with bottom freezer and separate veggie drawer. I wanted this fridge so badly last Christmas – needed this fridge! I had dealt with the fridge from 1980 for ten years and by God, I deserved it – and the matching dishwasher, oven and microwave, of course. When the heck did I start getting excited over appliances??? Wow. What happened to me??
That calendar (ordered every fall with my much-loved Amazon Prime account) has extra-large grids. This is a MUST. There are five people and three dogs in this house. Those extra-large squares fill up mighty quickly and I need every inch of writing space it offers. Besides reminding me of my own loved one’s birthdays, anniversaries and such, it holds the schedule. The soccer practices and games, the days and times for riding lessons, theatre rehearsals for the oldest, drama club, Girls on the Run and magic club for my daughter. Sometimes it’s basketball instead of soccer or Taekwondo instead of theatre, but it’s ALWAYS something. It holds the spot for doctors’ appointments, the dentist, trips to the orthodontist, IEP meetings for one, speech therapy for another, scheduled vet visits for the dogs with the ongoing question of if it’s easier to take all 3 at once of each separately. Then there’s the groomer and PTO meetings, barn staff meetings at a non-profit horse rescue I am involved with. It’s a never-ever-ever-ending cycle and it consumes us all. I have had an infected tooth that hurts terribly for two weeks and have YET to even call the dentist. I missed my OB/GYN appointment in May and still have not rescheduled it because sacrificing that precious hour of free-time for an appointment for ME is ludicrous.
I have a college-ruled single subject notebook that I use to plan dinners two weeks at a time in conjunction with pay days. Most nights offer no time to actually cook a meal since I leave to start picking kids up at 3:00 p.m. I get two of the three of them and then debate whether I should run errands for the next hour before my oldest needs a ride or go ahead and run the younger two home 15 minutes away only to turn around and come right back. They usually begin whining that they’ve been gone all day…they want to go home and eat every snack in the house while playing on my computer or watching my t.v. So, I usually end up making the trip twice pulling back in the just moments before my husband as we trade kids, cars or gear for someone’s soccer practice, riding lesson or other. We roll back in at 7:30 or 8:00 p.m. When on earth am I cooking dinner?? The crockpot is my best friend. It’s ready when we roll in. We quickly eat, shower and hop into bed to start it all again tomorrow.
Not every day is quite so outrageous. There isn’t always that trip back out to soccer or the barn. Those are the best nights. I cook a meal in an actual pan (if I don’t order pizza). We sit around the dinner table and talk about all those things on the calendar. I attempt to get my teenager (running full on teen angst) to reply to my questions with more than one-word answers. It’s so magical. Sometimes we then play a board game (which I completely and totally despise) or my husband has a “great idea” and yells out that we should go to the park or go fishing or the like without even mentioning it to me beforehand. Thanks. Thanks for that.
We finally tuck the kids all into bed. My husband and I spend an hour or two watching Big Brother or Survivor until he falls asleep snoring. I turn the lights out, the fan on and read quietly until my eyelids get too heavy to stay open.
Where the heck AM I in all of that? Half the time even the books I’m reading are on Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder to help my oldest son or dealing with difficult kids and sensory disorders for my youngest. I have a Kindle Unlimited account but I’ve been paying $10 a month to read the same book for the last four months.
So, what are we left with? Can we survive as individuals when we become wives and moms or are we just too tired to care at the end of the day?
Maybe…but I was going to try to solve the mystery regardless. I’ve discovered that part of my individuality is that I am all these things. I wear so many different names as we all do: I’m Ashley, I’m Master Sergeant V’s wife, I’m Braden’s mom and Skyler’s mom and Sawyer’s mom. I’m Allen and Loretta’s daughter and Amy’s little sister (man did I hate that one growing up). So “Ashley” is just 1/7th of who I am – which is really quite a small part. Ashley loves rainy, chill out days. She likes binging on Netflix or reading. She would eat Gummy Bears for breakfast, lunch and dinner if she didn’t have to constantly watch her weight. She loves fiercely and gives her all to everything she commits to. She comes out from time to time when I’m in “mom mode” passionately explaining to my teenager about what lies ahead and how to make better decisions to get him there, when my daughter and I lay in my bed together reading or hitting “next episode” on the show we watch together.
You don’t have to evict that girl you used to be to become something, someone else. She just has to slide over and make room. Maybe she stands up a bit so pregnant you can have a seat for a while. Maybe she hands over the keys so the “mom” in you can drive for a while. She’s still right there though – listening to Smashing Pumpkins on her iPod Shuffle. If you think about it a second, I bet she’s pretty dang happy to have all that company along for the ride!