When the doctor hands you that baby, or you sign those adoption papers, or even when you see the two pink lines on the stick, you are forever changed. You’ve been a daughter, a granddaughter, a cousin, a friend, and probably a wife or girlfriend. But now, in this moment, you become something you have never been before: a mommy. No one can prepare us, no one can adequately describe that feeling in words (although whoever said “motherhood is like having your heart walking around outside your body” did a pretty good job). Loving these babies, rocking them to sleep, and doing everything in our power to make their lives easy and wonderful, that becomes the easy part. The hard part? Remembering that this day, this new title, has not erased all of those titles, those relationships, that we have spent a lifetime building.
I try my best to maintain all of those other relationships in my life, and the fact that my entire family (and the majority of my best friends) live within a few miles of me makes it so much easier. However, motherhood (as you all know) is crazy and unpredictable and the days start to blend together. And before you know it, you realize that you haven’t called your grandma in two weeks and your best friend has been texting you for days with no response. Oops.
I’ll admit, I have my ups and downs in this area. Sometimes I do really well; the littles and I take donuts to great-grandma while brother is at school, or I invite my cousin over for dinner. My BFF and I even started to schedule girls’ nights with our two daughters once a month, and as silly as that sounds, it has really helped us to see more of each other. But other times, my husband and I will go months without hanging out just the two of us, and we can all vouch for the fact that that just doesn’t go well. I think the hardest part about admitting all of this is that it makes us seem like we don’t want or need those non-mommy relationships. But honestly, nothing could be further from the truth. We need those relationships, we thrive from those relationships, and we are better mommies when we nurture those other titles in our life as well.
Throughout their short lives, my kids have learned that mommy isn’t just mommy. They’ve seen me fix my hair and put on a dress to go out with their daddy. They’ve stayed home with daddy while I’ve gone out for a girls night with my mom and aunts and cousin and grandma. They’ve sat in the strollers and (im)patiently waited as I chatted it up with my BFF in the driveway. They’ve even stood at the airport and waved to me as I’ve flown to Texas to spend time with my “sisters” from the City Moms Blog Network.
But one relationship that I’ll admit I’ve been neglecting
? Being a daughter. Now, don’t get me wrong. My kids see their grandma and grandpa nearly every day of the week, and they are beyond lucky. My parents are super-involved in our lives, helping baby-sit and helping fix anything at the house and being here for any and all special occasions with our littles. But I think that’s where I started to lose that title of daughter; I had become mommy, and they had become grandma and grandpa. We all loved these new titles, so much that we didn’t even feel like something was missing. Life was (is) good, and who can complain?
And then, about two months ago, my dad asked me if I would like to go to Florida with them. Just the three of us. My parents always go down there once a year, just the two of them (in fact, that is the only time I ever remember them leaving me when I was little. It was my chance to see that my mom and dad weren’t just mom and dad!) to relax and enjoy each other’s company, away from the stress and busyness of everyday life. But this time, they asked if I would join them for the second half of the trip. I’ll admit, I was kind of shocked they invited me, even though we are close. I didn’t even know what to say. I told my husband and my best friend, and I told them that I felt funny leaving the kids behind and going somewhere with their grandma and grandpa. You see what I mean? Their grandma and grandpa! Which, of course they are, but they are also my parents! After a couple weeks of convincing myself to not feel guilty (we moms seriously have a problem with this), I finally told them yes. And I was excited.
Last Thursday, I boarded a plane and flew to Orlando to be with my parents, just the three of us (I’m an only child, if I hadn’t mentioned that…just wanted to be sure y’all didn’t think we were leaving out some siblings!). It was so funny how they came and hugged me when I got off the plane, as if I hadn’t seen them four days earlier. Not that I’m complaining!
The next three days were spent enjoying this little family unit, this love that had raised me and helped me to become the mommy that I am to my own littles. I felt refreshed, I felt relaxed, I felt like a daughter. We laid on the lounge chairs and read books and talked. We ate delicious food. We walked on the beach and picked out which of the mansions we would buy if we won the lottery. We stayed up late laughing and watching Jim Gaffigan comedy specials on YouTube. And we called those babies, my babies, at night to tell them goodnight and that we missed all of them. Because we did. Especially me. When I picked up my son from preschool today, he said “Mommy, I told all of my friends about how you went to Florida with Grandma and Grandpa. Isn’t it funny how grown ups can have moms and dads, too?” Yes, little man, isn’t it funny.
So today I want to challenge you this: make it a priority to work on some of the other titles in your life. We all know that motherhood is the most important thing we will do, but it’s not the only thing we do, and our little ones aren’t the only ones who need our love. So, take some time to strengthen those other relationships that you are fortunate enough to have in your life. Be a wife. Be a friend. Be a sister. Be a daughter. Maybe it’s a five-minute phone call with your brother, or a movie date with your husband, or maybe even a plane ride to visit a faraway friend. Whatever works in your life, and whatever helps you build up those bonds, do it. Do it today, not tomorrow, and the most important part: don’t feel guilty when you do.