I was on a roller coaster at Disneyland. It was a trip we had promised our three boys for a long time, yet as an introvert prone to anxiety, it was one I faced with some amount of trepidation. Still, despite periods of heavy rain, things had been going surprisingly well.
And then, as the coaster made its descent down the steep incline, I felt it. The surge of adrenaline. The drop of my stomach. The wind blowing my hair behind me.
I felt … alive.
A feeling almost foreign to me after living in a fog of depression for much of the year prior. Feeling alive felt nostalgic. I remembered feeling full of life often as a child, and in this moment, I was grateful to look at my children and share in the feeling.
I think as parents, whether we battle periods of depression or not, we are all prone to preoccupation. Preoccupation with work, our phones, or whatever is next on our agenda. I know as a mom I am always thinking about the next step or the next thing that needs to be done or taken care of. I forget to be in the moment, to be present, to live.
Children are amazing at living in the moment, and they constantly beg for us to join them. They take time to marvel at the beauty in nature. They play with reckless abandon. One of my favorite things about being a mother has been witnessing my children discover their passions and develop their talents and strengths. I plan to encourage them to build on these passions and follow their dreams because I know how much they mean.
I gave up on a lot of things I felt passionate about when I had my first child. I devoted myself completely to motherhood and lost myself at the same time.
I blamed it on my endless responsibilities, but that was unfair to my family. They didn’t make me give up the things I loved; I made that choice on my own. As much as I loved being a wife and mother, I forgot to nurture the other parts of myself as well. And when I stopped participating in the things that made me feel alive, my family was robbed of the wife and mother they deserved.
I want to have my heart in whatever I do, whether it’s my rediscovered passion for writing, or simply reading a book to my toddler. And I want to be present for all of it. I want to play with my kids without thinking about all the chores I’m neglecting. I want to share my love of art and music with my boys. I want to continue doing things that make me feel grateful to be alive.
Life is full of triumphs and challenges, beauty and pain. Becoming a mother doesn’t mean you have to give up the other parts of yourself that truly ignite your passion for living. Learning to share these parts of myself with my family has been one of the greatest gifts — for all of us.