You make sacrifices in life. Some are greater than others, and when you finally make the decision to become a parent, your life is no longer your own. While having a child is a true miracle, becoming a parent takes on a whole new level of sacrifice and love that it is hard to explain in words. As we evolve into parents, we soon find out that our new roles involve us giving up a lot of ourselves, and that our ambitions get put aside while we focus on this new life-altering job.
However, coming from someone who is also a parent to two little ones, I can tell you to never let go of who you are, or in your identity. I will not lie and say that I haven’t made big sacrifices when it comes to my kids. Both my husband and I have given up time with friends (not that I had a lot), golfing, and in planning outings where it’s just the two of us due to our two wonderful blessings. Instead, we found ourselves changing diapers, kissing boo boos or spending the afternoon taking family walks. Our children are truly the greatest joys in our lives, as well as the ones that have changed our priorities immensely. Regardless of this shift, we both still work on taking time for ourselves and with each other, because if we drowned in the world of parenthood then there would be nothing left of us to share.
I believe our culture places an unnecessary guilt on us to be solely focused on our children; To put our needs and wants second, and become totally enslaved to our little ones. While I understand the concept, it doesn’t mean that we should give up everything, including our inner happiness, to be the ‘perfect’ parent. When you start taking care of everyone before yourself, the only thing you will feel is resentment and stress, and that is not a path that one should take when taking care of your children. There will be hardships in raising children, but that shouldn’t be what you remember most about your child rearing years. Those memories should be filled with love, laughter and happiness. How can you make memorable moments that are meant to be cherished if you are not happy during that time?
Our happiness, and inner peace, also matters, when raising children in this world. Having an identity was what you aspired to have before children, and it should also matter and stay prevalent during and after they grow up. Our children evolve us, make us better, wiser and in some ways, teach us a lot about life. They are a part of identity, but not the focal point of what defines us. Do not forget about the hobbies you loved or the activities you used to do before your children entered the world. While you will obviously have to cut back on them, that doesn’t mean to forget about your interests or hobbies completely. Make time for them because it will give a semblance of normalcy and nostalgia that will bring a smile to your face for certain.
I hope these words give you a sense of relief or confidence in doing things that make you happy while raising your little ones. While the sacrifices are greater and there is less time for yourself, parenthood doesn’t erase your identity unless you let it. Always take time for you and to enjoy the things you did before your children came along. After all, you kids will grow up and become their own individual that will make their own way in life like you strived to do in yours. As you would never want someone or something to change your children’s identity, so should you remember that for yourself. Parenthood comes with many sacrifices and changes, but it’s a beautiful experience that should only make us better, and not what makes us forget about ourselves.
Originally published at medium.com