Ask any parenting parent and they'll tell you, there was life before kids and then there is life after kids. Somehow, someday fertilization happens and a zygote turns into a blastocyst turns into an embryo turns into a fetus turns into a baby turns into a real live person and there is work to do! Suddenly everything looks different. Not just about you, but to you.
One Tuesday it hits you that eating out is a Really Big Deal. As is sleeping in. Sleeping at all, for that matter! By Friday, you find the need to acquaint yourself with words like "developmentally appropriate" and "thimersol".
And by "you", I mean Me.
There isn't a single decision that I make that isn't cast into the mold of What is Best for My Children. Where before I was casually coasting along taking things as they come, I am now living an outcome-driven way of life.
If there were a physical measure, a scale to weigh how much everything I am putting into my children's lives and how much hey-maybe-I-should-save-some-for-me I'm putting into my own it would never fall heavy on my side. That's just a fact. I know I need to look after myself too, but honestly, who has the time?!
At least I've had enough sense knocked into me to know now that I have a right to my own happiness outside of that which makes my children happy. Until recently, I didn't know how deeply I had engrained in myself that putting my children waaaaaaaa...aaaaaaaa...aay ahead of me was the defining characteristic of A Good Mother.
And still, I have only realized my need to take care of me because it affects my ability to take care of them. (Can I get a witness?!)
I am fully aware (in fact I am working toward ensuring) that the minute, the second, the moment will come when they will have outgrown me - as they should; and that if I make my whole existence about them now it will mean that when The Time does come and they Go, I'll have nothing left of my self but shadows and an empty mirror.
I sway with the pendulum and the tides reaching desperately to find
Perhaps my life after (having) children will continue this way until I find myself with a newly defined life after (raising) children. Hopefully when I am there and looking back with through the irony we call 20/20 hindsight I will know at last that in the very act of aiming for it, I was always somewhere in the middle because it is wider than I thought.
Whatever happens to me, I am placing all my bets that it will have a lot to do with what happens to them. (And not the other way around.)