I don’t know about you, but when I found myself suddenly single, it rocked my world. My roles as mom, wife, and miracle worker with children defined my existence mostly as a result of how I invested my time and the value I placed on being a good mom and wife. And there was a whopping 15 minutes left for myself in the morning with a cup of coffee and solitude in one indented place on the couch each morning for just about as long as I could remember.
I had no clue what to do with an entire Thursday night. Alone. Me and the geriatric cat. And I’m not a cat person…
It was reinvention time.
I was not looking to earn my Cougar Merit Badge, and I’m far too much a rule follower to go off the deep end, so my fork in the road question was this: How do I find my own identity as a single person when all I know how to be is a married mom of two?
A note about reinventing oneself:
Before I became a parent, I held onto this odd truth that I should never check my identity at the door just because I was a mom. I wanted to be a mom, and I wanted to be a fantastic kick ass mom. But I also wanted to maintain my individuality, my own interests, and not define myself by my roles. I’d watched too many women lose themselves in the day-to-day To Do List of super-momming to know that I needed to carve out space in my life to do something that built into me.
When the day came that my house was eerily silent, I knew this opportunity meant I needed to get myself off the couch and engaged in something to build momentum in a positive direction. It was reinvention time…whatever that meant.
The first night my kids were away, I thought my heart would not survive. In reality I knew they would be safe, but the thought of sitting at home with their spots at the table empty was unbearable. So I signed up for a cooking class and learned how to make tamales with a group of complete strangers. Then I decided I should hit a happy hour yoga class each Friday they were away. Over time, I made a list of ways I could take care of myself because truly we are all only able to give if we have something to draw from. The candle can burn from all ends for a short period of time before there’s simply nothing left, so building into yourself is building into a healthier future for everyone you care about.
I made a list of things I’d always wanted to do, cut them into small pieces of folded paper, and put them in a jar. Each day I found myself solo, I’d grab a sliver of paper, muster some courage, and do the thing I’d written–no excuses! That experience taught me that I could tackle things on my own I didn’t know I could simply because I hadn’t any previous opportunity. I road-tripped to new places and embarked on unusual adventures, but the greatest return on those investments in myself provided me with a quiet confidence that translated into other parts of my life. When I needed to find a house, I just did the research and found a house. When I needed to remodel it, I got creative and pulled off a $50,000 remodel for $20,000. When I needed to take two small kids camping in the mountains for a week, I was ready for an adventure with nothing holding us back. Bottom line–I forced myself into deciding that I was worth the investment of taking care of me. After the harrowing experience of a divorce, self-worth seemed this elusive thing requiring energy I didn’t have. And somehow I just knew I needed to go find it.
My world is a more colorful place these days full of people and interests opening up a world I couldn’t access from the indentation in my couch. So go reinvent yourself. Dream big and believe that where you are today isn’t where you’ll be tomorrow, and refuse to settle for anything less than extraordinary.
Take a leap of faith and jump in the balloon.
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