Finish this sentence: I am a….
When you ask someone to tell you about themselves you are likely to get a list. Job title, family role, religion, maybe even a member of a club or community.
I have defined myself as an Occupational Therapist, Blogger, Runner, Fitness Instructor, Teacher, Wife, and most recently, Mother.
So what happens when you suddenly lose some of those titles you claim as self? What happens when the roles that make up the essence of Me, change? Some of them are gone, some of them have been replaced, others are on hold…Existential crisis here I come. Has this new role, Mother, changed the foundation of who I am?
Motherhood is one of the most amazing things I could ever fathom experiencing. My child is a constant source of joy and amazement to me. My love of being a mother grabbed me by the heart and left a permanent etching on my soul. It is a role that I will never shed. It’s a part of me now.
So what happens to those other parts that don’t fit my life as beautifully as they once did? Do I shed them like a crab that’s outgrown it’s shell, discarding them to the depths of the ocean never to be heard of again? Do I recreate myself into a whole new person? Or do I mix the old and new even when the jigsaw edges don’t line up quite right?
Here’s the funny thing: Part of my job (pre-baby) was helping sick or injured people to be able to return to their previous roles. I showed people how to overcome the limits that they thought they had. Occupational Therapist heal thyself.
Something I tell my patients is that every step of the journey counts. I can’t guarantee that they will be able to do things in exactly the same way they did them before, but I can help them to do the things that are important to them in a new way. It’s time to apply that lesson to my own life
Lately, I find myself pondering the art of becoming. The art of becoming is a process that happens all the time. Like the caterpillar transitioning into a butterfly. Perhaps I have mistaken the end of the story as the important part. Does the caterpillar know that it is going to sprout wings, or does it just know that spending some time in the cocoon is a part of the journey? Maybe, as a human, I can be both caterpillar and butterfly over and over again. Maybe, being the butterfly isn’t the point of the story.
One thing I know for certain, staying in the cocoon isn’t the answer. There will be changes, and I will have wings.
Thank you to everyone who said they wanted to read my essay when I mentioned it in a recent Instagram post. Below I have included four steps that I am implementing into my life. I firmly believe that we should always find ways to make time for the things that are important to us. I hope that this helped you in some way. Feel free to leave a comment with your own experiences, or any techniques that have helped you find balance in your life.
Take Action: 4 Steps to Reclaiming Some of Your Lost Roles (Or just doing something that makes you happy!)
- 1. Make a List: Identify the most important things that you need to do for yourself. This can be as big as career goals, or as little as getting a daily shower uninterrupted.
- 2. Make a Plan: What needs to happen to make the goals on your list possible? Focus on one item at a time. You can prioritize it by what’s most important, or what is most doable for your situation. Identify what actions need to occur to make your goal happen.
- 3. Implement Your Plan: Now it’s time to take action. Work on making your plan a reality. Do you need a babysitter? Start asking friends or family, or look for a referral from someone you trust.
- 4. Celebrate Small Successes: In life things don’t always go as planned, even when you have well defined goals. Learn to be flexible and enjoy each success. Practicing kindness to yourself will help you be happier, and kinder to others. If your plan doesn’t work the first time don’t give up. Modify, adjust, and try again. Remember the OT Mantra: You may not be able to do things in exactly the way you did them before, but you can learn new ways to do what’s important to you.