I realized that having children would change my life, but I didn't realize how much it would change me. Since I became a mom, I've reacted to my children's growth by continuing to change every two to three years. After ten years, I've already had four distinct versions of me.
In the first version, I was a mother of one. The learning curve was steep, and I lost a lot of sleep as I adjusted to staying home with my child. It was a time of enormous change, but a hugely positive one. I had a support network of good friends, I could nap when the baby napped, and my husband and I spent most of our free time focused on the little guy.
Nearly three years later, the next version launched. My daughter was born, and my life turned upside down. Instead of devoting all my time to one little person, I inadequately split my attention between two. The baby didn't sleep through the night for ten months; there was no sleeping when the baby slept.
As I needed more support, my closest friend and daily support system moved away. Soon after, my husband moved into temporary housing in another state to start a new job. With a three-year-old and an infant, we shopped for, purchased, and redecorated a house across the country. Once we moved, we had no friends and no babysitters. It was overwhelming. That year is a blur to me.
Version three was all about becoming part of our new community. I joined the local newcomers group and served on its board for two years. I started a parent group at my children's preschool and ran it for four years. I hosted large parties, dinner parties, and playdates. I organized monthly breakfasts among other moms who stayed at home or had flexible schedules. I was proactively active.
After all that outwardly directed activity, I focused inward for version four, which began when my younger child attended school full-day. I was in between; I had mentally checked out of the preschool, but I hadn't yet mentally checked into the elementary school.
The kids were in school longer, and both my volunteer and social time decreased drastically. I used my newly-found free time for me time. I started this blog, I took photography classes, and I worked on projects at home. It's been a splendid couple years. I've discovered new passions that energize me.
The downside to all these new hobbies and self-discovery is that they are significantly solitary. I spend a lot of time home alone. Much of that time is behind a camera or in front of a computer. After putting so much effort into extroverted activities in phase three, I think I needed to focus inward.
Now it's time to move onward and outward. It's time for Mommy 5.0.
I plan to continue to pursue the creative things that bring me joy, but I also hope to become more involved again. I want to satisfy both my inner introvert and extrovert. I hope that version five combines the best of three and four, striking a balance between community-building and me-building.
Give me a few months to find my way. After that, I welcome feedback on the new version. I anticipate performance improvements with the release of the new me.