I remember those early days of motherhood well.
Throwing myself completely into my nurturing role, I dedicated my every waking moment to my baby.
I was often overwhelmed as the reality of how relentless parenthood was hit me amongst the sleep deprived first year.
It didn’t help that my gorgeous boy experienced reflux, which meant lots of rough days and nights.
After a while I felt like things were amiss. Something wasn’t right.
Something was missing.
That something was me!
In the fervour of making sure I was being the best mum I could be for my son, I neglected to look after myself and do the things that make me, me!
Mums are really good at putting the needs of others before their own without a second thought.
And while that isn’t such a bad thing, not being mindful of yourself and your needs puts you on track to losing yourself too.
In my case it also led to frustration, down days and the emergence of my cranky pants mummy.
The first time I felt like myself again was when I went back to work.
The realisation of why that was came to me a little further down the track, after I had settled into the working mum role.
After a year of being in full-time mummy mode, I finally had something of my own, just for me.
The time I felt most ‘me’ came a few years later when I was cast our local theatre company’s musical Cabaret.
I had two children by then, the youngest being two.
I knew it would be a big commitment, but rehearsals were held while my children were in bed at night, which meant I wasn’t going to be missing out on spending time with them.
It had been a good five years since I was involved in a show and I can’t remember ever having so much fun before.
I was a chorus member so didn’t have the huge pressure of a lead role (I’ve been there before), which meant I could really enjoy myself (not that being a lead isn’t fun, it just comes with added pressures).
It took a while to find my feet again.
I hadn’t used my brain like that for such a long time so the dance routines, at first, wouldn’t stick easily like they used to.
My body also needed time to loosen up again and be comfortable dancing.
Then there was the task of learning the music and singing as I danced – something that takes plenty of fitness and breath control.
For a little while I wondered whether I’d ‘lost it’.
Whether it had been too long and it wasn’t going to come back to me like it used to.
But it did.
It took some perseverance, the ability to laugh at myself and eventually I ended up pretty proud of the fact that I, a mum in her mid-30s, could get up on stage next to young women in their late teens and early-20s, most of whom were still undertaking dance training each week, and not look out of place.
The experience brought me joy, a sense of achievement, the chance to meet some amazing new people and show my children what it means to do something you love.
They were proud of me too. Their visit to the set one day after the show (they didn’t see it because the content really wasn’t for little ones) was a beautiful moment.
Their look of wonder and excitement and they walked about on stage and checked out backstage was so lovely to share with them.
That was three years ago.
Now I’ve got another child, getting back on stage in a production like that is going to be a long time off (although I do stay involved with a position on the promotions committee).
Which is why taking time to get creative at home has become so important.
It showed me that making the time to do things you enjoy ultimately brings more joy into other areas of your life – and that is definitely a reason to do more of it!