By Kristin Dunning, Philadelphia Moms Blog
Vicki Iovine, whose name I have never figured out how to properly pronounce, of “Girlfriend’s Guide” fame, was my pregnancy hero.
When all other pregnancy books nagged me about folic acid intake and why, despite the fact that I looked and felt like a harpooned whale, I should be getting tons of exercise, Vicki explained the stuff I really wanted to know about: what was up with all the gas, why my entire body looked “upholstered” because of water retention, and later, after my son was born, why I wanted to throttle my beloved spouse and possibly also leave the baby in a basket on the doorstep of a kindly neighbor as I headed south to, say, Key Largo.
Shortly after my second child was born, and I had absolutely decided No More Babies, I picked up her book, “The Girlfriend’s Guide to Getting Your Groove Back.” I read it, and thought, “OK! I can do this! Lose the weight, not dress in elastic waist pants, schedule time with my friends, and decline requests to bake cookies every third day of the week for this or that class activity!”
And then I put the book away, immediately forget all my best intentions about “getting my groove back,” and got on with the daily business of being a mother, a wife, a worker outside the home, and all the attendant hooha that goes along with those roles. Mom Me, Wife Me, and Worker Me sucked all the air out of the room, and Me Me, the person I am at my core and who I was before marriage and children, receded far, far into the background.
Fast forward six whole years. During which time I thought about “getting my groove back” approximately twice. Both times only in passing and only in the context of how totally not groovy I was. Lately, however, I notice that I’m feeling a little groovy. The Mom Me is by far the alpha mom of the pack, to be sure. She gets the most air time. The Wife Me is showing up a little more consistently and in finer form than she has in the last few years. Hi honey! I’m home!
But the big news is that the Me Me is making a comeback. I have these moments where I recognize, well, me. The me I used to be. The best part of getting to spend time with Me Me is that I really like her. She’s fun to be around, and she has a lot to offer Mom Me and Wife Me in terms of companionship and support. Those moments when I feel like I’ve got my groove back are still just moments, though. It’s not that I would trade the mothering, partnering, or working aspects of my life for anything, but I do wonder how to balance all of my roles and still feel like the genuine, and groovy, me.
I conducted a very formal study of how moms get their groove back. And by “formal study,” I mean, “I emailed a bunch of very cool moms I know and asked them what it meant to them to get their groove back and how they did it.” Most of the responses ran along the lines of, “I haven’t seen my groove in nine years and wouldn’t know it if you hit me over the head with it” and “I don’t have time to answer this email because someone just tried to flush a pair of child-sized Converse high tops down the toilet.” Despite their denials of grooviness, my survey revealed two interesting results.
First, two of the grooviest women I know claimed to have no idea how to get their groove back and expressed their frustration with what seemed to them to be a very long process of reclaiming some sense of self after having children. Those same two women wrote me the longest responses about how they struggle with their own perceptions of their identities and a sort of grieving for their past lives, the lives in which they felt free to be who they wanted to be. Believe me when I tell you that if you saw either of these two women in the grocery store, at the gym, walking their dogs, or playing with kids in the park you would be dead certain that they felt like they had it all together and felt confident about their lives and themselves all the time. Just goes to show…
Second, within each response I found a hint of the same key factors in getting your groove back. Each woman wrote, sometimes just offhandedly and in passing, of spending some time alone in pursuit of some personal goal or satisfying some personal desire. Whether taking pole dancing fitness classes and fitting into a bikini again, writing a short story, going back to school for a nursing degree, or contemplating returning to the work force, each mom felt the best about herself when she’d found a way to spend time outside of her mom/wife/worker role and devoted energy towards doing something just for herself. When I consider the moments when I’ve started to feel like the real me, the Me Me, was present and accounted for, I realize that they occur as a result of my conscious choice to allow myself to, guilt-free, make time to do the things I want to do on my own terms.
This is an original post from the Philadelphia Moms Blog, http://www.phillymomsblog.com. You can also find Kristin Dunning at The Well Read Hostess. She is grateful for the participants in her very formal and scientific survey of groovy moms.