Several years ago, while I was frantically putting my girls to bed, my husband asked why I was rushing. Without thinking, I quickly responded, "I just want them to go to sleep so I can be me again."
All night I thought about what I said and what it meant.
Am I not myself when I'm with my children?
I realized that much of the time, I wasn't. Somewhere along the way I had taken on the "role" of mom-a role filled with seriousness, worry, multitasking and martyrdom. Typical, maybe, but it didn't suit me. I felt drained, disconnected, and more than ready to be done at the end of the day.
Instead of integrating my mom skills into my existing self, I split myself and became a different person depending on what I was doing. And like many moms, I began to lose my identity, my sense of being and my ability to relate authentically to my family.
Books, the media, family and neighbors will offer advice on what it means to be a great parent, but have you noticed that all the information is conflicting and always changing? Nobody agrees even on the basics, mostly because we all have individual backgrounds and challenges and we view the world through our individual experiences.
So instead of trying to play a role or be what others tell me to be, I try to keep it simple-trust my gut, use common sense, and just be me.
Being me means dancing in the kitchen, singing in the car, spending time with my friends, making mistakes, talking about my feelings, crying when I'm sad, and most important, laughing, a lot.
Some days are wonderful, and I make sure to acknowledge joyful moments and experiences, but some days are difficult, and part of my parenting job is to model how to handle challenges, take responsibility, and accept what is.
So instead of putting all of my energy into a "role," I put my energy into being me. I wake up and show up so my kids can know their mom. I want them to see me fall down, get back up, experience success, handle rejection and have fun.
And instead of striving for kudos from others, I'd rather strive to be the best version of myself, with the hopes that my girls chose to do the same.
Try to just be yourself and see what happens.
Cathy Adams is a certified parenting coach, yoga instructor and mother to three girls.
See more of Cathy's stories here.