My kids are now 14, 12, nine, and six. The days of sun hats, diaper bags, figuring out nap times and snacks for tiny ones, and lugging enough gear to the pool to warrant one of those giant red wagons are over. It’s kind of nice to be free from all that, but now I have to figure out who I am when my kids are becoming their own people.
Just last night, we went out to the lake and I got bored. I had one kid out on a kayak and three playing by themselves in the water and I found myself looking around thinking “what now?” No baby to carry around in the water. No toddler to splash with or build sandcastles. No excuse to sneak off to the car for a snack.
What do I do?
I remember years ago reading a post from a mom who was in this stage. It was meant to be an encouragement to those of us in the thick of the tiny kid stage, exhausted and covered in sunscreen and mysterious sticky substances. She talked about the joys of sitting by the pool when all your kids can swim. She mentioned reading a book and getting a tan and actually relaxing. What she didn’t mention was the transitional period. That first real summer when your kids can fend for themselves is jarring.
I feel a bit lost.
Who am I when my kids don’t need me? What do I do at the lake or at the pool when I’m not a baby-carrier or toddler-entertainer? I’ve become so wrapped up in being “mom,” I don’t know who I am when I’m “Just Jama.”
There are lots of things for you to look forward to, mamas of little ones. Two of my four children can put on their own sunscreen. The other two stand quietly while I apply. Everyone can put on their own swimsuits and carry their own stuff. They can all swim well enough that the constant fear of someone drowning has subsided. They can buckle themselves in the car, put on their own shoes, and get their own snacks.
There will come a time, though, when you will wonder what to do with yourself when you don’t have all those things to take care of. You will look back and think, “Who was I before I was a mom?” I certainly don’t want to go back to who I was then, but I am curious about what I did with my time. What did that girl enjoy doing? Did she have hobbies? Friends? Sitting at the lake last night, I watched TikTok videos. I feel certain I was more interesting than this fifteen years ago.
So here’s my advice to you, mamas of littles: make a list. It doesn’t matter where: on your phone, in a journal, or on a post-it in your diaper bag. Jot down the things you like to do. Do you like to read? Draw? Knit? Write it down. What do you do with your friends? Write it down. There will come a summer when you’ll find yourself sitting by the pool or at the lake and your kids will be entertaining themselves. You’ll think, “What now?” and you’ll get that list out to remember who you were before you were mom. You’ll start to find yourself again.