Parenting and Self-Identity

Can we talk about how hard it is to be a good parent?

My daughter is nearly three. With each passing day, Hannah gets more and more articulate with her speech and facial expressions. When Hannah was an infant, my whole life revolved around her. I mean, she was completely helpless. I leaned unconditionally into being a mother for more than a year. The only time Hannah was not right beside me was if she fell asleep in her pram. I would park the pram right outside our house, so she could have fresh air. Even then, I would check every 5-10 minutes if she had woken up. 

I remember when your hand was unbelievably tiny.

I lacked personal time and I burned out. 

It's kinda funny how it is precisely when you are completely overwhelmed, when you have no mental capacity left, that all you want to do is to continue doing that damn thing that got you there in the first place. I eventually worked out that I needed a break, regularly. But it was painful each time I had to forcefully pry myself away from my child. 

This pain came once a week, when I would force myself to take the bus to town. I just had to trust that everybody would still be alive when I get home. I got to have several mini solo trips, and to explore a little bit of Denmark that way. (I only stopped going out when Helge got too sick to watch over Hannah. I stayed home to look after Helge instead.)

You can go anywhere with a pram. Sort of.

As Hannah grew and became more independent, I started to feel better about not always being there for her. There was light at the end of the tunnel. I dreamed about following my passions again. In particular, writing and making calming vlogs. I let my husband handle more bath-time. We neglect to give Hannah a bath more often than I want to admit... We got some second-hand Disney DVDs, so Hannah doesn't squander her attention on incomplete episodes of Peppa Pig on YouTube. 

In short, I completely went the other way. I let go of my role as a mom and it sort of went on auto-pilot mode. Crazy, huh?

I would never wear this pink dress but it is me with the phone.

Despite Disney's great storytelling prowess, I do not appreciate how TV is being used as a cheap way to shut Hannah up for X amount of time. It is like the TV has become the nanny? 

Recognising the problem, I have now set up an 'Eraser Economy', where Hannah can 'buy' screen time using erasers that she earns from doing stuff like brushing her teeth and reading a book with me. The inflation rate will increase gradually, making Hannah work harder for her screen time... Makes you question if price hikes are all calibrated by men... But that is a question for another day.

Today, I really want to ask myself:

How do you do this parenting thing without losing your own identity? 

Is now even the right time to dream? 

What if I let motherhood occupy its rightful part of my identity? What if I let Hannah occupy her rightful part of my life?

Let's face it, kids only want to watch TV when Mummy and Daddy are too occupied with their own devices. If I had to choose, I know that I would much rather put video editing aside and spend every waking minute with Hannah. I don't want her childhood to be put in front of a TV, while I face another screen, just so I can edit one video after another. 

Hannah's eyes light up whenever I suggest doing something together. Drawing, painting, colouring, dancing, baking, cooking and going outside. I want more of that. I want that everyday.

Goodbye Netflix and Peppa Pig.

At the end of the day, trimming Hannah's nails, giving her a calming bath, cleaning her ears, these are perfectly majestic things that I get to do. I guess my insight today is a blatantly obvious one: Being a parent does take up a lot of time. But we should not hurry through it.

Even if I were to 'give up my dreams', to be a mother to Hannah, will I really regret it?

I already failed to write a newsletter last week. Failing my nine subscribers does not seem so bad, as compared to failing my daughter. Right? 

I still have my footage from vlogmas day 24 and 25 - the grand finale - to edit and upload. But for some reason, I am not too worried about it. I am already late anyway. A few more days won't hurt anyone.

Speaking of deadlines, I used to tell myself this while we were rushing to meet our essay deadlines in university: 

The only deadline that matters is the one where you breathe your last. Any other deadline is insignificant.

Before my deadline arrives, I want to do good by Hannah. I think she deserves that.

Like elephants, our children remember.

Also, happy new year! :-)


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