I recently went on a date with my old self. And I highly recommend it for all you mommas (and dads) out there. My date was in the form of a night out with an old friend, catching up and listening to a musician that we love, and used to love, 23 years ago.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s get serious for a second.
It’s one of those yucky things that often comes up when discussing the blessing of motherhood. Lots of mommas agree that it’s almost impossible not to lose a little bit of yourself when your life is suddenly refocused on one, two, three, or more little babes. The person you once were starts to fade a little bit more with every diaper change, every PTA meeting, every soccer game.
Now, please don’t misunderstand me. I wholeheartedly believe that most mothers, while they recognize that this “loss of self” is happening, are perfectly fine making sacrifices and life changes for their children—myself included. But that doesn’t mean that we all shouldn’t turn a little more attention to preserving the fabulous parts of our old selves that deserve to be preserved.
If you’re anything like me, this shift away from the old me happened way before I had children. As we grow up and are forced into our big girl panties, a lot of our carefree, indulgent activities are replaced by boring, yet responsible, adulting. The sad thing is that a lot of the experiences we enjoyed in our youth were full of enrichment, inspiration, education, and expression. And without intentional effort in adulthood, those types of experiences slip down in the priority list. Instead, we focus on things that are routine and predictable because, let’s face it, not only are they comfortable, but that’s what pays the bills.
However, as I mentioned before, I recently found a way to incorporate some of the things and people from my past that I miss so much. I went on a date with my old self. It just sort of happened—I hadn’t planned it or sought it out—but I’m so glad that it did.
Amanda, one of my closest high school friends, messaged me about the upcoming Sarah McLachlan concert. I’m sure you’re thinking, “Big deal. Two girlfriends went to a concert.” But the unique thing about this outing was the fact that, with the exception of our 20-year high school reunion, we hadn’t seen each other, much less hung out, in 23 years. But in high school, we were both obsessed with Sarah McLachlan and listened to her nonstop. So, we both thought it would be cool to go hear her together.
Throughout the concert, and especially the conversations at dinner beforehand, I felt like I was stepping in and out of a time machine. I was instantly transported back to the last time we hung out, when banter about high school boys dominated our conversations and optimism swelled big in our hearts. I could close my eyes as I listened to that music, with a great friend beside me, and feel those things … those old self things.
The night turned out to be just a glimpse into a huge piece of me I’d been missing. Not only do Amanda and I plan to hang out a lot more, but I’m going to be better about intentionally incorporating similar experiences into the days, weeks, months, and years ahead.
Just like your marriage requires consistent effort to be healthy, preserving your “self” and your sanity does as well. There are so many ways to date your old self too—maybe it’s doing more yoga, taking a painting class, journaling more, spending time with old friends, visiting your old stomping grounds, hiking a favorite trail, spending an hour reading in a coffee shop … the list goes on and on. Heck, if I get brave enough, I might even try to find an open mic night around here to share some of my poetry. (Do those still even exist?!?)
It’s true we shouldn’t live in the past, but I believe it’s a fun place to visit. Sometimes it feels like we have inevitably morphed into diluted versions of our former selves, so it’s time to remind yourself of some of the treasured experiences that made you the awesome chick you are today.
Be intentional about it and ask yourself on a date this weekend.
So, what are y’all gonna do?