Last week I found myself driving a Mercedes Benz convertible with the top down, the sun shining, the music playing with my oldest by my side singing along to the music. It was a glorious and wonderful moment in time that I almost missed because I was too busy being the “safe, responsible, protective and cautious” mom that I live.
From the moment I found out I was pregnant, I took on the seriousness of being a mom. I stopped drinking and consuming things that would negatively impact the baby’s development, such as deli meat, sushi, medications, and caffeine. I took prenatal vitamins to support healthy growth. I began living my life not for myself but for my unborn baby that resided in my body. I didn’t view it as a sacrifice but an honor to finally get to be a mom, which I have dreamed of since I was a young child.
This mindset didn’t stop after I gave birth, however. I breastfeed for as long as possible, but when I returned to work and the stress set in, I could no longer produce any milk. The guilt that followed as I transitioned my child from breast milk to formula much sooner than I had planned set in. I did all that I could to “make up” for the lack that my body produced, and I spent every waking, non-working hour playing, snuggling, and loving my baby. I took motherhood seriously, and I vowed I would be the best mother ever! Where has that landed me, you ask?
I sit here today, 46, a single mother of two fabulous children, and I am finding myself again. It has been a journey even to realize that I had lost myself. I had so profoundly entrenched myself in being a mom that I forgot there was anything else. I forgot about Sarah, the woman. I am so grateful that I was reminded of her because I like her and am having fun reconnecting with her. My daughters have played an essential role in my rediscovery.
Rewind to the beautiful spring day in Florida last week. My oldest and I went on an errand. I was going to drive my dad’s SUV. It is what I feel most comfortable driving. It is similar to my car at home, and I felt safe. It is practical and logical. As we were getting ready to leave, my oldest said, “let’s take Mimi’s car!” Her face lit up, and her excitement was evident. I hesitated, and my analytical mind raced as I thought about how impractical it was and how small the car was. I wanted to say “no” and take the safer route, but I said “yes,” and we started our journey in the two-seater convertible sports car.
I drove carefully, following the directions my mother gave me to get to the store. I was cautious as we went slowly and carefully through the streets of morning rush hour. I was tense and solemn. My focus was on getting to the store and getting home safely. My daughter and I talked a little, but primarily the drive was quiet. After leaving the first store, my daughter asked if we could put the top down on the convertible. I told her “no” because I was trying to keep us safe, and it was noisy enough with the windows open. She silently accepted that offer, and we continued. After we completed our errands and were getting back into the car, a thought popped into my head, and it went something like this.
“What are you doing? When will you ever get this chance again? You are driving a Mercedes Benz convertible on a beautiful sunny day in Florida with your daughter by your side. This is incredible! Instead of enjoying it and soaking it all up, you are tense, nervous, and so focused that you are missing this moment. When the heck will you ever have this opportunity again? Don’t let this moment pass you by!”
It was a revelation for me. I live so much of my life as a responsible, focused, and serious mother. I take being a mother with the utmost responsibility, and at that moment, I realized that this approach had a cost. I am not living the life I want to be living as a mom; I exist as a mom in the life I am choosing to live. I immediately decided we are driving back to my parent’s house with the top down! It was glorious, and I felt so free. Then, just as life tests you, the ante was upped, and my daughter said, “does this car have a radio?” I immediately told her this was my limit and couldn’t add any more distraction to the situation. We pulled up to a stoplight, and we sat in silence. During that time, the voice came back to me and said, “when the heck will you ever have this opportunity again?” So, I turned on the music, and we sang, smiled, and laughed back to my parent’s house.
These moments present themselves all of the time. These fabulous and precious moments allow me to enjoy the life I have. I spend so much of my time focused on the things I believe I need to do and be as a mom, and I forget to live in these moments as a woman, a human. I am so grateful for that time with my daughter and the gift she gave me that day. The question “when will you ever have this opportunity again?” has changed to “are you driving a convertible with the top down?” It is an excellent reminder for me to let go and enjoy life. It grounds me in the energy of that moment with my daughter and how I want to feel as I live this incredible life I have. I hope you decide to live your life like you are driving a convertible with the top down too!