When I went from the mother of one to the mother of four within 5 minutes, I changed.
With one child, I had been a fun, creative, engaged mother with a deep commitment to doing what was best for my high-needs child. I willingly gave up my own sleep for my son’s and gave up my immediate goals for returning to work and theatre once it became clear that my son wasn’t thriving with other care-givers.
When the triplets were born, I had no choice but to spend all my time focused on child-care. Caring for infant triplets takes all the time you have as a parent and my eldest was a high-needs preschooler who demanded my time. My husband came home from work every day to work as hard as he did at work. We were lucky. Gifts from family paid for months for a nanny to help me, and we spent our savings on a second. I was a stay-at-home mom with 16 hours of professional help with the childcare 5 days a week and I was still struggling to provide the basic care my 4 kids needed.
I was always exhausted, and always busy. It took 6 months before I could take any time for myself without my mother travelling 300 miles to stay.
For the first 4 years, I never got less busy. As the children developed and needed less intense care, we hired less help, but I never got less busy. Then, school became an untenable environment for one of my kids and I pulled him out to homeschool.
During these years, my adrenals were in overdrive and I was living in stress-induced “must be responsible or the entire world will collapse” mode. I started to act and direct again. I started writing again. But, I didn’t start to really play again. There was a certain joyful play that I didn’t let back into my life.
Early this summer, it became clear I needed to embrace my youthful playfulness at a new level to start enjoying parenting at a deeper level and to provide the best coaching to my creative clients. After a session with a coach of my own who helped me tap into memories of a freer and more playful time in my life, I created a multimedia “self-portrait” of the most exuberant, youthful, play-loving part of me.
I wanted to deepen my connection to those memories, so I let that self-portrait influence the way I presented myself to the world.
I let that part of me go clothes shopping and bought dresses in bright colours and patterns that I had not worn since becoming the supermother of intense triplets plus one. I dyed my hair blonde.
Then, I started adding pink and purple highlights.
I have been using Manic Panic gel. It washes out and I get to try new variations any time I like – which this summer has been almost every day. Because it washes out, I don’t mind the kids using it. So, not only do I get I get to have fun, I get to be the fun mom, too.
More importantly, by expressing my creativity in my hair, every time I see my reflection, I smile and remember the power of play.
Have you dyed your hair pink lately? Maybe you should try it? It’s lots of fun!