Finding Independence as a Mother

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I am a 29-year-old, work-from-home (and everything in-between) mother to one beautiful and vivacious daughter. It is now June and Gemini season, and I have another five days to enjoy my glorious 20s.  That’s right. I am turning 30 people! You’d imagined I would say something like, “Ah, to be 20 again…,” or “The 20s were the best years of my life.”… and they really were! But, I am so looking forward to being in my 30s! Tales from my early 20s are for another post,  but the highlight of that era was when I had turned 25 and learned that I was pregnant with my daughter, Scout. You see, motherhood kind of came unexpectedly for me. But somehow, motherhood instincts kicked in and I just felt ready. I also had this intuition that I’d have a girl. Fast-forward to four years later, I am now a mother to a beautiful 3.5-year-old daughter!

Life works in so many mysterious ways and I wouldn’t have it any other way! Being a mother has been the proudest, most fulfilling role I’ve ever had to play my entire life. It gave me incredible instinctive qualities and strengthened the bond I have with my own mother whom I’m so grateful for.

But how does one find independence as a Mother?

When you’re young and doing things only for yourself, independence comes a little easier. Some mistake this as loneliness and waste so much time filling in that therapeutic void. As mothers, we spend so much time doing things for others that finding alone time is hard to come by. Often times as women, we will prioritize our family but at the expense of our own inner peace and individual sense of freedom. Being a mother equips us with self-sufficiency but what about those moments of self-reflection we need for ourselves?

For me there’s biking. During my early 20s, I was living down an alley in the middle of Ho Chi Minh City and had to bike every day to work. It was at the age of 21 when I packed a few articles of clothing, a few hundred dollars, and literally moved across the globe to my birthplace, Vietnam. For those who have not been, Vietnam is a country filled with motorbikes and bicycles. More so than any other country in the world. The most convenient route of transportation was being on two wheels. I remember trying to tackle this tricky turning point in the road (a roundabout) but I was completely enveloped in the chaos of whirring bikes and the occasional human body. It took me about 20 minutes just to get on the other side of the road! To this day, I have these moments of memory throwbacks of the adventures on a bike and it’s just incredible. Now, whenever I have a hankering to relive those memories and to bask in  the connectedness and freedom of being outdoors… I ride my bike. Though the sounds are now less frantic here in California (the dust is also more settling and the people are less likely to stare) the feelings are definitely there. It’s in those when I feel most independent and free.

Finding our own inner peace, freedom and independence is important. It reunites us to our simplest selves.  I think sometimes as mothers, we feel guilty about doing things when it’s just for ourselves. However, developing and strengthening ourselves as individuals only makes us better as partners and mothers.

As I am thinking about my future as both a career driven woman and a mother, I realize I cannot lose those parts that make me – me. I don’t think any woman should have to.

Whenever the time permits, riding my bike is almost therapy for the frenetic life as a self-employed mother like myself. There are other activities such as reading, finding fresh flowers, and cooking that gives me peace but nothing beats the nostalgia I feel when I am on my bike. You can say that I ride to relive my early 20s, a time when I was living across 2-3 continents. I am excited to start this new chapter of turning 30, being a mom to an almost-preschooler, and riding my bike down the street to pick up a baguette and coffee for myself or for my family. The important reminder is to carve out time to spend those few moments alone. When I get home, I will be greeted with crummy grins and buttery fingers from a little toddler and a supportive man. That makes it all worth it.

Independence can be as simple as a 15-20 minute bike ride by yourself…with a friend… or a significant other! It’s  about letting your hair hang loose and opening yourself to some fresh air.

I hope you find your independence doing whatever it is you love doing because it’s important and you are important.