READER QUESTION: Dear Dr. Bubby,
I am the mom of three boys, 6, 3 and 22 months; they are boys with bold, capital B! I adore my boys and they are the center of my universe. However, aside from the joys of being a mom, I find myself to be completely unsatisfied with my life. What do you think is the most important step in recreating yourself?
There are times in our lives when, even though everything is fine, and our days are full to bursting, we have a nagging itch: Something is missing. I want something more. I’m juggling all the balls, but I’m not sure why anymore. Like the very hungry caterpillar, crawling along day after day chomping through whatever is in front of it. Sometimes we feel more like a Human Doing than a Human Being. We need something to inspire us, get our creative juices flowing so we’re not always in “Response mode.” We want to take charge of our lives and guide them in a new way, gain a new perspective. Our days need a new center, a new organizing principle.
We know how important it is for children to be “the center of the family universe” in the early years. And we know it’s not healthy for that to go on forever.
I remember very well that conflict, that feeling. For me it wasn’t after our third child was born, it was when our first child was born. I was married nearly ten years when we had our first child, Faith. My husband had been the center of my universe for a long time. We went to school together, we worked together, we lived together, we played together. And then Faith was born. Shouldn’t she be the center of my universe? But wait, what about my husband? When something or somebody is the center of your universe, you know what your priorities are every day. You know what you have to do, and why you have to do it. How do you figure out how to organize and use your time when you don’t know what’s most important to you anymore? You’ve been a caterpillar for six or seven years, walking along on your many legs, digesting whatever, until you’re full to bursting. Now what?
It’s time to go into a cocoon for a bit and find the butterfly within.
Make lists of the things that you do each day that you love, that give you energy. Make lists of the things that you don’t like doing but you do anyway, and figure out what you get out of doing them: what part is satisfying? Make lists of the things that you long for. Make lists of what inspires you. Sit with them, paste them up around you. Decorate them. Let them take shape, and when it’s time, when you find the pattern, make that your new center, and the butterfly within will emerge. Then, of course, you’ll have to have the faith to flap your wings.
The main difference between the caterpillar stage and the butterfly stage is perspective. A caterpillar only sees what’s right in front of it. A butterfly can see the world around, and decide where to go next…
How do you recreate yourself when in need of change?
*Dr. Bubbie is my amazing mom and a Harvard-trained psychologist. You can leave your questions for Dr. Bubbie about life, motherhood, family, relationships and friendships below and we may pick your question to answer in the next installment of Dear Dr. Bubbie.