I am 33 years old and a mama to two amazing tiny humans.
Seriously, I know we all think our kids are great, but these little men have taught me more in the short time that they’ve been around then I think I’ve learned my whole life. When I say amazing I mean ah.maz.ing. My husband is my college sweetheart and I knew pretty much from the moment I met him that we would be married someday. As cliché as it sounds, I do believe in love at first sight.
Fast forward about 13 years, and I feel like my dreams have come true.
I dreamt of children, a crazy busy house, driving a Honda pilot (yes, yes that is my dream car), gardening on the weekends in my bare-feet with sweaty baby piggies right there next me and marrying a guy who still gives me butterflies. I prayed for this life and here I am, living my dream.
Still, even with this life that I once thought was only a dream, after having my kids, I felt like something was missing.
Initially, I blamed it on hormones. It wasn’t quite postpartum depression, just post baby blues. What’s more is that these blues were enhanced by the endless guilt that I felt for feeling this way. How could I not be overjoyed with life? What was I doing wrong? What was missing?
As the days passed, I continued going through the motions, and it was just that-I was going through the motions, counting down the days to the next big thing I had to look forward to. I was present but I wasn’t present. I wasn’t showing up for myself, my kids or my husband in the way that we all needed, but healthy meals were prepared, laundry was done, activities were scheduled and all of the checklisty items that made me a good mom/wife/person were there.
You know when you’re on a plane, and they tell you to put your mask on first in the event of an emergency, and then you can help others?
I always thought that was bogus, I mean total BS. There was no way I was putting my mask on first with my children right there next to me. Not a chance in hell. The same applied to how I was living my life. There was no way I would take time for me when my kids needed me. Full disclosure-I judged moms who took “me time” and even went as far to say “Me time doesn’t exist once you make the decision to become a mom. It should be all about your kids. Me time happened before my kids were born.” How delusional was I?
So, what do you do when you’re drowning but you know how to swim?
This is how I was feeling. All of the pieces were there, I had the tools and I knew what to do but I still couldn’t shake the feeling of drowning. But I know how to swim & I just had to find a way to remind myself how to do that.
You see, when we become mothers we lose ourselves and a new person is born.
We learn that never again will we see a day when we don’t worry about our children-at the same time, we learn a love, and experience emotions that we never knew existed. As we discover this new person, we have to pull skills from our “past life” to help us in this new life, hence my “I know how to swim” example.
In order to recall these skills, you have to get back to the basics & get back in touch with who you are, and yes, this ultimately may require some “me time.” You have to find out not just who you are as a mother, but who you are to the core. For example, I have always been a happy, outgoing, bubbly person, so why was I feeling so blah? I was feeling blah, because a new version of myself had been created and rather than taking the time to get to know her, I decided to treat her as the person I’d known my whole life. If you meet a new friend, do you treat her the same way you’d treat someone you’d known for 20 years? Probably not! If that were the case you’d be making awkward jokes, bringing up things that they had no idea about, you’d probably be a little too open and in turn make that person feel weird, uncomfortable, maybe even a little taken aback. So why in the world do we do this to ourselves? Why, when we become mothers, which is truly a life changing event, do we expect that we are going to continue on just the same as we were before? You have to take time to nurture your relationship with yourself. You have to take time to get to know your new self. Your values are changing, your idea of fun is certainly changing (those late nights out partying have turned into to Netflix and wine on the couch until you inevitably fall asleep-amiright?!), and your body has even changed physically.
Take the time to get to know yourself and be kind to yourself.
Go get the damn pedicure and don’t you dare, not even for one second let the mom guilt come over you. Like Rachel Hollis says “If it doesn’t serve you, it doesn’t serve your kids.” Feeling crappy for taking some time for yourself does NOTHING for you and NOTHING for your kids.
Learn who you are as a mother, not who you expected to be, but who you truly are.
Focus on developing a bond with yourself, just as you are developing the bond with your child. Accept that you are not perfect and cheer for yourself when you’ve done well. Surround yourself with people who are understanding of what you’re dealing with-people who won’t jump in and try to fix things, but who are there to comfort you and assist you as you work through this.
Understand that you’ve just been through the most magical change of your life.
Your dreams and aspirations may change and that is okay. Let’s say you were a big executive earning 6 figures and now you cannot figure out why you hate work-work didn’t change honey, you did and that is okay-learn how to accommodate this. Maybe you’re like me and you’ve always dreamt of being a stay at home mom but you now find your workplace to be somewhat of a retreat? For the longest time I harassed my inner-self with judgement thinking “I am the worst mother ever, what kind of mother enjoys working?”
It wasn’t until I realized that there was NO way I could have ever known what type of mother I wanted to be until I became one that I slowly began to make peace with myself. If you’re reading this, and you’re pregnant or considering having children, take a step back and do your very best to erase any expectations of parenting you may have. Now, do NOT get expectations confused with dreams-please, dream away-dreams and visions are necessary for survival and forward progress. But do not hold expectations for yourself as a mother.
Get ready to meet the new you and be open to suggestions from your “new friend.”
Be gentle and confident because if there is one thing that is certain about motherhood, it is that while the “old you” may be a long lost friend, the new you is more outstandingly amazing than you could have ever imagined. This new version of yourself is capable of doing things the old you would have never been able to-take childbirth for example. She will love deeper and define unconditional love. If you were passive before kids, meet mama bear, the aggressor-mess with my kids and I’ll have you for lunch. If you were aggressive before, watch how your baby softens you. You will survive on less sleep than humanly possible but still smile when that baby coos at you. The new version of you will have a 6th sense, better known as a mother’s instinct, which will clue you into anything and everything. You’ll become a doctor, world-class negotiator, teacher, not to mention personal chef, chauffeur and housekeeper all in one.
Embrace her, love her, spend time with her, and get ready to embark on the breathtakingly miraculous journey of parenting. The old you may be a distant memory but the new you will knock your socks off-she is one bad ass mom!