The hardest part of becoming a mother for me was losing myself. I was an independent woman, free to come and go as I please. I volunteered, was involved in several committees, met my friends for happy hour, and went out for dinner with my husband.
I knew having a baby would change things, but I was not prepared for how. I knew we would lose some sleep and not be able to go out as much anymore.
Fine. I was ready for that.
But nobody could prepare me for the feeling of absolutely losing myself as a person. I no longer existed as I did before. I was now the provider and protector of another tiny human. And that little human consumed my thoughts, dictated my schedule, and potentially determined the fate of my marriage and my sanity.
I became burned out physically and emotionally. I was super mom. My house was in perfect order, the laundry was always clean, and there was always a meal prepared. Emotionally I gave and gave until I felt like I had nothing left.
I was drained.
It was taking a toll on my marriage because I started to resent my husband. He was, and is, an amazing father, but it’s funny how we can pick apart anyone when we are feeling helpless.
It was my husband who actually made me think about what was making me feel this way. He exposed something I didn’t want to admit – it was me. I was doing this to myself.
Taking time for myself has been the hardest lesson to learn, but the most healing part of becoming a mother. It was easy, I just had to allow myself the opportunity to take time for self-care. Just because I was a mother now didn’t mean I had to spend all my time and energy on my family. If I was burned out, how could I possibly expect to properly care for my family?
Instead of resenting my husband for his ability to go out and do whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted, I realized that I could too. I just had to take the time to find a babysitter or ask my husband if he could be home. It was that simple.
Instead of feeling like I never got to see my friends anymore, I found at least one or two nights a month to make plans with them.
Instead of declining events because it was “nap time” or “feeding time”, I figured out solutions that worked for both me and my baby.
Instead of feeling cooped up and lazy, I found ways to exercise with my baby.
As mothers we are told that if you’re not selfless, you’re selfish. I want you to consider the possibility that being selfish (or self-seeking) can be a good thing. Thinking of yourself first does not have to mean that you never think of others.
Thinking of yourself first means that you are now better equipped to care for others. It makes so much sense.
To me, being a self-seeking mother means this:
- I am allowed to say no if I don’t want to do something.
- I am allowed to take time to do the things I used to do.
- I don’t need to please everyone.
- It’s okay if I don’t spend every waking hour with my family.
- It’s okay to let the laundry wait.
- It’s okay to get a babysitter so I can see my girlfriends.
- I need to exercise. It’s okay to get a babysitter so I can do yoga.
- I can still be involved in the community.
- I can still go on dates with my husband.
Once I realized this, my whole world changed. I found out who I was again. Knowing that I’d never be the woman I used to be, I was able to realize who I was now and own it.
Life is all about balance. When you’re single, you balance work, school, friends, and family. When you get married, you add balancing a committed relationship, which is huge. Then, throwing a baby into that mix somehow tips the scales all the way in one direction, that of the baby. So make sure you figure out how to get the rest of the stuff on the other side so the scales are even.
If you can get to the point where you find that balance, you will find peace.