Two and a half years in and I am still learning about mommy-hood. By no means did I ever think I'd know it all by now but I also did not think I'd be learning things so rapidly. There are things I was told about "having a baby". Most of which had to deal with actually being pregnant and bringing home the newborn. You know... stay away from foods that'll give you indigestion, sleep when the baby sleeps, don't put the baby on his stomach when he's sleeping, don't hold him all day or he'll be spoiled. That kind of stuff. But those things have more to do with learning your preferences while becoming a mother. In 5 Things Nobody Tells You About Mommy-hood I wrote about some of the things I learned in the first year or so of motherhood. Out of all the unsolicited advice, no one told prepared me for any of these things.
Along the way I'm discovering more things I've either never heard of or I never have given thought to before. I can't remember what I was watching or who it was that said it but it was a woman who was settling with becoming a first time mother. In the middle her interview she said, "When you give birth and become a mom, you lose a piece yourself". By the time I heard that my son was already almost two years old. How come didn't nobody tell me that? Her statement resonated with me. When I actually took time to think about it, it dawned on me... I'm losing me! How do I get me back? Is this normal? I had a bunch of questions and for the most part, with time, I was the only one that was qualified to answers these questions about myself.
After some self-evaluation and even self-discovery, I comprised a list of things I vowed to commit myself to.
Here are ways NOT to lose yourself in Motherhood:
Stay connected with friends
Motherhood takes a lot out of you, especially during the child's earlier ages. Time! It takes a lot of your time; early morning diaper changes, late night feedings. If mom is employed, she spends more time with her co-workers than she does with her family. Consequently, she feels obligated to spend the rest of her time tending to her family. I did. It's easier to decline phone calls and ignore text messages. Most times turning down invitations to meet for lunch or coffee is easier than finding a sitter. That becomes a norm and the next thing you know, a whole year has gone by and you have neglected your friends. Friends are the connection to the outside world. Hanging out with them will ultimately be relief, even if it is just 2 hours away from the normal mommy routine. You need your friends, to help keep you sane and to remind you there's more to life than hearing mommy 50 times in one hour. You may not get to see them as often as you'd like but stay connected.
Learn to become OK with being a way from your child
Separation anxiety is real! With parents too! I learned that the hard way. When life happened, my son had to stay with grandma for an entire week. I didn't know what to do with myself. I found myself calling and Face Time more times than I should have. My mom kept reassuring me that he was fine, which I knew. But something about being away from my child made me super anxious. How am I gonna act when he goes to school? Will I be able to enjoy myself when I go on vacation without him? As time progressed, the anxiety began to lessen. I was able to get so much done for myself. I could sleep! Once you find a trustworthy, reliable person to care for your child, rest when you are apart
Do not neglect your hobbies
Remember those things you used to love to do before you had a child? The things that never felt like work? Those things that left you feeling fulfilled? Do not neglect those! Pick them back up. Keep going at it. Sure, you may not be able to do them as often as you'd like. Purposefully schedule time to connect with those things. Schedule them on your calendar. Make reminders to yourself.
As a single mom who commutes 30 miles each way, daily, staying organized is absolutely essential. I soon discovered that when my room was cluttered and unkept it made my life more stressful. I was scattered brained in the morning and exhausted at night. Once is started to make strides towards remaining organized I felt relieved. I've even committed to preparing clothes for myself and little man for the entire week, every Sunday night. Now, I have time to do other things throughout the week. Being organized saves time and energy. Let organization bless you.
Self-Care, Self-Care, Self-Care
I always felt just a little guilty for even thinking of the notion of putting myself before my child. Truth is, if you don't take care of you, you can't take good care of your child. Sure, we cannot control everything that comes our way, because... life. But, self-care is absolutely essential. I can admit, I didn't start practicing self-care until I felt I had no other option. I was (privately) in a very low point mentally and emotionally. My therapist suggested self-care and mindfulness exercises. Me, take care of myself. What? I am learning that taking care of my body, soul and mind is keeping me "in shape", if you will for handling stress. I have been on an journey to resilience and self-care is helping me along the way. Self-care can include, getting proper rest, eating right and exercising. My favorite self-practices typically include pampering myself. I take time, after my son has fallen asleep, to read, journal and pray. It gives me space and time to process my thoughts and emotions. Self-care makes for a better me, all the time.
Motherhood is one, if not, the most intense personal growth journey I’ve ever taken. I am learning to listen to myself a whole lot more. I discovered a while back that when I stopped listening to myself and when I stopped caring for me, I somehow found myself resenting my child. That led to displaying that resentment in the form of misplaced anger. No bueno. I have now endeavored to love myself enough to not lose myself. Because if I lose myself, everyone that surrounds me will lose.