You’ve made it through your cute little baby bump phase, and nine months when all eyes were upon you. You were the center of attention and able to shop for amazingly hip maternity and baby gear (very little of which you currently use). Now, when you do venture out in public, people flock to the child in your arms and you silently will them all to just step back. No one seems to care what you are wearing, how you are feeling or when you last slept for more than four hours. Even your spouse has evolved from dutiful, ultra-concerned husband to barely tolerable man with whom you share a child. It seemed to happen overnight… you became a MOM.
But wait, there’s more. You gave up your career to do this full time, you say? LOL. Now you can’t hold a conversation with your FNBs (friends no babies) to save your life, because their eyes glaze over when you fret over a lost blankie and a little wrinkle appears across their noses when you need to breastfeed. You want your old life back, crappy career and all. And, you even begin to fantasize about being single again. You’re certain your husband will never relate to you (or help out) and you are oh so jealous that he goes to work each day. Could there be a fate worse than this?
Well, yes. Of course there could be, and if you continue down this thought pattern there certainly will be. Because here’s the thing no one ever told you before you jumped on the mommy bandwagon: Some of it sucks, all of it is hard work and the first year can be one of the most dreadful you can imagine. You are no longer yourself. It’s best to realize this, embrace it and redefine your existence right now. Today. Be better at what you are doing. Don’t try to escape your child, your husband or even your messy, toy-strewn family room. Don’t glamorize the office job that you once dreaded more often than you enjoyed, or the boss that made sure you worked through every holiday cycle. Your career will begin again (if you are lucky enough to have a choice in the matter) and you will re-enter the workforce a wiser, more organized, and more patient person.
You have been given a gift, my friend. Yes, the child you care for is the ultimate gift that is elusive to so many. Have you ever known someone who is unable to conceive or has spent years on an adoption waiting list? Your whining is like salt in their wounds. And, as a bonus gift, you have been given an opportunity to rediscover yourself and your partner. All these years, your life’s journey has just been a hike to base camp. Now is your time to ascend and attempt to summit. Do you want to summit alone, or do you want someone to pull you, push you and sometimes carry you to the top?
So, listen. All tough love aside. If you are feeling this way or have ever felt this way, know that you are not alone. This is not unique to your life or your marriage. I have heard your complaints, I have read your blogs and I know what you are going through. You can have it all (eventually.) Your spouse will become your hero again (probably not in the next week.) You will stop defining your worth in terms of your paycheck (after you stop shopping at Nordstrom and even if you continue in the workforce.)
MOM DARE: Your first step toward balance is to lead with gratitude every day. I am grateful for my home, for my parents, for my trees and gardens. I am awed by my husband (especially since he figured out how to balance his own roles), my friends and my beautiful, healthy children. I have abundant food, the ability to worship as I please, a safe city in which to live. We have two cars, gas money and plenty of clothes. We have clean, running water and electricity. We have doctors, hospitals, and police. Do I need to continue? This is the beginning of finding your center.
So, like Michael Keaton ceremoniously burned his flannel shirt in “Mr. Mom” (yes, I’m that old), you need to give your old life a proper goodbye and toast your maiden voyage on the MOM ship. Your journey will not be easy, but it will certainly be full of adventure and an education beyond anything you could receive from the Ivy Leagues. And, someday, when your life is a little easier, you will help pull another new mom through to fairer seas.
Grace and peace.
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