I had a different post queued up for today, but this has been on my mind quite a bit.

I’m a very, very competitive person. While being competitive has its perks, it’s actually something I wish I could shed. There’s no “off” switch for me. It’s great to be competitive when you need to push yourself through something, but maybe not so great when you feel like a failure if you don’t meet your own expectations.

This year has been tough for me and my competitive spirit. I keep comparing myself to previous years and the reality is that this year was just so unlike other years. It’s unfair that I keep comparing myself to my previous year self. If that makes sense.

It’s really coming to a head in every area of my life. I kind of wish it was just pinpointed in one direction, but it’s everything.

Image from Morgan Harper Nichols 

My postpartum body looks so different to me when I look at myself in the mirror. Just when I started to feel comfortable with how my body looked and felt while pregnant, I went and had that baby and my body changed all over again. It’s been a hard habit to break thinking how it used to look. I’m still working on this, but there are days when I just want to put on a pair of leggings and a sweatshirt and not leave the house. It’s unfair that I would even think this though. Of course, my body looks different after carrying a baby!

And then there’s my work situation. The reality is that I’m just not 100% ready to bring in a babysitter or nanny, so I’ve been trying to scale back on work where I can and outsource what I’m able to (very grateful for my amazing team!). It makes more sense for me to do less work, while I care for Jack. And honestly, I love being a mom! While part of me kind of wants to just quit working altogether, I also love this job and can’t imagine giving it up. I try to keep reminding myself that this is a season. But I must admit that I keep thinking about how much I used to get done… and then I get down on myself because I think of all the things I could (should) be doing. Which again, is an unfair. Of course, I’m not doing as much “work” as before. Arguably, I feel like I’m doing more now, it’s just a different kind of work!

Well then I got on the Peloton and, jeez, it’s tough feeling like I’m starting from square one. I was in the best shape of my life last year– mostly because during the peak of the pandemic lockdowns, working out was the one thing bringing me joy. But I had also been consistently working out and getting stronger for a couple of years. Pregnancy was tough for me and working out was a daily struggle. I felt super weak from feeling sick every day. And then after Jack was born, I had to take time off of working out altogether while I healed. I should be considering just getting on the bike a win, but it’s been hard to have numbers pointing back at me showing me exactly how far off I am from where I was. I keep trying to remind myself that I’m moving in the right direction and of course, I am not as fast on the bike or as strong at lifting as I was before.

Every night when I finally put my laptop away (currently writing this at 10pm while Jack sleeps!), I desperately want to read a book. But I can’t get past a couple of paragraphs before it’s impossible to keep my eyes open. I’ve largely switched entirely to audiobooks, since I can listen while I get other stuff done (cleaning, laundry, driving, walking the dogs, etc.). I still miss reading and just sitting down to read and do nothing else. For years, I’ve kept a personal record of how many books I read in a year. There is absolutely no point in doing this. It’s not for anyone else and it’s not like I’m giving myself some kind of trophy for reading a certain number. I’m just being competitive with… myself? Maybe it started off as a “goal” to read a certain number– now it feels like a measuring stick to judge myself off of. Then again, of course, I haven’t had as much time to read books this year. First of all, I have an infant to take care of. And second of all, I wrote a book.

Another thing I’ve been feeling competitive with myself about, is how I haven’t had any time for needlepointing or sewing projects. It’s something that brings me a lot of joy, but if I don’t have time to read a chapter of a book, I’m certainly not in any position to do any sort of crafting. While I miss it intrinsically, I also found myself comparing my (lack of) projects this year to other’s I saw on Instagram. It was so weird to note that I felt actual shame for how few projects I completed. I know logically how dumb it is, but it is still something I was beating myself up over. Also, I keep having to remind myself that I finished Jack’s stocking a week before he was born and that was a huge undertaking. Of course, I haven’t had the time to leisurely stitch and sew, but I have accomplished a one big project that I’m really proud of and that should be enough.

I know I have to give myself more grace, change my expectations, and even recalibrate how I define success in general. It’s just been hard. I find that competitiveness rearing its ugly head. I feel very successful in a lot of ways, and yet go to bed feeling like a failure on a daily basis because I feel like I’m falling short of what I’d like to be doing and where I’d like to be. I’m a work in progress here. 🙏🏻

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Carly, I am a new mom and as a type A, competitive person myself, I know exactly what you’re feeling and where you’re coming from. The biggest relief to me was realizing that my value doesn’t come from the things I accomplish/my productivity/my dress size. My value is intrinsic, because I am a child of God, wholly and fully loved by Him. Loved so much that He sacrificed His son so that He could have a relationship with me! I hope this can also bring you light and peace during this time!!

Ali Barkley

Rachel, this is such a thoughtful reply. It really resonated with me! Thanks for the encouragement!


Carly, it’s great that you recognize things you want to get done, but also realize you cannot do it all. While it disappoints you, you do know you don’t have time for everything and Jack is your priority. Being a mom is a full time job. If you were to get a babysitter before you are ready, trust me, it will backfire. Wait until you’re ready. Right now, you’re right where you should be. It will all fall into place and you’ll regain what you were doing. This may be right before baby #2 comes along and you’re back with a newborn. It’s a cycle and a season. I said I was going to learn to knit, take cake decorating courses, etc. when my youngest went to college. He graduated two years ago and I haven’t done either. Give yourself grace. Babies don’t keep. You’re doing a great job. Measure your success by baby smiles and belly laughs, not books read.


Sending you a virtual hug. 10 month old here and I can relate.

I recently discovered the peloton has a feature where you can change the date for calculating your personal record. I changed mine to be postpartum because I also found the original record discouraging! You don’t lose the original data if you ever want to change the record back to pre-baby, but it’s so nice to track progress from that new starting point postpartum. Just sharing in case that helps.


Thank you for sharing this with us, Carly! I am a new mom, and my husband and I have been having a really hard time with this exact feeling, especially around the holidays.
Everything feels like it takes twice as long, and while we LOVE being parents, it’s been a hard transition. Thank you for sharing this – it makes me feel much less alone as a new parent <3


I’m the mother of a 16 month old and work full time. It has been so hard to balance the two aspects of my life and it leaves me with little to no time for the things I’m passionate about. I love my daughter so much but I’m still struggling to find a good balance between these different parts of my life now. We’re all struggling. You aren’t alone.


What a well written, meaningful post from a post-partum mother writing at 10:00PM. Carly, it is a joy to read your blog and I appreciate hearing about your experiences as a new mother.

When I hear your words I hear a woman who has self-improved, actualized her potential, and is full of zeal for life and all her passions. Look at who you were pre-baby, and all that you were doing in parallel with your post-baby life. You have a deeply enriched life filled with new, improved beauty and demands. You have a healthy son who you lovingly care for and adore each day, a happy marriage which you maintain and gorgeous physique and beautiful face! You have everything you need, this is a lovely time to recognize your abundance and see that you are wealthy spiritually and materially more than you could ever know.

You are an inspiration to me.


We’ve chatted about this a bit on Instagram, but needless to say, you are definitely not alone. My son is five months old. I’m working full-time and trying to grow my blog, and even though he’s in daycare during the day, it’s overwhelming. Some days, I feel like I’m not doing enough, or well enough, in any part of my life. I’m so grateful for everything, as I’m sure you are, but that doesn’t mean it’s not hard. Thanks for sharing so honestly!


Know that you’re most definitely not alone! I struggle with this a lot – largely with competing with myself or not living up to my own expectations, so I found this most much appreciated and relatable! Love following you, and thanks for sharing all that you do! ❤️ (P.S. – Have you ever figured out what enneagram number you are? Would be curious if you’re a type 3 as well!)


I was wondering too if you’re an enneagram 3, I am and struggled with the same things – especially my career progression “stalling” the years I was pregnant/new mum.
It was very freeing to realize that it’s not everyone that holds themselves accountable this same way, that I could kind of be intentional about being less “3” and that doing so wouldn’t make me a failure but would actually allow me to be happier.
I also found that thinking about the alternative reality where I’m not a mum but maybe my career flourished instead or I was productive every single day and thinking about whether that would make me happier, quickly I realized it would not and so it allowed me to be more present and forgiving to myself.
Just wanted to share in case those things resonate. Good luck!

Taylor Schenker

I loved all of this but also want you and anyone that feels this way to go re-read this or re-think about your similar list. You WROTE A BOOK and GREW A HUMAN this year. Those things took time where you would have previously been reading and needlepointing. You traded somethings for others (instead of trading in sleep like a non-human) be proud of yourself, as a reader I sure am!!


Your post is so timely for me! I left my corporate job to become a full-time mom 11 years ago when my oldest daughter was born. I worked on various personal projects throughout the years but just started interviewing last week for a new job at my old company. I haven’t had a real interview in years! While answering one of the questions, I found myself talking about how there is so much competition in our personal lives. I suddenly found myself thinking “what are you doing!? They’re going to think that you’re a mean and competitive person, which you’re not!” The truth though is that I am! It’s simply finding a way to channel your “competitiveness” in a constructive way. As for the sweatpants and staying home all day…. just make sure you have a super cute set of sweatpants. That’s what I’m wearing right now as I type this from my kitchen island 😉


What struck me the most about your post is that I am not sure that it is as much about being competitive as I think it is about being a perfectionist. I recognized a lot of myself in you post… My kids are teens now and if there is something that I have learned is that there are no perfect mothers, no perfect kids and no perfect families. The sooner you realize that, the happier you will be. Sometimes it just about making it through the day, the season or the year as being good enough


I was thinking the same thing about this being more about perfectionism than competition. I definitely relate to holding myself to an unrealistic standard. It’s been said a million times, but worth repeating: “would you ever think these thoughts about a friend? “


Ha! And here I am comparing my past year to yours – we got engaged around the same time but it took me six whole months to pull off a COVID wedding while you did it in 1-2. You’ve given birth to two babies (! including the book) this past year while I sit back and overanalyse when/how/if I could fit one into my life of “being productive”… And reading my words as I type, I feel silly.

But honestly, motherhood is a huge job! The narrative around is can be so cheesy and condescending, but if it makes you feel better to look at it in a different light, you’re currently creating huge economic value for the country by raising a child (yes, it won’t recognise you for doing that, though), contributing to a healthier community, impacting brain development/immune system/creativity for decades to come, and not “just cuddling a baby” – even though if you won’t, who will?? Cuddle that baby, and clock every hour of doing so with pride!


Long-time reader, first-time commenter! So much of what you wrote here really resonated with me as the mother of an 11-month-old, even though I don’t consider myself to be a competitive or type-A person. My therapist was talking about the importance of self-compassion in a recent appointment, and I’ve found that concept to be helpful. Headspace just released a module on it (!), and then my therapist recommended a book called the Mindful Path to Self-Compassion by Christopher Germer. I haven’t read it yet but it’s available as an audio-book as well. Us moms can be so hard on ourselves–sending you a virtual hug!


Really feeling this! It’s also the inner self-critic. Overriding the critic or quieting it down is really difficult and takes practice. xx


Take heart! Life is full of these. Each time, you will feel as you do, now. Just remember, you’ve already been through past periods of adjustment. Once you’ve sorted it out, it will seem like nothing. Gentle hugs.


Big Hugs!! All the changes that come with becoming a mom are hard enough on their own. Then don’t forget about the hormone roller coaster you are on that makes you feel everything 100x more. My second kiddo just turned 9 months and I still feel like I haven’t hit equilibrium yet. You are amazing and you aren’t alone in feeling the way you do.

Ali Barkey

I needed to hear this today! I also appreciate everyone’s feedback/encouragement in the comments! I just had my second baby and I’ve felt so overwhelmed with this season of newborn plus toddler. I’m definitely too hard on myself, but I get so discouraged when not ONE thing is checked off my to-do list! Keeping this pep talk in mind these next few months!! Thank you, Carly!


Motherhood changes a person in big ways. I felt the same last year after I had my son. Frustrated that I wasn’t practicing yoga how I used to, sad that I couldn’t bring myself to write . It’s an adjustment. Give yourself some grace and know that you’ll return to the things you love like needlepointing. And know that you aren’t alone in these feelings. -XO


Just a reminder to ALL women that our bodies change with age regardless of how many pregnancies we have. You can have 1 or 12 or none and your body will change. I promise. Hormones happen to us all. We do not have to stay “hot” forever, but we do need to keep moving and LOVE OURSELVES. I focus on building strength and stamina for my mental health now, not to compete with others. Let’s be healthy for real.


I agonised over the decision to get a nanny for a long time. I felt like if I couldn’t do work and take care of my son I was somehow failing. I finally felt ready around four months and it was the best decision I made! We started out with two days a week. Having two days where I could get stuff done and increased it (now at five), really helped out. I totally understand you not being ready to get a nanny yet. I just wanted to offer the perspective that you don’t need to jump in full force the instant you decide you need help. You can ease into it! I also own my own business so I feel like I am coming from a similar perspective.


Carly, you’re not competitive. You’re goal oriented. That’s different. Competitive has a negative connotation, as if you are not your own friend. Goal oriented is different. You’re used to accomplishing things. No way can you accomplish that now. I once heard a poet speak and when asked why there seemed to be some years of no writing, she said, “I had a child. I couldn’t even think” and I loved how that let her (and why not me?) off the hook! I made for myself an old fashioned chart that’s on the frig. Like from grade school. I check off boxes as I go through the day. I pass it constantly! I have categories: listen (did I hear birds outside on a walk or an audio book?), yoga, weightlift, communication (email or text to a friend? A phone call?), elliptical, $$$(did I pay a bill or think about finances?), drink (am I hydrated?), read (15 min a day?), and lastly Universe Thankfulness (I open the door each morning and say hello to the world, or it may be just pensive time staring out a window and feeling grateful). My chart is something concrete and at the end of the day I look at it and more often than not, I’ve hit these nine categories of mine in ways both big and small. It’s given me grace and a smile as I end my day. We really do accomplish more than we think we do!


I have been thinking about this post since yesterday and was coming on to say something similar. Right size your goals and connect them to your values. It will make such a big difference. I recommend the Cultivate What Matters goal setting process. It really helped me a few years ago when I had two under two and felt like I was flailing and failing every day. Setting up right size goals changed everything.


I totally understand that tension between showing yourself grace and also wrestling with that voice that says “well you used to be able to…” So tough!

You mentioned in your post about how this is just a season, and that sparked a connection to a great book I read, The Lazy Genius way (she’s also pretty big on insta and has a podcast). Anywho, her whole deal is “being a genius about the things that matter and lazy about the things that don’t.” A big idea in her book is to “live in your season.” I found that chapter to be immensely helpful when I read it (the whole book really is fantastic), so I wanted to share 🙂


I relate to this in so many ways. I loved reading the comments of so many other woman as well! My daughter is 16 months and I recently started embroidering – feels like such a win to have a hobby just for fun! I feel bad that I barely practice yoga anymore like I used to, but honestly I’m just lacking the motivation after chasing her around all day! We’re constantly changing – trying to accept myself in the moment.

Erin Inhof

This so eloquently describes exactly how I felt postpartum with my first. I had my second son only 19.5 months later, and now a year postpartum I am just starting to get my feet back under me. It is hard to balance motherhood and working and being a wife. It’s really hard to give up the person you were before to make room for this new version of you and your reality. As much as you can, give yourself grace. You are killing it. Even if it doesn’t feel like it, you are.


I feel you. My baby just turned one, and with that I’ve gone back to work (we have very good, paid maternity leave in my country). When I felt unproductive before, now with part time work in the mix I feel like there’s no time to achieve anything to the standard I want. Things that have helped: remembering that I can have everything I want, but maybe not all at once, the essay Laugh, Kookaburra by David Sedaris and the concept of not tending to all burners all the time, and knowing that all my other parent friends are feeling the same way. Also working with my therapist on where I get my personal value from, because it’s become apparent that mostly external achievements and numbers just aren’t healthy right now. All the best, Carly, and thanks for sharing! It helps to not feel alone.


I think this is something so many people are feeling in different ways right now. Especially because collectively we don’t have the same ways to measure success anymore during the pandemic. Society measures worth in success and achievement, which is completely unfair. I mean people during the pandemic were like “oh no, I can ‘do’ this pandemic better than you!” with the mastery of sourdough, baking, etc. Not saying that developing new hobbies shouldn’t happen, but people became so occupied with filling the space. Doing the pandemic well became it’s own form of competitiveness, which is ridiculous if you think about it but I suppose human nature. I’ve definitely struggled with how society defines success because it’s an impossible bar. There is always more achievement out there so nothing we do will ever feel good enough. Which sounds glib, but I do find that taking breaks as much as possible to just be is so important. Walks, hikes, anything where I’m reminded that I am small compared to the vastness of nature, that I’m just one moment in time in the grand scheme of the millenia of the universe is a great perspective shift.


Carly, you hit the nail on the head with this post. I can relate 100% to this. I have a 15-month old and I still get frustrated with myself because I’m constantly comparing my old life to my current one! I love being a mom! But I do miss the little things, like reading before bed, working out whenever I want, leaving my house whenever I want, etc. Nice to know I’m not the only one dealing with this!