I’m going to be a little vulnerable here for a second. I’ve read the books, heard the stories, watched the movies about the mom who loses herself after becoming a mom. Even still, I think it happened to me without really realizing it. Part of it was survival mode, like maybe I did know it was happening, but was so in the middle of it that I couldn’t stop to think about it or else I might go flying out over my skis, so to speak.
Since Jack turned one though, and we’ve been able to start weaning and I’ve been able to get a little bit more space back (and, frankly, a bit more of my body back), I’ve noticed that I’m finding myself again. In a way it’s the old me and in another way, it’s an entirely new me, too.
I know I’ll never be exactly the same person and, truthfully, I don’t want to go back. I love my baby, I love this role. It is my greatest privilege and highest honor.
But in the process of taking care of and nurturing and being there for a baby, I don’t think I did a good job taking care of me. I have honed in on some things that fill my cup: working out, needlepointing, reading, spending quality time with friends (which, for an extreme introvert, was a surprise). There was a critical piece missing to that puzzle that I’m just now trying to get back to: my work.
I have gone through ebbs and flows since becoming pregnant and then having a baby where I’ve wanted so many different things all at once. To scale back work, to stop work completely, to start a new company, to get another job. To be “one and done” and to have enough kids to need to upgrade to a sprinter van.
After an encounter with extreme burnout in my mid-twenties, I have done a fairly good job about separating myself from my work. I no longer hold my self-worth to my productivity and, most importantly, success. In fact, I’ve redefined success for myself altogether.
The part I think I’ve overlooked, especially after entering the new stage of motherhood, though is that I enjoy my work. Of course, it’s a job and like every job there are elements I don’t love, but overall? It fills my cup, too. It’s less about being productive, making money, and being seen as “successful.” And more about the fact that I just LOVE what I do. I love being creative. I love pushing myself to learn new skills. I love (LOVE) helping small businesses with marketing. I love writing and sharing my story.
Maybe none of this has anything to do with becoming a mom– maybe it’s just because I’ve had the same “job” for over a decade and nine of those years being full-time. But after spending a few days away in Maine from my routine and being surrounded by hardworking, creative, smart, and talented women, I was reminded just how much I enjoy what I do. I also realized ways I might want to do more. Maybe now; definitely in the future.
I’m still conflicted with how to find time to “do it all.” On one hand, I’m creatively so fulfilled right now and bouncing with energy to do everything and on the other hand, I know I need to be selective with my time because I’m in a season of life with a baby who needs a lot of me (and whom I want to give a lot of myself to).
I have zero answers or solutions, but just knowing this about myself right now will be helpful. (I hope?) Going to Maine with ChappyWrap for a couple of days made me confront some of my grief over feeling divided in my life and it also shed light on the joy of my new life. (I keep having to remind myself that I can feel both– and everything in between– at the same time.)
I started crying on the flight home a little bit. I missed my baby and longed to hold him and I missed having time to fully dedicate to my work.
Anyway, that’s where I am today. A little conflicted, very happy, maybe a tiny bit guilty for wanting both and everything, a bit confused about how to move forward, but also a lot more confident in myself.