But you’re NOT the old you…

May 31, 2012

I’ve been thinking a lot about motherhood lately. Duh. I mean, I think about it daily, as both a mother and a pregnant woman.

But I’ve been thinking about the pressure on us mothers. We’ve all heard of the mommy wars. And we all know about the judgment. Breastfeeding vs. formula. Cloth vs. disposable. Vaccinate vs. don’t vaccinate. Cosleep vs. cry-it-out. But it is more than just the “I’m a better mom than you” stuff.

It’s about your identity.

There’s pressure to be the OLD YOU.

You hear it all over the place. “You don’t have to give up your own interests.” “You can still be stylish.” “Your diaper bag doesn’t have to look like a diaper bag.” “I’m three days post-partem and already back to my pre-pregnancy weight!” “I’m going to do everything I can to avoid stretch marks.” “I’m not going to be oneofthosemoms who only talks about her kids.”

Great. That’s all fine and good.

But let’s not forget that we are now MOTHERS. And that’s okay.

It’s okay if you don’t read novels as much as you used to (*cough* or at all). It’s okay if your thoughts are now filled with things like, ‘I wonder how I can tweak my cloth diaper laundry routine’ or ‘I can’t wait for the new Ju-Ju-Be Diaper Bag prints to be revealed!’ It’s okay if you decide that, rather than exercising and counting calories in those difficult weeks post-baby, that you would rather live in leggings or comfy dresses and just get to know your baby.

There is so much pressure on new moms. We are so afraid of failing our babies, of not doing things the right way. And then we also have to be afraid of losing the person that we once were.

But here’s the secret. That person–as she was–doesn’t exist anymore. You are a new person. Take bits of the old you along. Don’t forget her. Motherhood doesn’t mean losing yourself… it’s important to maintain your own identity and interests and do things just for YOU. But parts of the old you might be hidden for awhile. Parts might take the back burner as you adjust to new interests, new roles. It’s okay to change and roll with things. To delete bits of the old you that no longer fit. To enjoy being a mom and all the exhausting things it entails. To admit that you are happy, even if your life is so much different now.

So if you wake up tomorrow with stretch marks and don’t want to wear heels and makeup and have sex with your husband, and instead don a diaper bag and comfortable shoes and go to the park and actually ENJOY IT… don’t feel guilty. Don’t feel guilty that you aren’t doing all those things you said you would do. The things you thought would be easy and perfect when you were pregnant and imagined what kind of mother you would be. Or when you find yourself saying or doing or thinking things that you swore up and down until you were blue in the face that you would never do… prior to sleepless nights and spit up and the warm feeling of a baby sleeping on your chest.

There are days when I wake up and put on makeup and a cute outfit. When I feel recharged after dinner with old friends, when I buy myself something frivolous while shopping alone. There are days when I read or write for fun. But those days have taken a back seat for this new season of my life… and I can confidently say that I am okay with that. Because I am not the person I used to be. I have taken the bits that I want to, set others on a shelf for later. And there will be a later, you know. And we will most likely spend that later wondering where all the time went, hoping we enjoyed it enough, wishing we had done certain things differently and thankful for the things we did the way we wanted to.

Enjoy the new version of you. It’s okay to admit that you’ve changed. That you aren’t the exact same woman. That you are happy being a version of yourself that you never knew existed (and that you maybe even cringed at when you saw other moms morph into). Go with it. Drop the guilt and the perfection and give your baby a hug and cut yourself a damned break.

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