Once upon a time, not too long ago, you were a different person. Do you remember her? Do you remember how easy it used to be to work, go to school, and navigate a social life all at the same time? Remember when popping out for drinks with your girlfriends or catching a late night movie were common occurrences. Things didn’t have to be planned. You could roll out of bed at ten (or even later!) on weekends, drink a mimosa at brunch, and whisk away on random adventures whenever the mood struck.
We remember those moments now and realize how we took them for granted. It’s strange to think about the freedom of simply existing without being a plus one (or two, or even three). Sometimes it is hard to remember what it was like to throw on clean clothes and jet out the door without a concern, or to take a long luxurious bubble bath while sipping an adult beverage in peace and quiet. It seems like a lifetime ago. A very different time and place. And yet, it was only a couple years ago. It’s difficult to forget who we once were, the memory is there in the recesses of our minds, eagerly resurfacing at four in the morning when we’ve been nursing every hour on the hour for two years, or at seven in the evening when you’re putting your toddler to sleep and you too decide it’s time to call it a day. For some of us, we are constantly yearning for the way things once were, our other life … you know, the pre-mom life.
WHO AM I?
Finding ourselves is allotted for our teen years and early twenties. By the time we become contributing members of society, we know what we want and who we are, and we are steadfast in a long list of morals and ideas, things we hold true and won’t compromise on. Everyday life is focused around our own happiness, what we need in order to feel satisfied and accomplished, what we want to be known for. We think we will never change, that nothing will stop us from being who we are, but then we become moms.
A good friend once said about birth that everything and nothing changes. Your entire world shifts because you are no longer solely responsible just for yourself and nothing is the same because your purpose is different. Except, all around you, everyone in your life, everything you know outside your home is the same. People continue on with their lives without even noticing that your direction and morals and ideas are all being tested, questioned and, in many instances, eradicated.
IN CRISIS WE STAND
Why is it so hard to admit we’ve changed? Our bodies are different, the echo of pregnancy and birth stays with us for life, our reason for living is overhauled, and our mental state is ... well, it's constantly shifting, isn't it? Yet, we keep up this pretense that we are exactly the same and the rug of life hasn't pulled out from underneath us. We even go so far as to try to live the same life – hitting the gym and dieting two weeks post-partum, inviting our favourite couples over to a dinner party three days after bringing baby home, trying to validate our partners existence like we used to. Even as we try our hardest to be who we used to be, the girl we remember, the one we thought we’d be forever, she fades. Our old life is gone, slipping further out of reach with each breath our new babes take, and we are torn between two worlds – the then and the now.
WHAT’S A GIRL TO DO?
For some of us, we struggle hard. We refuse to give up the way we used to live, a decision that ultimately results in failure. Because as we try to hold on to what we once had, we stumble and fall, and every time we don’t act or look the way we once did we will feel ashamed, disappointed, and like a bad mom. The worst part is, it isn’t just us wanting to be the same. There is the added pressure of not changing for the people in our lives. We don’t want to disappoint our friends and partners, the people who knew and liked the girl we once were, who fell in love with her, married her, bought a house with her, had a nice and tidy life with her. We want to be reliable for our friendships, ever present, fun and giving. We don’t want to let our bosses down, to let our work suffer, or our passion fade. More than anything, we want our partner to look at us the same way, to wear the clothes they love, and make them laugh the way we used to. But how do we fit into a square peg when we are now round? (metaphorically, of course!) To constantly try to be someone we no longer are is a chore we don’t need, not when the laundry is piling up and we are running out of diapers, right?
Then there are those women who just let go. They let go of the old and embrace the new. The ones who become moms and seem to flourish, as if the role of mommy is exactly what they’ve always wanted, as though they are finally becoming the person they dreamed of. They tackle rearing children with a ferocity that is awing and intimidating - their children are their sole purpose on this planet. How naturally it comes. The person they used to be slips away and they don’t even seem to notice. It’s hard to look at those moms when you yourself are fumbling your way through. Difficult to see how easily they seem to succeed when you yourself are clawing your way through this journey call motherhood. The truth is, they struggle too. They too feel like bad moms.
BAD MOM IDENTITY
Why is it we always end up feeling guilty? Guilty for not being good enough, not giving patience 24\7, for being short tempered, wanting alone time, eating a cookie without sharing, overlooking our partners, not returning our best friend’s phone call, forgetting to get a teacher a thank you gift – the list of things for mothers to feel guilty about is every growing. No wonder we have such a hard time figuring out who we are! Who has the time to find themselves when we are so busy trying to please everyone else?
The truth is, your identity will always include your children now. Yes, the girl you remember so fondly is still there. She helped you get to this point and she will be with you through the adventure of raising your kids. Of course, you're different. You cannot love like a mother does, cannot birth a child into this world, cannot embrace motherhood without things changing. But just remember, this is better than who you were. Being a mom is more important than wearing your favourite jeans, going out to fancy restaurants, and watching a movie without falling asleep. It’s not about letting go of who you used to be but allowing yourself to evolve and embrace who you are now. Find out what works for you and stop trying to cling to things that no longer matter. It’s okay to be in crisis. It’s expected. Just remember, at the end of the day, you are not a bad mom, and you’re still the vivacious woman you remember, you’re just a little more tired now and you got a child in tow.