This post is all encompassing because it involves so many scripts and ideas about our culture, women’s roles, power, sexuality, permission, body image and how the many (already) complicated facets of being a woman exponentially increases when you become a mother.
What is it with marginalizing and categorizing ourselves to fit into a role, identity, being just for the sake of other people’s understanding or avoiding our own guilt? The older I become the more I am pushing against these narratives.
For years I delayed having children because I felt guilty knowing I wanted to keep a life of my own and believed it would make me a “bad mom”. I believed the dialogue that if I had a baby I wouldn’t be able to work, travel, have fun, be sexy, or even be able to continue to be ME. I told myself I was not ready for kids because I valued work, travel, fun, sexiness, and overall because I value myself.
I knew I would never be the martyr mother who gave up everything for the sake of her child’s happiness. Read that again. Counterintuitive, right?
If I give up everything to make my child happy, what would happen to me as a person and the things I valued and brought me joy? If I lost myself in the journey of motherhood what kind of example would it set for my child about healthy boundaries and the importance of self identity?
Here are 5 things I practiced from day one to preserve my identity after I became a mother:
- I let go of expectation of others to do things the way I would do them. I stopped worrying about someone doing it “right” or having it done the way I would do it for the sake of giving myself a break.
- I told myself constantly, “do what you would have done pre-baby”. Perfect example, as usual, I threw myself a birthday party in July of 2017 (Jr was 4 months old) even though I was exhausted, working, nursing and still carrying all the baby weight.
- I communicated my expectations to my spouse. For us, I nursed and Sr. changed diapers. I also made a conscience choice to NEVER ask permission to be away from our son. I communicated when I would or would not be home. As parents, we are equal partners and that means being there for the child when the other person is unavailable.
- I gradually desensitized myself to be comfortable being away from Jr. – this for me meant going back to work but easing into my work load.
- I continued to keep outside relationships a priority. I love and cherish everyone in my life. My inner circle pours sugar in my cup and I reminded myself that if I have that sugar then it would make me a sweeter mama.
My hope for raising Jr is that one day I look up at him pouring himself into something he loves standing secure on the foundation of knowing his passions, interests, and life outside of me does not diminish the love we share.
My encouraging word to you mamas out there is to take some time for you today! Model behaviors to your child that demonstrates love as a never ending source that does not diminish when someone chooses to take care of themselves.
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