This is dedicated to all the new moms out there. The ones going through what may feel like an overwhelming initiation ritual of some kind. The ones who are ever so diligently stumbling through the process of taking care of a human life who is completely dependent on them. The ones who are shell-shocked by the vast amount of time a new child demands.
I went through it too. And I'm here to tell you that I survived those first years of trial by roaring fire.
I know at times it may feel like you won't survive -- at least with your sanity intact. You may feel like you're the only mom out there who can't handle it.
I've been there.
Having my baby was as hard as it was exciting. I got lost in the shuffle. I was drained. I lost touch with my friends. I gained a lot of weight breastfeeding (when everyone told me the opposite would happen!)
I also fought with my husband (mostly due to sleep deprivation), drank way too much coffee and craved way too much wine. I wanted time to myself but never got it. I reached the end of my rope many, many times.
But it did start to get better after the first few years went by.
It wasn't until my daughter was about four that I finally started getting my groove back -- mentally and physically. And by this I mean I was able to have conversations with people without worrying if my child was crawling towards the edge of some dangerously high place, pooping in her diaper/pants, or eating cat throw-up when I wasn't looking. I started to remember the things I wanted to do, interests I wanted to explore. In short -- me.
On a physical level, it definitely took a few years before I felt like my body was mine again after the trauma of childbirth, breastfeeding, hormone and weight fluctuations.
The period of bounce-back is probably different for every woman. I was an "older" new mom of 35 so perhaps it took me longer. But I got there, eventually.
It's essential that women talk to one another. Many new moms suffer from serious postpartum depression and we need to have honest conversations about the stress caring for a new baby can bring. If we don't talk about it many new moms may not have anything to relate their struggles to. The toddler years can be a terrifically confusing time as well. There's always a strange rash or type of behavior that needs to be identified.
Discussing real issues involved with motherhood is not always "complaining." It's moms networking and sharing -- sometimes out of pure desperation. It's a need for comfort and solace.
Motherhood can be very rewarding. It brings gifts of joy and laughter. But the reality is that things might be difficult, tiring, unpredictable, irritating, and sometimes scary. Devoting your mind, body, and spirit to your child is an all-consuming venture. It takes a lot of time to rediscover yourself after the journey of giving birth and the challenges that follow.
Getting to know yourself as a mother takes you to a deeper level. You'll know more of what you're capable of and have a better understanding of what your limits are.
And this is not to say that everything will become super easy once you emerge from the baby/toddler bubble. Once your toddler becomes a "kid" it does get more mentally challenging. And yes -- I know -- the teen years.
But there will be time for you at some point down the road. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Eventually you'll be able to read that book you bought five years ago, watch that series on Netflix you've been dying to see, or even be able to sleep in past 6am one day. Maybe you'll start that exercise plan to get your shape back -- if you lost it -- even if it's just walking every day.
You will get your groove back. You've got to. For you and for your family. There's nothing better for a child than a mother who has a sense of self and interests that make her happy.
It's difficult to feel as if there's no time for you. But it will come.
So, for every mom who's struggling with breastfeeding and wants to sob -- this is for you. For every mom who feels the utter, infuriating helplessness of being up at 2:00 a.m. with no idea why her baby is crying -- this is for you. For every mom who wants to run out the front door screaming because the laundry and dishes just keep coming and her toddler won't take a nap -- this is for you.
Hang in there. You are not alone.
More from Michelle: 5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Becoming a Stepmom
Originally a Vancouver Island native, Michelle now resides in California where she is an ex-corporate slave, writer, artist, mother, stepmother, & wife.
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