During those first months after having a newborn, your one and only goal is to keep the child alive. Showers, exercise, and sex are all a very distant thing of the past. But once you finally get to the end of that sleep-deprived tunnel, the light shining in also brings with it the inevitable motherhood emotion ― dun, dun, dun ― guilt.
You are only months into this damn thing and it has already arrived! Although your brain has completely turned into mush and your biggest concern has now become whether your child should keep chewing on their ‘moldy’ Sophie toy, somehow guilt still has a way of taking over it all. You begin to start worrying about the future and getting anxious about the unknown.
Your racing thoughts are as follows:
Your Body ― Will it ever be the same? Ugh, is belly skin supposed to feel this flappy and leathery? God I really need to start working out, all those other moms are so much smaller than me. I’ll start Monday. Okay, next Monday…
Your Partner ― I know the doctor said six weeks, but maybe I misunderstood her. I think she meant six months… Is it really necessary to have anything enter this area ever again? Does is hurt this much for everyone? I think I’ll need a whole bottle of wine next time…
Your Career ― What the hell am I doing with my life? If I take some time off will I ever be able to get a job again? Wait ― come again ― daycare costs how much? Is it even worth going back to work? But today, I actually think I’m looking forward to getting out of the house and going back to work. Does that make me a bad mom?
How to deal with these thoughts:
Your body ― You gave birth to a human. A living, breathing, tiny person. Give yourself a break, six packs went out in the 90’s anyways (or so I tell myself). Those early months are devoted entirely to the babe, but it’s also important not to neglect yourself. It’s a slippery slope because if we continue to give our all to everyone else but ourselves, it makes for one depleted mama.
Getting to the gym might feel impossible, so try popping in a short DVD at home, or go on some stroller walks a couple times a week. You can bond with the baby and burn some calories at the same time. But more than anything, just be kind. Don’t beat yourself up. Put forth the energy toward your body image that you would want to model for your children from the start.
Your Partner ― Yes, you have a new relationship you are forming with the little one, but it’s also extremely important not to neglect the one responsible for having them in the first place! Those early months require so much teamwork and patience as a couple but when the doctor gives you the go ahead, it’s important to get ‘back on the horse’ per say.
I loved this PSA for the Do Your Part(ner) Campaign by Plum Organics. It completely nails how important intimacy is for couples after kids. So even though you may still be sleep deprived or body conscious, power down those phones, pour some wine, and carve out some much needed time for the two of you.
Your Career ― The hardest thing to wrap your head around at the beginning is that you can’t have it all. You are no longer responsible for just yourself anymore and something has to give. It’s tough trying to navigate how your old job fits into your new life or trusting someone else to take care of the child. It’s tough to leave that job behind and it’s also tough to leave the babe behind. All are hard decisions because they are all selfless decisions.
So, to those stay-at-home moms who feel like they are stuck in a jail cell with an even crazier inmate (a teething baby), please know that there is fellow mom at work getting pictures sent from the nanny who is beating herself up for not being able to be in that same prison. We all want what we can’t have, but by spending time wishing our current situations away, we are missing out on the precious gift of the present.
How to change these thoughts:
Know that you are enough, simply because you are trying. And more importantly, know that you are not alone. Guess what? Despite what social media may display, no one knows what the hell they are doing either. Everyone struggles, even though they may not show it. We are all just winging it together.
So when you feel that loss of control or anxiousness coming on, try your best to switch that guilty thought out for a grateful one instead. Do this each day until it becomes habit over time.
In the end, our occupations all read ‘Mom.’ The less judgmental and more candid and supportive we are of each other, the more an identity crisis can be averted.