Shortly after I gave birth to Ada, I found myself in this whole new club. I was no longer just a young woman. Nope. I was now a mom. Three letters that -- after that final push -- gave me an entirely new definition of myself and the world around me. In the early nursing days, I took much comfort in reading mommy blogs of all shapes and sizes. Honestly, it was a nice escape from the isolation of having a newborn in the bitter Northeast winter. These blogs were my window to the outside world, and the sun was surely shining out there.
I definitely bought into the whole aspirational aspect of a lot of these blogs. These moms lived in fun, exciting, and relevant places that made my own spot in upstate obscurity seem very small and unimportant. Their
littles kids were impeccably dressed and always sent me clicking to some new, expensive boutique to drool over tiny duds. Smiles abounded on their chubby faces that had me wondering what exactly I was doing wrong with my cranky baby.
Maybe if I tried to be more like these moms, my life would fall into place, I mused.
And the thing is, I’m not usually the kind of person to fall into these trappings. My whole life, I’ve sort of done my own thing. Like, you should see how I dressed in high school during the Abercrombie craze. Just think embroidered bell bottoms and vintage Beatles t-shirts. I digress. With this new-mom identity, I didn’t quite know what to do with myself. I was now responsible for painting this picture of family, but I had no numbers as my guide. For the first time in my life, I felt too tired to forge my own way. Instead, I wanted the happy, shiny life . . . and I wanted it now.
So, I clicked and read and lusted over silly stuff like printed toddler leggings. And every new type of baby carrier on the market, even though I already have two well-funcitoning ones of my own. I grew frustrated when my perfectly fine 135-pound body didn’t squeeze down to its previous, pre-pregnancy size. I bought an Ace + Jig dress on super clearance -- no returns -- because it seemed like what all the moms were wearing these days, and I’ve only actually worn it out once because it fits like a freaking potato sack.
Stupid Saltwaters. I have two pairs.
They’re pretty, but that’s not the point.
Somewhere along the way, either I had enough, felt tired, or just wised up. I like to think the latter. I think my biggest turning point was Ada’s surgery because it gave me a huge dose of perspective. Regardless, the gloss dulled -- big time. The toddler outfits that cost more than my own weekly wardrobe seemed more appalling than appealing (seriously -- there’s no reason to spend BANK on toddler shoes). The countless cutesy + all organic food plate photos went stale (really? your kid eats ALL of that, everyday?). And the whole authenticity of a lot of these lives felt suspect and, worse, steeped in veiled sponsorships.
Slowly, I unsubscribed from most of the blogs, magazines, and Instagram accounts that I felt gave me nothing more than envy or annoyance. If there was no substance behind the glamour, no heart behind the words -- delete! (Some people can strike a great balance of having nice things and being an awesome person. Others, not so much.) I also tossed all the upscale catalogs (Land of Nod, I’m looking at you!) that perpetuated this whole dream world. I mean, it’s hard to completely avoid all of this stuff, but it’s been a liberating exercise to control what I can. To break free (from the storm inside of me).
Sure, there are plenty of moms in my own neighborhood who tote around their Coach diaper bags and spend $$$ on hot yoga and Barre classes to keep their lean physiques. The difference now is that I don’t want to be one of them. I’m content in my comfy thrift store clothes, my self-dyed Henna hair, and my kid’s Target sweater stained with pumpkin puree from this morning’s breakfast.
The premium you pay for the good life -- both in dollars and sanity -- isn’t worth much when you consider it’s not necessary a good life at all. Instead, it’s far too often a life full of a bunch of stuff that won’t matter when all that’s left are the photos in the memory books. I no longer use my kid as my vessel to find self-worth. Strangely enough, the letting go brought much more exuberance to my family and wholeness to my sense of self as a mom.
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