One of the most difficult transitions I've dealt with in becoming a mom and, more recently, stay-at-home mom has been maintaining a sense of who I am outside of these roles. My identity. My purpose. My interests. My e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g.
Now when I'm asked "and what do you do?" (which surprisingly comes up often in the most random situations) I hesitate because it feels weird for me to say "I stay at home" or simply "I'm a mom. Period."
There's little confidence in my reply because sometimes I feel like I'm almost apologizing. Like "that's, well, all I do now."
My new role is incredibly important and my identity will be forever intertwined with my status as a mom, which I love. But before I had Ada, I worked full-time. I cooked and baked. I took photos. I ran races. I wrote blog posts. I hung out with friends. I went on dates with my husband. You know. I was a person who was somewhat interesting and fulfilled.
I fully participated in my life versus playing a supporting role in someone else's.
It isn't that I don't do any of these activities anymore. Obviously I'm keeping up with many of them. Not on the same level, though. Nor do I expect or want to live and be exactly how I used to live and be. Still, when I'm asked "what have you been up to?" or "what's new?" . . . I stumble.
Who am I now? What do I really do? Identity crisis, for sure.
A lot of Ada's first half year have been spent entirely devoted to her needs -- physical and emotional -- and leaving myself second. Let's face it, sometimes third or dead last. Sacrifice is something I expected the minute I found out I was pregnant, but I didn't quite realize all the implications until she was born and the real work began.
Ada is now 7 months old. I feel like things are getting at least somewhat more predictable and manageable. I am making time. Connecting more often with friends versus being a hermit. Creating new relationships with new people who share in this stage of life. Starting new professional pursuits, too.
But I could do better. For myself, that is.
Take last night's Red Dress Run, for example. (And thanks for all these photos, Dani and Sue!)
The temps were over 90. The humidity was high. I didn't feel like running. But then I saw how many friends were going -- and I realized it wasn't about the run at all. No. It was about being ME again. I need to connect more with the people (ADULTS!) around me. To do things just for me. In my new mommy-mind, it feels selfish, yet I know it is actually much healthier than the alternative.
Stephen was generous enough to feed Ada and watch over her while I struggled through those hilly 3 miles in the heat and sun. I was so worried that she'd have a meltdown or not take the bottle or overheat. But I left everything in his control and relaxed for once.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that, as hard as it is to believe, Ada is growing up. She was nurtured entirely by me when I was pregnant. When she was a newborn, she was also seemingly attached at all times. But as she continues to grow -- she will also ever-so slowly pull apart from me. And that's not a bad thing. So I'm not left with a shell of my former self when she's all grown up, I need to nurture myself, too.
Moms: How do you retain a sense of self post-baby(ies)? I imagine it get easier to balance, yet I can also see how it could become exponentially more difficult. Please leave a comment or email us at writingchapterthree [at] gmail [dot] com.
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