As soon as I became a mother, I simultaneously lost and gained a piece of my identity. I was no longer just Katie. I was MC’s mom, and that always came first. The obsession to be the best mother, have the best things, provide the best care was overwhelming. Everyone around me wanted to contribute and give me advice, which just made the entire process even more confusing since I often received conflicting advice (sometimes from the same person.) So in my desperate focus on this new itsy bitsy human, I lost a part of who I was. I didn’t take care of myself emotionally and mentally. Things I used to love to do, I lost interest in because I felt like I was constantly stuck in the cycle of wake up, nurse, change diaper, sleep, wake up, nurse, change diaper…
You know what also didn’t help? Mommy-shaming. Knock.It.Off. Why must we feel like we’re in constant competition with each other. Can’t we all agree that we are awesome humans for turning food into itsy bitsy humans? Because I’m literally in awe of this amazing super power that we are blessed to have…Better yet, if someone chooses to be a mother, regardless of if the baby is naturally conceived, IVF, adopted, surrogate, whatever the case may be – can’t we just be amazed at this incredibly selfless decision?
So here I was with this beautiful little child, where every fiber of my being was telling me how to best care for her, and yet I felt like I was no longer important. I was just a way for the baby to survive. I sunk deeper and deeper into a fog where I almost became robotic with my day-to-day until I finally hit rock bottom. Then I made a decision to take care of myself.
The day I finally put myself first, actually the moment I actually thought about my needs first, was the day I felt like a better mother, wife, and contributing member of society. It started off with little things like taking a bath by myself. [Those without children will read that sentence and think “um of course you take a bath by yourself,” but those of you with children will know…] For a few months, I probably single-handedly kept our little Lush stand in business. Then it turned into longer periods of Mommy Time, and you know what? My household didn’t fall apart. I stopped feeling as guilty.
That’s the best advice I give now to new moms. I don’t tell them how to raise their kids. I don’t tell them which diapers are the best, or how to nurse, or what brand of clothes I like best. I don’t give them advice on when certain milestones should be met. When I’m asked, I tell new moms that it’s ok to take some time for yourself. It’s ok to feel like you’re losing yourself here and there. It’s ok to feel like you’ve completely fallen apart, and now that you’ve picked yourself up, the pieces now fit together differently.
You’re being the best you, and you are your own, incredibly wonderful you.