A year has gone by since Tennyson was born, so naturally I am thinking back on these past 12 months and feeling nostalgic and realizing how I've changed. There's some good things and some not so good things. So here we go:
1. I am more confident in following my instincts
When I was pregnant with Tenny I felt like I was listening to every different piece of advice I was given and trying to work it into my life somehow. I still like hearing opinions from friends and blogs but I feel much more confident about just trusting my gut then I did a year ago.
2. I lose my patience faster than I used to
It's just true! If I am tired, which I usually am these days, I get cranky and grumpy so easily. It could be the smallest thing that sets me off, but once I've lost my patience it's just gone.
3. I can't hear about anything related to child abuse or neglect
I've always been sensitive to violence in movies, but these days I can't listen to the radio, or the news if there is anything related to a child being harmed. I get angry and depressed picturing a child not being protected.
4. I'm always a bit lonely
Don't feel sorry for me. It just comes with being a stay at home mom. I want to make plans with people but I am bound to the nap and bedtime schedule we have currently. I used to be able to be spontaneous, but in this stage of motherhood it's not realistic.
5. I'm not so sure about my career
I really never thought I would be a full time sahm, and I know I won't be forever but I am surprised how over this year I have become much less passionate about advancing in my career. I'm just putting it aside for the time being, I'll come back to it eventually. (I think)
6. I'm proud of my body
While I don't always feel great in my skin and I wish my clothes didn't feel so tight, I have a newfound appreciation for what my body is capable of. I carried a baby and have been breastfeeding for over 12 months now! I'm proud of what my body has done :)
Those are just a few of the ways I've changed, and I am sure if I wrote this post in another year there would be a lot to add to the list!
I'm scared that I want to be a stay at home mom!
A few years ago I would have said that I pictured taking the minimum maternity leave with each baby I'm privileged to have and would return to work as soon as possible. But since Tennyson came into my life I can't picture going back to work after a year. Yes, I am so tired and drained like so many other moms, but I also love what I am doing.
There is this guilt that creeps in sometimes, this voice that says because I am not making money I am not contributing to the family. That same voice tells me I am missing out in my field, that I'll never be able to get a job again now that I'm 'out of the game'. That voice tells me that in order to stay relevant I need to start working as soon as I can. That annoying, shaming voice tells me that I will lose myself if I am 'just' a stay at home mom. It says that modern feminists don't stay home with kids, they do it all! The days when I submit to that voice I feel empty and worthless because I'm believing something about myself that isn't true.
The truth that I need to be reminded of is that I WILL be able to find work when the time comes to return. I WILL be able to catch up with what is happening in social work and in the London community when I am ready to go back. I AM contributing to the family by raising our son to be kind and responsible. And the truth is modern feminism doesn't look down on stay at home moms, if anything it says that women have the opportunity to choose what makes sense for them and their family.
I'm scared by my desire to be a stay at home mom while my kids are young because it's new for me, and I also am recognizing what a privilege it is to be able to choose to do this full time.
Here's to shutting up that shaming, annoying ridiculous voice in my head :)
I had always heard about "mommy wars" and thought that was just something that happened on Facebook between moms who don't know each other. But not only is this is a real life thing, it happens between friends! The funny part is, every mom I talk to hates getting unsolicited advice or feeling judged for her decisions. I have never met someone who hangs out with fellow moms and purposely tries to make others feel bad for their choices. So why do mommy wars exist?
In my very short time of being a mom I've tried to observe why my feelings get hurt, or why I have felt compelled to give another mom unsolicited advice. I think it's because my biggest mommy war is with myself!
Before I became a mom I was an employee, a student, a volunteer,etc. I've spent so much time in roles where I've had clear expectations and boundaries given to me. I am used to being evaluated, or being given a rubric to follow. I have had regular performance reviews where I have been told what I am doing well and what I need to improve. This helped encourage me and point me in the right direction.
But motherhood has no rubric! There's no clear expectations or boundaries that I need to follow, and there is no one who regularly tells me what I am doing right and what I am doing wrong. The only way I can think of evaluating myself is to see what others are doing and to measure myself next to moms with babies the same age.
So for me, I am secretly looking for validation from other moms that I am doing ok.
For example, someone might ask me "how is he sleeping?" and my response is "Oh he's doing ok, I mean he's still sleeping in my bed, but I kind of like it although I know I shouldn't do it for too long, but its good because he gets better sleep and so do I, but maybe he would wake up less if I just put him in the crib but he won't sleep by himself so yeah he's sleeping fine, thanks for asking."
Why do i answer like that? Because that is the commentary going on in my mind about every topic and deep down in my heart I want my mom friend to calm that voice and say that I'm doing ok.
I love my mom friends- I want to tell them they are doing ok, because I genuinely think they are! Literally every mom I hang out with I think to myself how amazing they are and how their kids are just the most darling little things ever. Maybe if I spend more time encouraging my friends instead of looking for validation, the mommy wars will slow down.
It seems that at every stage of pregnancy and post pregnancy people tell you to 'enjoy it while it lasts.' I was reminded to enjoy being married with no kids, having a quiet house, a clean house, a job to go to, feeling the baby kick inside, etc. And now I am being urged to savor every stage of my child's growth because things change so fast! I used to be annoyed by how often I heard these words, but now I am starting to think I should listen to my friends as I sense their longing.
When I look at my one month-old son I finally get it. Every day is a new adventure, a new growth spurt, a longing for my marriage to be just the two of us, missing my full-time job, etc. I understand that feeling of time going too fast. How is it that my little baby who I was so impatiently waiting to make his overdue appearance is already five weeks old. How is it that I feel like I just fell in love with Evan and now we are more than two years into our marriage? I just want things to slow down!
Sometimes I whisper into my little boys ear "don't ever grow up" but in the same breath I feel so proud of the man he will become one day and can't wait to get to know his personality more. This whole parenting a newborn has taken me for quite a ride in such a short time. From an unplanned C-section which I still am taking time to process to the joy of being the one my baby needs each day, I am trying to pause and soak up every moment that I can. Every time I see Evan so gently pick up his baby and talk to him. Every time I see my parents look proud of their Grandson. Every time I get baby into the most darling outfit and take a picture before he soaks it. I cherish these moments and realize that these are those days I will long for when he's older.
Hey! It's me, at 35 weeks pregnant with
your first baby boy...
You may have forgotten some things the second time around, so let me just remind you of what you learned during your first pregnancy: