When I first had Liv, I used to get a little bummed out when I saw moms that looked so “put together.”
While reading mommy blogs, I’d see photos of these moms, perfectly coiffed, wearing heels and red lipstick, and here I was in yesterday’s pajamas, with sticky hair and a unibrow.
I feared quite a few things when Liv was first born. Many of them had to do with my own worries and insecurities about taking care of her: making sure she was warm, fed, happy, felt loved and was safe. And then there were the silly ones, some that seem so selfish looking back, but in the moment felt so permanent.
I was afraid I’d never be able to leave the house again. I was constantly attached to the pump, and I thought if I ever did get to leave the house, I’d emerge with a mangled mess of greasy hair, which would be up in a bun and my bangs pulled back, thus making said unibrow even more obvious to everyone around me. I’d never be able to paint my nails again.
I felt selfish for having these thoughts because obviously Liv was my number one concern, but I eventually realized that you need to care and worry about yourself too. The whole “put your oxygen mask on first” thing and all that jazz. If making sure you have two eyebrows is part of your oxygen mask, that’s ok. It’s a matter of doing that you need to do to make you feel good, and make you feel human when you feel like an isolated milk machine. In the thick of it all, I was also a little afraid of losing myself in the process of wholly loving and living for another person.
When you become a mom, you know and expect all of your priorities to shift down the totem pole, as caring for someone else becomes your number one job and passion. Even so, for me, there was also a fear of losing everything else I’d worked for and who I’d become in the path to motherhood. I had a bit of an identity crisis and felt pulled in many directions: mom, wife, fitness professional, blogger… I started to mentally compartmentalize each “identity” and task, and by doing so, took myself farther away from all of them. The more responsibilities and tasks you take on, the more they need to overlap so they’ll all fit. I didn’t want anything to overlap or take away from my mom identity, but at the same time, I feared that I might not have the time to do the small things I enjoyed, like read a book or see a movie with friends.
Looking back, I wish I would have had to foresight to see that the insane amount of worked paired with intense sleep deprivation was temporary, but foresight has never been my virtue. I live IN the moment, and the way things are at that particular second feel like they’ll exist as so, forever. It’s kinda silly, but I can’t help it. One of the things that helped me in the beginning was hearing other moms say that it was hard. It doesn’t mean that you love your baby any less, you didn’t want or expect it, but it feels good to hear a verbal acknowledgment of the truth. I think I’d be worried more to hear someone say that being a mom is super easy, or that they didn’t feel their life was any different after their child was born. When Liv was born, I had to mourn the loss of my old life, which was challenging and necessary as a new and more amazing one started to unfold. It’s not something that many moms talk about -as if by doing so you means that you want to go back to the way things used to be, which isn’t the case at all.
Sure, I *miss* going to the movies, taking random naps and coming and going however I pleased. Does it mean I want that time back? Absolutely not. You can miss and appreciate pieces of your old life while loving every second of the new one at the same time.
Now we’re at a time that seemed so far away in the beginning. We can now leave the house with no probs, and Liv is such a great and fun little companion. She talks and sings to me, can give me ideas of what she needs or wants, and we have a blast together. As much as I’m enjoying every moment and solidifying the beautiful memories in my mind, I’ve realized that even as things become easier, it’s still juggling. So many plates up in the air, you can drop the work plates but not the family or love plates.
While out at lunch one day, we watched a family with two very small children enjoying their Indian food dinner at a table in the restaurant near ours. Tom leaned over to me and whispered,”They just know how to orchestrate the chaos.”
And that’s all it is: a dance and orchestration of the many tasks and responsibilities for it to all come together. You shuffle and juggle the things you need to, while trying to make it as seamless and serene as possible. Even on the easier days, I may look like I might have it together with matching clothes on and Livi happily along with me. I know my hair’s not washed, I forgot the wipes and am praying to God there’s no #2 action while we’re out and about and we had PB&J for breakfast since we’re out of eggs.
It’s a stressful dance because you want to do it right, though you may take little missteps and fall-outs along the way. With the intricate movement and crescendoes throughout, you focus on where you are, do the best you can, and breathe in each beautiful moment.