I have always considered myself a “warrior for mommy rights.” (For real- it’s even written in my bio up there.) My personal mantra is, “Mommy is a person, too.” So you would naturally assume that after my second baby was born, already being a pro at this motherhood thing, I would have dived right back into my old routines and rituals. Not so much. For someone who is passionate about making sure her needs do not go unmet, someone who tries to assert her personhood into motherhood as much as possible, I was no shining example of a self-actualized, feminist woman after the birth of my second child.
Sure, I did some things for myself, like watch my favorite TV shows, eat sweets, read books, and play on Facebook. I pursued the hedonist pleasure of sitting on my ass, nursing, napping, and vegging with my newborn with great vigor. But there were many things, things that were central to my identity (or at least to my self-care and cleanliness) that went completely by the wayside for months. Some- for over a year.
- I didn’t go to yoga again until my baby was 7 months old.
- I remembered how to meditate when she was almost a year.
- I spent my first night away from her after 16 months (I know some women who have waited years)
- I didn’t wear a drop of makeup for 4 months.
- I started sleeping through the night again when she was 15 months.
- I didn’t leave the house at bedtime for 11.5 months. I may have squeezed in a quick Happy Hour from time to time, or sneaked out after the baby was asleep, but never, never, during bedtime.
- I remembered that I missed writing, desperately, when she was 9 months old.
- I forgot to exfoliate any part of myself until she was 20 months old.
- I remembered that I liked to drink red wine in the evenings when she was 14 months old.
- I still haven’t begun to shower in the mornings, unless it is the weekend and my husband is home. 21 months old.
If there are any moms reading this who are still in that post-baby stage of figuring things out, I hope that you will feel comforted that you are not the only one struggling to navigate this overwhelming time of life, rather than discouraged that it can take this long to reclaim parts of yourself. If you are a pregnant or brand new mama, cut yourself some slack, and try not to rush things.
Or maybe some of you will read this and feel motivated to try harder, to do better. Perhaps you will feel compelled to step up your identify reconnaissance efforts. A person who hasn’t yet had kids may read this and scoff, “That will never happen to me. I will make it a priority to keep my own identity and needs in the picture from day one.” I hope that happens for you. I wish you the best of luck.
But if you find yourself, someday, dismayed at how your fashion (not to mention hygiene) efforts have taken a nose-dive, bewildered that you somehow forgot to exercise, and embarrassed that you have neglected your passions, remember: you will get these things back. It takes time. Be gentle with yourself.
Oh god yes to too many of these and trust me I am still a work in progress on getting back some time for just me and must admit still haven’t wandered out at their bedtime. Someday, I hope to get there, but right now it when I get my best work done!!!
Oh, I know! Bedtime is sacred productivity time, isn’t it?
I definitely needed to read this right now, being in the thick of the post-baby stage myself and wondering if I just don’t try hard enough, or what. Of course, I’m particularly behind on reclaiming just about every aspect of myself since I’ve been either pregnant or breastfeeding for over three years now, with no more than six months between each subsequent pregnancy. Man, am I tired (among other things)!
I’m so glad this resonated with you, Sharon! The pregnant-breastfeeding roller-coaster feels never ending, doesn’t it? I don’t think there is such a thing as “not trying hard enough” at this stage. Survival, mama…
THIS. IS. AWESOME. Yes, yes, YES! This is real. Too often we don’t talk about these things and moms feel like they are the only ones out there who haven’t worn makeup or leave the house at bedtime. You are not alone, fellow moms!! Well done, Stephanie!!
Oh, thank you so much! I always appreciate your feedback, and the tweets too!
So funny and so true…. I remember the days with my first when my husband would come home from work, and I hadn’t even brushed my teeth yet, let alone showered or put on makeup!! And in a few weeks, my husband and I will take our first – yes, our FIRST – trip away together, without kids, in 7 years. I have no idea what we will talk about!
Seriously, I love the message in this about navigating our own identity and our mommy identity ~ and about remembering to take care of ourselves and our own needs. xoxo
Thanks Sarah! And WOW- your first trip! You will have a fantastic time, wherever you go! Even if it’s just around the corner! 😉
I always intended on being the mom who made time for herself, but it never happened. She’s 27 months now, and no one has ever put her to bed except me, and with no family here that helps us, I went almost a full year without a night out. The trip we took with my mother at the beginning of June was life-changing for me because we had 7 nights of free babysitting from someone we trust, and I realized how important it is for me to be an adult. Not just for me and my sanity, but for my daughter, too. I don’t want her to grow up not knowing who I am as an adult and a wife, you know? So I’ve pre-booked one night a month with our babysitter so that I know I have at least one night a month with my husband where I can be an adult. I still put my child to bed before we leave (it’s just not worth the sleep regression of having someone else do it), but then I’m free to be an adult for a couple of hours, and it feels great! 🙂
Another awesome post, my friend!
Isn’t it so much easier said than done? I’m so glad you enjoyed some stress-free dates on vacation, and good for you for booking a sitter once a month! And I totally understand waiting until after your kid is asleep- but it feels so insane, doesn’t it? Who knew it would be this hard?
Girl as a grandma myself I can tell you there are things I have ignored since he has been born and he doesn’t even live with me.. but when he comes.. everything stops..
I always love your perspective and wisdom. I love your last sentence…
Loved this! Another reminder: Progress, not perfection. Sharing!
Thanks, Norine – that’s a great motto- Progress, not perfection.
Absolutely- be gentle on yourselves. Always. Life is to short to spoil it with perfection.
Be gentle with yourself applies to all life stages, doesn’t it?
I found it much easier to get back and create great personal habits and me-time when I had one child. After baby two came along it was much harder and took much longer. Then baby three came along. I am still working on getting back to my me-time and he is 8!! It is hard but you are right so important to carve out time for you as a person, it is also equally important to cut yourself some slack! Thanks again for a great post!
YES! It was so much easier for me with my first, too. Who knows what will happen if I have a third? I may look like a bag-lady for the rest of my life…
This post sure resonates with me! My son is 20 months old and I am VERY behind on my self care. Forget getting out at night for me, you really don’t want to know how long that has been (um, I have a 5 year old, which may clue you in). Let’s just say one of my goals for this year is to sleep all night long and to go out with my husband for a dinner that is NOT during the early bird hours 🙂 I never would have thought this would be me in my pre-kid days, but here I am… Never say never is one of the parenting mottos that rings VERY true to me! Thanks for the post, it’s funny AND a good reminder to get myself in gear.
You are so right, Dana- never say never. I had such big ideas about post-baby life- ha! What a joke! And even when we have babysitters (read: my parents are in town) we gravitate towards eating at 5:30! We went out a few nights ago and I said to my husband, “We have to at least stay out until 8:30, so we miss bedtime.” Can you believe that??? Thanks for stopping by! 🙂
It’s always great to have a reality check and just accept that we can’t do it all. If we can manage more, that’s great! But, it should be considered a bonus, not a given!
Well put, Roshni… Reality checks are needed frequently in motherhood!
I bet this post made some new moms feel much better, Stephanie! And if you hold off on vacuuming long enough, your baby will be able to do the chore for you!
Thanks Dana… and HA- great idea! 😉
So many of those things I couldn’t do either. Ellie wouldn’t take a bottle until a YEAR. iT was a very longggg year.
Sophie NEVER took one. Good grief… yeah, that was a long 16 months…
This is a perfect post for HerStories! I think we could all write out our own list. I think in some ways I was more on top of things when my son was a baby. Or maybe now that’s just because I’m trying to add blogging to everything else! Sometimes I feel like I’m in a steady process of “letting myself go.” Makeup? No way. Any clothes besides yoga pants or leggings? Forget it. It’s really sad to say that shaving my legs sometimes has fallen by the way side, even in summer. My 25 year old self would probably shudder at me.
I’m so glad you liked it! Yeah, I totally should have used this on HerStories, huh? Oh well…. and I’m certain 25 year old me would shudder at me, too!
Sometimes, it just feels like more work to be like my pre-me. I’d rather just succumb to being mom. That can be a slippery slope though. One day you wake up and think “how’d I get here?” or “who am I?” I love that you slowly added parts of you back. It has to feel organic or it just won’t stick.
Great comment, Rachel! Yes, it is way more work to be pre-me. And it IS a slippery slope. It always comes back to balance, right?
Love this, so relatable. From the yoga to the exfoliation. I’m still putting parts of myself back together… and some parts will just never be the same.
My little boy just turned 4 this week. There are things that I’m still hoping to get back. Or rediscover. Or maybe just accept that are gone. Exfoliation and shaving are not among them and for that, I am grateful. Awesome post as always, you. I got smiley/teary at your mom shaming pic.
Believe it or not, I made a list like this soon after my son was born. Everything you wrote rings a bell with me. My boy is 21 months and I still can’t shower in the morning, I haven’t read a good book (sob!), and I didn’t wear make up and accessories for well over a year. Oh, and I still haven’t got any waxing done…the razor is my friend!
Well…I had to be a tad selfish due to mental reasons…I guess it really isn’t being selfish. I think that we all need to do self care in order to keep ourselves separate from our mom role…because we are individuals and can’t lose ourselves 🙂
I used the vacuum because of the colic…white noise. I can’t stand the sound of it now!
Oh hell yes! My second child threw me for such a loop I’m still recovering. I so feel you on these, Stephanie!
This has been the story of my life up until now. I had 3 kids in 3 years. My youngest is now 2 1/2, and I am finally beginning to get a little time for myself. I just go to bed as early as possible and then get up early for exercise or internet time, taking advantage of my kids’ love for late morning sleep. It keeps me sane.
Good for you, mama! That sounds like a great strategy…
I still don’t do most of these. I didn’t write for a good six months after adopting our first son. But that’s the only thing that got me through our third. Ha! The interesting thing is that I started to not be interested in doing some of the things after kids that seemed so important before kids. I hate taking showers now. I do it…when it’s necessary, but I’m lazy. I don’t think I’ve ever exfoliated. Except maybe my heals with a pumice stone, does that count? I have meditated. That helped me through too. And I didn’t sleep through the night for the first two years we had our kids. Ugh. THAT was horrible. Probably the hardest. Plus, I was battling depression and all kinds of crap. Good times! Man, I sound awful. The third time around it was much better. I was in a better place and blogging helped and the support I found was great. And that picture of you is the first one I ever saw of you…aww, so sweet!