It all started due to a reply to a comment that I had made on an Instagram post of a mom tandem breastfeeding her twins. She was a perfect stranger, but regardless, her words couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time.
My initial comment was congratulating this mom on her rock star status. “Wow. I can hardly muster enough time and energy to feed one baby, let alone two. You rock, mama!”
I was less than a week postpartum, and her response back was exactly what I needed to hear. “The biggest thing you must realize as a new mom is that your time is no longer your own.”
Boom. That was it. That was the trick of the trade that I had been missing. No wonder I had been getting so frustrated by the lack of eating, showering, or sleeping that had been going on in my life since my baby girl had come into the world.
My time was no longer my own. I repeated it to myself a couple of times. A 5-pound, something ounce, tiny human was now in control of my time.
My time was no longer my own.
Those words echoed through my core, and I let that be my mantra for the next twelve months. Yes, I was working full-time, but any minute that I had when I was not in the office, I was dedicated to being with my daughter. This was what being a mom was about, right? Her needs came first. Always.
Then, one morning about two weeks before her first birthday, I had a special event to go to for work and decided to put in my contacts. I had been wearing my glasses exclusively for the entire time since she had been born. A co-worker noticed my “new” look and complimented me. She asked when I started wearing contacts, and I said I had had them for years. She looked perplexed, following up with a question as to why I didn’t ever wear them. I paused. I didn’t have an answer. I swear I almost blurted out, “Because I am a mom now, and don’t think I deserve taking 90 seconds to put them in every morning,” but thankfully, my brain stopped my mouth from moving.
Sort of like what happened after reading the Instagram reply months before; I had a second epiphany while standing in my office that day.
Time. It may no longer have been all mine, but as my daughter’s transitional milestone from infant to a toddler was fast approaching, it was a good idea for me to start owning some of it again.
So, I committed to doing just that; I slowly started to take back some of my time. It first began with small things. Taking two minutes to put in my contacts in the morning. Spending a half-hour at happy hour with my co-workers. Making an appointment to get a haircut.
Then a few more significant events followed. The weekend after my daughter’s first birthday party, I registered for classes at a local yoga studio for my first attempt at working out since becoming a mom. I also attended a Fairfield County Mom event for an evening, committed to a weekend bachelorette party for a college friend, and even traveled out of the state for a few days for work. Slowly but surely, pieces of my life that my pre-mom self had once taken for granted began to fall back into place.
In hindsight, I wonder why it took me so long to regain some sense of self again. But a combination of societal pressures (while working a full-time job) and intrinsic pressures to be a fantastic mom are quite burdensome. There simply are not enough hours in the day to do all that needs to be done in the office, at home, with your family, or for yourself.
And you know what? That is okay. You get done what you can, and don’t forget; you’re still a superstar mom.
Just last week, a fellow mom friend of mine messaged me saying that after months of neglecting to go to the salon, she finally made an appointment to get a haircut. The excitement in her message simply about the appointment was palpable; she hadn’t even seen the final product yet! It’s amazing how something we took for granted before parenthood somehow feels like a huge luxury post-kids.
I am writing this post to remind us not to let that happen and get out of that funk. These basic grooming or personal care activities should not be viewed as luxuries! Even if the thought of contacts, the gym, haircuts, and business trips bring you anxiety, I challenge you to start by recalling one thing that sparks joy in you. Do that one thing, and most importantly, be present while doing it. A happier mom in life overall is critical to being a happier mom at home.
It’s like they say, “Taking care of you is not selfish. It’s selfless. A better you is more capable of serving the needs of others.” And now, having seen both sides, I completely agree.
And on that note, I am off to yoga!