The day we all came back from the hospital, it all changed. Yes, just like that. All of a sudden, in a monumental way.
Just when I was beginning to feel adult and begin my writing career, I had a daughter. I had to stop in my tracks, hit pause, and raise a baby. It doesn’t matter if you plan your baby or not. You have to hit pause in one way or another.
What’s ironic is that although I desperately wanted my life back after just a few days of being a mom, I also kinda didn’t. I had a change of heart. I realized I didn’t want to take my daughter to daycare. I didn’t want to go back to a job I didn’t want. So, I decided to take care of my daughter and do something different – something I’d never considered before: become a stay-at-home mom.
What happened between my daughter and I in that two-bedroom apartment in Chicago changed me. Day after day, we grew together. As she grew, I grew. My writing journey continued, in fact it flourished, and it became embedded within her journey. I fell in love with the little person who kept me up each night and demanded undivided attention 24/7.
Even though I was head over heels for this scrumptious little thing, I wanted something more. I wanted to work, think, and create. I didn’t want to be a mom all day. As an introvert, I missed my space to think my own thoughts. I also missed eating out, watching movies, and hanging out with my husband.
Here are some tips if you find yourself, like I was, in the middle of a new mom crisis:
Separate yourself from motherhood when you get a chance. It will refuel you.
When my daughter was born, I never stopped writing. I’d look for writing gigs and eventually built a strong portfolio. I made coffee shops in my area second homes and started my own writing business. Nurturing my own career and my creativity gave me a serious boost and a solid foundation.
This was easy for me. As a feminist, equality is one of my top core values. But this one easily slips for many moms, especially stay-at-home moms. They figure, “I might as well do the laundry...I’m here anyway.” What starts to happen then is that laundry becomes your thing. It becomes an expected chore.
Instead, take turns doing the laundry. Take turns with all the chores. Let your partner cook or pick up carryout. Turns. Turns. Turns. Don’t like the way they do it? Then go ahead and get stuck doing it yourself. You choose.
If you stop doing it all, you’ll find more time for yourself.
I hate the traditional mother label.
By “traditional mother” I mean the-housewife-in-pearls-and-heels mother – that selfless being who puts everyone else first, is happy at all times, and is somehow not an alcoholic or prescription medication dependent.
The 1950s “ideal mom” that we saw on TV (white, middle class housewife who stays at home to raise her children, clean the house, and bake cookies) offered a clear picture of the societal role women were supposed to fill. Moms actually constructed their identities around this image, and many still do today.
Why? Because we still get those same messages. When you look at most “mommy blogs,” topics include beauty, style, food, deals, and raising children.
Why not create your own definition?
Motherhood is a part of me. Not everything. It’s an honor and a joy that fills my days as a guidance giver, a comforter, an unsolicited hugger and giver of too many kisses. My days are also filled with hours of negotiations, spilled juice, and sticky floors. Yet, I remain curious about the world and follow my ambitions.
By following my dreams, I teach my daughter that she, too, can succeed in anything she decides to do. See, at the end of this story, I don’t get to keep this little scrumptious thing with me at home and read endless books to her until we both fall asleep in bed. I’ll always keep loving her. But my daughter will develop into a woman. She will have her own set of interests and goals.
She is her own person. The same way I am my own person.
What’s your definition of motherhood?