I’m His Wife, Their Mother, Why Can’t I Just Be “ME”?
Many moms often feel that with the joys of motherhood comes a feeling of loss of self. You are now known as “Mrs. Smith” instead of Jessica. Your life revolves around your baby’s feeding and napping schedule. You have lost that pre-pregnancy figure and getting it back seems to take so much more work than it used to. If you have become a stay-at-home-mom, you no longer have the camaraderie of co-workers and the responsibilities that you held for so long and with the respect of your supervisors and business contacts (although you have so many NEW responsibilities!). Whether or not you are returning to your out of the home job, during your time on maternity leave it seems that your co-workers no longer need you, and the show goes on whether you are there or not! Gone are the days of the romantic rendezvous with the man of your dreams, as a matter of fact you might need to set up an ‘appointment’ to have some romantic alone time! You are sporting flip-flops with feet in them that have not been for a pedicure in weeks (months?) and your roots are showing. You haven’t slept for longer than three or four straight hours in months, and you are weeks behind in keeping up with your favorite show (God bless the DVR!). Your friends all seem to be busy (especially the single ones or couples without children) every time you want them to come keep you company.
When you get a chance to sit and think (and in time it WILL happen!), you might begin to wonder “WHO AM I”?
At one point in my life I was known simply as “Jen”. Now, after being a mother for eleven years, I often find myself saving time by introducing myself as “Paul’s wife” or “Juliana’s (or Louis or Anthony’s or Joseph’s) mom. And even though there is no better role or job or title than being “Mom”, I sometimes just want to be known as “Jen”.
So what are some ways that you can maintain that sense of self you feel you might have lost in between the positive pregnancy test and now? You might have to get creative, but it is possible to be both “Wife”, “Mom” and “Me” all at the same time. And although the “Me” might have changed a bit, you just might like her better than the old “Me”!
First, I cannot stress enough how important it is to enlist the help of others, even if it is for a short half hour every few days, for some alone time. Daddy, Grandma, the next door neighbor’s teenager… (throw her a few bucks, it is worth EVERY penny!). Once you get to set aside your “me” time, you need to decide what exactly you want to do with it. Have you been longing to read that new bestseller? It might take a few days, but at least you can indulge yourself inside the book and be taken to a faraway place, even for a little while! Maybe you want to turn on the DVR and catch up on the latest episode of CSI. Why not? It is your time! Go get a mani/pedi, go take an aerobics class or go for a swim (you will feel refreshed after also!). You might find it incredibly appetizing just to take a nice hot shower or bath without having to feed a baby or change a diaper.
As the months go on and your baby gets older, she will be sleeping longer and you will be getting some more time for yourself (or to catch up on your own much wanted sleep). Over time, you will start to develop a routine, not only for your baby, but for you as well. You will find it amazing how all of a sudden things start to seem back to normal again, although the “normal” may be a new normal. You may be going back to work, and although you will find a different set of challenges with managing your career and family (which you will be able to do also!), the sense of existing beyond your child/children will be more apparent. And if you are not returning to the workplace, you will find time to be more manageable and that you are able to get out and connect with other moms who have children the same age, to write that book you have been meaning to publish, or to re-do the wallpaper in the bathroom (and YES! You can do it yourself if you want – or finally find the time to hire a contractor to do it for you!). Eventually, you WILL find more hours in the day (but just keep in mind the standard 24 hours in a day/ seven days in a week gets replaced with a much shorter day and weeks that all get jumbled together FOREVER… well, at least until the kids are in college, I imagine!).
Finding that renewed sense of self involves many different aspects. Physically, pampering yourself every now and then with a new outfit, a day of beauty, a workout at the gym, even buying a new lipstick, can help to make you feel like yourself. Mentally, reading that new book, having coffee with a friend (or meeting new Mommy friends who are in the same boat as you are), catching that new movie on Lifetime or WE network, or just catching up with your spouse in an adult conversation, are all things that remind you that in order to be a good Mommy, you need to take care of yourself and your ego. Emotionally, it is allowed to vent (even if no one is listening!) and you might want to join up with a mom’s club or group to do so. You’ll be surprised how many other moms are venting about the same things! Sexually, put the baby in his own room, close the door, and enjoy some quality adult time. If you are just too exhausted, be honest with your husband, but tell him how you are looking forward to some spice when you are more rested.
Only you know what it is that makes you unique as a person. While you might need to be creative in figuring out what activity or event will make you feel like you, you might learn more about yourself and who you are becoming. Being a wife and mom doesn’t change a woman, it brings out a different side of her that was already there that she never saw before.
If you are feeling this way, join us on September 26 for “The MYOB Show”. Motherhood is the best job in the world, although it is also the most challenging. We often find ourselves losing our own identity while we put everyone else’s needs first. Join the Long Island Networking Moms and other business and career professionals to learn about a variety of ways to re-invent yourself in life, career, business and more. THIS IS A FREE EVENT!