I’ve been trying to write this blog post for some time and it’s hard to find the right words to justify the title and not have it come across the wrong way.
Motherhood doesn’t define me…because I want to be so much more than just a mother.
I love my son but I also love myself and I don’t want to lose my identity to motherhood. It is certainly a huge part of me but I also have 30 years of being just Julie before I became “mamama”. Part of the challenge of becoming a new mother is finding that balance. Motherhood can be all consuming, seriously. These adorable little creatures creep into your bed, interrupt your sleep, steal your food, climb all over you, request “up please” with their cute little puppy eyes and arms out stretched. As my nephew says I’m a “work mom” and his mom is “home mom”. I love being a working mother, yes, it absolutely has it’s challenges but I have worked hard to get to this point in my career. I also have hobbies that I cannot do with a toddler, I like run/coffee dates with friends that aren’t spent chasing a wiggly toddler distracting me from real adult conversation. I am extremely lucky to have a pretty good working mom balance. Michael is super supportive and knows how important it is for me to get that weekend long run in or morning workout class. He lets me book scuba trips that fall outside of our very tight budget. He knows when I make a request to have some “me time” that it’s important. As I blogged about previously, I struggled a bit post partum with anxiety and once I had a chance to focus again on myself, things improved dramatically.
I don’t want it to sounds like I am only happy apart from James but just to say that keeping some pre-baby elements of my life around makes me feel more complete and enjoy the time I do have with James that much more.
My dad recently retired and he made a comment that he didn’t think that his legacy was over yet. It just made me think….what is my legacy? What do I want to leave behind? Having at least one adorable child and raising him into an upstanding citizen is definitely part of my legacy. I have a career, hobbies and passions and I have to decide what I want to focus my time on. We incorporate James into as many aspects of our life as possible but having time to focus on my own self is critical too. If I am going to spend time away from my son….I want it to be for something I truly enjoy – running, scuba diving, work, maintaining those special friendships, travel – to name a few.
Motherhood is an all consuming job for the first year. It’s soaks up of all your energy and makes your brain mush with the lack of sleep as you adjust to the new routine. Your whole world is flipped upside down. For me, after being pregnant for 9 months and breast feeding for 11 months, my hormones regulated and I felt like the fog lifted and I got a little piece of myself back and I wanted to explore it. It sounds really weird but I really enjoyed having my body and mind back to myself. On the flip side, I had a perfect pregnancy up until ~36 weeks and I loved the excitement of growing a human being and I loved [certain aspects of] breast feeding. The connection with my child was emotional and intoxicating (don’t take that word out of context) but it was challenging. I definitely want to do it again but I need to fully recover physically and emotionally before embarking on that journey again.
So, what is the best balance of motherhood, my career, my hobbies, my legacy….I don’t honestly know the answer. Every week and month that goes by is all part of the learning curve. Finding that delicate balance – if I spend time away from my child what am I doing and is it meaningful. Is it meaningful to society, for my job, my myself, my son and for my husband – obviously not everything is going to check all of those boxes but that’s part of the balancing act.