Oh, the moments we are gifted in this unimaginably beautiful, lifelong endeavor as mamas! Our first nine months of motherhood are showered with celebration, happiness, presents and cookies (my favorite). The joyous moments brought into our lives by our babies are immeasurable. If our lives were glittered with these magical moments all the time, we would be an entirely different human race.
But our experiences aren’t limited to joy and happiness, are they? There is a darkness that can cast shadows through our lives, too. There is a second side of motherhood, one that goes unmentioned far too often. We lose ourselves and our claim to be someone other than mom. We shed our dignity at the door and we thrust ourselves into isolation. We completely give up on ourselves. And as devastating as it is to admit, I have been there so many times. Maybe you don’t know where to start on the journey back to yourself. Don’t worry, as a fellow mama struggler, I’ve got your back.
- Prioritize yourself again. We get so uncomfortable with the idea of focusing on ourselves. When we are in the throes of motherhood, it is a taboo thought. Here’s the deal – if you don’t admit how important it is to find yourself again, you won’t do it. It’s okay to be your own first priority every single day. In fact, if you aren’t, then your partner and children are getting a second-rate version of you.
- Schedule alone time away. Just getting out can change your mood and your perspective drastically. This could seem challenging, especially for us military spouses who aren’t surrounded by family and whose spouses aren’t necessarily there to help. There are creative solutions though. I guarantee you there are other mamas around you who need time away, too. You could create a schedule and switch out alone time with other moms. I equate getting alone time as an overworked mama to the feeling the patriots must have felt when they dumped tea into the harbor. As soon as I step out of the house, I just want to scream “Freedom!” When you make a habit of getting time to yourself, you will become a new woman…promise!
- Reconnect with old friends. There is nothing that will bring out the old you faster than rehashing memories with an old friend. When we become mothers, all our focus shifts to our little babies, and we forget how important spending time with friends can be. It can feel incredible to reconnect. Just taking the time to remember who you were before kids is super helpful.
- Write a plan. After you remember a little more about yourself, you must come up with a plan. Sit down and write out everything you can think of that makes you feel like yourself. Organize your thoughts into priorities. Then, create a calendar that is conducive for your reality.
- Take care of yourself. Oh boy, I could write a whole book on how little I took care of myself as a new mom. I didn’t care at all about my appearance, let alone care about my body. I didn’t drink water, eat well, work out or really put any effort into caring for myself. I spent way too much time in front of a screen and never challenged myself in any area of life. Losing ourselves in motherhood has a lot to do with our valiant efforts to serve our children, but it also has a lot to do with neglecting ourselves. Do the simple things, drink water, work out, take a shower, get dressed. It will work wonders in your life.
I don’t believe any of us are fully equipped and educated on all the seasons we will walk through in our motherhood journey. One day we wake up and realize how isolated we’ve become and how incredibly lonely this job can be. We spend all day (and a lot of nights) pouring energy and love out for everyone else. What’s left? A shell of a person coated in spit up and stains. The selflessness required to raise humans is immeasurable. Sure, we get rewarded with slobbery kisses and adorable pats on the back from tiny, sticky hands. And on the good days that’s enough. But we all share deep, dark valleys along the way. Maybe if we took more time to talk about the hardships of motherhood we would spend less time feeling alone.