Change is hard for me. I am very dependent on my routine and a deviation from it can be quite difficult. I like to have my routine, my schedule, my bearings. When I go on vacation, I take certain things with me and set up as soon as I get to my destination. I take my pillow always. I have my necessities by my bed. My book, my reading lamp, my lotion, my charger, etc. These things help me to adapt better. I guess it’s like a kid taking their teddy bear along with them. It’s easier to cope if you have something special to you. My aversion to change is a control thing. I am a control freak. I like things a certain way.
I like the things that change brings, it is just hard initially to adapt.
Becoming a mom was like this for me. I didn’t want things to change drastically. I wanted to still be able to do the spontaneous, shallow things that brought me so much pleasure-Girls trips, getting my nails done, going to concerts, going shopping. I wasn’t sure how motherhood would change this. On Facebook I would see posts complaining from moms that they hadn’t showered for a week. They hadn’t done anything for themselves in months. They never slept. I didn’t want that. I wanted to retain my interests, my hygiene, my spontaneity, but I wanted to be a good mom too.
I am a very intense person. When I like something, I do it all the way. I find a shirt that I like and I buy it in every color. I find a book that I like and I do nothing else but read until it’s finished. Then I read every single book by that author. Sometimes I get so into something that I neglect everyone around me. I get obsessed with something and that is all that I can think about. I feel that I don’t have control over the level of intensity with my passions.
My biggest fear with motherhood was that I would get too sucked into my personal things and ignore my kids. I wanted to be myself and a good mom. I just didn’t know these two things could coexist from what I had seen. I couldn’t risk my intensity taking over and my future kids suffering because of it.
A was born. After the initial adjustment and shock wore off from learning how to be a mom, recovering from PPD, and readjusting my life to having a newborn, I didn’t restart the things that I used to enjoy so much. Reading, Writing, Yoga, Sewing were all neglected. The rare time when I would start to do things for myself I felt like I was neglecting my baby. I felt like if A was awake then I needed to be 100 percent invested in her. At the time I didn’t realize I was doing this. I was handling things the only way I knew how- by intensely getting involved in one thing and neglecting everything else.
As time went on, I started to feel bored. And dull. I would go on a walks with A, go to the splash pad with her, go to different baby activities, the park. I still felt flat. And just a general discontent.
I googled “stay-at-home mom boredom.” Guess what? No responses. Seriously? I couldn’t be the only bored stay-at-home mom. The search responses that kind of matched it were ideas of things do to help my child not be bored. My child was an infant. She was definitely not bored. Subsequent searches gave me ideas on how to be an even better stay-at-home mom. The way to be an even better mom, it seemed, was to invest even more of myself into my child.
I remember walking into the living room one evening around this time. My husband was watching A. He was sitting in a chair, A propped up in his lap, and he was playing Call of Duty like nothing had changed. I realized that he was still exactly the same. He was a great dad but he still had his interests. How could I do this too? I lost my spark and I wanted to get it back.
I read a book. “Bringing up Bebe.” It is a book about an American’s experience living in France and the differences in parenting between the two cultures. As I read the book, I saw my own childhood in it. My parents still retained themselves while raising me and my sisters. I had an excellent childhood even though my parents had their own things going on. Some of my fondest memories are activities where I am helping my parents. Gardening, cooking, errands. I loved helping my parents with their routines and doing things together.
I started to try this with my own child. I started to do the things I normally would do, but with A. I cooked dinner while she was awake- not napping. I would, depending on her age at the time, incorporate her into it, or entertain her. I started taking a shower when she was awake. To achieve this, I put her in her crib with toys and books. I read books while she was playing with her toys. I started doing my everyday living, but with her. Having her help actually made it more enjoyable a lot of the time. Doing this, I surprisingly ended up having more time to play with her individually. I was happy because I was able to meet my own needs. And my being happy made me a better mom. I became more confident. I made more friends. I took her to the park. I thought up fun ideas to do. It was a chain effect. It kept building upon itself.
Finding myself again was not overnight. It was a gradual process. It was when A hit her 18 month mark that I felt like my core pieces had returned back.
Every day is not perfect. I still struggle at times to find a balance between myself and motherhood. Some days I am embarrassing amounts of lazy and ignore my children completely. Other times I am struggling to have one minute to myself. But overall, I feel like I have successfully navigated my way through the uncertainties of motherhood. I’ve made a safe place for myself and found joy in both my children’s and my own individualities.