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I’m Not Letting Go of My Pre-Mom Self

I saw a piece on Huffington Post titled “Dear Pre-Mom Self, It’s Time to Let You Go” shared over and over on my social media feed and while I understand the author’s viewpoint, I must say that I have no intention of saying goodbye to my pre­-mama self. I see motherhood as an addition to myself, not a replacement of my former self. While it’s true that your life changes in ways you can’t even expect as a parent, I want to offer that once you have a baby, you don’t have to totally disregard this “old self.” In fact, keeping it around can be beneficial to yourself, your baby, and your marriage.
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While the author, Anna Gannon, makes her love for her 8-month-old child clear, she sometimes longs for her pre-­motherhood days. Gannon misses feeling rested, having free time, being 100 percent present for her friends instead of only half-listening while she simultaneously keeps an eye on her kiddo. In the article she comes to the conclusion that to move forward you have to let your old self go. And sure, the way you spend your time looks different, especially during that first year. Someone needs you, a life is dependent upon every physical (and emotional) inch of you. This is exhausting, humbling, exhilarating, and draining in ways you can’t imagine until you’re in the thick of it. But as your kiddo grows and becomes more independent, you can claim parts of your body as your own again and stay out for more that 2.5 hours at a time. So to the mamas in that first year: hang in there and soak up those snuggles.

But even when your life is intertwined with another’s in such a deep web, I encourage you to make time for yourself. To be alone, to be pampered, to seek rest and refreshment. The interests, hobbies, and dreams that you possessed before becoming a mother may shift and evolve, but don’t give up on them. Now that your time is more precious than ever, it is all the more important to be intentional about how you spend it. And setting aside a few hours each week to recharge will make all the difference in the way you parent. Make time for yoga, that spin class, a (dare I say it?) solo afternoon at the beach. It is because other people depend on you that it’s imperative you don’t let go of what makes you, you. Yes, parenthood is a lifestyle change. The fact that you’re “on-call” 24 hours a day restricts a few of the activities you once enjoyed more frequently. Life may seem less spontaneous and it’s okay to mourn that season of your life but I encourage you to retain a bit of that free spirit for motherhood.

Take a pottery class, prioritize that book club, schedule a ladies brunch once a month, and stick to it. Motherhood is full of sacrifice but your personality and the years and experiences that brought you to this place shouldn’t be one of them. Find ways to fit your baby into these activities! Go for a run together, give your little one a set of paints while you dabble on your own canvas. What a gift to grow up in a household that makes time to pursue fulfilling activities. For the kiddos to see firsthand that rest is valuable and success in other areas of life are contingent upon it. Taking a break from kid-centric activities also reminds them that the universe doesn’t revolve around them. Carving out time for yourself will fight the bitterness that can sometimes, understandably, creep up when you just give, and give, and give of yourself. And you’ll be surprised at how refreshing just one hour out of the house, doing what you choose, can be. Everyone wins.

There is an epidemic in our society to glorify busyness. Don’t confuse rest with laziness or recreation with irresponsibility.
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And don’t forget about your partner. The one you started this adventure with. That relationship is the bedrock of your family and deserves some kid­-free TLC, too. When that relationship is strong your children feel safe and secure. You each feel supported and valued. Your identity is not so wrapped up in this other being that you become forced to leave all traces of your self behind. Good communication is key here. Sit down and have a talk with your partner about the things you wish you had more time for. Prioritize and carve out space for them to exist.
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image source: lily glass
And making time for yourself should not stir up guilt or leave you feeling selfish. I still battle the inner voice that scolds me for not being “productive” when my kiddo is out of the house. But then I ask myself: in the long run, what will ultimately benefit myself and as a result, my child? Scrambling to do the dishes and have a spotless kitchen or taking those 30 minutes to indulge in a mid-afternoon bubble bath to finish the book I’m reading? The former would leave my house the way I think it should be and I’d feel proud of being the mother society wants me to be but the former provides rest, feeds me creatively, and sets me up for a less frazzled reunion with my kiddo. When my buckets are full, I have more to pour out and give to those around me.

There is an epidemic in our society to glorify busyness. Don’t confuse rest with laziness or recreation with irresponsibility. Take some time to remember the activities and pursuits that you really enjoyed before baby came along and make it a priority to fit those things into your schedule. And you must be ready to protect that schedule just like you would a work appointment or baby’s ballet class. Make time for the experiences that revitalize you and continue to shape you into a multi-faceted being that in the end, has even more to give to your children.

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Article Posted 3 years Ago

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