The Role We Need to Let Go of as Mothers in Order to Save Our Relationship

The Role We Need to Let Go of as Mothers in Order to Save Our Relationship

The cliché of the changing relationship after a baby enters your life. How THAT much more amazing your relationship becomes and how it “bonds” you both with this magic being you brought into your lives. The words “complete” and “fulfill” and “bliss” get thrown out so casually one can easily catch the bug and believe this is the way family creation is. Not only did your marriage, or any union for that matter, “complete” you where you found your “soul mate”, but now another being is taking the same role of making you FINALLY whole and worthy on this earth.   I would watch movies, soap operas as a child, listen to wedding vows, along with women talking to me about how motherhood has changed them. I’ve even had women admit that amidst their relationship challenges, that they think that having a baby will be good for them. Trouble is, while they said that their constipated smile and hesitancy didn’t have me too convinced this was true.

6 ½ years into this motherhood gig, I couldn’t disagree more. I’m still married, I still love my husband, but I’m choosing D) None of the above.

There are the typical things women bitch about which are common and bound to happen. Let’s go through the list: Your body isn’t what it used to be, your boobs are being kidnapped by an infant, your vagina looks like a fruit roll up, you’re exhausted, emotions are high and ever-changing, and you just don’t feel sexy. No matter how many glasses of wine you have, you’re just not going to do it. I remember going to my joke-of-a-6-week appointment with my OBGYN and based on my healing vagina, she exclaims, “You’re perfectly fine to have sex!” Oh goodie! That’s the only credential to my husband’s boner poking my back as if to say “Hey there, in case you don’t remember, here I am”? No one checks that emotional state, which is KEY to sex for women. I could give him a cantaloupe with my face on it, along with a hole in it, and he’d have sex with it. Me, not so much. I need a lot more and honestly I wasn’t there at 6 weeks.

But what no one tells us is how we are going to feel about our partners when we walk into our home with our baby. No one warned me of the anxiety, resentment, anger, and sadness once he went back to work. I wasn’t told that I could feel anger towards him when the clock approached 11pm and I knew he was going to be going to bed soon and my night was just beginning. When I saw him leave for work every morning, I was jealous that he had a quiet commute in his car with his Starbucks. Jealous that he was able to talk to adults. Envious that he continued his career and I chose to end mine. I was angry at times that when he walked in the house, I had already felt like 2 days had passed and he was just picking her up with smiles and cuddles.

As women, we are traditionally raised to be the leaders in our home. We buy the clothes, the bottles, the toys, the books, the bows, the bibs, the latest gadgets, the formula, and the food until they are 21. We do the research on the latest trends, milestones, foods, activities, toys, and anything else our baby should be doing. There we are looking at daycare centers, preschools, researching public versus private when they end preschool, up until they head to college. We pack the pool bag with all the essentials. The diaper bag is full and there’s a system and there are items that must be in that bag or you cannot leave the house. She has to eat organic, what do you mean you just gave her any old strawberry? If he doesn’t have this exact positioning in his crib, he won’t nap well. Oh and he has to go down at exactly 10:25 or he won’t fall asleep. Don’t forget his sleep sac, he can’t sleep without his sleep sac. I need to do A,B,C,D,E,F before bedtime- and in that order- so… oh I’ll just do it, don’t worry about it. Oh and while you’re at Target, before you buy anything, send me a photo so I can make sure it’s the right food pouch. I’ll be back in an hour, are you SURE you got this?

“Getting my husband to understand that ‘invisible task list’- you know- all the shit that gets done without him even knowing… Dr appointments, meal prepping, social calendars, present buying, gosh even kids clothes shopping (who knew managing my son’s wardrobe was so stressful?!) and making sure he has enough weather-appropriate clothes for a full range of events/outings. Speaking of which, he just outgrew all his shoes so I need to go get him new ones today. It’s mostly my fault because I just naturally take ownership of these tasks. I wish hubs noticed it more, so that’s definitely a struggle for me.”

Resentment started to build towards my husband, but why did I continue to be a control freak when it came to Brooklyn? It wasn’t just with him; I created a 5-page timeline and list of details for my nanny before she started watching Brooklyn. She was a mother, in her 50’s, and as she read it, she chuckled and said, “Oh this is funny!” What do you mean this is funny? I finally got it when I recently went through my computer to clean up documents and I found the mighty instruction list I created for her. I laughed out loud, 6 years later. It was absolutely ridiculous! I did this to my mother as well, as if she had no idea how to take care of a baby. Meanwhile, I seemed to have forgotten she had newborn twins and myself, a barely 3-year-old, all by herself. I also seemed to forget my husband had already raised 2 humans, and it is his natural self to want to help and be a part of things.

Why do we carry all the duties, lists, research, scheduling, activities, school selection, clothes shopping, buying birthday presents for other kids, meal planning, making dinner, cleaning, laundry, emotional support and so much more on our shoulders? For me, it’s partly due to my perfectionist Type A personality, along with my fear of losing control. And looking like an asshole. I thrived off the comments such as “Wow, how adorable are her outfits?”, “That’s an amazing school, how did you decide on that?” along with “Brooklyn seems to be in so many fun activities!” I defined my success in motherhood with how much I could put on my plate without having a nervous breakdown. Even if I had a nervous breakdown, I wouldn’t show it nor tell anyone about it. If my husband offered to help, I’d immediately shut it down as if he had ZERO clue what raising a child was like. He would attempt to help without asking, ya know, to be nice and all, and I would stop him, correct him, and just do it myself. I would have to be physically AWAY from him and Brooklyn for him to be her father. When I was physically away, which wasn’t often, I would be checking in and thinking of all the things he was doing and how they weren’t how I would do it.

So when this continues, they eventually stop offering and asking. They just look at you as if you’re going to handle it. Because you will.

When you separate in parenthood, there is a shift in the marriage as well. Kids consume us. Not only do they consume our time, but our energy and mental wellness as well. Where are we then going to find the time, energy and stability to cultivate our relationship? I had zero desire. I trusted he wouldn’t leave and just went through the motions believing there would be an end someday. 6 ½ years later my time, energy and mental wellness is still being drained. Differently, yes, but I am still not giving what my husband needs. I keep hearing about the 5 Love Languages, it’s everywhere I go lately. Probably for a reason. You want to know what? I’m terrified to read it. I know he’s in that book. I know I’m in that book. I know we need to know one another in this way in order to be happy and give each other what we want. There will be changes, and that’s hard. Going through the motions and seeing the days and weeks just fly by into the months and years is easier. Being numb in a world of numbness is more comforting than feeling what you need to feel. On top of feeling it, expressing it and making changes from it.

More to come as this book progresses and I share more on this topic. There is oh so much more to all of this. I’d love to hear from you and your story so please share and let’s get this conversation out there so we can all begin to heal.

Thank you for reading & sharing,

Michelle Mansfield Blog

A Letter to the Mother of my Past

A Letter to the Mother of my Past

Dear Mother of my Past,

I see you sitting in the corner with your chai tea latte, biscotti and stroller. Looks like this may be your first adventure out of your house with your new baby. She’s all cuddled in her stroller dressed in the onesie from grandma, along with a beautiful rose blanket with a satin trim from your baby shower. The special bow that her aunt gave her is around her tiny soft head. Her eyes are closed peacefully as she sleeps and is told by a passerby how adorable and beautiful she is. It’s easy to look at this scene as an outsider and smile for you. New mothers and new babies can stop a conversation and any train of thought. Even with the soft filter and calmness that comes from you, I know this is one of the shortest periods of your day. I hope you’re enjoying it because when you walk in that door of your house, you’re back. It’s not a happy “Honey I’m home!” feeling where you are excited and feel welcomed. Most of the time you dread coming home and going right back to where you were 30 minutes ago. The place you were escaping.

You don’t know what else to do with her right now. Sitting in your home seems to be the safest and easiest option. It’s winter, it’s cold, gathering the items for the diaper bag, wondering if she’ll need to be fed (AGAIN) and if you’ll get any glares for nursing her, what if she cries, what if she has a diaper blow out, what if you run into someone (remember, you haven’t showered nor have any makeup on), you really don’t feel like talking to anyone, and next thing you know the excuses build up and you just toss in the towel and say “F it!” and sit back down on the couch with her. She’s nursing round the clock anyways so perhaps this is just temporary and you should be staying at home.

You’re probably saying “Well, it’s not like I’m TOTALLY alone right now, we’ve had a lot of visitors since we got home.” I, too, had many people that dropped by after my daughter was born, reached out to see how the baby was doing, some even brought a meal or even offered to pick up my house.  But then the visits will stop.  The reach outs and “need anything?” texts will be fewer.  You’re not reaching out either, you don’t want to bother anyone or make anyone notice that you are drowning in this mom crap. With as much help as your mom has been, you even feel you’re asking too much from her.  You’re a perfectionist on top of it, and so hard on yourself if you can’t figure it out on your own. This is not something you’re going to fail at, even if you’re on Dr. Google at 3am overanalyzing the 15 different pieces of advice on why she won’t latch. To you, asking for help means you are failing. Where is this “mommy instinct” they talk about anyways?

But if you’re on a deserted island with no compass,

how are you supposed to find it?

So not only are you totally insecure about this mommy thing, but you haven’t been taking care of yourself either.  You feel guilty for even thinking about spending time with friends or leaving your baby for 10 minutes to take a shower. You honestly get drained from just thinking about putting on makeup and blow-drying your hair- or even simply washing it. There were times I simply took a baby wipe and went through my bits for my daily “shower”.  When someone mentions the weekly date-nights they have, your head spins at what you and your partner would even do, who would watch the baby, how much milk would you have to pump, how much formula to make, the pain-in-the-ass pumping when you get home, your boobs leaking at the dinner table, your mind is distracted by wondering if the baby is crying, is she sleeping, why haven’t I heard from my mother-in-law, my mother-in-law won’t stop texting me, I’m not even enjoying this glass of champagne, is my partner even attracted to me right now, is he bored, we have nothing to talk to, we are both exhausted, OH MY GOD make it stop. I know, I always wondered if it would even be worth it as well. So we didn’t have a date night for a long time. We survived.

I see you sitting in the corner.  Like Baby from Dirty Dancing, I can see your insecure expression, tightened lips, and fear of where you are at in life.  In the movie, Johnny’s hand stretches out across the table and passes Baby’s parents without even glancing at them.  There wasn’t even a question if Baby would grab it because she yearned for it. My friend, no one is here to save you, but I am here with my hand reaching out. To be by your side, make you feel normal, ease the guilt, shine the light on reality, and most importantly to be your friend.  You see, as I look at you I’m also looking in a mirror and remembering things that I’ve gone through. I haven’t forgotten how hard it can be and what my life was like that first year. Or second. Or third. I, too, hid it from the ones that love and care about me. The ones that wanted to help and extend their hand to me from across the table. I will tell you this, no one will put you in the corner other than yourself. There are times when we can get our ass up and step out on the dance floor but let’s be honest, there are times when we need supportive and empathetic moms to drag us out there too. There’s nothing wrong with how you get there as long as you get there and start dancing.

Love, The Mother You’ll Eventually Be

Being a mom can be really f’n BORING!

Being a mom can be really f’n BORING!

“My anxiety begins the moment the sun rises and my son awakes. The constant pressure I feel to be playing with him constantly AND that I should be enjoying it. Most of the time I sit and stare at him and wonder what the hell we are going to do next. The clock strikes 8am and I’m already running out of ideas on what to do next. There are just some things that I truly don’t enjoy doing but I feel so guilty admitting it. As if one of the ways my value as a mother is measured is by me enjoying him bounce in his Jumperoo as he stares at me. Most of the day I’m so bored and my anxiety soars as I search for new activities to do or Mommy-and Me groups to get out of the house. They say ‘the days are long but the years are short’ where I feel I’m only at ‘the days are long’ part of all of this.”

Motherhood can make you feel like you’re stranded on a deserted island like Tom Hanks in the movie, “Castaway”. Your only “friend” is a volleyball that you named Wilson and you talk to it as if it’s going to say something right back at you. Listen, I’m here to relieve you by telling you that it’s perfectly normal to feel bored as hell when you’re staring at a blob that doesn’t do much of anything. You shake things at it, sing to it, baby talk to it, make funny noises at it, and it just sits there at times. You run out of ideas of what to do with it other than changing its diaper or feeding it. I think that’s why I’ve always hated bath time- it seemed more like a filler than fun when I ran out of things to do.

Part of my problem as a new mom is I felt I needed to entertain her ALL THE TIME. Each second she was awake had to be filled with something that was going to make her grow, thrive, learn, stimulate and create interaction. I couldn’t just leave her to entertain herself, otherwise I’d be a terrible mother. There was so much pressure that I created from what I would read, an app that told me what she “should” be doing, or reading on a Facebook page about all the things a friend was doing with her new baby. The comparison trap that I continued to fall into was getting bigger by the day.

It also didn’t help that I quarantined myself the first few months, it was a horrible winter, and I was afraid to bring her out of the house. There is only so much you can do within the walls of your home before you start getting cabin fever and need to bust out of the joint. My deserted island was preventing me from becoming the mother I was meant to be but I didn’t know there was a way off and that I didn’t have to be there. It was more of an “it is what it is” way of living and surviving.

Many would tell me to simply get out of the house, wear her, and do the things I want to do. 6 years later, I completely agree. I mean, that was THE best time to do things that I wanted to do. She was immobile, couldn’t talk, and therefore couldn’t complain or have a meltdown. At the time, I felt that was way too selfish to even think of doing something that I enjoyed doing. I mean, I was a mom now. It was all about her. There was too much guilt and anxiety when I attempted to do something that I wanted to do.

The personal neglect I had also contributed to the boredom. I wasn’t doing the things I loved to do before entering that hospital. I love music, concerts, reading, exercising, being outdoors, traveling, art, restaurants as well as reality TV. Every single one of those things was put on a bookshelf the moment I entered my home with her. My career was gone, so that was 10 hours of the day I had to refill. An hour or so of reality TV. An hour of reading. An hour of exercise. Going to a new restaurant, another few hours. My day consisted of at least 20 hours of baby. If I was lucky to have 4 hours of sleep that night.

The boredom can carry into toddler-hood and childhood as well. I realized I didn’t enjoy some of the games and activities that my daughter loved. The guilt would overshadow and swallow any courage to actually admit it to anyone. I mean, so many women out there were LOVING being moms. It was the best thing that has happened to them, and they savored every moment. “Oh, it just goes by too fast, so enjoy every moment!” OK then, I’ll try. Maybe I’m just a terrible mother? Or average at best.

There have been things I’ve enjoyed, yes. It’s not all shit’s creek but it’s also not all rainbows, unicorns and roses. The dialogue between moms needs to change where we are comfortable admitting when things suck, and it doesn’t qualify our level of motherhood. You can safely say “God I can’t stand tummy time, what the hell am I supposed to do while she lays on her stomach for 10 minutes?” Maybe you’ve been in your house with a snowstorm and find yourself more entertained staring out the window, wishing the hands on the clock would go just a little bit faster? Perhaps you’re at a mommy-and-me music class at the local park district with a bunch of moms you have no connection with as you realize you’re only there to pass an hour of time?

It’s OK to be honest about these feelings. You’re also talking about the things you are enjoying to mix it up and create a real story of motherhood. So let’s see, what have I enjoyed and had fun with in motherhood? Infancy was hard for me, but I did simply enjoy the quiet and her sleeping on me. Smelling her and listening to her funny noises. I loved when she’d discover a body part and stare at it with her eyes crossed. When she’d fart and not realize it. The times she would laugh, I could do the thing I was doing in her face for hours listening to that laugh. In toddler-hood, I enjoyed walks where we just paid attention to nature. Trips to our local arboretum. Time with family. A splash pad with her squeals. So see, there ARE things that didn’t bore me to death to blend in with the things that did. We are human beings regardless of the Mom stamp and we can be bored and still be decent human beings, and mothers.

Are you OK with admitting that motherhood can be boring at times?  How does all of this make you feel after reading it?

Sincerely,

Michelle Mansfield Blog

Am I Terrible mom Because I hate bath Time?!

I seem to base all my “shoulds” on photos, commercials, and social media posts when I see parents doing all the kid-things with smiles on everyone’s faces. Bath time for example. It starts with the registry and me scrolling the aisles of Buy Buy Baby where there’s an entire bath section for babies. Not only are there toys galore but there are also pictures on the toys of families splashing, laughing, and making it seem like this was the way to be while washing your baby. There are bubbles, colors, squirty things, and babies squealing for joy. I registered for a bunch of bath time gear and continued to buy more gear as the years went on. 6 years later…

I still hate bath time. I’m actually just admitting it out loud this week. Gosh that felt so good!

Brooklyn is 6 and there are so many things that I’ve pressured myself into thinking I had to enjoy in order to be a “good mom”. Through these years I’ve pretended- a lot. Not only did I feel guilty for not enjoying every single moment with my daughter but I didn’t hear other moms talk about the things they truly didn’t enjoy. So I basically felt like I was either complaining or inadequate at finding joy in things Brooklyn was doing. I’d hear women talk about how much they LOVED bath time and they had all these joyous stories about their experiences. Only when I had the bravery to say on social media one day, “Ya know, I really hate bath time.”, and a friend of mine responded to my Instagram story with a “God I hate it too!” did I realize I wasn’t alone. Man it felt great to feel normal and not like an alien from another planet.

What else do I wish I could “opt out” of? Well, let’s see…

  1. Anything that has to do with pretending to be something.
  2. Schoolwork at home. I never enjoyed doing homework or summer schoolwork with my mom either.
  3. Dress up. Enough said.
  4. Spa day. Thank you “Fancy Nancy” and your “Oooh La La Spa”!
  5. Playing in our basement. I hate our basement. I’m trying to enjoy it but for me, it’s just a place that doesn’t give me energy. It’s the only place to go when you have 2 hours to kill before dinner when it’s a blizzard or below freezing. I think I have some sort of PTSD from going there when she was a toddler as she ALWAYS wants to go in the basement. It’s usually the area of pretend play as the costumes are down there. Simply put, it’s not my happy place.
  6. Going to the park. I have total anxiety about her falling through the 8 different random open areas where she can fall 15’ down. Plus she is JUST learning how to ask others to play with her versus always asking us to go down the slide with her. What sucks is there are some a-hole kids that won’t play with her or she’ll be an a-hole and not want to play with them anymore. Where it’s back to “Mama, can you please come up here and play?”

On the other side, what do I love doing with Brooklyn? Well, let’s see…

  1. Anything with music.
  2. Anything with arts & crafts.
  3. Reading.
  4. Going to the Morton Arboretum. It’s magical.
  5. Going to museums.
  6. Going to plays (yes, she loves musicals just like me!!!).
  7. Going to movies. I actually watch them too, I don’t just go for it to be a break for me.
  8. Going to experience new restaurants.
  9. Yes, you may think I’m crazy but I do love going to the public pool with her. It’s the only thing that satisfies me when it’s 95 and humid.
  10. Science experiments minus making slime.
  11. Cooking.
  12. Talking. Simply talking to her. Maybe we grab some ice cream down the street or have dinner on our weekly “girls’ night” where I love that we now have some pretty awesome conversations.
  13. Board games.

I have some more but hopefully you get my point that even though I have some “opt out” items, AKA activities I’d rather delegate to my husband or her grandmother, there are so many things I LOVE doing with her. There is enough variety within all this, where it’s not all about me (I know you feel selfish thinking of yourself), it’s about us as a family. I’m here to tell you it’s not selfish to expose your child and do things that you enjoy doing but rather a gift. And yes, there are times when I have to give her a bath. Actually 9 times out of 10 I’m the one doing it. But there are other times I simply tell her I’m just not in the mood to do what she wants in that moment. She then learns that it’s not all about her either which will help her in her relationships. In my eyes, that’s a win-win and a great parenting moment. So honor your passions, teach your children about the give-take world, and stop feeling like you’re not a good parent if you don’t like playing Ninja Princess.

Michelle Mansfield Blog

THE Word to Avoid in Your Identity Crisis (and why it doesn’t have to be a crisis!)

THE Word to Avoid in Your Identity Crisis (and why it doesn’t have to be a crisis!)

I didn’t have a child at the same time period as many of my friends and the common woman, whatever that means. Brooklyn is my one-and-done and I had her when I was 36, quietly approaching 37. No, I wasn’t 80, but in the world of pressured timelines and your OBG warning you about your old eggs, it was considered later than most. Not only were my eggs “old”, but I also had a lot more time on my own with the things that defined me.

Career was a huge identity definer for me. Since the age of 15, I’ve worked hard with self-motivation. I earned my “keep” as they say. I was eager, showed up, went the extra mile, promoted, kissed ass, and was proud that I earned my own money. College had me juggling 3 jobs between when I was at home and at school. I always did well in my jobs, above and beyond was usually the case.  Everything from bagging groceries, being promoted to a checker, the only female selling in the men’s shoe department (and rocking it!), tanning salons (free tans!), waiting tables, bartending, recruiting, administrative work, and then my last job, my career, in hospitality.

My annual reviews were stellar and I always got a raise. I knew my value and where I wanted to go next. During my hospitality career, which was my true career and passion, I had to write quarterly goals and how I was going to measure their success. They were presented to my boss and we went through them together to create a plan for that quarter. The handshake and “I know you can do this” was given as I left my boss’s office.

Another identity definer was where I lived. I talked about this with you earlier with mourning the loss of my life before baby. Living in the city was a huge part of my identity. I mean, I even blogged about it as therapy when I moved(Downtown Julie Brown to Suburban Mom was my blog… I need to check if it’s even still up on the internet!). Granted, I wasn’t kicking and screaming when I moved to live with my fiancé, now husband, but I definitely shed a lot of tears as I packed my apartment and closed the door to the chapter. Being in the city meant you were “hip”, “in the know”, “exciting”, “well-rounded”, “stylish”, “modern” and if you were a mom, you were all those adjectives with the word “mom” behind it. I was proud to tell people where I lived and that I was doing it all on my own with my career. Two worlds working together to what I thought made me… me.

The first night when I moved into my husband’s cookie-cutter suburban town-home was definitely a hard one. I stood in the kitchen with boxes all around when my childhood friend and her husband stopped by with a “welcome to the suburbs!” gift and a big hug. They knew a lot was changing for me. They were the ones that set me up with my husband, I had resisted because of where he lived, so I think they felt some sort of responsibility (I joke about this but I’m sure they felt they had to come check in on me and see if I was convulsing or itching). I was living in the exact place that I proclaimed I’d never live in- ever. (By the way NEVER say you’ll never do something, you will probably put your foot in your mouth) I lived within rows of town-homes, each looked the same as the next, there was a cornfield close by, and a Home Depot within spitting distance. The icing on the cake was that everywhere I turned every female I encountered was a mom. That’s not necessarily a bad thing but I was definitely not in the mom-zone yet. I was barely ripping off the Band-Aid to suburbia.

5 years after the move, I was finally adjusting to living in the suburbs. Yes, you read that correctly. FIVE YEARS. What happened? I had a baby. Until I had Brooklyn, I was in deep with my career and really wasn’t interested in making new friends. Especially ones that weren’t in my world, and I wasn’t in theirs. I had my college and high school friends that I was still hanging around with, so I was set. Within my career, I was jet-setting around the country, making my goals, making good money, entertaining clients, and enjoying a lot of freedom I didn’t realize I had. Even though my stepchildren were in our lives a lot, they were at an age where they were playing with friends and didn’t really want to hang with Dad and their stepmom. They were easy and low-maintenance. Plus, both parents have been very active with their kids and have a great relationship. So I was more of a friend than a parent.

When I had Brooklyn that winter, it was an instant 180. No person, no doctor, no class and no book prepare you for when that baby is in your arms. Especially when you walk out of that hospital, into your home, and you’re faced with reality.

I thought I would be able to be a working mom, and had planned on “making it work”. Within the first week of having Brooklyn home, I knew my life was changing… again. My career didn’t have a work-from-home option. I was commuting 2 hours each way (yes, 4 hours a day) where I was leaving my house at 5:45am and then arriving home by 7:30pm. If I had a client dinner, 10pm the earliest. Then there was the travel. I knew if I stayed that I would never see Brooklyn other than being up all night with her. And that broad was up ALLLLLLLLL fucking night. How much you ask? Every hour-and-a-half. I remember walking around my dark home with her screaming and as I looked out of one of our bedroom windows I thought “How the fuck am I going to make this all work?! What am I going to do? What will I say to my boss? Will we be OK financially? What if I am not working for long enough where I can never return?” Those thoughts traveled through my brain in a matter of 30 seconds as tears welled up in my eyes.

What I told myself that I would NEVER be was exactly what I was becoming. I was turning into a stay-at-home suburban mom. That sounds terrible to actually write out loud but for years I had assumptions of the SAHM in suburbia. The misunderstandings. Oh, if you read my Downtown Julie Brown to Suburban Mom blog you will smell the fear from your computer screen. I remember the talks with my friends over drinks exclaiming “I’ll NEVER move to the suburbs!” or “I can’t IMAGINE not working!” or “I’ll NEVER lose myself in motherhood!” We were a bunch of 20-30 something girls with no children and all the answers. The pressures and restrictions we were already putting on ourselves, that didn’t have to be the truth.

The word “NEVER” is a dangerous word for anyone, especially a mother. I’m learning to never say never… well, except in this sentence. The word “NEVER” led to my identity crisis I had, which definitely contributed to my postpartum depression. This word, “NEVER”, created some pretty high expectations & plans that I had in my brain even before I met my husband. Brooklyn just happened to be the reality that put a wrench in all of those “NEVERS”, but it can happen in so many other ways in a mom’s life. It travels all the way into how you raise your kids- the word “NEVER” can create that unrealistic perfection and judgment where most of the time you will find yourself eating your words.

Learning how to be open to the possibilities of life, new experiences, new friends, passions, and creative outlets can make you realize your identity is far beyond your career or the mother you are. There’s an actual person inside with other things that fuel your soul & personality. Maybe some pretty amazing things that have been hiding behind your career, the lifestyle you had, or the person you wish you could be, but something else is pulling you another direction. It’s OK to switch gears for a bit, nothing is permanent. Maybe it’s just not the time to be working full-time, maybe it is. Perhaps you can’t go to Mexico for a week on a whim but someday you’ll be able to. Or the freedom that you took for granted may be lessened but someday you’ll be able to have it again, and appreciate it more. Time flies so fast (you’ll hear that over and over again) and there may be those moments where you need to say out loud “it’s just not the right time for this- but someday it will be.”

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