I See You Momma
I see you Momma. I feel you Momma. I hear you Momma. You are enough.
You are more than enough.
Momma, have you lost yourself? Have you lost yourself to the sweet breaths of a baby sleeping on your chest, with his little fingers entwined in yours? I have. And Momma, it's hard. The sleepless nights. The long days of children. The next thing you know, your baby becomes a toddler who's only word is, "no." You're cleaning up all kinds of liquids from the floors, the tables. You're rushing to make lunch and then dinner. You're exhausted, but you stay up late because that's the teeny bit of peace you get to yourself. And then in the morning you groan getting out of bed because all you want is another 15 minutes of sleep.
As our children grow and become more independent, we often start to realize that we've lost ourselves to these little beings. These little humans that rely oh so much on Momma. There are days when we really do wonder if we are enough. And then we start to question not only where the time went, but where we went ourselves.
Science has shown us that after the birth of our first child, a woman's brain changes. We truly do become a different person. So with all the post partum changes, sleep deprivation, and long drawn out days, it is no wonder that mothers end up losing parts of themselves as well.
Before kids, I knitted and painted. I was an attorney with a full-time job. I often came home from work and enjoyed a glass of wine and a cigarette on my back deck. I spent an hour and a half carefully curling my hair and putting on detailed, perfect makeup before work. And on the weekends, I spent my extra money shopping on things I loved for myself. All of that changed the minute my first son was born.
I always swore I would never stay home with my kids, but when my son was born I couldn't imagine anything else. I could not imagine leaving him with someone else. I just couldn't do it. I woke up one morning after a long, sleepless night and looked at his beaming smile and decided I just could not leave him. I have an awe and reverence for working mothers, because in many ways, they make a bigger sacrifice than most - leaving their children to work to help provide what so many of us struggle to do.
But transitioning to home life was difficult. While I maybe got more sleep than most, suddenly I had a vulnerable, delicate newborn that relied on me 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. I was that baby's life. And then, 18 months later, I had another. Then I had two vulnerable children relying on me, that needed me, all the time. I had no time for makeup. I had no time for hair. I had no time for anything but them.
My days were only about them. How could I harness their full developmental potential? I limited television and felt guilty on the days that they watched more than 20 minutes. I thought up craft projects, learning projects, developmental projects. I did not want a minute of their brain development to go to waste. I relentlessly tracked their development through various apps and blogs. And I made sure that I did what I thought was best for them.
And somehow, I lost myself.
I spent so much time worrying they were growing and developing right; worrying that they were eating right; and worrying that I was doing everything right that I forgot about myself. I forgot who I was before kids and how I could make sure that person was healthy, content, and happy too. The next thing I knew, my oldest was off to school, my youngest was screaming "no" at everything, and I no longer had a tiny, newborn baby to hold and cuddle with and lose myself in. Instead, I had a fiercely independent toddler that climbed all over the furniture like he was a monkey on steroids.
So how do we, as mothers, find a balance between our children and our own selves? I don't know the answer, but I am looking. I have started to knit again. I have started to redecorate my house. I have learned how to do my makeup and hair within a single episode of Sesame Street so that the toddler won't tear up the house before I'm done. I have learned that I too matter, and I cannot sacrifice myself and my feelings by worrying if what I am doing to raise my children is right. No matter what, I am enough.
And you are enough too Momma. When your head hits the pillow tonight from exhaustion; when you lose your temper to the crazy toddler that cannot verbalize his emotions properly; when you let them watch a little too much TV because it's raining outside; when you make dinner in the microwave - just remember that you are enough. All your littles need is a mother to love them, care for them, and show them every day that they can be the best they can be too.
If you need to sacrifice kid time for your own sanity, just remember that these little ones love you for who you are. They love you for the person you are now and the person you have become. You matter too. You are always enough. We are still the same person we were before, just maybe a little more selfless, a little less vain, and a little more crazy. If you've lost yourself to the sweet breaths of a newborn and the business of motherhood, just remember that the person you become and find yourself to be after motherhood is ultimately the best version of yourself.