If you would have asked me a year ago what I enjoy doing, the list probably would look something like this: eating, cooking, wogging, yoga, writing, connecting with others, hiking, organizing and decorating my house, reading and learning about health and nutrition, planning get togethers, learning to garden and spending time with friends and family.
Today, if you asked me the same question, I’d have the same answer, with one big one added in: being a mom.
I couldn’t enjoy being a mom any more than I do. Morning smiles, naps on my chest in the evening, watching Hailey grow a little more each day… I kind of feel like I was made for it. I can’t imagine my life without her.
However, as much as I love my new title as MOM, I’m struggling with how to not let it define me completely. I’m still the person I was a year ago, too.
I still want to be a supportive, loving and attentive wife, without always discussing how many dirty diapers the baby had today. I still want to have a glass of vino (or 3 ;)) with my girlfriends without talking about how the baby ate only 5 times instead of 6 times today and should I be worried? (you moms understand). I want to be able to play in the kitchen, try a new pilates class and read for pleasure… but there isn’t time for all of that anymore.
Without babysitters or family around, it’s all me, all the time. I love it, I really do, but I also am struggling with how to not lose what makes me, me.
So until I figure it out, I’ll continue experimenting with dinner while singing and dancing to entertain Hailey and occasionally breaking to hold her or sticking the paci back in her mouth. I’ll continue squeezing in my wogs when Hubbs can get home early. I’ll continue reading blogs and chatting with you while I’m nursing. Because I need to try and fit some of me into everyday. Not just for my sanity, but also because when I feel fulfilled, I’m a more attentive wife, a happier mom, a more interesting friend and a better blogger.
Have you ever felt like one thing was beginning to define you?
How did you get a balance back?
Rachel @ Not Rachael Ray says
I SO get you on this subject–I’m the same way. No family or friends around to help us out. Hubs and I went on our first date w/o E more than A YEAR after she was born. It’s 100% worth it and I am so glad that I am able to be a SAHM, but sometimes it is tough! Plus I nursed for 14 months—she never really took a bottle so I was never able to be away more than four hours. Hang in there–seems like you’re doing a great job 🙂 Terrific post.
I’m not a mom yet, but one of the main issues in my most recent novel is exactly what you describe here, so I get where you’re coming from at least a little. I think it’s natural – being a parent fills up so much of you, in ways you can’t understand until the little one arrives, so of course it’s going to encompass a big part of your identity. We’re all amalgamations, though, and even if some puzzle pieces are bigger than others, they all still play a role. Like you said, it’s all about balance, and it certainly sounds like you’re doing a wonderful job finding it 🙂
Amanda Perry @ Sistas of Strength says
It’s funny…I feel like us mamas have so much in common. It’s so hard not to let it define you when it’s such a big part of you. Sounds like you know it’s important to fit in the other things that you love and I’m confident you’ll figure out how to make it work. And when you do…let the rest of us know. hehehe 🙂
I work out of the house so my son is in daycare a few days, but it’s hard to fit in the things I love bc when I’m not working I want to see him. Not to mention I can’t just drop everything and go to dinner after work w/ friends like I used to bc I need to pick him up!
I am not a mom, but i think it really comes down to balance. You have to be ok with stepping back sometimes and having YOU time. And not feeling guilty about it. After all, you cant be a great mommy if you dont take care of yourself also. And that means your spiritual/mental health. Maybe start by doing something once a week thats just for you. Going out with friends, taking a fitness class, going shopping. But baby free.
Not a mom but I enjoyed this post. I’ve thought the same thing. Like if I have a kid then do I blog about my kid? I hope not.
I hope to stay me and just add the kid. Kind of like staying me and adding the Hubz two years ago.
Great post! I’ve only been a mom for 8 days but I can relate to all of this already. He is my life and I love it! But I’m already wondering how I’ll ever train again without messing up his feeding schedule. And it’s SO hard being far away from family! We’ll both figure it out eventually. You’re doing a great job mama 🙂
I don’t know how to get that balance yet so let me know if you figure it out! Last week I invited friends over for pizza and wine instead of going out without the baby or bringing her with us and I had a great time. Got to relax, nurse as needed, not stress about the baby and really enjoyed some adult time.
I’m not a mom but we talk about it (or rather we talked more about it before I got laid off. boo. ) and what you’ve described is actually something that I have definitely thought about.
Carolyn @ Eat.Live.Be Well says
I felt this way when I got married. I think it just takes time to adjust to the new life. Everyone who is important to you will understand your struggles.
I think it’s only natural that becoming a mom would overtake your identity! At least while you’re still new to it. I’m sure it will just take some time until you can balance everything again. Enjoy it either way!
Nice post and totally relateable. I am sure it will get easier as she gets older and you both get in a routine of childcare, preschool, active play date, etc. It seems that every month things change and I’m sure she enjoys doing your activities with you!
Once again I could have written this.
I have no idea what the solution is, but I know we will find it in time.
Kelli H (Made in Sonoma) says
I really enjoyed this post! I think it’s good you’re trying to make sure that being a mom isn’t what defines you. It’s definitely something that you are and a huge part of your life but it does seem like so many moms let it become the only thing they do. Props for thinking about this! 🙂
Scott Hepburn says
It’s true what they say: There’s NOTHING in the world like being a parent. It’s the one thing I’ve known since I was young that I was meant to do, and it’s infinitely more amazing than I ever imagined. I love the way you write about the joys (and, yes, struggles) of being a new mom.
Blogging…and all the Tweeting, Facebooking, etc. that comes with it…can be a great way to stay connected and maintain an identity aside from “Mom.” I’m so grateful for the connections I’ve made online and offline. As a single dad and a solopreneur, I couldn’t survive without those social interactions. It helps me feel less like I’m on a deserted island.
Love your writing, Brittany — keep it up!
What a gorgeous photo of you and Hailey!
Thank you so much for posting this! I feel exactly the same way but hadn’t really expressed it to anyone because they aren’t mom’s yet and wouldn’t really understand. Thank you!
I guess the hardest thing for me right now is that once I have a routine in place or finally feel like I understand what one of Andrew’s “sounds” mean, everything changes. He either needs more attention or something new to play with or I just don’t know what he is trying to tell me… very frustrating for both parties. Playing detective, the entertainment, the wife and the cleaner are hard to balance in a day. I have to go back to work in January and I have NO idea how we are going to handle all of this… very scary thought!
I found that the thing that helps me the most is thinking about my life as perpetually changing and ALWAYS improving (no matter what!). I am still the same person, I just need to tweek certain activities and routines (which is surprisingly hard or easy). Most importantly I have to remember that this is OK and this is a good change! Too often I’ve found myself feeling boxed in and need a moment to myself to regroup.
I don’t know the answers yet, but it looks like you are doing a great job! Thanks for being such an inspiration! Keep making time for yourself (girls night) and for your husband. Make a habit of saying that for a pre-determined amount of time, you will talk about something other than your daughter. Ryan and I make sure that we have cuddle or talk time after Andrew has gone to bed. This is always nice and something to look forward to. Thanks again for writing!
chelsey @ clean eating chelsey says
I can imagine that most new moms struggle with the exact same thing. I say give yourself one night/afternoon/morning a week to do what YOU love. If that means hirng a sitter, go out and do it! Hailey will understand!
You’ll find the new and improved version of your old “you.” I know it seems like you don’t have time for anything right now, but pretty soon she will grow up and doing things for herself and you’ll discover a new you. Not sure if that even makes sense… My youngest is almost 4 and it seems like it wasn’t that long ago that I was in the same position you are in, wondering what my new version of myself would be. Now that he is getting closer to school age and the baby factory is closed, I’m looking forward to finding myself again, not sure what that will be yet, but it’s exciting!
Sorry for the ramble, I have no idea if any of this makes sense to you 😉
I LOVE the photo of you and Hailey!! I hope you can find your new “you,” and I appreciate that you’re sharing your concerns about it. It’s actually refreshing to hear that you want to stay YOU!! And on a non-mommy note, what 10K program are you using? I keep psyching myself out with the plan I’ve tried to use and would love to try something new.
I’m using the couch to 10k app on my iphone. I like it because it tells me when to walk and run and I can listen to siriusxm radio during it 🙂
Kristen @ The Concrete Runner says
I’m with ya! I feel the exact same way. Luckily, my husband understands that I need that time for me for those reasons. Thank God these babies are so darn cute! They make it totally worth it!
Tiff @ Love Sweat and Beers says
While I can’t say this has happened to me (yet), I can totally see where you’re coming from. Good luck finding balance. Just remember, everyone in your life understands how consumed you are with ‘mommyism’ at the moment, and no one minds. 🙂
I think the way we define ourselves doesn’t have to be written in stone, and can change and grow as our lives evolve. I think it’s also ok to define ourselves in MANY different ways – which add up to one “you”. This time last year, you felt like a different person, today you are still that person and ALSO fantastic new Mom to a beautiful baby girl, and this time is VERY special. A year from now, you’ll still be you in the core, be Hailey’s mom, be a great wife, a daughter, etc, etc…but you may find another passion which will shape you and add another dimension to you as a whole. (I hope that made sense).
Rachel Starr says
ahhh the eternal dilemma 😉 it’s pretty tough when you’ve got a newborn, as they command so much of your attention. but rest assured, it does get (slightly) easier as they get older. i try to stay involved w/ a small group or 2 from my church. whether it’s a book group or a mommy group, it’s time w/ other adults!
i also joined our local YMCA shortly after our daughter (now 2.5) was born. they provide FREE on site, qualified, childcare so this momma can get in her workouts. that pretty much keeps me sane! it has also allowed me to take up a hobby – running! i know that not everyone has kids or cares what mine is up to. so at least now i have a hobby/obsession i can blabber on about 🙂
ugh i totally feel you. i have a 5 month old daughter and have no “me” time anymore. i work fulltime and her daddy travels for work, so i am essentially a single mom. i love being a mom, but id love to have some time to work out or even get a haircut!
I am 26 weeks pregnant and before getting pregnant I worked hard to have balance between work (teaching), working out and being a wife. The baby hasn’t even arrived yet and I feel like I have lost balance. I can’t run anymore. I’m gaining weight and miss the way I use to look. I feel like pregnancy and baby stuff is all people want to talk to me about. I love my baby and am thrilled to be pregnant but realize that my life is changing and will never be the same again. Good luck finding balance. Please share tips as you can.
I completely understand about the gaining weight and not feeling like yourself, but trust me when I say that the weight does come off and running (well, wogging) seems easier to me now than it did before I was pregnant.
And yes, all people want to talk about with pregnant ladies is babies, so if you ever want to discuss something else, just let me know- I’ll be there for ya! 🙂
I definitely feel you on this one! Now that Riley is 1 and I am done breastfeeding I finally feel like I have a little part of me back (we only gave bottles if we had to). Once you’re a Mom it is so hard to think about yourself. From the start I said that I was still going to run, which is my favorite me time. I am lucky to have a husband that understands this and does his best to help me get my me time in.
The hard part for me is that we moved to this area only knowing a few people, mostly his young, single buddies. So I didn’t have a close group of girlfriends nearby to get out with. I’m getting better with this too, but mostly because i’m meeting other new mommies.
I hope you can find a good balance for yourself. Just remember that making time for yourself will help keep you happy, which in turn will help you be an even better Mom. Shoot, maybe we should get together for a couple glasses of that vino you mentioned! 😉
I’d love to! I’m trying to get better at going out and about more, too, so let’s hang out sometime soon!
I can totally relate. The hardest part for me is that when hubby traveled for work – I would always use that time to catch up with friends over dinner or drinks, go to movies, make long distance calls to loved ones, etc. Now I feel like I can’t do any of those things. For the friends that have children, they understand. But I feel like I’ve put so many friendships on the back burner and that kills me. My friendships mean the world to me and I will be friends with my 5 BFF’s for the rest of my life. It’s just a big adjustment to put some things on hold for awhile. When I do get any time with friends – I feel like I have to talk their ears off in such a short time because I’m always in a hurry to get back to Molly, or I have to run off because it’s another feeding time. I truly thought being a SAHM would mean I’d have all the time in the world to do everything (cook, clean, exercise, learn to sew & speak spanish) – but at the end of the day, I feel like the only thing I got accomplished was to keep my baby happy and healthy. And for now that is going to have to be good enough. Sorry for the novel. We obviously need to get together for beers to discuss. And we can TRY not to talk about our little ladies. Yeah, right. 🙂
Amen! Although I guess keeping a baby happy and healthy is a pretty dang awesome accomplishment 😉 Can’t wait to see you soon!
I’m right there with you! Probably worse with letting the twins define my life. Honestly, I forget what conversations with my husband were like before they involved diapers and doctors and days where I have 1 baby or the other on my boob 24/7 (it happens, it hurts haha). I try to get out as much as I can for lunches or get togethers or walks, although it’s always with the twins. They’re my favorite accessory these days. The NICU though really taught me to appreciate every second with the twins. I cry almost every night I’m so happy to have them home and healthy and happy. In some ways, I am just ok with them being my entire life right now. I know other people probably get sick of me talking about them or posting pictures of them but they’re my world, I’m so lucky to have them and I don’t want to miss or forget a single second of them growing up right now.
Madeline@Food, Fitness, and Family says
I can relate to you on so many levels! Thanks for sharing this post! It is definitely hard to balance being a mom with all other hats we wear – wife, friend, etc. The hubs and I changed Em’s bedtime schedule so we could have some us time at the end of the night.
I think so much of it will come in time – big changes in your life take more than a few months to figure out. We have absolutely not family where we are which makes it that much harder.
I know the feeling and with 2 kids, both over the age of 4, it is still overwhelming to find time for everything. It never stops until they leave the house, my mom says.
How did I find balance? The older your child gets, the more you will find time because they will not need to as much or as often anymore. You will see when you’re baby age, she will not need you every 4 hours anymore but rather every 6 hours of so. She will learn how to keep herself busy, giving you the time to do whatever you need to.
It will get better. Maybe not as soon as you hope or think but it will come.
I do not know how far your parents (on both sides) live from you but maybe try them to take the child once a month for an evening. Or tray a family member every week for a few hours. Good luck.
I don’t have kids so I’m not firmly labeled mom, but I do understand what you mean. I’m the healthiest of my friends and so I often get pigeon-holed as the health guru, the trainer, the diet buddy, etc. And then when I do go wild and eat cake or something else most people consider totally normal, people think I’ve lost my marbles or something like that.
I think right now, you’re going to have to completely be mom until Hailey isn’t so dependent on you. But enjoy it, because one day she might start calling you Brittany because she’s too “mature” to call you mom. haha
I totally understand where you’re coming from. Five months in I’m still trying to figure it out. I have a hard time leaving Ella on the weekends to hang out with friends because it’s the most time I get with her all week! But as you said, I’m still the same person I was last year, I just have another person to think of now.
Melissa @ Be Not Simply Good says
I’ve had various things overtake my life at different points in time. Right now I would say that homeschooling is that thing. Ten years ago it was my job. I have been more happy being consumed by parenting than I was being consumed by work. I also feel like I have more balance to my life now than I did ten years ago. Just remember, mine are 8 and 6, so they are getting more independent which helps me find my balance. Based on what I see here on your blog, it sounds like you are doing well, enjoying the new role, while keeping up on other interests. Have a great weekend, Brittany!!
I totally get this. I think I’m still in that newborn transition (and might be for a little while), but some things I have been doing are staying plugged in with the blogging world (because writing and exchanging ideas is such an outlet for me) and getting back to a yoga practice (one of my loves!) as soon as I could. It’ll probably be awhile til I plan my next get-together (that’s one of my loves, too), but I will certainly be doing it as soon as it seems like a good idea!
Meagan @ The Happy Ottoman says
I’m not a mom yet, but I think this post is also relatable for those in long-term relationships. I couldn’t imagine life without my fiance, but you have to balance being yourself with everything else that calls for your attention. Devoting a few hours to YOU each week will help! This post was beautifully written, Brittany. 🙂
I think everyone goes through what I like to think of as an identity “improvement” versus an identity “change”. The new you is improved but also different. I felt this change as I was growing up. My role as a daughter changed when I had more responsibilities to my family. My role changed with my significant other when I went from his girlfriend to fiancee to wife. Keep doing what you are doing and I know your daughter will love you as not only “Mom” but also for who you are.