When you were a new mom, did you feel lost? How long did it take you to “feel like yourself” after giving birth and becoming a mom? Do you think you ever did, or rather just found a new groove as a mom? Which activities helped you feel like your old self again, and which ones made the difference most obvious?
This is a big topic, but I think it’s a really important one. It’s also one of the things that was most — surprising, I guess? — about the whole experience of becoming a mom. Looking back I think, of COURSE everything is going to change once you have kids — and of course no one can explain it to you or prepare you for it beforehand.
The first time I had an inkling that it might take a while to feel like myself again was at my postpartum checkup with Jack, my first. When I mentioned that I wasn’t feeling like myself, the midwife casually said, “It’ll be two years before you feel like a woman again.” I thought it was the meanest thing anyone could say to me in that moment. I also wasn’t really clear on how she meant it. Physically? Emotionally? It was a bit of a mystery. But around the time Jack turned 18 months, I finally started getting my groove back. It was like seeing a glimmer at the end of a long tunnel — and I realized it was this memory of who I’d been before becoming a mom.
It wasn’t just the lack of sleep, the lack of me time… it wasn’t just my new mom body… it wasn’t just missing my 20s and early 30s, or the freedom that came with being a DINK. For me, the easiest way to think about it — the way I’ve finally settled on thinking about it — was that becoming a mom meant the almost total death of my carefree self. I won’t be totally carefree, ever again. It sounds heavy, but I don’t think any parent ever will. There are so many positive trade-offs, of course — the joy my boys bring me on a daily basis, the way my heart sings when I look over and they’re both having a snuggle with daddy, the sense of contentment — of completeness — I feel with my family, the pride I feel for their growing up so well. But not carefree — I am never carefree.