I've always been a "glass half full" kinda gal, so I want to talk about all of the good stuff that happens to your body, your drive, and your relationships, post-baby. I'm also driven to talk about moms, not just their adorable offspring, and what's real. Because who has time for cliche and pessimism?
While real for some (or even many), do saggy boobs, "mummy tummies" (I loathe this term), and unwashed/coiffed hair really matter?
Now, I am just as guilty as the next, in assigning too much value to physical appearance, at times. But, instead of feeling shame about falling prey to societal and cultural pressures and expectations, I try my best to take a step back and remember, that pregnancy-related body changes are not flaws, and certainly not what I truly care about deep down.
Noise: it's hard to tune it out, isn't it? All that noise about dropping the "baby weight", getting back to pre-baby jeans, hurrying back to the gym or crossfit, bouncing back to work, and "supermom" this and that?
WHOA!! Let's just TAKE A MINUTE. Dig your heels in. Hop off that treadmill. Slow down. Just because "everyone else" is striving for skinny, mega multi-tasking, and "hot mom" status, doesn't mean *you* have to...right? Right!
Enough. You ARE enough. After all, you are a life-giving, multi-talented, STRONG, resilient, full of love woman and mother! You might not feel that way this minute, this week, or this year, but if you look closely, you must confess, you are all that and more.
Why aren't we talking about all the things we are amazing at? We are keeping our families alive, healthy, and happy most of the time. We are giving back to our communities. We are going out of our way to help friends and neighbors in need, as able. We are giving every last ounce of energy and care we can cultivate, 24/7, to multiple people. We are reflecting on yesterday, making the most of today, and carefully planning the future. We are feeding our brains with meaningful conversation, intellectual engagement, and spending SO much energy on gathering, interpreting, and analyzing the abundant sources of theory, opinions, and studies on xyz parenting methods and then daring to make our best, educated choices.
Instead of always joking about our zombie-esque qualities and zero libido, do we not acknowledge the flutters of love and, dare I say, maybe even lust, when we see the man or woman we love coddling our baby or just finding their way in their new role? What about acknowledging that intimacy comes in the form of more things than just sex...like a snuggle, hand hold, or even just a softened gaze?
There is no right way to approach sex after starting this new chapter. In this realm, most find that communication…and humor, become steadfast in feeding the closeness we all need and crave.
I think it’s important to recognize the impermanence of this feeling of barely surviving that many new and new-ish parents feel. Rather than wait for the future to arrive (when everything’s presumably a whole lot easier – sleeping, feeding, working, socializing), can we take the edge off, knowing that things do eventually “normalize”, become less baby-centric, and somewhat more balanced?
Think of how much pressure might be lifted, some angst might be alleviated, and connections felt more deeply, if we could try shifting our definitions of success and lessening unrealistic expectations of ourselves (and each other).
A new allure, a new enchantment. I don't know a single person (including myself) who hasn't felt the weight of the world, the utter exhaustion, the doubt, and the loss of all familiarity that comes with motherhood. What I think is alluring, is the idea of trying to loosen our grip on what once was our sharp, efficient brain functioning, our fit and leaner bodies, our perceived interesting and well-rounded lifestyles....and embracing our new selves, our newest season of life, and our evolved qualities, talents, and values...the new dimensions of our spousal partnerships, deeper appreciation for our biology, not just our appearance, and maybe even find a love for and pride in ourselves, which can't help but to spill over onto our children and families.
I invite you to turn off your smartphone, look away from the magazines, and politely dismiss the chatter. Instead, turn inwards. Acknowledge all you've done and are doing. Be kinder and gentler to yourself. Explore, enjoy, and appreciate the new you, too.