“The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new.”
-Osho, Indian Spiritual Teacher, Enlightened Master, All-Around Guru
This is a beautiful sentiment, but it’s also a little scary. Scratch that — a LOT scary.
The woman existed.
Well, I am no spiritual guru or enlightened master, but I’m here to tell you that the woman STILL exists. And she demands to be paid attention to.
I remember the moments after my C-section. My daughter was whisked away to be cleaned and measured and I was wheeled to a recovery room, high on who-knows-what. I remember lying there thinking “This is the last time I will ever truly be alone.”
Before you have kids, you have a general sense that your life will change once you have kids. You know some things will be different. Maybe you’ll have less freedom, maybe you won’t travel as much, but you’ll have a sweet little baby to make up for all of that, right?
Girlfriend … you had NO IDEA.
Never before did running one errand take 45 minutes of strategic planning before you even make it to the car.
Never before did I find spit-up splashed on my shoulder and in my hair, moments after getting dressed and ready for said errand.
Never before did I realize how cripplingly lonely motherhood could be, as I watched my childless friends going places and doing things on a whim.
There were no more whims in this new reality.
Instead, there were eighty-two pounds of baby weight (yes, you read that right. EIGHTY. TWO. POUNDS. 82) I was now saddled with, in addition to the weight of this new role. There was the C-section recovery and the failing at breastfeeding. Then there was the whole circus known as exclusively pumping. There was my one month old, wailing in her bunny bouncer, while I was hooked up to a machine like a milk cow and desperately rocking her with my foot, promising I’d be able to feed her soon. Oh, and those 1-2 hour stretches of restless sleep. The predictable unpredictability of it all – is she happy? Hungry? Wet? Gassy? Hot? Cold? Why is she crying? Why am I crying?
In all of that, I lost myself. The mother was born, but the woman ceased to exist.
I lost myself in a fog of onesies, burp cloths, and blowout diapers, set to the WOOSH-aaa, WOOSH-aaa soundtrack of a breast pump. Thanks to what I now realize was a form of postpartum depression, I watched my life as if it was playing out on a screen, and I was powerless to stop the events taking place before me. New motherhood did a number on me, while I tried to pretend like I had it all together and things were going just fine.
Spoiler alert: things were not fine. They were not fine for a long time. But as the last bits of winter wore away and spring came, something changed.
Somehow, I found my way out of the fog. I started the journey back to myself. I started running again. I set a goal to run a half marathon before her first birthday, and I did it. The following year, I ran a full marathon. And another one the year after that. I cut my hair, I learned the joys of dry shampoo, I finally invested in proper skincare. I started taking care of myself again and that has made all the difference. I began to love my body for what it had done and what it could do. I began to do the things I loved – getting out of the house, making friends, going shopping. Singing.
Some days, it seems like I’ll never truly find that old me again. Onesies and burp cloths and spit-up have been replaced by bows and Wellie Wishers and dirty socks (seriously HOW DO THEIR SOCKS GET SO FILTHY). The rhythmic whooshing of the pump has been replaced by a nonstop stream of talking. But as she gets older, I get more into my groove of this whole motherhood thing. Because I have her. And she’s always watching.
Moral of the story? I want my daughter to know she is strong and that she can do anything she desires, if she works hard. I don’t want her to be raised by a shrinking violet, I want her to be raised by a force to be reckoned with. I want her to have a mom who doesn’t set limits for herself. Every day, I choose to make myself proud and set that example for her. I found myself again because of her.
I’m a mother, yes. I’m proud to be one. Without the title, I wouldn’t be a part of the Lafayette Moms Blog. I wouldn’t have my Rascal Mae. I am absolutely new each and every day, and for that, I am thankful.