Thoughts are sneaky. They creep into a Mom’s head so easily that it can be hard to catch them and have a serious talk with them. Sleep deprivation makes this even worse. It is not uncommon to miss the life you had before your child arrived. There, I said it. It’s out in the open. Let’s stop pretending for a moment that these thoughts don’t affect us and how we feel about our role as mothers. These thoughts can be particularly difficult to sit with if we worked really hard to become parents in the first place.
Hiding our feelings can lead to a great deal of shame and guilt. If we felt certain thoughts and feelings were “normal,” then we wouldn’t hide them. I remember being with a group when one of the mothers said, “I love my daughter, and at times I resent her.” Instead of inflicting more shame, the other women starting sharing how resentment was a part of their lives as well. It didn’t make anyone a bad mom. It made everyone human. You can both love your child and miss the ease of your life prior to becoming a mother.
So what do we do with this? Well, I think it really depends on what’s coming up for you in those moments. Let’s look at 3 common issues and some possibilities:
“I miss the freedom of going anywhere I want at anytime.”
Being a mom definitely takes away some of the freedom you had pre-baby, but it doesn’t have to make you miserable. It might just take some planning. Do you have a “day off” or “an hour off” where your partner can take care of baby while you go to a coffee shop, a park, or a library? Incorporating this as part of your week might be helpful in giving you some room to breathe, recharge, remember other parts of yourself and go home with a little more energy. Plus, partners really benefit from one-on-one time with kiddos.
“I miss having less responsibility.”
There is so much work mothers do that often goes unnoticed. This can leave us feeling underappreciated and irritable. It’s like having a boss that is constantly barking orders in another language and rarely tells us what we are doing right. Is it time to look at the divide of household duties? Are you and your partner verbalizing the things you appreciate that the other one does? Are you taking time to nurture your relationship? Are there expectations you are holding on to that you might need to let go of? Are you finding ways to stimulate your intellect as you rock the heck out of the right side of your brain?
“I miss my pre-baby body.”
This is a hard one to tackle sometimes because there is so much comparison about what a woman should look like after giving birth. It took 9 months to grow a little human inside you – a little human! Take that in for a moment. A human was living and growing inside you. During pregnancy, we had to be very kind, patient and gentle with our bodies. Why does this change so quickly once we give birth? Why does it matter how quickly we lose the baby weight? Our bodies have changed. Why are we so mean to our bodies? How can we begin to change this dialogue? How would we feel if this dialogue were to change?
The transition into motherhood is complex and different for everyone. Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” This couldn’t be more important during the early days of motherhood and beyond. There will always be someone on social media who appears to have their stuff together more than you, but it’s important to remember that social media is the social mask of parenthood, in which the creator only shares what they want others to see. You get to be the author of your story and that story is constantly changing.
There are going to be ups and downs. Days where you feel awesome as a parent and days where you wonder why you ever wanted to be a parent in the first place. There is no perfect, but there is good enough. Reflection is such an important part of the process of parenthood. Holding in how you feel doesn’t help anyone. As hard as it may feel (remember shame and guilt are super controlling feelings), reach out for support. Talk to your partner, a family member, a trusted friend or a therapist in order to connect and feel more supported. You are not alone!