It’s Time to Assess and Take Care of Your Own Needs!
I knew from the day I got married that I would never be a stay at home mom. All the odds were against me: type A, busy body, planning and scheduling my day to have “no plans”, but from the moment we found out we were pregnant, I wanted to be intentional with the time I had at home with my little one.
It was probably about 2 months after the birth of our son that I began to struggle with the overwhelming negative feelings of being home all day with a tiny baby. I don’t think you can understand the loneliness, guilt, shame and sadness that a mother feels as they hold their sleeping baby during the day and wonder, “Is there something wrong with me? Why is it so hard to enjoy these fleeting moments?” But it is hard, and not just because parenthood is hard, but because caring for a baby requires intense devotion that often times requires a parent to neglect their own needs; not just physical needs (such as sleep) but emotional and social needs as well. A baby has zero vocabulary (thus resulting in communicating with goo-goo, ga-ga’s all day) and as an infant, needs constant touch and care all day long, and you can only make so many Target trips before even that becomes mundane! By the time my husband got home at the end of the day, my brain felt like mush. I began to feel as though all the hard work I had done in school and in my career would be wiped away with baby spit up.
I am here to say though, that you should NOT let yourself feel guilty! Instead, it’s time to assess your needs: what are they? Are you even attempting to fulfill them? What needs to happen? If you find yourself struggling to do even this, it is time for some self-care: take a bath, get out of the house without your babe(s) for a few hours, spend time with friends! Get yourself to a place where you have the time to appreciate the changes that have occurred, recognize if more changes need to happen and make a plan to bring back some balance in your life. In the long run, this will allow you to love and appreciate the precious moments you have with your little ones while maintaining a sense of “human-ness”.
For me, I quickly began to realize that it wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy being a mother, or that I didn’t like my baby; it was that I needed space to do what I felt called to do: counseling. Once I was able to recognize my exact needs and express them to my husband, he and I worked together to find a way to accommodate them. That’s not to negate that balancing a career and raising a child is hard. Compromises had to be made, but I now fully enjoy the days that I get to stay home with my baby and I miss him terribly when I’m away from him.
As a parent, I have come to realize that a common phrase we live by is “take care of everyone else and then yourself…” but the reality is that if you are not taking care of yourself, caring for others becomes extremely hard and eventually impossible.