All I ever wanted was to be a mom.
Now as an adult, I realize that there are so many other things I want too, and need, and am still meant for. But when I get frantic trying to wear all the hats, there’s a part of me that tugs on my tailored suit coat and gently whispers: this is your most important work.
The myth of bouncing back
Having a baby at thirty-five is definitely different than having a baby at twenty-six. Nothing “bounces back.” Literally nothing. Can we stop cramming that idea of bouncing back down people’s throats? Who wants to bounce back, anyway? Don’t we want to go forward? Forward with gained wisdom, increased humility, refined skills, deepened relationships, and focused priorities?
My body has grown and delivered three tiny humans (some tinier than others) and nourished them faithfully. She bears the weight of their little bodies and keeps up with their needs. She has no intention of bouncing back quickly and I am not pushing her to do so. Rather, I am good to her, mostly – I feed her the greens and coffee and cupcakes she craves, I move gently to soothe her creaks and tender spots, and I have promised at some point I will give her the adequate rest she is calling me for.
I am tired.
I loathe that phrase, I really do.
So I rarely utter it, because you’re just as tired as I am, and because “I’m tired” is not something I want to profess or claim over my life. Speak it and it becomes, yes?
But this is a season that finds me joyfully, fulfillingly, heartfully… tired.
And I think that’s okay.
In seasons like this, when I can give myself permission to acknowledge that fact, there’s some neat magic that happens.
I can start to acknowledge that I cannot do it all, nor do I want to do it all, nor do I have the patience for anything – or anyone – pressuring me that I should be able to do it all. Not at full throttle, anyway. I can give myself permission to take my foot off the gas and enjoy the trip a little. There’s no contest for who can get to the end of our life the fastest. (And if there is, I don’t want to compete.)
Related post: Leaning back, bouncing back, and letting go of the pressures motherhood brings
Working moms have it tough. So do stay at home moms. I am both. So my mind gets muddy sometimes, and in the swirl of postpartum hormones, that mud can build up to a complete obstruction of view.
These muddy thoughts are a few of my not-so-favorite things: Mommy guilt, the feeling of being pulled in every direction, fear of what other people think or of being left behind, scary dreams about the baby or too-complicated philosophical questions in sleep-deprived twilight, distorted self-talk, and frustration over how to dress this new and beautiful but completely reshaped body of mine.
That’s a lot of dysfunction to cram into one, very tired, mind.
So what helps a little? The reading, yoga, mindfulness, and personal work I have always relied on for clarity and stillness. A hot bath. A great book. Sobbing it out to my unsuspecting yet always-compassionate mom.
What helps the most? The village. Friends who listen – really listen. Mentors who lead with patience. Family who treat the children to excursions and the grownups to a date. Hired helpers – angels in human skin – who clear the physical clutter and make way for mental clarity too.
Writing helps, too. I write because what’s jumbled up in my mind finally makes sense out of my head and onto the paper. Sometimes, I guess. Mostly. Even if it still doesn’t make much sense, I can at least see my thoughts clearly enough to sort them into their proper places and take the next best step forward.
Isn’t that better than bouncing back?
Elisha: 9 months out
PS: Funny how it all works out – I started this post as a cute and sweet 9 month update of my little guy. Clearly that was not what was really on my mind. Since it’s worth a share, here’s what’s happening in baby land:
- 1 big top tooth (this morning!) and 2 more teeth seconds away from poking through
- Pulling up and sitting down
- Can climb the entire flight of stairs and likes to eat the dirt out of my living room dracaena
- Says ma-ma-ma when he’s excited or needs something
- Wakes twice in the night, naps twice in the day, best snuggler
- 20+ pounds, 12-month clothes
- Strawberry hair, and we think green eyes are here to stay
- Still makes his crazy gasp-in laugh and thinks his brother and sister are the absolute funniest creatures on the planet
- Loves to be tossed and flipped, and “jump” into the pool
- Eats literally everything – watermelon and guacamole are current favorites
- He’s so sweet we want 100 more just like him.