Written by Lindsay Gerber
The smell of spit up. Was it in my hair? Was it on my nursing gown? Was this just how I smelled now? A shower seemed so out of reach as I stared at my first born. I’m pretty sure I hadn’t reached for my toothbrush in a couple days. I had a profound eye twitch, and I found myself crying more than I laughed. I was headed down a slippery slope, but afraid to admit it.
My husband came home from work for lunch to check in on me during those first couple months after our son was born. I don’t know if he felt like it was something he had to do, or if he sensed my need for help. I sure wasn’t going to ask for it. As I sat there on the couch in a zone that I can only explain as complete exhaustion, he spoke some truth to me. He said, “It’s been two months now. Let’s get you back. Let’s put this back together.” I’m sure he was just as confused as I was as I sat there in the same outfit he had seen me in for several days in a row. Not to mention, the house went from being spotless (thank you, nesting!) to being as dirty and cluttered as it had ever been. I look back and wonder why I didn’t respond to my husband in a negative way. Quite frankly, I didn’t have the energy to become defensive. How could I be the “old me”? I’m a mom now! I had become a super anxious and very overwhelmed human being, who was now in complete responsibility of this tiny person. It felt like that’s all I could do. I couldn’t care for myself anymore or clean the house. My child was my responsibility! This was a huge contrast of the carefree, yet always put together blend I was able to maintain prior to having children. How did I not become offended?
I wasn’t offended, because somewhere in my tiredness, I had come to the realization that my husband was helping me to be who I was meant to be. He was my teammate and my friend, lifting me up when I needed to be. I longed to be the old me. What did that look like? Well, it looks like the old me with just a bunch of extra stuff attached. My body had changed, but my spirit was the same. I just wasn’t allowing it to shine. I felt like I couldn’t. It looks like me being exactly who I had been in the past, but as a mom now.
That very next day, I got up and fed my precious baby boy. I put him in his bouncy seat, and I took a shower. I kept peeking from behind the curtain to make sure he was okay, and much to my surprise he was. I got ready that day. I put myself together, and it felt great. I picked up the house, little by little. It wasn’t perfect, but I did it and my baby survived. My child managed to still show his love for me even though I took time for myself. I didn’t give myself higher expectations than I could meet, but I gave myself expectations. Period. I went to bed that night feeling like myself again.
This may not be your story, but you have one. We are all different, but in a way we are all the same. We are all on this journey to stay true to ourselves while loving another human being. Our hearts don’t feel big enough, but they are. Becoming a mom doesn’t mean you lose your identity, although it sure feels like it some days. We can’t disregard that. Allow yourself to become a better version of who you were made to be. Yes, as a mom. For me, this means curling my hair and getting dressed up even though I have nowhere to go. I’ve been staying at home for 9 years now, but putting on my favorite pair of jeans and front tucking my cutest blouse is unapologetically something I love to do. It doesn’t make me better than another mom, but it makes me “ME”. It means doing the things I love, but in smaller increments. It means asking for help when I need it. This is me.
Who you are isn’t a reflection of how you look, but it is a reflection of how you feel and how you act. Listen up, Mama. You’re doing a great job. Don’t ever put yourself together because you feel like you have to. Maybe you’re the opposite of me, and love to put on your sweats in the morning. That is great! Do it without feeling conflicted about who you are. Surround yourself with people who encourage you, support you, and come knocking when the slippery slope starts to steepen. Not every day will be great, but it will get better. Remember who you have been and who you are. Leave the things that don’t grow you behind, and go into the future with the things that flourish you. The day my husband told me to find myself again was the day I started feeling alive as a mom.