There is a lot going on my in head these days. My baby girl turned 1 a few weeks ago, and it's as if a switch went off the day we celebrated her birthday. I didn't take a formal mat leave. I worked right though baby Fi's first year, albeit much less. But, I always had that nice buffer giving me an excuse not to stress so much, or worry if I wasn't making enough money, or be so hard on myself if I wasn't accomplishing a lot. I have a newborn, I'd say to myself. I'm allowed to be less productive. I'm not getting a full night's sleep, so I can't be expected to work every day. If I were on EI, I wouldn't be making much money anyway. This internal monologue let me off the hook.
But then my baby's first birthday crept up on me...and BAM just like that, she was 1!
And I was all: I need to get to work. What have I been doing all year? I need to produce more. I need to make more money. I need a better routine. I've got to find work I love and that will pay me well. I need to spend ALL of my 'free' time working.
In an instant, all of my productivity, energy, self-confidence, and creativity flew right out the window.
I was exhausted. I was feeling down on myself. I couldn't bring myself to write much of anything. I started three blog posts and discarded them all. I was still producing good quality work, but I wasn't really feeling great about any of it. When a contract I'd been working on and loving came to an end, I cried. When I looked at my dwindling bank account, I felt defeated. And, when I visited the YMC site, I felt frustrated that I couldn't think of anything worthwhile to write.
I had spent the past year being really productive, taking care of a new baby and working—but suddenly, that wasn't enough.
And that, my dear readers, is how powerful guilt and self-doubt can be. One minute I was doing my best and feeling pretty darn good about it, and the next I was a huge failure who needed a complete life and career overhaul.
Interestingly, I've been thinking a lot about what it means to 'take care of yourself' when you're a mom. And, I've realized, just over the past few days, that self-care and putting yourself first aren't actually about making time for manicures, or girls' nights, or yoga classes. Self-care isn't about blowdrying your hair or wearing nice clothes. It's not about carving out time every evening to take a bath and read a book. While these things all help, they aren't going to be enough to make your life better or to make you feel good about yourself.
What taking care of yourself really means, is giving yourself permission to be wherever you are and to do whatever you're doing—without guilt and without pressure to do more or be more or have more.
You are enough.
I am enough.
As a mom, I'm finding this extremely hard to accept. I have more expectations of myself that I've ever had. I want to do it ALL. I want to be productive in my career, I want to be successful, I want to make money, I want to be there for my kids, I want my kids to be happy and healthy all the time, I want to have a good relationship with my husband, I want to have a balanced life, I want to spend time with my friends, I want to go shopping, I want to get my hair done, I want to look good when I leave the house, I want to have energy once my kids are in bed, I want to eat well, I want to be in good shape...
But all this wanting is doing a real number on me. I'm so busy wanting it ALL that I'm not enjoying what I do have. I'm not congratulating myself on small accomplishments. I'm not embracing the chaos...I'm fighting it.
Putting yourself first means doing LESS. But all I can think of is how much MORE I have/want to do.
I think many moms feel the same way. And, so I'm giving myself a new challenge. By the time Fiona turns two I will have embraced and accepted the fact that I CAN'T DO IT ALL. I will give myself a break when things don't get done on time or don't get done at all. I'll take care of myself by saying NO more often. By doing less, more often. And by being okay with my life—just the way it is.
Like this post? Click here to read what happened when my big kid turned 4 or read the letter I wrote to all new moms about how to embrace life with a new baby.