This new journey of parenthood is filled with many ups and downs, but the joy and happiness that is in your heart from this beautiful creation makes it all worth it. You develop a love, so deep, deeper than the connection with your partner, more than the love you have for a parent figure, and even more profound than the love you have for that cheesecake or your favorite triple chocolate fudge dessert. The love that a mother has for her child is incomprehensible and often so vast that it cannot be described. But with something so rewarding and fulfilling, why is their something that seems to be missing? What do we as new mothers often forget? Why is there a void?
We forget to love ourselves!
After giving birth, I was not feeling like myself. I thought maybe when I would go back to work that “it” would come back. I thought that if I got more involved in the community, “it” would return. If I could accomplish all that I needed to in one day, I would be fulfilled and start to fill that void. I was in a funk. Exhausted and just completely worn out I still tried every day to find what was missing but to my disappointment, I couldn’t find “it.” Where could “it” be and what could be missing? What more did I need? What more did I want? I have such a beautiful family, I am so blessed, and on and on. I tried to be supermom. I tried to do all the tasks, by the book, to be a perfect mommy. I thought I had to get the house cleaned, care for the baby, make dinner, do laundry, have every little detail perfect to be a good mom. Again, what was I missing?! I tried talking to friends and family for seven months trying to figure out what was going on with me. I wasn’t sad, just missing something. I was finally on the phone with my mom and having one of those new mommy moments when it dawned on me. I loved being a mom. I loved how my life looked. I loved watching my husband with our daughter. I loved seeing her smile. I loved watching our parents interact as grandparents. I loved that we gave them the gift of a grandchild. I loved seeing our friends and family excited over our new addition. I loved being there for everyone. I loved the feeling of loving everyone else except I realized I didn’t love myself!
My routine had completely changed, and for a great reason, but I was not doing anything that I had loved before giving birth. I understand that there is and will be a give and take here, but how can I be emotionally satisfied with myself when I have not put myself first or even tenth for that matter. I put all other items and responsibilities first and put so much pressure on myself alone. I felt guilty asking for help. I felt guilty asking someone to babysit while I would go to the salon, gym, lunch, class, or any of the things that were my personality before giving birth. Those things were absurd! Right?! Or wrong? I forgot to love myself, while being so caught up in making sure I loved everyone else. I forgot to love myself for my health, my body, my hair, my skin, my faith, my soul, my sanity, and most importantly for the mom I am trying to be. How can I be a great mom when I am not taking care of myself?
It was so clear and so tangible. It made sense. I had to get better for myself and for my family. I need to accept that I cannot do it all. I need to accept that I can have help. I need to love myself knowing that is true. I can do things I love with my family. I have to make that a priority because that is how my daughter will learn about me. Going through this journey I found a quote by Katie Reed that helped me understand this, “Self care means giving the world the best of you instead of giving what is left of you.” This spoke volumes to me and for what I want to give my daughter and family.
So, for Valentine’s Day, while I will unconditionally and incomprehensibly love my family and friends, I am also going to love myself.