This is the blog I have been afraid to write. Seems pretty dramatic, doesn’t it? Well, in my head, it sort of is. I don’t even recognize my life anymore. Everything is different. New baby, new business. It’s all great changes, all positive, yet still leaves quite an impression on my personal wellbeing.
I’ve learned in psychology class that every change brings about another change. This change can be good or bad, doesn’t matter. Either way, there will be a cause and effect. It’s the Butterfly Effect; if a butterfly flaps its wings on one continent, the effects can be felt clear across the world. Well, all of these changes I’ve made are bigger than a butterfly flapping its wings and clearly the impact is much more local (as in happening in my living room and everyday life).
So why am I afraid to write about this? Because I don’t want anyone to think I’m ungrateful for all of these wonderful life changes. These were all good decisions, and I’m happy to bring it all into my life. I wouldn’t want anyone to think I have second guessed any of these choices.
But the reality is that I bet a lot of people go through the same emotional and logistical roller coaster that I am experiencing. I feel like what I used to know as “my life” and “my routine” has been stripped down to some bare bones model and replaced with features that are very foreign to me. My schedule is no longer really “my” schedule, and a little being has been inserted into my already busy daily calendar.
Yes, yes, yes. Before you judge me – I understand that I signed up for all of this. Yes, I know parenting is challenging. Yes, I understand my child comes before me. I get it. All of it. I’m not asking that it be any different.
But I am trying to recognize my life. When do I eat? Shower? Sleep? These were the original struggles of the first couple of months. In terms of hierarchical needs, we are talking about someone who was nearing the top of Maslow’s chart of self-actualization, being bumped down quite a few rungs to the bottom, survival mode. And when I say bumped, I mean crashing down each level square on my butt, like sliding ungracefully down a set of stairs. Being part of an interstate adoption meant that we were physically displaced from our home for 2 weeks – with a newborn – our first born. We clearly had a learning curve. It was a shock to the system.
Time has now passed, and we are in a new season. I’ve now (re)evolved to eating more than just take out or snacks that I cobbled together as a meal. Showering is now a regular occurrence again. Sleeping is still suspect, but this department has improved. So, all back to normal then??
Not so much. Now comes the questions – how do I get the things that I require for ME back into my life? Workouts, cooking healthy meals, meditation, a massage, reading a book, writing…. None of it seems to fit anymore. I can see how parents just put themselves on the back burner – all the time. Frankly, it’s pretty hard to figure it all out, and while I make a plan to incorporate even a few of these things in my routine, if they actually happen is a whole other level of accomplishment.
I feel as if the struggle becomes even more intense because I’m unwilling to give up on the idea that I, too, can have a balanced life. Even with a kid. It’s a mind blowing concept. I’m still working through how to do this, and I mentally crash and reload on a daily basis. But, I feel as though if I’ve learned anything over the past several years, it’s that I matter. My health does matter. My needs are important. Not in a selfish way; in a “I’m not invisible” and “I have a purpose here” (beyond being a mom) kind of way.
This concept hit home when a dear friend of mine sent me a care package a couple of months after the baby was born. When this amazing box of food and treats arrived at my doorstep, I was in awe. Wide eyed, I wasn’t sure what to do other than stare at it in sheer joy, as if I’ve never seen a gift basket before. Then I read the card. My friend writes that she waited a bit to send her gift, until we were home and more settled. She then added that she was quite sure we probably had enough 0-3 outfits to last till our child turned 10 (she was correct), and this gift was for the new parents. She was confident that we were meeting the needs of our newborn (of course we were), but wanted to help us meet our own.
I started to cry. She was right. Of course we taking care of our baby, with everything we had emotionally, financially, and physically. We would have it no other way. But, in doing that, sometimes we forget to take care of ourselves.
She was right. And I love her for that. I love her for pointing it out to me before too much time had passed to the point where I would, too, feel like throwing in the towel on my own personal life journey (or maybe just putting it on hold for 18 years?).
So, while it’s really, really hard most days to wade through where I fit into this new life I’ve created, I’m not giving up. I do it because I love myself. I love my son. I love my family. If I don’t do these things for me, I cannot be there for them. If don’t do these things for me, I will look back and regret losing myself along the way. If I don’t do these things for me, I’m not honoring my own value system and my own journey here in this dimension.
Just as we’ve already experienced, seasons change. I’m confident things will become “easier” again… then harder… then downright-hair-pulling- challenging. It’s the ebb and flow of life. I’m okay riding this wave, so long as I’m on top of it, and not drowning under it. That climb to the top is tough. It’s hard to balance up there, and surfing has never been my sport. But, darn it, I’m going to learn how to get good at it.