When I planned to have a baby I understood that I would be making some major sacrifices. It’s just what moms do. We give up our bodies like a science project to grow another human. We accept that we will have stretch marks, heartburn and swollen feet. I knew I’d be buying things for the baby and not getting my annual designer purse. It’s all a part of the package deal. The baby’s needs come first. What I didn’t think of were all the little things that come well after the baby is home that I would be giving up as well.
I didn’t realize that as a mom I would continue wearing my maternity clothes long after I came home from the hospital. Not only did maternity jeans fit my newly expanded hips and thighs better than my pre-pregnancy jeans did, but well, let’s be honest here, the tummy paneled pants sure did make me feel a bit less jiggly and exposed. Let’s face it ladies, if I tried to squeeze into regular jeans I’d be fighting muffin top all day long. Instead I have taken to wearing mostly sweatpants or those wonderfully stretchy yoga pants and my favorite maternity tank tops. I like to call my current wardrobe choices my “momiform”. It’s now my daily stay at home mom uniform. My son doesn’t seem to mind.
Not only did I give in to my new found momiform, I gave up on ever wearing clean clothes again. Not for lack of washing mind you, because we do laundry in this house 5 days a week, but because the moment I put something clean on it is destined to be spit up on, slobbered on, pooped or peed on. It seems that no article of clothing is sacred. After weeks of changing clothes after every little spill or spot I noticed on them, I finally gave in to the wonderful scent of a mom. Ode de Slobber and spit up. It’s a lovely combination; we wear it well here in my house, and we wear it often.
I have given up taking a nice long, luxurious hot shower without being interrupted, either by a crying baby or my questioning spouse. And my hair, yeah, well, that hot mess just sits atop my head in what I lovingly refer to as my “messy bun”. Wearing it down is just asking for it to be pulled out or chewed on. Make-up – forget about it. Red lipstick does not impress a curious baby, it only begs for him to smear it all over my face. Lip gloss and lotion are my new make-up. And one thing I use to take for granted that I’ve now sacrificed – well groomed eyebrows. Hello left-eyebrow, meet right eyebrow! I am deep in denial that they are slowly merging together right above the bridge of my nose, but frankly it’s the truth and I don’t have the time or energy to fix it. Keeping my son clean and happy is much more important to me than my own appearance. Thankfully my husband understands and has promised to love me even with a mustache.
Even giving up all these superficial things, there are a few things that I think really are worth making time for. One is your spouse, they are after all the reason you have a child, and the other is yourself. I have found, in my short 5 months as a mom that I need to take care of myself before I can be of any use to my sweet little boy. If I am tired and frustrated and feel like I am stretched way too thin, he knows it. He gets fussy and clings to me like white on rice. It only makes the situation worse, they have no idea you just need 5 minutes to yourself. It is not fair to him. So I decided a few months ago that I needed to really schedule some time for me, because without me there is no mommy. I started out by doing something so obvious, I had heard it from everyone, but for the first few weeks I just kept rolling my eyes. Take a nap when he naps. Sounds simple, but it is far from it. Seriously though, when you have a newborn, sleep when they sleep!
Keeping me well rested was important to my sanity. Once he started sleeping better during the night, and I was getting more rest, I started using every single nap during the day to clean or do laundry. I got burnt out real quick. There was never enough time in the day to get it all done. I had to realize that taking 30 minutes to read a book during one nap was more important than unloading the dishwasher. The dishes could wait, so could clean mirrors or folding laundry. Of course I can’t just sit around during every nap and do something I enjoy, the housework would never get done, but it is amazing what a little quiet time for yourself can do for your energy.
I also learned to schedule time for my hobbies. I enjoy sewing or writing my blog and I allow myself to do so. It just may be that I get up an hour earlier than everyone else just to drink my coffee while it’s actually hot and to write out my thoughts online. I realized if I didn’t set aside that time for myself I would be missing it all day and missing out on quality time with my son wishing I had time for myself. I started scheduling activities for myself on the calendar, like “mommy takes a bubble bath” so I felt like I was just as important as those Dr’s appointments and family visits.
Being a mom is hard work. You give up a lot of yourself in order for someone else to flourish and grow. It’s worth making sacrifices, many of them in fact. You can’t sacrifice it all though, because a happy mom really is a happier baby. If I’ve learned one thing from being a mom it’s simply to cut myself some slack. I can’t be perfect, I mean hello frumpy - I’m knocking on your door, but I can be the best mother I know how to be… and there is a ME in mother, you just gotta jump over a few hurdles to find it in there! So take time for yourself, give yourself a little treat, you are worth it, and not only will you reap the benefits, but your baby will to.