Who are you now?
"Motherhood will change your life" this is the ultimate understatement. It began to gnaw at me by the end of my first month of pregnancy. As the words tumbled out of another well-meaning soul's mouth, I simply smiled, nodded, and shrugged it off. I thought, "Yes, but they don't know me. They can't realize how much work I've invested on my life's journey to prepare for this step. I'm not 25. I'm not naïve."
Cut to my daughter's second week of life when it all hit me like a Mack truck. The initial joy of having a baby faded. I was tired, had a colicky baby, a traveling husband and a household to take care of. I truly don't know how one can mentally prepare for what this new adventure can bring. I just know that stepping into motherhood means relinquishing control, and that is scary.
I often joke about my life having been split in two parts: 1.) PM (pre-motherhood) and 2.) AM (after-motherhood). I admit I was not prepared for how birthing two little ones would change my world. My best friend said to me early on, when I was crying about how I didn't think I could do this, that I was "the perfect mother for my child." That statement resonated with my soul and shifted my perspective in a monumental way. I now see how a clear grasp of my core values has helped me weather any storm, and that the single most important step has been defining what those core values are. Only then did I begin to retain some control. Motherhood has become the Ultimate Spiritual Adventure! There has not been a challenge to face that hasn't made me a better human being.
After coaching hundreds of moms to reconnect with themselves and find more joy, energy, and time, I have uncovered a three-step process that has transformed this adventure.
1. Grieve There is so much pressure to exude joy about your new child…but I honestly wasn't feeling joyous all the time. I actually felt resentful and claustrophobic some days! Grieving your "old" life is a critical step to usher in the new phase. Life really does change, and pretending it hasn't only induces stress. I have too often trudged along mired in longing for what I have "sacrificed," instead of consciously dancing with joy about what I have gained. Get honest. Get real. With every change, even good ones, there is a loss. Grieve so you can make room for celebrating what is taking its place.
2. Explore Get connected with YOU. Go on an archaeological dig into your own identity. Who are you now? What surprising qualities are you discovering? How has your world expanded by having a family? You don't have to lose the "me" in "mommy." Stay grounded in who you are and what you value so you can best maneuver the ups and downs of parenting. Put yourself first sometimes. If you like a night out with friends, set it up and feel free to enjoy. Like to run, schedule a babysitter or relative so that you can get in a workout. Or take the baby with you in a jogging stroller!
3. Embrace When forced to change your plans when kids get sick, for instance, look for the opportunity it brings. Could it be the gift of slowing down and focusing on what really matters? Lean into it…shift your perspective if necessary. Focus on all that this new life brings and the new capabilities revealing themselves within you. Internalize, embody those changes to enhance the woman that you are and that you are becoming.
Motherhood is complex! Try seeing it as an incredible spiritual journey…the more you learn, the more you grow. The more joy will be revealed.