This Mama Story belongs to my dear friend and colleague Sarah Rosensweet.
I met Sarah the way we tend to make friends in this digital age: on the internet. I found out about her work through a Facebook group, and despite not having any need for parenting tips, I have diligently read every single one of her posts.
Why? I think you will realize the answer for yourself in a minute. Sarah’s writing is beautifully honest. No skirting around the hard issues. No BS. Her advice comes with a sense of intuition, expertise, and a gentle loving attitude.
I was 30 when I had my first baby.
It was a shock- especially after a decade of doing whatever-I-wanted-to-whenever-I-wanted-to.
I was absolutely in love with my son and ecstatic to be a mother. But I seriously mourned my loss of freedom and independence.
I missed my life before my baby was born.
Everyone said “Oh wait til you have more than one.”
But, looking back, the transition from one child to two, then two children to three, was easier than than that first transition from woman to mother.
Having my kids was the best thing I ever did- but it was so hard not to lose myself in the process.
My son was not an easy baby.
During his fussy hours, all he wanted to do was nurse.
For the first few months I spent HOURS in the evenings sitting in the glider switching him back and forth between breasts.
I needed to ask for help if I wanted a glass of water.
Even outside of the hours spent breastfeeding, it seemed my baby needed me all the time.
He was not the type of baby who would lay peacefully in his cradle gazing at a mobil.
He was a carry-me-hold-me-nurse-me sort of guy.
I could no longer go to the bathroom or take a shower whenever I wanted to.
If I wanted to get my haircut, I had to get someone to watch the baby.
I couldn’t even make a sandwich when I was hungry!
Before I had a baby- I prided myself on being extraordinarily capable.
I was the one who did things for other people — not the other way around.
There were moments of despair.
It was so hard for me to be helpless.
My new life was unrecognizable compared to my old.
A common piece of advice for new moms is: “Sleep when your baby sleeps.”
Yes as new moms we are often exhausted.
But I realized it was important to use that precious nap time to feel some connection to my old life, and to the old me.
Don’t sleep when the baby sleeps. Use that time to do something for yourself.
Do you draw?
Love to write?
Get stretchy with yoga?
What do you do that’s just for you?
When my baby was napping, I used my time to read. I would make a big cup of tea and set myself up in a cozy chair and read.
Ignore the dishes.
They will eventually get done.
Same with the laundry and other household chores.
Invite a friend over to hold the baby while you do the dishes (or better, get your friend to do the dishes!)
It is so easy to lose yourself in the demands of new motherhood.
When the baby is sleeping– and the house is quiet and you are alone– do something that reminds you of who you are.
Let us know in the comments below what is one thing you are going to do with joy the next time your little one goes down for a nap.
Sarah Rosensweet is a Toronto-based parent coach and educator offering one-on-one support for new mothers and parents of toddlers-to teens. She has over 20 years of experience working with children and their families. She is mom to three big kids, ages 7, 10, and 14.