Having recently become the mom to a beautiful, healthy baby boy named Charlie, I have had my eyes opened to a whole new world. I've watched my friends have kids and they always talked about "mommy brain" but I never could fully appreciate what it was. I was warned about it and truthfully it started when he was still in utero. In concept, I got it but not until you experience it do you ever really get it...literally. I find myself not focusing on conversations, trying so hard to listen but not able to really retain anything. It's getting better now that I can get a bit more sleep thankfully but I;m not sure I will ever fully get my full brain back.
But that's not the point of this post...I want to talk about what every mom probably feels but no one really talks about. It's called Mommy Guilt. No one ever warns you about Mommy Guilt when you are pregnant. Everyone talks about how wonderful you'll feel and how it will be the happiest time of your life. So you are automatically set up with false expectations.
Now don't get me wrong. I wouldn't trade parenthood for anything in the world and feel so blessed that God gave me this wonderful little boy. I hope we can have more children but it isn't easy the first time. There is a level of guilt you feel constantly...are you spending enough time with the baby? are you meeting their needs? are you doing the right things to help them develop? are you wrong to go back to work? are you holding them enough or too much? are you exercising? are you eating to lose the baby weight? are you spending enough time with your husband? There are all these questions that plague your brain all while operating on a minimal amount of sleep. And then to top it off, until you get your figure back or at least can button your pants without the use of a rubber band, you feel fat and frumpy. Not a good combination.
We as women rarely talk about this part of the "joy of parenthood". Is it because we're afraid of what people will say or think? Is it because too many people will respond back "but it's all worth it" and make you feel worse? (a little tip: never say that to a tired new mom). When asked "How are you? How's the baby?" we respond "It's wonderful!" all while thinking - "I need help! I'm sinking without a life line!" And that's hard for someone like me who tends to be very positive and likes to think I can handle anything life throws at me. If you are used to getting everything done and being highly productive, this can add even more to the Mommy Guilt syndrome.
In my experience, this leads to what is commonly known as post-partum depression. All that we thought we could do or all that we think we're expected to do doesn't get done and we feel very inadequate. Instead of doing a few things well, we now do everything mediocre. That can have a big affect on a woman's self-esteem.
This all leads to the "super mom" persona that many of us feel like we need to achieve. Here's what I'm learning - IT'S NOT POSSIBLE. To be super mom that is. I can't cook dinner every night, make it to the grocery store when we're out of milk, get to the bank when it's time to pay bills or make it to the gym consistently (just to name a few). And that's OK.
So if you're a new mom or about to be a new mom - it's OK if you can't get it all done! In fact, plan on not getting done most of what you used to. The important part is to focus on what really matters to you and for your family. If the laundry stays unfolded for two weeks, the dog hair piles up on the floor or you never make dinner or to the gym, life will go on. For me, spending time with Charlie before I go back to work, having a date night each week with my hubbie and the occasional visit to the gym (for mental sanity) are what's important to me. If I can get to those things each day then it was a good day. The rest I will get to later.