My journey into motherhood was a traumatic one. In my first trimester, I was advised to terminate my son and then his first year and a half of life was non-stop emergency room visits, hospitalizations, medications and complications.
Each day for me, was an act of selflessness and frankly just trying to survive, so that I could care for my son’s needs. So that when my son turned one years old, I came to the realization that I was feeling lost. I didn’t know this person I had become and I didn’t like her.
I wanted to feel joy, be present and reconnect to myself again. I had to take action, so my journey began and I am still in the thick of it today.
These are the 6 ways that I reconnect to myself.
How do I not lose myself as a mom?
Prevention is the best medicine right? Well, the unpredictability of pregnancy and motherhood, coupled with the challenges we face raising kids in this crazy world, makes it extremely difficult not to. This job requires so much. With every full night sleep and girls’ night out you give up, you probably will lose yourself. But there is power in having an understanding of what is to come so that you’re not surprised and you can be prepared with a come back plan.
How do I find myself again after being a mom?
This is where your journey starts. You will not be exactly the same person you used to be. And if you think about it, you probably won’t even want to. There is beauty to be enjoyed in where you are right now, your new responsibilities and the greater wisdom that comes with it.
If you are still fighting to get back to the woman you once knew – you are fighting a losing battle.
For me it was my old weight. I have always been extremely careful with my diet and exercise and I have always been thin (not necessarily healthy but I’ve always been thin). I did not know this new larger body. My identity was wrapped up in a smaller my size and without it I felt lost, unworthy and unhappy.
But I am embracing this new body, the body that nourished and birthed my wonderful son Story. How can I deny the beauty in this new body of mine?
2. Rediscover hobbies or activities that brought you enjoyment
Ask yourself what brings you joy? You may have to think back to when you were a child. What did you enjoy before you were given the name “Mom”? Try them out again, they don’t have to be complex, in fact the simpler the better so you don’t have an excuse to get started right away.
Maybe you loved watching trashy TV shows, enjoyed building things, puzzles or gab sessions with a girlfriend.
For me, it is makeup. The process of applying it and seeing the final result, brings me so much enjoyment. But, I put it aside because I had nowhere to go. But so what? What rule says I must have somewhere to go in order to put makeup on? When I let go of self-imposed rules and picked up the brushes, I felt like Casie again.
3. A moment of silence everyday
Do not underestimate the power of a moment of silence. Whether you’re able to carve out just one deep breath, 5 minutes or an hour, it’s powerful, it’s restorative, it’s life changing. It can help you power through the rest of your day. Make it a priority.
Right now, my son is a toddler and he’s in the “Mommy where are you?” stage. If I am not directly in his sight, he’s asking where I am. Now, I cherish this stage because one soon, he may not want me around, but I still need the resetting power of silence. And I get my 5 minutes when I am taking a shower. Ooh, how I enjoy those sweet semi-silent moments.
I clear my head and the struggles of the day wash down the drain. And when I step out, I a new me.
4. Surround yourself with the right thoughts and influences
Motherhood is a team sport. You cannot win by yourself. But if you don’t have access or the ability to meet with people in person, the internet has made it easy to build and connect with a tribe of likeminded women in the trenches like you are. You are going to need your team to help build you up, believe in you and encourage you. And sometimes you just need to vent to someone who understands.
But just as the internet can bring about a tribe, be careful of the content and people that you consume. People use the internet to showcase their life highlights and everyone claims to be an expert. So if you feel jealousy, envy, unworthiness creeping into your spirit, do an audit of what and who you are consuming. If it’s not uplifting, encouraging, making you laugh or educating you, then cut it off. I’m serious about this. Negative and self-deprecating thoughts disguised as “constructive criticism” is a major roadblock on the journey to reconnecting to yourself.
5. Ask for help
Remember I said that motherhood is a team sport. Well, reach out to the team and ask for the help you need. Even if you actually can do something yourself, ask for help any way. It’s good practice for when you need to ask for the big favors.
My mother was gracious enough to retire early so that she could come help me take care of my son during the day so that I could go back to work after maternity leave. Well, 2 weeks into work I was laid off, but my mom still stayed on. I felt so unworthy of the help she was willing to give just because I was no longer employed. So, instead of graciously receiving her help, I was trying to do it all myself to prove that I still had worth without a job.
My still out of whack hormones probably had a hand in this wrong thinking, but I learned a valuable lesson – to accept the help you’re given. It’s a blessing to you and also to the one offering it. And I am no longer in the business of blocking blessings.
I cannot move off this point without saying that the help you need may be from a professional. If you can, connect with a therapist. All postpartum women should receive free therapy, the fourth trimester (really, the whole first year), is a roller coaster and having someone to help guide you through it is so necessary. If you don’t know where to start in finding one, look into one of the online services that can match you to a therapist, like BetterHelp or Talkspace.
6. Give yourself grace
Don’t make the mistake in thinking that once you decide to begin the journey of reconnecting to yourself that you will constantly be moving forward. Your journey will have starts and stops, you’ll have great days and horrible ones. You might even have to start over a few times. Understand that it’s normal, but do not let it stop you from starting or prevent your from picking yourself back up if you fall.