Picture this: you’re a 21 year old college student. You have a job, great friends, and you and your high school sweetheart found your way back to one another after all these years. You’re not a hardcore partier, but you definitely go with the flow and won’t turn down a night out with your friends. Your biggest problems in life are paying rent on time and studying for midterms. You think you have it all figured out and you know just about everything -you’re 21 after all! Then suddenly, you’re late. Not for that stupid midterm- NO. Your PERIOD, you’re LATE. You of course talk to your roommates about it, and you agree to take a test per their recommendation. You’re terrified. Can’t be positive, right? Wrong. “Pregnant.” The bold letters read. You cry, laugh, cry a little more, then call your mom. She’s such an angel, by the way. Says she’ll support you no matter what! And in that moment, everything stops. “No matter what?” That’s when you realize. No matter what you choose, your life WILL be changed forever. Mine did, and that was me.
I struggled with the idea of losing who I was, and becoming everything to a tiny certain someone else. In fact, I vividly remember telling myself that it was okay to MOURN the life I had before baby. “EVERYTHING’S about to change,” they’d say. “You know guys can’t live that selfish lifestyle anymore, right?” Although I’d heard so much worse, (I was pregnant and un-wed in the Deep South.. you can only imagine the horrors I heard about my character) my anxiety filled to its rim, hearing these words of “wisdom.”
The world stopped when she was born. She was beautiful -still is. My worries and self-doubt stopped for a moment. I didn’t care who I was or would be pre-baby or postpartum in that moment. I had her and that’s all that mattered. My happy ending came to a screeching halt as I fell victim of Postpartum Depression and Anxiety. My insecurities of losing myself so I could be her everything had heightened. No -skyrocketed. As I came to terms with living and breathing only motherhood, I stopped taking care of myself. What was the point? As long as my baby was happy and healthy, that’s all that mattered. I think having that mindset made me fall deeper in the hole. It made me angry, but I grabbed the broom, lifted the rug, and swept it under.
During my own personal chaos, we moved across the country. East Coast to West. A new start sounded wonderful. I WANTED to live and breathe motherhood, now. I had accepted that I would no longer be the same person I once used to be. Told myself I shouldn’t want to be her anymore. This was my new life, after all. I met a few people that seemed to embody the same ideology, which fueled my fire. I now wanted to be as great of a mom as them. The Elite. I hid the ugly parts of my motherhood. Told myself I was being transparent with my peers. The weight of it all was getting heavy. I started to miss her. You know, HER -the old me. The me I made myself promise to let go.
I wanted to take care of myself again and do things that brought me joy. I decided to manifest my self-love. I prayed for patience and clarity while trying to figure out who I had become. Of course mothers who practice any form of self love feel the dreaded “mom-guilt.” It hit me like a ton of bricks. Just as I had finally started to give myself a tiny bit grace, I quietly became disgusted with myself for wanting something outside of motherhood. I had a breakdown -I passed my mirror one day and decided to inspect my postpartum body. All of my self hate resurfaced. Every mark, every new curve, I realized they weren’t going away. I would never be the exact same as I had been pre-baby on the outside, so why did I deserve to be anything but a mother on the inside? Motherhood was the greatest gift, how dare I yearn for anything else? I went into my closet and threw away every single piece of clothing that wasn’t deemed “mom appropriate.” One of the meanest things I’ve ever done to myself.
As the fog of my postpartum depression started to lift, I realized I didn’t know who I’d become. I didn’t particularly like her, to be quite honest. I had been so cruel to myself, and so childish for creating such high expectations. I knew I would never meet those expectations, so why did I continue to set myself up for failure? I craved clarity within myself. I wanted to understand who I was. I did not fit in with women my age who hadn’t started families yet, and I certainly didn’t fit in with the elite mothers I had crossed paths with. I started my self love journey again, I deserved to love every part of me. Slowly but surely I’d figure it out along the way.. Hopefully.
It wasn’t until I decided to have dinner with a fellow mother, I happened to meet on social media, that it suddenly clicked. We talked for hours (over tacos and margaritas, of course) about the importance of keeping the person you were outside of motherhood alive and WELL. It was something she actually prioritized. I felt such a weight lifted. I wasn’t the only one that yearned for it! I finally grasped that I AM MORE THAN JUST A MOTHER. My adolescent mind had tricked me into thinking I needed to be a super mom to compensate for starting a family at a young age. They were right about everything changing, and I was right about motherhood being the greatest gift, but no one tells you that you don’t have to be just that -a mother. I love fashion, I love makeup, I love thrift shopping, I freaking love margaritas and most of all, I love being a mother.