Sometimes I think about my old life…The life I had before I became a mother. I did not know that becoming a mother, in some strange form, meant entirely losing a part of yourself. Is this normal? Do all moms lose themselves along the way? Am I doing something wrong because my life does not belong to me anymore? Why don’t I care about me the way I used to? HAVE I LET MYSELF GO AND AM I GOING TO END UP ON MY 600LB LIFE SOMEDAY BECAUSE I HAVE THE BREASTFEEDING MUNCHIES AND AM EATING 8 SANDWICHES A DAY, YES OR NO?!!!?
After my Lucy was born, I lost the part of myself where I would sit on the couch and watch Kardashian reruns and scroll on Pinterest for hours on end. I lost going shopping just for the heck of it, because I had money and nothing really important to spend it on. I lost laying in bed in the morning and scrolling mindlessly on my phone until I was so disgusted with my lazy self I forced myself to get up at 1pm. I lost BEING BORED. I lost sitting at work and devoting myself to helping others, and not having anything to rush home to that depended on me for their survival! I lost curling my hair, buying new makeup, and starting new hobbies. I lost laying in the sun for 3 hours to get nice and bronzy. I lost all the lazy selfish things that were cushy and beautiful. Those things left me on the car ride home from the hospital, sitting next to my 4 lb baby in the backseat of my car.
Did you know that chemically, there is an old you, pre- motherhood…, and a new you, post birth? Our babies that we grow in our bellies literally change the connections in our brains FOREVER. When a mother hears her child in distress or hears her baby cry, the ‘alarm system'(amygdala) in a mother’s brain starts to flash bright red and sends chemicals (oxytocin, adrenaline) surging through us that in turn illicit a physical response in our bodies, UNTIL we respond. Literally. That pain you feel in your chest when you can’t comfort your screaming baby? It is a REAL PAIN.
*Hot little background snippet: The amygdala instinctively was used to warn our cavewoman grandmothers about a threat. Saber tooth tiger running your way? DROP EVERYTHING AND RUN. Our cavewoman grandma’s unessential functions stopped. She did not have to take a pee all of a sudden, or focus on that headache she has had all day back in the cave. The brain sends chemicals and hormones out that tells the body to send 75% of the oxygen to her major muscle groups for her to MOVE to save her life. She may get selective hearing, hyper focused vision, not feel pain, etc. (This is the same thing that happens in a trauma response)*
So this same fun little survival brain function rears itself a few ways…. my favorites: being saber tooth tigers, and babies. Crazy that our body knows how to respond to a child in need? Yes. Mother’s brains are wired this way…we live and breathe to keep our young alive. It was already mapped out for us before our little ones were even a thought! We are wired to love.
So if I am wired this way as a mother, and it is instinctual to literally have my brain be flashing “LUCY LUCY LUCY LUCY” all day everyday….why do I feel like I’m wandering in uncharted territory? And why in heavens name did I think I was wired to gladly watch Kardashian reruns and scroll on Pinterest for hours just for fun?
I thought I was a pretty unselfish person..I loved helping others as a social worker, I was good at comforting friends, I loved making others happy. CUE MOTHERHOOD.
Where did all my time go before the baby? Why did I spend meaningless hours on meaningless things? What was my life before? What did I stress about? What did I think was important? Because currently, the important things to me right now are sweeping puffs off the kitchen floor 7 times per day, and researching what the best baby butt cream is and if Target or Walmart has better value per oz.
I think I assumed that I could still own my life and still be a mother. I was not prepared to lose myself and start living my life for someone else. (When I say selfish- I do not mean this in a negative connotation. I mean it literally. Self-ish. SELF. Focused on ourselves.) Here is what i didn’t realize though:
I lost the most selfish part of me that I didn’t really even know existed, until I lived and breathed for someone else.
I am wired to live and breathe for someone else now. I have completely lost my old selfish self, but I am more whole in a way I cannot explain. When Lucy puts her cheek on my cheek, I think it fills up the missing part in my heart that was once filled with selfish comfort. When she starts clapping her chubby little hands together and looks my way to see if I’m proud of her- that fills up that missing part even more. When she ‘pretends’ to bite my finger and then starts lolling her head off, that fills that space up too. And pretty soon, my heart is overflowing with little moments that bring me a new kind of overwhelming joy, that only us moms know exist.
I think it is not only important, but VITAL to mourn our selfish selves, our pre-motherhood selves. It can take days, months, even years to accept this new role, AND THAT’S OKAY! It’s not like we were intentionally trying to be selfish! We were just living normal lives, doing normal things. Guess what? It’s okay to miss your old life, before the sleepless nights and unwashed hair.
I also think it’s ABSOLUTELY vital to do self care and treat yo’self Tom & Donna style, and to remind ourselves that we are still whole. We exist, we are important, we are needed, we are loved, we are unique, we are whole. As mothers, we are more whole as our “lost selves” than we were before we became mothers. I truly believe that.
So yes, I have completely lost my old self, but I have lost it to a new wholeness and I am slowly understanding why I am wired to love…to experience this new joy I never knew existed.
designed by Michelle gifford creative
powered by Showit
We’re excited you are here, and we love you! Our hope is that we can keep this place uplifting for all types of moms in all seasons of life! So when you have 2 seconds, we hope you'll make some friends, kick back, and stay awhile!