Sadly, the words "motherhood" and "sacrifice" seem to be somewhat synonymous. The moment I told friends, family members and acquaintances that I was pregnant and planning on becoming someone's mom, I heard about all the sacrifices I would inevitably be making. It didn't take long for me to buy into the idea that I was going to be giving up a lot (of myself, my future, my needs and my wants) in the name of parenthood. Thankfully, the sacrifices I thought I had to make my first year as a mom were unnecessary, unwarranted and completely uncalled for.
While it's somewhat of a romantic notion to talk about all that a mother sacrifices for her child, it's just another unrealistic standard placed on women who makes the life choice to procreate. You cannot, mentally or physically, give everything of yourself to another human being. You just, you know, can't. It took me about two weeks of zero sleep, constant crying, unreasonable arguments and a few too many mental breakdowns to realize that in order to take care of my son, I had to take care of myself first. I couldn't sacrifice "everything," because then I would have nothing left to give.
So while it's honorable to say and even more honorable to try, I implore every mother to ditch the notion that a "good mom" should be a martyr and, instead, take care of herself. So, with that in mind, here are just a few things you don't have to sacrifice during your first year of motherhood (or, you know, ever).
I Didn't Have To Sacrifice Sleep (No, Really)
I mean, yes I was going to be sleeping a little (read: a lot) less than I was when I didn't push a child out of my body. However, the overplayed trope about never, ever, sleeping? Yeah, that's not entirely accurate.
I couldn't take care of my baby or breastfeed exclusively or recover from labor and delivery, without sleep and rest. I needed to be unapologetic about wanting and needing a certain amount of sleep, which meant my partner can and did step up to share the burden. When we both lost sleep, I found that I was still able to maintain a certain amount of sweet, sweet unconsciousness.
I Didn't Have To Sacrifice My Self-Care
The idea that I had to sacrifice every single part of myself, including my self-care, in order to be a "good mom" just wasn't true. I was a better mother to my son when I took care of myself. I needed time to relax and focus on myself and do things that benefited me, and only me. Killing myself in the name of motherhood was only going to hurt my son and his continued wellbeing.
I Didn't Have To Sacrifice Sex
Newsflash: parents still have sex. No, really. It happens.
I mean, yes, it took a while because I needed to heal after giving birth and I needed to reconnect with the body that housed a tiny growing fetus for over nine months. However, my partner and I still have a very healthy, very passionate and very fulfilling post-baby sex life.
I Didn't Have To Sacrifice My Friendships
This potential sacrifice was, honestly, the one that scared me the most. My friends have been the foundation of my life for so long, and I was so worried that having a baby and a new family was going to put distance between us and, as a result, end our friendships.
Thankfully, that wasn't the case. My friends and I don't have to make the same life choices — whether it's have a baby or get married or travel the world or start a career — in order to still support one another and be in one another's lives.
I Didn't Have To Sacrifice My Alone Time
Obviously my "alone time" goes hand-in-hand with my self-care. Being touched out as a new mom is a very, very real thing. When I was co-sleeping and breastfeeding on demand and working-from-home and literally being touched by a tiny mini-human every hour of every day, I craved independence and, you know, solitary confinement.
Thankfully, being a mom didn't mean I had to give up my bodily autonomy (forever, anyway). I found a way to spend some time by myself, and that was like getting back to neutral. I was better equipped to give my son everything he needed, when I had everything I needed, too.
I Didn't Have To Sacrifice The Occasional Cocktail
I chose and was able to breastfeed, so I had convinced myself that I still wouldn't be able to have a sip of alcohol, even after I was done with the whole pregnancy thing. Yeah, that's not true.
Even if you're breastfeeding exclusively, you can indulge in a glass of wine or a beer. That first sip of mom's "special juice" was like drinking from the fountain of youth. I swear.
I Didn't Have To Sacrifice Nights Out With Friends
Just like I didn't have to sacrifice my friendships entirely, I didn't have to sacrifice nights out with my friends, either. Like, at all.
I could still enjoy the occasional happy hour or go to a sports bar for Monday Night Football. My social life didn't cease to exist, it just took a little postpartum hiatus and was less hectic than it was pre-baby. (Which, honestly, was kind of nice because Netflix is a thing.)
I Didn't Have To Sacrifice Romance
My partner and I weren't able to attend fancy dinners or go to movies or concerts or indulge in the date nights we used to enjoy (and took for granted) but we still found ways to be super romantic with one another.
I mean, clearly the most romantic words ever uttered to another human being are, "I'll take the baby. You sleep in." #Swoon
I Didn't Have To Sacrifice Being A Pet Owner
My son and our family cat did not, and I mean did not, get along when they first met. In fact, it took about a year for the two to warm up to one another. I was so afraid that I would have to give my cat to another home, because she wouldn't stop scratching my son and he wouldn't leave her alone.
Thanks to a few cat-owning friends who also have children, some internet resources and a lot of patience and vigilance, the two became best buds and now I have have the best of both words: an awesome cat and an awesome son.
I Didn't Have To Sacrifice My Mental Health
I know it's normal part of the "mom lexicon" to talk about how your children are "driving you crazy" and you're "going insane" and motherhood is just draining. Is it true? Oh, of course and sometimes on a pretty regular basis. However, you don't have to sacrifice your mental health in the name of motherhood. In fact, that's the last damn thing you should ever sacrifice (for anything), because without your mental health you are completely useless to yourself and others.
I didn't have to let motherhood "drive me crazy." Nope.