I don't care what other moms say, I love the newborn period. So much so that I often spend all day snuggling my baby. It makes sense. He was inside my body for nine months, and now I feel a bit lonely and empty when he's not in my arms. But despite this need to snuggle, there are a few things I make sure to do without my baby every single day, at least when I remember. My memory doesn't work so well these days.
I do things that allow me to feel "normal" again, like showering and putting on makeup. I stay up to date on current events like reading the news (even when it's freaking depressing) reading a new book, or catching up on my favorite shows so they don't get spoiled for me on social media. I also do little things that help me remember who I am (or who I was before I was simply "mom") like exercise and journaling.
While I don't judge other moms who spend their baby's first year perpetually snuggling or feeling trapped on the couch, under the weight of a sleeping baby, I know that doesn't work for me, and it would probably not be good for my mental health. I believe that motherhood doesn't have to mean martyrdom, and if we don't stake a claim to the time and space we need to feel happy and healthy, no one else will do it for us.
So, how do I maintain independence during the first months of my baby's life? Let me tell you.
During my last maternity leave I bought a sling that could be worn in the shower, to ensure that I had a chance to get one in, even when baby wouldn't let me put him down. While I love those moments, sometimes, I also love to shower alone. Mama needs to shave her legs.
Sometimes this is impossible. Babies seem to sense when you are sitting down for a meal and inconveniently need to be changed, fed, or held, while your food gets cold. I try to have at least one meal a day without my baby, he gets fewer crumbs on him that way.
All moms have had moments where they had to hold their babies (or in my case, to breastfeed my baby), while sitting on the toilet. I try to pee when the baby sleeps (or is it sleep when the baby pees?) I am so tired.
Put On Makeup
I love to read, but if I don't make time to do it, I won't. I prioritize reading fiction and staying up-to-date on current events, even when it would be easy to gaze adoringly at a newborn all day.
Snuggle With My Husband And My Other Kids
I try to fit in some snuggles every day with my other kids. I want them to know that I love them and that their new sibling doesn't change that. I also try to get some make-out time with my husband (at least until I get the all clear for sex). Our relationship is too important to me to let slide, while I am home with a newborn.
I try to write every day. Not just for my job, on social media, or to document milestones for the baby book. I also find time to write about how I feel as a woman and a mom and what's happening in my life, which surprisingly isn't singularly focused on baby.
So many people have asked me how I can work when my babies are little. It's kind of sexist. No one ever asks my husband that question. The answer is that I am privileged to have a flexible career, where I work primarily from home. While sometimes I work with a baby strapped to me, other times I let him sleep next to me or snuggle with someone else, while I write, advocate, and support other parents.
Having babies didn't change who I am, it actually motivates me to do more every day to try to make the world a better place for my family.