Once a mom, you’re always a mom, right? Well, of course. I was a mom when I lost my first baby to a miscarriage. I was a mom while in the throes of pregnancy and I will be a mom for the remainder of my life, whether my daughter outlives me or not. For the last two and a half years, I’ve learned every day what kind of mom I am, and what kind of mom I want to be.
When I was pregnant, I researched a lot on newborn sleep, breastfeeding, safe products for babies and even pinned some articles on Pinterest on the best activities to do with your newborn (which was basically getting down on their level and singing ridiculous songs while performing infant massage). I brought my daughter home from the hospital, nursing every two hours and sleeping in hour and a half blocks of time around the clock. I ate food over her head while binge-watching Netflix, absentmindedly sweeping crumbs off her face while she slept on me. I joined mom groups, both online and in person, and continued to sing ridiculous songs to her, only now in a circle of other moms all singing the same ridiculous thing to their own babies.
I loved every minute of it.
I loved being a mom, and making small talk at the park, letting others coo over her and discussing the fine art of removing boogers from minuscule noses. I loved reading articles on breastfeeding because it was incredibly difficult for me, and troubleshooting it helped me feel more confident. Get-togethers with friends now consisted of talking about our kids, occasionally about our husbands and less commonly, about our own hopes and dreams.
From the time my daughter was a year and a half, until she reached her second birthday, my patience started slowly being chipped away at. My little baby who used to lay in my arms and doze off, was now screeching at the top of her lungs and made it her mission to run away from me no less than twenty-two times a day — bonus points if it was in public and involved moving cars and judging eyes.
It was the first time I felt like a wife, a lover, a woman, and not simply 'Mom' or in my toddler’s eyes, 'The One With The Milk.'
Suddenly, I found myself needing more “me time.” I found myself wanting to escape more once my husband got home and I could be free of the tantrums.
Here’s the thing: I’m always going to be a mom. But I don’t always think of myself as a mom. Case in point: my first night I spent away from the baby was a date night with my husband. My parents took her for the night and I remember glasses of wine, candles and a fair amount of love-making. It was the first time I felt like a wife, a lover, a woman, and not simply “Mom” or in my toddler’s eyes, “The One With The Milk.”
After that night (a night my husband and I try to recreate every so often), I have given myself some grace to sort of forget about motherhood every once in awhile. I can go out with my friends who don’t have kids and we can share an appetizer and discuss movies, our sex lives, and how we’re probably the only ones left in the world who still watch Survivor.
I love the fact that I can escape this identity from time to time.
Even in my job as a freelance writer, I can take a few hours and forget about potty training and write about the women’s health issues that are important to me. My daughter is safe and happy at daycare, but while she’s there, I let my mind wander away from motherhood and into how I can delve in deeper with my writing business.
I love the fact that I can escape this identity from time to time. The truth is, motherhood can feel like a never-ending job. But putting the baby to bed, having a glass of wine with my husband while intertwining our legs together makes me feel like a wife again. One whose breasts don’t sag from nursing and who wasn’t just washing the hair of a screaming ungrateful toddler that evening. I think it’s so important for us as mothers to steal away from that identity from time to time. It doesn’t mean we aren’t still their mamas, or that we don’t love them unconditionally, or even that we are being selfish—it simply gives us that time to recharge and reconnect with others in our life that are important too.
And Mom, you are important. And every one of us live our life a little bit differently. But if spending that time away, *not* thinking of yourself as a mom is what you need in order to become a better human being, than by all means, forget your role as “mommy” for awhile and go do what makes you happy.
I know I’m a better mom for it. Just as long as I’m home in time for Survivor.