This Post-Childbirth Advice From My Mom Made It Easier For Me To Find My Balance
Once I’d been married for a few years, purchased a home, built a successful career for myself, and was nearing 30, it became impossible for me to ignore that having a baby felt like it should be the next big step in my life. But it wasn't so simple.
For years, I had worked tirelessly to bring my life to this point of balance and security for myself, and I was afraid that having a baby would change all of this. At the same time, I realized that this same security and stability was an indication that the time was right, and since motherhood had always been something I wanted for myself, my partner and I decided to go all in and start trying for a baby. And as it turns out, we didn't have to try for that long.
When I found out I was pregnant, the anxiety about balancing a career and a baby consumed me. I felt selfish for worrying about everything I might have to give up, and about the changes that come with having to put another's need before my own. I wondered if I could actually feel at peace with this monumental change. But ready or not, I was about to find out.
Elle came right on time, arriving on her due date. She was the perfect little six-pound, nine-ounce newborn, and I was over the moon with her and new motherhood from the moment I first met her. However, as enamored as I was with my little girl, the familiar anxiety of balancing a career and motherhood that I'd experienced when I was pregnant felt even stronger after Elle had arrived in this world. I liked the life I'd built for myself, and right away I was determined to make sure that Elle was an extension of it, not the center of it. My mind filled with stories of women giving up their careers and dreams to fulfill their roles as mothers, but even though I was now responsible for another life on top of my already endless responsibilities, I refused to lose myself in motherhood. I was going to have it all, and that's how my story was going to play out. Period.
I wondered if I could actually feel at peace with this monumental change. But ready or not, I was about to find out.
My first days of motherhood were 100 percent focused on my new baby — so much so that I hadn't washed my hair or changed out of sweat pants in ... a while. I was so in love with my daughter, but I was also craving some time without her. I must have somehow made this obvious, because I vividly recall my mom coming over to take care of Elle without me even needing to ask.
She could tell I needed a brief escape from what was beginning to feel like house arrest, so I took a few hours to go to the health department to order Elle's birth certificate, plus stop by the store for some essentials. This first time out by myself post-childbirth felt like a vacation, but it also felt foreign. Even though this little person was so new in my life, she had already become such an integral part of it.
Returning home, I felt like I was in totally over my head, but just in time, my mother stepped in with some words of advice. She told me that I was doing great and that this shift in the balance I was used to was natural. The piece of advice that stuck out to me most, however, was when she told me that as a mom, "you do what you can, and what you can't do can wait."
The plain fact that she said I was doing great gave me a much-needed new-mom ego boost, but now my mind was set on defining what my new balance would be. I needed to come up with a formula that perfectly balanced how much me time, work time, and baby time would equal a balanced mom life — but given that math was never my best subject, finding the solution for this problem was much more difficult than I had anticipated.
Math jokes aside, it was really my mother’s parenting style and the advice she gave me that began to calm my worries. When I was growing up, my mom was a great example of what it looks like to have a career and a family, which is the same struggle I found myself facing. She's always been the real-life example of being able to do it all — but not all at once — and I can recall times during my childhood when I saw her take time for her career, for her relationship, and for herself. Without a doubt, I can say that as her daughter I never felt a void, and I've always felt very loved by my mom, no matter how busy she was. The more I thought about it, the faster I realized that the answer to my balance equation was right there in front of me. I was raised to do it!
Now, after five years of motherhood and the addition of a second child and a second business, I've learned that even though I had such a beautiful example of balance growing up, it was, and still is, a challenge to find that sweet spot between my family and my career. I take on my new reality one day at a time, and remember to stop and enjoy the moments like baby Ever’s bath time. I use the same AVEENO® Baby Calming Comfort Lotion I used on Elle as a baby, since I learned with her that it's gentle enough for a baby's sensitive skin, and I love the Lavender & Vanilla scent. Bringing back some of Elle's daily routines with Ever reminds me of how fast it all goes. I tell myself to never forget to stop and take it all in, because at the end of the day, those little memories are all we have.
The best advice I can offer is that while I know firsthand you don't have to sacrifice your career and your needs when you become a mother, it's important to realize that not every day will feel like a perfect balance. Some days will be spent solely taking care of your family. Some days will be spent taking care of yourself, which I promise is an essential part of feeling like a more confident and capable mom. Some other days will be glorious, and you will reign over motherhood. Take those days with you to remind you that you’re one bad mama (in the good way!), and you can do it all — but maybe not every day.
This post is sponsored by AVEENO® Baby.