I’m under Construction

I recently read a blog post about a woman who lost her mojo and wanted it back.  It really resonated with me and how much of myself I felt was gone somewhere.  But where did I go?  Has the former self I knew left forever or is she in the process of evolution?  Hang up the “Under Construction” sign because whatever is happening I know one thing, I’m not the woman I once was.  For better or for worse change is happening.

Right now it doesn’t feel good although change they say rarely does.  I know I like the tried and true being a faithful stubborn Taurus 1 and having all the characteristics of the bull.  Having a baby is a HUGE change and sleep deprivation is real.  The biggest disruption thus far is my sleep or lack thereof and how much I feel it has rocked the core of my existence.

The warnings came in from friends and family while I was pregnant about the first 3+ months of sleepless nights.  I heard it but could not comprehend how bad it could be.  I’m not a person who relishes their sleep and needs 12 hours a night to feel good.  To be honest I could never understand how someone could sleep their day away.  I’ve had friends and roommates who could never get enough sleep and could nap at the drop of a hat.  Unfortunately if napping was a class I’d be rocking a D-.  I suck at it and once I’m up for the day I’m up.  It takes being sick or sleep deprived to delirium for me to day nap.

Growing up in my family consisted of getting up early (not farm family early) but definitely by 8am.  On Saturday mornings my dad would take me and my sisters downtown Richland Center.  This is the small town in southwest WI where I was born and grew up as a kid.  We’d get doughnuts and go to the hardware store to pick up supplies for whatever home project he had planned for the weekend.  I have fond memories of morning, frosted cake donuts and the smell of wood a hardware store emits.  I still love the smell of a hardware store.

In high school the bedroom light would flick on and off in a strobe light effect with the not so quiet reminder that we would be forfeiting our shower/bathroom time if we didn’t get up.  Being one of 3 girls in a house with one shower, bathroom time and hot water were a precious commodity.  I’d get up and get ready for my day which always made me feel ready for anything.

I am left to wonder was I born a morning/day person or was I made to be a morning person via the family I grew up in.  This would be a study for epigenetics.  Here is a link to learn more on that fascinating topic that interests me greatly. http://www.whatisepigenetics.com/what-is-epigenetics/

Either way I know one thing for sure, being a crappy napper + getting up 3 or more times in a night to care for a baby will make you lose yourself.  It took everything I had to do the “normal” everyday stuff like dishes, laundry, cooking and grocery shopping.

I’m a creature of habit with a mean case of ADD. I have routines daily that verge on the edge of OCD about tidiness.  It is how I’ve learned to harness my ADD and keep it from making me crazy.  Dishes and laundry piling up were just not an option for me regardless of the sleepless nights.

In order to nap it would have to be after I tidy up and do the basic adult things i.e. dishes, laundry, make the bed so on and so forth.  I would lay in bed wide eyed and awake thinking about how the bottles need to be washed and I’d have to clear the sink to give Theodore his bath later.  Crazy I know, but I don’t think I’m alone. I think other new moms are in this life boat with me.  Secretly suffering and swearing under their breaths when people tell them “It can wait, do it later and relax.” Who will do it later? Who wants to do a huge load of dishes when you’re working on limited sleep?  Do it as you go and it is manageable that is what I’ve learned and what has worked for me pre-baby.

I am a mid-minimalist who believes everything has a home in your home and should be there waiting when you need it.  Things should not lay strewn about cluttering up every surface.  I rather like having a surface to set my coffee on when I go to the living room.  I will blog more on my ADD, mild OCD and mid-minimalism later since I know I can fill a whole post about this subject.

I wasn’t ready to give up the organized life I was used to and I’m still not.  I used to get up at 4am every day, eat a healthy breakfast, hit the gym and come home to get ready for my day feeling energized and invigorated with all the possibilities.  I would blow out my hair, do my makeup and pick out a slamming outfit that made me feel polished and capable to take on anything.  I did these things for myself and enjoyed doing them.  Not because society tells me I have to but because it is just what makes me feel like the best version of myself.

There were dreams, ideas, goals and it felt like I was making strides toward accomplishing them.  I was an eternally positive person who saw solutions to every problem and cared about everything that came my way.  Really I was extraordinary in many ways and I miss this version of myself.  As Theodore grows up I want him to know this person.

So here I am a new mom with a whole new list of things to fit into a day and night.  What’s going to hit the chopping block?  My needs have hit the chopping block.  With a thud there went my personal appearance and the desire and energy to care.  I throw on sweatpants I wore the day before, throw my hair in a messy bun and walk by every mirror wondering where my eyebrows and eyelashes have gone with no makeup on.  Who is this?

Another thud and there on the floor lay my energy to exercise or take my dog for the much needed walk he so patiently waits for.  Thud, thud, thud, my sex drive, career goals, and ability to care if problems get solved.  I’m over here solving the problem of where I’ve gone and it’s a doozy of a problem.

How do women have more than 1 kid and manage to come out the other end as more than a shell a human once lived in? A hologram of what once was a woman with dreams and goals and that certain something that made her glow.  Questions dance through my head about how you are supposed to fit all of the “Adult” stuff in and still have time to be the best you.  How do women do it? Is there a secret world of house keepers and nannies who come in and allow these women to get it all done and still have time to aspire for more?  Yes that must be it.  I know I would never be happy living in a cluttered dirty mess.  I’d rather live every day with a wedgie I can’t get out.

My boyfriend Danny and I have chosen together to have me stay at home with Teddy for an undetermined amount of time while he works and pays the bills.  I say undetermined because I am supported in staying home to raise our son for as long or as short as I want to.  Therefore my job is not the 9-5 Monday through Friday that ends and begins with time in between to relax.  I wasn’t so naïve to think I’d have such time to relax from the moment I heard his heartbeat at the first ultrasound.   Instead I stay at home with our baby for sometimes long stretches of 48 hours or more.  I exist sleep deprived in a clean house with a happy baby and a semi hollow soul that is begging for more.  More of what I don’t know yet.  What will my future self look like?

Some may say this sounds like a textbook case of postpartum depression.  But I love my baby beyond words.  His happiness is the driving force behind all I do from the moment I heard his sweet cry for the first time.  His needs and wants, his happiness shot straight to the top of my list of priorities and will stay there as a fixed point on my life compass.  Due north is everything I can do to make him healthy and happy.

We made changes to the budget and living expenses when we knew Teddy was coming and would become a 1 income family.  Changes that work for us like an apartment that includes heat and cutting out the fat.  Sometimes I feel like the fat are things that made me the princess I was.  Those could be the things I am mourning.  It is hard to have dreams of travel and moving up in the world when you are toiling away at home raising a child on one income.  Everything is about perspective.  That doesn’t mean I don’t miss my pedicures and shopping trips to Sephora to get the newest NARS palette because I do.

I think we are quick in society to have a label and then treatment for things.  Why must we label new moms as having postpartum depression so quickly?  I feel like it is normal to feel frustrated at the loss of ourselves in the new equation life has given us.

The obvious fact is clear that choices must be made as time is a limited resource in a day. The choice to work or not work thereby having more money or less. To use daycare or not. To spend time on children or careers. You cannot have it all, at least not today.  This doesn’t mean as a new mom or an experienced mom we won’t toil with these issues and have a feeling of loss with whatever gets cut out regardless of what is gained in the balance. I guess that balance is what we’re all after and somehow we all feel a bit off kilter. So here I sit blogging about being off kilter and not being able to have it all, at least not today.

Setting priorities and weighing goals against each other in a never ending possibly unsolvable equation of time vs. energy divided by real concrete limitations. Limitations of how much time there is in a day and how you will spend it. How happy you are with your choices is all about making peace with what you will lose and what you gain in the balance. You take weight off one side of the scale to balance the other. It’s life so they say.  I will be happy I have so many resources and opportunities to balance as some have much fewer of both.

As I walked into Children’s Hospital recently everything gained a new perspective. I am blessed no matter how the scale appears day to day. We have a healthy happy beautiful baby who laughs and giggles at the ceiling fan in our bedroom. As I watched children in wheelchairs get pushed into the hospital it all came to me like 20/20 vision. I could have a sick child and nothing else would matter. Not my appearance or lack of a much needed vacation. The better car, my career goals, my lacking fitness expectations none of it would matter. All that would matter is getting my son better.

So as I continue to balance what was yesterday and what will be tomorrow I will sit here today and feel blessed. Blessed for my healthy child, my options aplenty and the ginormous amount of support and love I am surrounded with.

I hope this helps any mom out there that is looking for herself while life has you under construction.  Even if you are already rebuilt maybe I just helped you feel a little better about where you ended up at the grand reveal.

Really I see now that in order to grow stronger we all must take time being under construction.  It is how we get better and gain new wisdom and insight.  Writing this has reminded me I haven’t gone anywhere.  I’m still there just with a stronger foundation, a more vast perspective and less makeup.  NARS palette you will be mine one day just maybe not today and that’s OK.

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