Why Do Moms Need Help Staying Sane?
Motherhood, especially when you get to stay at home with your kids, is always described as a gift, a blessing, a time to cherish. So why do moms sometimes feel like we're going crazy?
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However, after a few years of incredibly-sporadic posting, I began to realize that, despite the quasi-erotic appeal of a perfectly-folded panoply of rainbow-order tee shirts, the thing that was actually driving me to reach out to other moms (i.e. potential internet strangerfriends) was much deeper than that.
The Story of How I Accidentally Liked My Baby
I wasn't going to give up my drive just because I decided to procreate, right?
Well, then I gave birth and seriously messed up: I fell absolutely, head-over-heels in love with my new daughter.
Now this doesn't sound like a big problem (and it technically isn't a problem at all), but it was incredibly problematic. Here I had all these plans, goals, and desires to be a career woman, but soon after giving birth I found out I had no desire to be away from my daughter.
(My husband asked me in the hospital if I "liked her" yet, as one of my irrational pregnancy fears had been that I wouldn't like the baby. My response was a very heartfelt "I'm not sure yet, but I'm 100% positive I'll claw the face off anyone who tries to get near her...". He laughed and assured me that was a "yes".)
Why Liking My Baby was Such a Big Problem
But what happens to that career-driven, soul-hungry, purposeful side of you when you have these little humans and become absolutely obsessed with them? Does it just go away?
In my experience, the answer is no. You love your new role as "mom" and you would rather die than give up a single hour with this new little critter you've created, but that part of you that wants to have a purpose, bring home the bacon, and be important in its own right doesn't go away either.
So this puts you in a quandary, but you don't notice it right away. Usually you're so sleep-deprived, hopped up on new-mommy-hormones, and swimming in diapers and swaddling blankets that you don't notice the void right away.
For me it hit when my husband switched jobs soon after our daughter was born. He'd come home each day and tell me all the interesting things that happened, all the amazing things he'd accomplished, and (like the awesome, loving husband he is) ask how my day went. I had nothing to say.
You can't really make your day sound glamorous, interesting, or important when you're a stay at home mom. "Well, I managed to fold the entire load of laundry during the baby's nap so when she woke up I got to feed her without worrying about a laundry avalanche burying us both in clean-but-unfolded baby clothes, I'm down to only three cruise-ship-sized, post-pardom maxi pads a day now so I think I might be able to walk around the block without waddling, and I was really ambitious so I managed to wipe down the kitchen counter while breastfeeding. Huzzah!" Doesn't really sound like an accomplishment. (Even though it really, really is.)
This is when I started to notice the feeling that I was going slowly out of my mind.
My Parenting Problem, Described via Food
That's why it's so hard to explain why it isn't totally fulfilling all of my self-esteem needs.
The metaphor I've finally decided upon is that taking care of my family is like icing. Icing is the sweetest, most wonderful thing on the planet. It tastes better than anything else and its presence makes almost anything else taste better.
However, if all you ate was icing, you would never be truly full. You need cake too.
The cake, in this metaphor, is whatever makes you feel fulfilled, valuable, and purposeful as a human being (that person you were before you became so-and-so's mom). The fact that you need cake does not in any way diminish your love of the icing. In fact, it compliments it, gives it structure, and makes it taste even better.
So How Does this Relate to The Stay Sane Mom?
I had to go through the process of finding out how to feed that part of my soul that really needed to find some personal purpose, meaning, and identity, even though 159% of my time, energy, and effort was happily dedicated to being a mom.
I'm by no means done, but I've learned a lot so far on my journey. This blog is an homage to that journey. I hope it will help other moms (whether first-time, new moms or battle-scarred, mom veterans with stories that would put mine to shame).
If my lessons can help anyone else who has just realized that momming doesn't come with a guide book, then I've fulfilled my purpose.
If you don't see answers to whatever problem is making you feel crazy, drop me a line in the comments (or via email/facebook/carrier pigeon/whatever) and I'll do my best to look into it with my special mix of research and sarcasm. (You can't get through the day without sarcasm. Or, you could, but why would you want to?)
Hope to hear from you soon,
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About the Author
Founder | Contributor
Liz (or Dr. Mommy, as her toddler started calling her after learning what a PhD was) is the happily sleep-deprived mom of a baby boy (and professional raccoon noise impersonator), a sparkle-clad toddlernado, a teenage stepdaughter, the canine embodiments of Pinky and The Brain, and a rabbit of unusual size. During nights and naptimes, she uses her PhD in business psychology as an author, speaker, and consultant. She also serves as an executive and principal for three companies, two of which she co-founded with her very patient (and equally exhausted) husband.
My Motto: All I can control is how hard I work.
Motto: All I can control is how hard I work.
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