Category Archives: New Mom

Making Time for Me

April 21, 2014

As a mom, most of my waking hours – and some of my sleeping hours – are spent working or taking care of those I love. Working in an office or cooking and cleaning at home, sending emails and wiping dirty bottoms and runny noses, my days are not my own.

And I love it.

I love being a wife and mom. I love the messy joy, the sticky hugs and the wet kisses. I love planning meals and birthday parties. I don’t love the dishes and laundry, so if you know anyone who’d like to volunteer for those tasks, I’m all ears.

And yet, even with all the joy and fulfillment being a mom brings, I have needs to be met. Making time to care for oneself can seem impossible or selfish but in reality the value of “me time” is immeasurable. Because when I am in a healthy place – physically, emotionally and spiritually – I am best able to care for my family.

Creative Commons — photo by Adrian Serghie

Creative Commons — photo by Adrian Serghie

Here are five ways I’ve found for keeping the “me” in Mommeeee happy and healthy:

  • Get dressed. Even on days I’m not going to the office, I try to get showered and dressed before my husband leaves for work. Starting my day off with a tiny bit of privacy – while he watches Reagan – and a lot of hot water sets the tone for a better day.
  • Take a break. When possible, do something that you enjoy during nap time. For me this might include a short dance-workout via video, reading a good book or my Bible, taking a nap, trying out a new recipe or watching one of my favorite reality shows with a bowl of fresh popcorn (embarrassing confession – I’m a sucker for all things reality-tv).
  • Make a plan. Schedule a weekly or monthly activity that gets you out of the house for some fun with other adults. Maybe a weekly Bible study, a monthly Bunco group, a Saturday hiking club or an every-other-week MOPS meeting. Whatever you find, commit to it.
  • Set a date. No really, time away from the kids with your man on a regular basis is crucial to a great relationship and a happier, healthier you. So find a trusted family member or friend who can watch the kids for a couple hours while you and your guy reconnect.
  • Invest in yourself. Even in the midst of parenting, you can continue to grow and develop  the person God has created you to be. As your schedule allows, take an art class or dance lessons. Go to a writers’ conference or a weekend women’s retreat. Take an online class and work on your degree. Not only will you be growing but you’ll be modeling to your children a love for life-long learning.

And before you think I’ve got this me time thing down, let me reassure you: these are things I try to do. Some days I do well, other days it’s all I can manage to drag my weary body to bed at night. And that’s okay because I will have another chance to do better tomorrow.

How about you – what do you do to best care for yourself? How does taking care of your needs affect the way you are able to care for your family?

Hating Me

April 17, 2014

“Look at this,” I moan in disgust pinching a handful of stretch-marked, flabby skin from my mid-section. “Why do you even like me?” I ask J dejectedly, adding insult to injury as I place the value of my personhood on the perceived failings of my exterior.

“You had a baby,” he patiently soothes. “You are beautiful and wonderful, and a good Mommy.”

But I hear none of it. Too focused on the imperfections in the mirror. If I could just lose 20 pounds, then I’d be happy, I tell myself.

And I believe it.

I remember the first time my mom mentioned my weight to me. I was in 6th grade. She doesn’t remember, but I can vividly see us standing in the kitchen and my dad telling her she was silly, and that I looked great. A girl needs a dad like that.

It was silly, and that’s probably why my mom has forgotten the conversation. I was fit and healthy, and looking back now, just starting to add a few girlish curves. But I think it’s around that time that I started to realize my mom wasn’t happy with her body. After giving birth to my youngest brother – her third child – she’d struggled to lose the last 10 pounds of baby weight.

My mother was (and still is!) beautiful, vivacious and simply fabulous but I don’t think she always saw it. She was too focused on those 10 pounds.

And now, I’m repeating the cycle. So focused on my imperfections – so focused inwardly – that I sometimes miss out on the joy of just being me with the ones I love.

What would it look like for me to break the cycle before it reaches the next generation – to learn to appreciate my body so that I can teach Reagan to value hers? One thing I know, this change has to start now.  Today.  With me. Steve Maraboli wrote, “There is nothing more rare, nor more beautiful, than a woman being unapologetically herself; comfortable in her perfect imperfection. To me, that is the true essence of beauty.”

Creative Commons -- photo by Robb North

Creative Commons — photo by Robb North

And so today, instead of focusing on the things my body isn’t and can’t do, I’m choosing to focus on the beauty of my body, the perfect imperfections. The stretch marks that grew as my body expanded to hold and nurture my precious baby. The round arms that offer comfort and hugs to family and friends in need. The pale legs that carry me out into the sunshine to work and make a difference in the world.

And as I focus on living a healthy lifestyle (because even as I learn to value my body, I want it to be healthier so I can do even more with it!), I want to teach my daughter to appreciate her own body and show her how to best take care of it.

Some days I will fail, but I pray that God will give me grace and help refocus my vision when it begins to settle on negative thoughts so that I can see myself the way he sees me.

One Year In: What I’ve learned since becoming a parent

March 26, 2014

In the last year (well, 13 months really but we’ll get to that later), I’ve learned a lot about being a mom. I’ve learned about sleep deprivation and poop, how you can be lonely with a small person strapped to your body 24/7 (okay, that’s an exaggeration because Reagan mostly sleeps in her own bed), and how you can love someone else so wholly and completely that not only would you give up your life for them, but you would live your life with their best interest in mind.

Image

Looking back over my time as a parent, here are the top ten things I’ve learned so far.

  1. Parenting is harder than I ever imagined. You are learning to put someone else ahead of yourself. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about parents taking care of their needs too but, when it comes down to it, Reagan comes first (if you need evidence just take inventory of her closet compared to mine!).
  2. Parenting is more amazing than I ever imagined. The giggles, the funny faces, the cuddles – I love the smell of Reagan’s hair after her bath, and the feel of her breathe on my cheek as she drifts off to sleep in my arms. I love the smile she freely gives me when I pick her up from the babysitter and that greets me when I open her bedroom door first thing in the morning. She brings my life more joy, more meaning and more purpose and I wouldn’t trade being a mom for anything in the world.
  3. Growth percentiles mean very little. I’ve worried, and cried, and lost sleep over Reagan’s growth (she’s an itty-bitty thing!) but overall, she’s growing at a consistent rate albeit fairly low on the growth chart. She is healthy and happy and strong – none of which can be fully determined by a chart tracking her weight and height.
  4. Postpartum depression is real. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, please talk to your doctor. Postpartum affects about 13% of women for up to one year after giving birth.
  5. You will never be on time to anything ever – EVER – again. Refer back to first sentence of this post.
  6. It wasn’t love at first sight. I mean it was love but not like I imagined (Bravo if it was for you … really, I mean it!). For me, I wasn’t exactly sure what to do with this cute but squishy-faced baby when they gave her to me. She was round and blonde and not at all what I expected. I loved her right away but it took a few days, weeks and even months before the parent/child bond really set in. And the cool thing is, it’s still growing. I love my child more every day.
  7. You can do it alone but parenting – and especially mothering – is better in community. I encourage you to find a MOPS group or a local mothers group to get involved in. Community is good for mom and baby!
  8. Sleep deprivation stinks. But feeding and rocking your baby during the night is pretty awesome (although most nights I would have traded it for more sleep).
  9. No matter how hard you try, you will never be perfect. And neither will your child. Sometimes I get frustrated – sometimes she gets frustrated. It’s bad when we both get frustrated, and sometimes I have to walk away. That’s okay. Soon my baby will understand my “I’m sorrys” and hopefully she’ll learn to ask forgiveness too, from the example I set.
  10. You are not a perfect mother, but you are the perfect mother for your child. God blessed me with this little girl – he gave her to me, and me to her, and no one else.