Kids in the Capital City

Kids in the Capital City: How to balance 'Mama' while still being me

Kids in the Capital City: How to balance 'Mama' while still being me

Woman jogging with baby
How do you balance being a mother with being ... yourself? Getty Images

As soon as you see that “positive” on a pregnancy test, your life is changed forever. You may not believe it at first (I took what can only be described as a “handful” of tests before finally accepting my fate), but from that moment on, things are different.

You go from being able to sleep in to waking up earlier than you ever imagined. You go from binge-watching Netflix in bed to falling asleep in front of the TV every single night. And you go from single, footloose, and fancy-free to a life full of complications — fast.

When you’re getting ready to become a mother, all you hear is how much your life will change. “Get all the sleep you can now,” they say. “Go to the movies all the time,” they say. Then out comes the baby, and in come the hormones. You’re sleep-deprived, bleary-eyed, and breastfeeding (or not! #fedisbest), and the feelings (and tears) are just so real.

I struggled with postpartum anxiety. Always an anxious person, I feared I wouldn’t have a bump-free road after delivery. So when the “baby blues” (far too cutesy a term for incessant crying, if you ask me) just didn’t seem to fade, I sought help. I knew that the future of my marriage and motherhood depended on it.

It turns out that when you call your doctor with these woes, you get fast-tracked to the front page of the appointment book. Hours later, sitting on the couch of a therapist at my OBGYN’s office, she told me something I’ll never forget: It's okay to mourn.

In what is undoubtedly one of the most exciting and exhausting times of your life, it’s okay to mourn your old life. Because as much as the snuggles and baby giggles may fulfill you, there’s a part of your life you’ll never get back. Needless to say, that wasn’t easy to hear.

Suddenly, every cliché you’re fed for nine months rings true. Despite loving your pet as though it were your first-born child, they won’t get as much attention. Despite telling yourself you’ll be one of those moms that cooks for her family, you eat a lot of takeout. And perhaps most importantly, despite claiming that you’ll make sure your friendships don’t suffer, they do.

I have always put a lot of value in friendships. Growing up as an only child, I counted on friends for socialization. As an adult who moved across the country, I amassed friends nationwide, many of whom I still stay in contact with a decade later. But the days of meeting the girls for happy hour are over, and that was a tough pill to swallow.

When you get so little time to be with other people that can walk upright and go to the bathroom without supervision, you really do learn which friendships are the ones that stick. And as heartbreaking as it sounds, there are a lot of casualties during that first year. Because not only does the exhaustion set in, but it’s almost as though the tiny barnacle human sucks the social confidence right out of you. Adult conversation doesn’t come quite as easy when your day is filled with Elmo’s World and Mr. Noodle. You’re trying so hard to figure out your place as a mom that there’s not a whole lot of room left for the old you.

But I’m trying. As much as I love being a mother, I need to know that the old me isn’t gone forever. I may be destined for a lifetime as “Levi’s mom,” but I’m trying to hold onto Mikela in the process. So I’ll try to balance playdates with pals. That is, if I don’t fall asleep during happy hour. Baby steps, right?