I feel like I can breathe again now that Alex is walking. Don't get me wrong, it still feels really hard at times, especially when both of the kids are hanging off of my neck, crying because they want me all to themselves, BUT for whatever reason, the first year feels so heavy to me. I'm not sure if I feel less fear, less inadequate, less committed, less whatever, but once that first year ends, I feel like a weight has been lifted off of my shoulders and I am finally free to start taking care of me.
My biggest challenge as a mother has been finding time for myself, and I know that I've blogged about that many times before. First, I really am not a fan of asking for help. I have family in town but would rather not burden them. I have yet to hire a babysitter and I realize that people use them all the time, I have been hesitant for many reasons. Second, there are so many things I want to do like go to yoga, read, write, learn to paint, take pictures, etc and yet, when I get the time to do something, my mind goes blank. I can't remember what it is I want to do and so I just don't. Weird, I know, but it's my reality. Third, dare I say that I probably don't always feel worthy. I'm not sure why I take on this martyr role in life where I must be suffering in order to be worthy, but I do struggle with allowing myself the time for pleasure. Even before kids, I was always struggling with what I should or shouldn't be eating, what I should or shouldn't be doing in the gym, what I should or shouldn't be doing as a volunteer, ugh... Is that a woman thing? I say that because I feel like so many women are always afraid of allowing themselves pleasure. Where did we learn that being happy was a sin?
You know what happens though? I end up being a mean mom. I lose patience easily, I yell, I walk around the house like a grumpy person, so am I really doing my kids any good? That's why I've been trying to do more things and now that Alex is older, I feel a little better about it doing them. I've been going to a regular yoga class. I've been running again. I've been reading more. I even painted my nails the other day. I have begun to feel like the old me. I'm still breastfeeding, but it's not his only source of nutrition so I can take a little longer at the grocery store (when I don't have them). Whew.
Having said all of that, I thought I'd give a little advice to any new moms on how to take care of yourself, even when your baby is new.
1. Take a bubble bath
Obviously, you'll need your husband/mom/mother in law or nap time to do this. Something about touch is really soothing and you can add some lavender to help calm yourself as well. You could even do this after getting baby to bed.
2. Drink some coffee and read the paper or a book.
Again, this is probably going to be a nap time thing. The good news about little babies is they sleep a lot. The bad news, they do it in short intervals. Plan this out so that you can get everything going right away and take every single sleepy minute of it.
3. Prayer, journaling, meditation
No matter your religious affiliation, you can sit down, read an uplifting meditation book, write down your thoughts about it, and take 5 minutes of silence to do that, be silent. This is one of those things that won't have immediate results but will benefit more from doing it every day. Some meditation books I suggest are:
52 Weeks of Conscious Contact
Daily Meditations for Practicing The Course In Miracles
Peace a Day at a Time
A Woman's Spirit
4. 10 minute yoga sequence
Yoga Download is a great source for free 20 minute yoga sequences. Or you could simply do a couple of Sun Salutations.
5. Go for a walk
Put that baby in a stroller and walk outside. Connecting with nature is calming and it also helps root you in the present moment.
Do any of you experience moms have any other suggestions?