I just had a baby.
I love her and I want to run away from her.
I want to stay home and smell the top of her head, hold her cheek to cheek, and breastfeed her to sleep. I also want to crunch on an iced margarita, stay up too late dancing at a show, sleep in, and spend the day in a hammock, recovering with jazz and a good book.
I want to take stroller walks around the neighborhood. I also want to stroll the streets of a city I have never been to before.
I want to sit, present, staring into the eyes of my little one, connecting deeply and reading her newfound emotions. I also want to chill at a café with a caffeine buzz, while people-watching, daydreaming, and connecting with strangers over random commonalities.
I want to organize my day, my diaper bag, and my pantry. I also want to have no idea what the day will hold until something strikes my fancy.
I want to play soft music that helps my baby girl’s brain grow as I drive safely around in my freshly-cleaned car with a window shade, baby mirror, and stocked baby bag in the trunk. I also want to jump in my car, covered in sand, while my salt-soaked strands air-dry out the window as I drive like a bat out of hell to music so loud it shakes my bones.
I want to be a rockstar mother treating my body and my baby like a temple, giving each the most natural, nurturing care. I also want to be a free-spirited queen, traveling on a whim, acting and eating how and what I want, when I want.
And, that’s okay. I can be both.
So can you, you glorious warrior mama.
Society tells us we need to be one or the other. F*ck society.
Nurse on the regular and pump when you can, so when the time strikes you can get a little boozed up because there’s a bottle in the fridge. Put little one in a sling, strap on the baby earmuffs, and dance wildly in the woods at a music festival—then walk back to your campsite in the family zone (or leave her at home with a sitter, if possible!).
Eat a burger and fries for dinner, then wake up and drink a green juice.
Play Baby Einstein all day, then rock your Grateful Dead tee in bed while you read about the current phase of the moon late at night.
Be a full-on laundry folding, nursery rhyme-singing, diaper bag-carrying, binkie-slinging, sweat pants-wearing, swaddle master on Friday. Come Saturday, call in reinforcements so that you can sit alone enjoying too much espresso, rocking skinny jeans, and carrying nothing but $20 in your back pocket.
You’re allowed to be on top of it all day Wednesday and a forgetful mess on Thursday, so long as you love the sh*t out of your little one and provide the best way you know how while maintaining your sense of self.
If that sense of self is purely a wonderful, giving mother, housewife, and partner—rock on. If there is a part of you that needs another outlet, don’t give that up for the world. Create, surf, hike, sing, dance, play music, go back to work, garden, or volunteer.
Our children need us strong and vibrant. They are their highest selves when we have enough self to give them. They shine when we shine.
We are more than mothers. We are artists, gardeners, yogis, musicians, teachers, dancers, accountants, lovers—but society makes us feel like we have to drop that to be with our children. Or, that we have to juggle work and baby with a pristine house and a home-cooked meal on the table. We are frowned upon when we let loose and do for ourselves. It is the age-old issue that just never seems to leave, like a watermark—always there no matter how faint.
But without that precious time, we are empty. We have to be full before we can pour ourselves into another. Nobody can drink from an empty cup.
We have to remember that we have more to offer than just the persona of “mother.” We have to make time to stop, to feel what it is we crave. Then we have to give in—whether or not that makes someone else happy.
I have to fight for conversation that does not revolve around my baby girl and how she is doing, how well she is sleeping, how my sore breasts are holding up, or what phase she is in. I fight myself as hard as I fight others. It is all too easy to fall into routine child talk because that is what is most current and all-consuming. But I have to, for me.
If we don’t stave off the fog our brains fall into when we’re in mommy mode, we may as well throw our hands up.
Wake up from routine. Don’t let to-do lists dictate your thought waves.
Tell your friend the baby is doing fine, then direct the conversation to the current state of the Senate. Say no to the playdate so that you can simply sit in the park. Let the nap go long so that you can read a few more chapters.
Be good to yourself.
I’m a creator by nature. And while there’s barely enough time to make sure there’s food in the fridge—let alone create—I still have a small table dedicated to my work. When baby girl is down for a nap, I sit at that table and draw. Not always, but sometimes. One day that sketch will be complete—be it in a month or a year.
Baby steps. Oh, baby steps.
We have to do what we can to keep our sanity and sense of self, even if that only materializes as a 10-minute yoga flow, a cup of coffee, a session of shaking it out in the kitchen while cooking dinner, or a bit of wine before bed.
Wear your festival gear while you clean the house.
Use Miles Davis as a lullaby.
Introduce the color green and the letter “D” while you sunbathe in the grass.
Get it girl. Get it good.
You’re an amazing mama. But you’re also more than a mama. You are you in all your glory.
Published in elephant journal – Link below.