As I sit down to write this blog, I am trying to calm down a one month old baby who is crying nonstop -more like screaming- for attention, perhaps hunger, dirty diaper, who knows…When I believe he had surrendered into nap time, the fight continues a few more times until he finally settles and sucks into his pacifier.
Welcome to motherhood, a path most women before us have been through but nonetheless it’s just as difficult when you go through it yourself, no matter how many books you have read or how much babysitting experience you may have.
At thirty years old, I feel as if motherhood is supposed to help me reach the pinnacle of adulthood, which also means, confronting all the perceptions and fears I had before making the decision of getting pregnant: will I stop being a woman to become, well… a mom?
Not only do I picture motherhood as the stage in life where women substitute stylish outfits for cargo pants and sneakers, where they feel the urge to cut their hair and dye it in an unnatural color, when their nights out at the hip bar turn into happy hour at Chili’s, and when they decide to move from the downtown apartment to a spacious house in the suburbs. Most importantly, it seems to be a stage where women seem to put their pre-baby professional goals behind.
As a career woman with a semi-active social life, I’ve been terrified that this image of motherhood could become reality. I also realize these fears may be perceived as selfish: isn’t my responsibility now to take care of a little human being?
Indeed it is the greatest responsibility. But by not addressing what may be perceived as superficial fears, we continue a vicious cycle of over exhausted and frustrated women. I refuse to wake up one day and ask myself ‘what would have happened if…?”
Therefore, in between dirty diapers, sleepless nights and trying to decipher the language of a newborn, I hope to continue making myself also a priority as I did before pregnancy.
Will I be able to keep my career?
During pregnancy, people would approach me with questions like ‘What do you plan to do about work?’ or ‘Have you considered working from home?’ as if to imply my professional career has taken a step back since I have new priorities. I wonder, has a man been asked these questions before they are about to become parents? I did not think so. As I realize how much time and effort it takes to raise a child and how my childless colleagues have the ‘luxury’ of taking extra work to help move their career forward, I do fear I will stay on the same job for years and in the same town. Also, will I develop a fear of taking risks?
Getting over it: Can women have it all? That is the essential question; feminism has not gotten us that far if men do not have to ask themselves how to achieve work/life balance. In the meantime, all I can do is look up to successful examples of women who have or appear to have it all, the Sheryl Sandbergs and Marissa Mayers of the world.
At least, I am lucky enough to have a supportive husband who agrees on the equal share of the household tasks- including baby duties. For now, even when men continue to rule the world I will continue along with my professional goals. Some may call me naive, but I want my son to look up to me one day too!
Will my friends still want to hang out with me?
We all know that couple whose lives seem to revolve around their child: should we invite them over for cocktails or will they decline once again because Billy has the fever or because they could not find a babysitter? Realizing my husband and I are potentially becoming that couple, my biggest fear is that the cool friends we’ve made will only invite us over for drinks or hang out at beach as an afterthought. Am I destined to hang out only with a group of mommies?
Getting over it: While I find myself joining online support groups for mothers for advice, I also want to become the cool mother who takes her kid to local breweries. But as much as I like to think I can preserve my life pre-baby, I will most likely end up absolutely exhausted trying to keep up. Indeed I don’t intend to abandon date nights at restaurants and hang outs at concerts (that’s what babysitters are for), but the new social outings with baby may be as exciting as I see my baby discover a new world.
Anyway, if those ‘friends’ do not want to hang out with us anymore, they were not our friends in the first place, right?… Right.
Is my body changing forever?
Stretch marks, flab belly and hip expansion are some of the not so good consequences of bearing a child. It seems now everything is on a downward spiral; let’s face it, the Jessica Albas and Kristin Cavallaris are the only ones able to achieve a good rebound body with their mean$$.
Getting over it: I am runner and I’ve always attempted to take care of my body; but sugar has always been my best friend. Now, since time for workouts is scarce, I am attempting to continue taking care of myself even more, I have a little one who depends on me. Because of that, beyond trying to look good, I am looking at workouts in a different way: for example, I am making time to train for a triathlon in hopes of overcoming my fear of water….and save my child if needed. I also try to make a conscious effort to take care of what I eat and avoid empty calories since these are the nutrients I pass along to my child while breastfeeding.
… And yes, breastfeeding does seem to help shed pounds away.
How can I keep this kid alive?
This is a fear of a person for whom having a family always seemed like a distant goal. When I finally made the decision of having a kid at 29 (in part due to fear of losing my eggs), there was no turning back.
After reading all editions of ‘What to Expect When You Are Expecting’ and other parenting books I was sure everything would be fine. ‘I won’t be like every other parent, I am going to be cool, calm, and collected,’ I thought. But as baby started crying demanding to be fed all day and a full night sleep at night turned into a series of cat naps, the crankiness and anxiety became too much to bear. No matter how successful I was at work, I’ve been asking myself for the past few weeks: how in the world will I raise a kid and keep him alive?
Getting over it: Thinking of all the cast of ‘MTVs 16 and Pregnant’ whose babies have made it through all seasons makes me realize I should be okay…
I know motherhood is not an easy job. Ask any mother and they will probably tell you motherhood is the most difficult. But as opposed to other jobs, this, they say, is the most rewarding of all. I hope to continue doing this job well, but I also would like to keep my sanity and well-being along the way.