On Becoming a Person Again :: Taking Care of You After Taking Care of Them

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My last baby turns a year old on Thursday. A quick calculation tells me that of the last 81 months, I have been pregnant or nursing for all but 15. I am still near the starting line of this whole motherhood gig, but this part, the pregnancy and baby part, is ending.

I read articles and comments from fellow mamas celebrating the end of this season with a maternity clothes bonfire and endless pours of wine. But me? I’m sad. And, if I am being honest, I’m scared.

I love babies. I know the early months aren’t every mom’s cup of tea, but I love them. And I am good at babies. I am confident in my ability to take care of and successfully parent a baby and even a toddler. But this kid stuff? I am terrified that I won’t be good at that part at all.

Parenting this soon-to-be school-aged child of mine makes me feel vulnerable. There are so many questions and so many decisions, and so many ways to mess these kids up.  My daughter is turning into her own person with a mind and a heart and a soul, and suddenly parenting feels weighty, and the days of worrying about naps and teething seem quaint and wistful.

The earliest days of motherhood.

Then there is me.

Every part of my life and my body has been consumed by this task of having and nurturing our babies, and I don’t regret one moment. But I blinked and it’s over, and now I am sorting through what is left.  I am me again. Not me who is also X weeks along. Not me who needs to hurry home in 2.5 hours to nurse or pump in her car. Just me. Me with a post-baby wonky hairline and a closet full of clothes in every size in the world, none of which actually fit properly. Some days I feel like an imposter in my own skin.

Little by little, I am working on putting myself back together again. And I think it is important work. We give so much in such a short season, and it is okay that it takes time to come out of it whole again.

Here’s a few things I am doing to take care of myself and make sure I am the best person I can be for myself and my family.

Reading– I love to read, but it is one of the things that had been lost to exhaustion and Netflix. Now, I have my kindle app loaded or a paperback in my bag so that extra minutes can be spent reading instead of scrolling.

Health– after spending so long feeding your body so that it can care for babies, it is okay to prioritize your own health. Take extra time to prepare better food, use that childcare at your gym, and stop eating lunches of leftover goldfish and pb&j crusts.

Purge– I’m getting that baby stuff out of my house and you should too. Donate it. Give it to friends. Sell it on Facebook. Maybe that maternity clothes bonfire isn’t such a bad idea after all? But confession: I’ve also got a Rubbermaid tub in the attic for random baby things I am not emotionally ready to part with because cool it with your KonMari– just let me live.

Dress– This is a work in progress. After 6 years of pregnancy and babies, my closet it a hot mess. I am still trying to find a style that is more chic-professional-mom-on-the-go and less will-this-hide-five-pounds-and-provide-easy-boob-access. Baby steps.

Long Term– My husband and I feel like for the first time in years, our heads are above water. We are coming out of a long season of survival mode. Now is the time to take a breath and look at some long-term goals for our lives, our house, our marriage and our careers and pursue them with intention.

I am so grateful for the person I have become in these last six years. I am kinder and smarter. I am tougher and more resilient. My priorities have been drawn into focus, and I can do more in a free 20 minutes than pre-kids me could do in a day. So here’s to me and here’s to you, as we leave this baby phase. Here’s to growing into motherhood and doing hard things. Here’s to learning to love the women that motherhood has made us. And here’s to one day, just maybe, finding pants that fit again.

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