I knew from a very young age that I wanted to be a mom. It wasn’t something I jumped into because I thought I should. There were many long discussions and lots of thought put into this step in my life.
Meeting my husband, Dan, solidified my dream of becoming a mom. He was the only person I really could see being the dad in my picture. He’s amazing and makes me a better person. I can be the mom I want to be because of him. He made my decision to be a mom an easy one.
Even with the most amazing partner and lots of mental preparation, I still wasn’t prepared. I had the perfect partner. I had ALL the baby things. I still was not prepared for my new identity.
No one really prepares you to lose the identity you knew before you became a mom. Thirty-five years of life led up to the moment I went from Suzie to Mom. I had put a lot into that identity and the life I had before kids. I thought that pre-baby identity would just expand to include my new mom life.
In many ways it did, but my new mom identity was more than I had anticipated. It wasn’t until I had E, that I fully realized how much had changed.
With Viv, I had pretty bad postpartum anxiety. I didn’t realize it until well after she turned 1. I was really good at putting on a happy face and pushing through it. My new mom persona didn’t have time to deal with it. I had wanted this and I was going to like it. High functioning anxiety was my jam. My head was constantly screaming at me, but I’d have a happy face plastered on.
My anxiety sneaks through as anger when I don’t address it. Poor Dan received the brunt of it when it did come out. I was angry at him for sleeping at night while I was up feeding our baby. I was angry that he could be a dad and still be the Dan everyone knew before kids. I was angry that my body didn’t just bounce back. I was angry at other moms for making anything look easy. I was angry when I’d get a suggestion on how to raise my baby.
The reality was that I was mourning the loss of who I had been. That life was gone. In its place was the one I had always wanted, but had envisioned the old me in its place. New me wasn’t meshing with old me’s plan.
I wanted to be Mom and still be that fun pre-baby identity. I was going to do it all. Mom Suzie was going to have the career, the same social life, and be an amazing mother. Props to anyone that can do this: I can’t. I was mourning the loss of my planned life, and not fully looking at the one I have.
I’m a social person. Pretty sure on every type of personality test I fall into that extrovert category somewhere. I’ve found motherhood to be extremely isolating at times. On top of that, it’s exhausting. Even if I did have time to go out my body is constantly screaming at me to sleep. If one category in pre-baby life got hit the worst, it has to have been my social life. Don’t get me wrong, I love spending time with my husband and kids. I cherish those quiet moments all four of us are snuggled on the couch together. At the same time, my soul is screaming to be out socializing.
Having E made this pretty clear. The transition from my old life to my mom life was a shock to the system. I fully prepared my self for a second round of postpartum anxiety. Five months in and it hasn’t impacted me the way it did with Viv. This time around Mom is already part of my identity. I wasn’t losing anything, but just expanding on my new identity.
Pre-baby Suzie is still here. It took me awhile to figure that out. The adjustment period was hard. I had everything I wanted, but felt lost. I had to stop looking back to realize the life I have now isn’t missing anything, it just looks different than the one I had planned. I don’t have to mourn the loss of the me I knew.
This is me now. Pre-baby Suzie is still in there somewhere. Not every plan works out, and that’s okay. The planner in me has trouble with that concept. For now happiness means embracing this Suzie: the mom, the career lady, and super occasional socialite (wine in the courtyard with your neighbors and their toddlers totally counts). Adjusting my expectations means I can have it all.