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Happily Eva Answers: Putting The “Me” Back In Mommy

Happily Eva Answers

Hi Eva,

I love your blog and the advice you give, you seem very balanced and level headed– and wanted to ask how you found the balance between being you and being “Mom”. I’m 28 and have two girls, one almost 5 and one 4 months old. I have gone through post natal depression and on the other side of it I’m wondering how I strike the balance between being myself and being Mom.
My husband and I never have date nights and I spend a good 99% of my time looking after my children or my house. I never get the time to be myself– and I’m not even sure who that is anymore.
I feel a lot of judgement from the other Moms at my daughter’s school and worry that me being me, might result in my daughter being left out of party invites or out of school activities if Moms don’t like me. I’m not an awful person, don’t get me wrong– I just feel the need to behave a certain way around them (best foot forward and all) but it means that they don’t get to know me. They know “Mom” me and it’s exhausting. I should mention that most of my pre-baby friends stopped contacting me when I had my first child. Because I couldn’t do plans spur of the moment they left me out. This means I’m alone a lot of the time and as a Mom, I’m sure you know making new friends is difficult.
Do you ever feel conflicted about your roles or feel like you need to put on a front in front of other mothers to be accepted? What can I do to strike a balance between me and “Mom” me? and do you have any tips on making new friend circles? I miss having connections with grown ups that don’t demand pudding cups or spit up on my top.

Thank you,

Ms. Mom Minus The Me

 

Eva Amurri Martino of the blog Happily Eva After wearing a pale blue dress and sitting on an armchair in the corner of the bedroom, looking out the window

 

My Dearest Mom-Minus-The-Me,

I’m declaring a state of emergency– I won’t allow you to keep on going feeling this way!  Your letter really moved me.  I can relate to that internal struggle between being there wholly and completely for our children, and celebrating and preserving our own senses of identity.  In fact, Happily Eva After was born out of a intense period of questioning and thinking as I worked through my own balance when it comes to this concept.  I’m so sorry you’re having such a hard time, and I do have a few things to say that hopefully will help you feel stronger, more positive, and perhaps inspire you to shine your light as brightly as humanly possible.

I think the first step is knowing who we are, but I think that the other half of the battle is liking who we are.  At the moment, it seems that you have lost track of both.  And I don’t blame you.  Two children, a relationship, and a bout of depression are enough to send anyone gasping for air.  There’s a lot on your plate.  But let’s get right to the bottom of this and agree that you desperately need to invest more time and energy in YOU.

I can tell that a lot of your reluctance to shine as brightly as you can has to do with not feeling enough as you are.  I hate that you feel insecure around other Mothers at your daughter’s school– that must be a terrible feeling, and I know that your main concern is for your daughter’s happiness and inclusion.  Let me tell you, however, that what all our children need the most is for their parents to shine their authentic, vibrant light as brightly as possible.  How can we expect our children to be all that they can be if we don’t show them firsthand who we ourselves are? Unapologetically.  Believe it or not, your children know you.  They really, really know you.  They’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly (parenting can get not-so-pretty at times) and they absolutely adore you.  And it’s not because you feed them, and clothe them, and put a roof over their heads.  It’s because they love YOU.  All parts of you.  Allow their estimation of you to be the one that counts, and start to project to others the person that your children know you to be.  I truly believe that so much of what makes us each excellent Mothers in our own ways are actually the things that we sometimes let slip in to the background when we have children.  All of our life experiences– our imaginations, our senses of humor, our wildness, our loudness, our creativity, our contradictions, our appetites for adventure– these are all the things that we MUST maintain as parents.  After all, Human children need to be raised by real live Human parents.  Not robots.

You also need to go on Date Nights.  It doesn’t have to be every week, but it does have to be at least once a month.  Get dressed up.  Make yourself feel like the woman you were before children, before self-judgement, and exhaustion, and pudding cups, and spit up.  She’s still in there!  Start thinking about something or some things that you can do for yourself.  It can be something small like joining a book club or learning something new (fun dance class, online yoga course, cooking, knitting fabulous cashmere hats for Winter, a language you’ve been dying to pick up) or even something bigger like finding the time to leave your children with their father for a weekend while you go visit a friend out of town.  Go to a museum once a month without the rest of your family and remember what it was like to take something in and experience it through  your unhurried gaze.  Eat lunch by yourself and read a magazine.  Enjoy the quiet! Whatever type of “Me Time” you choose, you need to value your own experiences and needs a little more– it will make your entire family happier, trust me!

As far as the friendships go– your old friends sound terrible! Good riddance! I can’t believe they basically abandoned you at your most vulnerable with zero understanding about your very fresh transition in life.  How selfish and short-sighted.  I think as you begin to explore your own needs a little more and nurture who YOU ARE as a woman, you will begin to meet some like-minded people.  When we like ourselves, we definitely attract friends who like us too!  Maybe even join a Mommy Group with your little baby and see if there are any fellow Moms in there that you connect with! Even if there’s one cool chick in the bunch, it will be a great connection.  You ladies can pick a date and go out on the town together! You definitely deserve it.

And by the way, your husband won’t believe the sassy, sexy, vibrant woman his wife turns back in to as soon as she is investing time and energy in herself.  He will be your number one fan!  Lucky guy…

I wish you all the best!!!

 

xoxo

EAM

 

Photographs by Nina Suh for Love And Lemonade Photography

 

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10 Comments

  1. Katie says:

    This post really hit home with me, and your response was perfect. Thank you for exactly what I needed!

    Xoxo,
    Katie (stressed out, stay-at-home mama)

    09.15.16Reply
  2. K says:

    Loved the post! Inspired me a lot! Thanks Eva!

    09.15.16Reply
  3. Mary says:

    I felt lost and lonely for the first six months with my son. I quit my career to stay with him and suddenly didn’t know who I was or what to do with myself. I realized that I wasn’t 100% the same anymore. Being a mom changed me. I started to feel braver, sexier, and confident but it was a slow process that I am still working on. I placed goals for myself. One of them was Makeover Mondays. Every Monday I paint my nails, do a facial, use my fun body scrub. Just basically spend some serious me time. I may have to do dishes and laundry while I wear a mud mask but I feel more put together for the rest of the week. Walk Wednesdays, my son and I go walking somewhere beautiful and enjoy some none chore relaxation. I also include a funew treat like a fancy sorbet or coffee. I am also trying to spend more time with people who want to see me, even if it is just quick. Work on you and everyone else will see the glow from within.

    09.15.16Reply
    • Hi Mary!
      This is all AMAZING advice. I love how proactive you’ve been to feel more like yourself in this personal rediscovery process. It IS a process, and I think we come back to ourselves little by little. I may need to start Makeover Mondays too! Such a cute idea!

      xoxo
      EAM

      09.16.16Reply
      • Donna says:

        Thanks for your comment. It helped me, however, I’m on other spectrum….”empty nest syndrome” I feel as lost without my children as u ladies feel with the overwhelming presence of children. Enjoy every second, the years go so quickly

        09.16.16Reply
  4. Nicole says:

    Thank you Eva for such a thoughtful response to that Mom. As a first time Mom myself, your advice really touched my heart as I think many of us struggle to find the balance between being a Mom, a wife/partner, a friend, a daughter etc all while trying not to lose who we are as individuals. Being judged as a Mom for everything we do seems so common now a days that it is easy to try and put on an act to try and make ourselves be accepted by others. You gave wonderful advice that we should all think about so that as Moms we enjoy our life and teach our children (especially our daughters) that being your true authentic self is important to your own happiness! Thank you!

    09.16.16Reply
    • Hi Nicole!
      Thank you. It is SUCH A hard balance to strike, and I think we are all ALWAYS readjusting and shifting within the structure of that life/parenthood balance. It’s important to remember that this challenge is one of the greatest gifts that parenthood brings us: the opportunity for personal growth. It helps me to think of it that way– that my “bad days” are educational stepping stones on the way to the best version of myself!

      09.16.16Reply
  5. Melissa says:

    The issues that are raised in this post hit a nerve with anyone that has ever struggled with their sense of identity or has coped with crippling feelings of self-doubt.

    Finding that elusive ‘me-time’ could be exactly what’s needed to rebuild confidence and foster a more positive outlook and mood.

    When I’m feeling low, I try and get moving – whether that’s going for a walk to clear my head or yoga (I highly recommend YouTube yogi Adriene who has a legion of loyal followers) – and find that really helps.

    I can relate to the friends scenario though. I’m in my early 30s and many of my friends are happily coupled up and starting families. As a result, I see them a lot less often (which is to be expected). However, with some of them, I am only contacted when they need a shoulder to cry on or if they want a favour. It’s this more than anything else that I struggle with. That isn’t to say that I don’t support friends in need, it would just be nice to still be able to share the good times once in a while.

    10.09.16Reply