Not long ago at Barre class, someone I was meeting for the first time asked how old my kids were and when I answered that they were 4, 2, and (at the time) 8 months she said,
“Oh girl, you are in the trenches right now.”
I laughed because it was a comically accurate description of how I feel right now.
2017. What a year.
On paper, it sounds like the most joyous year yet. We welcomed our sweet baby boy, Hudson, our last baby, into the world. We also bought a new home to accommodate our growing family. It’s in the best neighborhood with the most FUN neighbors with a flat yard and a room for each of our babies.
And it WAS joyous!
But it was also HARD AS HELL.
It was sometime in December after a rough morning of yelling at the kids and anger that I broke.
Like, legit broke.
I cried the whole way to preschool drop-off. I sheepishly brought Charlotte in and tried to avoid everyone’s eyes so no one could see that I’d been bawling just moments before. I sobbed the whole way back home. I couldn’t stop the tears from coming pretty much all morning.
It was then, looking red-eyed in the mirror, that I realized that I was looking the reflection of someone I didn’t recognize anymore. I hadn’t showered in a few days. My clothes (ok, pajamas) were stained and I didn’t have make-up on. The extra baby weight from Hudson was just hanging out, not going anywhere (because let’s be honest, I wasn’t doing ANYTHING about it). And most alarming, the mom that I was that morning (the same one I had been for months) was not the mom I had been before and not the one I aspired to be.
I had lost myself.
Where had I gone?
Back when I wrote this post in the summer, I chalked it all up to the craziness that comes with three little ones, a move, and a tiny apartment. I kept saying that things would be better once we got into the house.
But that wasn’t exactly the case. Life didn’t slow down. In fact, it sped up. I had a great fall photography season with lots of amazing clients, but I really struggled to keep up with everything and still try to be a great mom to a fussy baby, a mischievous two year old, and a strong-willed four year old. I lost sleep, I didn’t shower, I didn’t exercise, I ate like crap, I yelled.
There were many times that I felt a lot of guilt thinking that I had forgotten EVERY SINGLE THING that Callie’s death had taught me because I wasn’t enjoying motherhood the way that I ‘should’ be. But that quickly passed because, although I had definitely not done the best job of viewing 2017’s gifts as blessings instead of challenges, I know that I hadn’t forgotten those lessons.
What I had forgotten was myself.
In that broken moment, I realized that the cure was not a more perfect schedule, or a better organizational system, or a more effective discipline strategy. The ‘cure’ was to find ME again.
In the craziness of each day, I did absolutely NOTHING and I mean NOTHING for myself besides the basics of brushing my teeth and getting my contacts in my eyes. Every action, even the ones I thought I was doing for me (like reading parenting books), were really for my family in some sort of way. Like one of my new neighbors says, “You can’t drink from an empty well.” so I put feelings of guilt and selfishness away and resolved to take care of ME first so that I could do a better job of taking care of everyone else. Soon after that day, I joined a local yoga/barre studio and started going regularly. I can’t even put into words how good this has been for me. I also try to do small things like light a candle while I take a shower, listen to good music when my mood starts to go south, and get out of the house whenever possible.
I’d love to say that now everything is different and “YAY! Look at me! I’ve got it all figured out!” but that’s definitely NOT true. I’m still working on it every day and there are still lots of moments of frustration and tears. I mean, let’s be real. I have three kids that are really young and that shit is just hard. But I do feel like I can breathe again a little bit and, although I wouldn’t say things are easy, I do think they are getting easier. At the very least, I am a little more conscious now of my own needs and how important they are. I was incredibly blind to this until recently.
This post has been sitting in my draft folder for over a month now. I hesitated to post it because I felt like it might be perceived as whiny or ungrateful, but today I felt like sharing because, who knows? Maybe someone else feels the same way and it’s helpful to know that someone else is struggling too and that it’s ok.
It’s all ok.