Mommy & Me - Rediscovering My Pleasure & Personality

Becoming a parent means making a lot of sacrifices. Date nights require advance planning, my schedule revolves around nap time, and my wardrobe is based around how easily I can get a boob out. Sure, my life has changed in many ways, but I'm still me. Though it took a while for me to remember that.

Admittedly, I had a bit of a personality crisis when I was bestowed the title of 'new mom'. While I'm certain that sleep deprivation and postpartum anxiety were certainly factors, I found my inner dialogue was far more existential than usual. My reflection became a stranger. My topics of conversation revolved around diaper contents. Who was I becoming?

While I loved discovering who I was as a mother, I didn't want my identity to be limited to just that. I think of the two investigators in this bit from Baroness Von Sketch Show (if you haven't seen this series yet, you absolutely need to), reminding me that I was someone before I became someone's Mom. I wasn't exactly sure who I was, but I knew I wanted to get back in touch with my former self in one way or another.

Since becoming a mom, bath time now comes with an audience.
Learning how to appease my newborn son whilst trying to find a shred of my former personality was an intense balancing act. As mentioned, I was also dealing with some intense postpartum anxiety and had started medication in order to treat my symptoms. Top it off with a little classic 'mom guilt', and  you've got yourself a full-blown crisis!

I'm very grateful for my husband, who recognized my internal dilemma and and stepped up to the plate. He and I both knew that I had to take care of myself as well as our son, so we developed a new routine. Everyday he'd come home from work & takeover parenting duty so I could have an hour to myself. It was hard at first, especially if Elliott was crying. But I had to constantly remind myself that Wil had it all under control, and that he was just as capable of soothing our baby as I was.
I recognize that not every parent has the luxury of being granted alone time, and I certainly did not take it for granted.

So what did I do during that solo hour? I made time for pleasure.

If motherhood has taught me anything, it's that eventually it all balances out.
Now I know our minds automatically associate that word with sex. And while I can't deny that sex is certainly pleasurable (duh), there are so many other ways to seek pleasure (though of course making time for sexual pleasure is just as important and as valid as everything else I'm about to mention).
For me, I tried to remember things I did in my spare time before baby arrived. For example, things like writing, playing around with makeup, thrift shopping, reading, or taking a long, hot bath. These are all things that I enjoyed and made me feel good.

Indulging in things I found pleasurable served as dedicated time and space to reconnect to myself. But don't get this confused with self-care; though that can be pleasurable as well, I personally see self-care rituals as necessary more so than indulgent. A big, frothy bubble bath is great and can be therapeutic for some, but it isn't usually my go-to when I'm coming down from an anxiety attack. These pleasure-seeking moments provided me with a sense of self again, and ultimately made me feel more human (and less like a walking milk machine). It reminded me that I'm permitted to have hobbies and interests still, and I've accepted that I will have to make sacrifices still.

Most importantly it's taught me that I'm my own person, who just so happens to be a parent too.

Sure, some days I wish I could stay in the tub by myself  for just a few minutes more.
But then reality quacks in my face and I can't help but smile.
To the fellow parents out there, let me remind you that it's not selfish to want aspects of your 'old life' back. You're only human. If something as simple as going out to get your hair cut, or making a solo grocery trip makes you feel more like 'you', that's a perfectly valid enough reason to do it.

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