I used to cling to this deep-seated fear about motherhood: That becoming a mother would inevitably mean I had to sacrifice fun, self-care, career, travel… and anything else that had previously been part of a playful life that didn’t include a child. Then I joined the proud ranks of mothers and misinterpreted the rite of passage once again: I confused DOING it all for HAVING it all.
My thinking was that if I could still show face at every social function, stay up dancing till 3am every time, climb the corporate ladder, keep my house clean, dress like I’d never had a baby, get my errands done and post cute “I know I’m a mom, but I’m not a ‘mom’” social media posts then I was #winning. I assumed the more I accomplished, the more I was defying mommy stereotypes. The more I said “yes,” the more I was crushing it. I was determined not to let this baby SLOW ME DOWN.
Naturally, I burned out, exacerbated a predisposition to postpartum depression and found that doing it all made me feel like I was living my life according to a preconceived and false idea of what pre-mommy Gervase might call “successful.” I felt unfulfilled, like a fraud, like I was working way too hard to make other people happy and always trying to prove myself.
It doesn’t have to be that hard.
You don’t need to prove yourself to anyone. You are already exactly the woman your family needs you to be. Most likely, the only thing missing is your willingness to confidently step into THAT.
What if you didn’t need to change anything about yourself except for self-love, self-forgiveness and a vampire-like ability to sleep on way less sleep than you did pre-motherhood?
What if we stopped trying to photoshop the hardest job on the planet to pretend we were doing it better than everyone else?
And, why, WHY, do we associate “slowing down” with failure?
Slowing down saved my life. Slowing down saved my sanity, my marriage, and my sense of self. I mistook martyrdom for motherhood. I confused doing it all for having it all, and I thought it was better to hide my dark, human moments in shame than to proudly post to the world that I was DOING IT ALL.
You know what we’re ACTUALLY failing at? Celebrating beautifully messy mommies.
If we’re going to drink, let’s toast to THEM. If we’re driven to drink, let’s share those glasses of wine with our non-judgmental Mommy Soul Tribe, in the same boat lamenting, “me too!” If we’re crying into our wine glasses, let’s remind ourselves we’re not the only ones. (Tribe rule #1: Never be sad alone.)
Just because you don’t see it on social media, doesn’t mean it’s not happening. Just because your friends aren’t talking about it, doesn’t mean you’re the only one.
All over the world, there are mothers—women, really—who are choosing something different for themselves and their families. They are choosing to hold on to the parts of their former lives and their innate identities that make them feel alive and whole and they are letting go of the mommy myths that make them feel less than, like failures or like frauds. They are choosing sisterhood over mommy wars. They are choosing self-love over sacrifice. They are replacing the myth that they have to DO IT ALL with the actual truth that they can HAVE IT ALL.
And you can, too. The first step is figuring out what choices you’re making based on the myth that you need to do it all and what you would do differently if you knew you could be exactly who you wanted to be.
Because, like I said, that’s exactly who your kids need you to be.
Be that person, because the world needs more of YOU. The next generation needs more of YOU, and that’s who you were born to be anyway.
Welcome, you belong here.
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