Reclaiming Jaclyn

It’s sort of annoying when writers refer to themselves in the third person but I feel like it’s fitting in this case. I don’t know if you read it, but in my post “No Judgement,” I confessed that I’ve had a bit of an identity crisis since Luca was born. I guess it’s normal. Nothing can really prepare you for parenthood. I thought that having a degree in psychology with a ton of schooling on human development would prepare me, it didn’t. I thought that having years of therapy would prepare me, it didn’t. I could go on but I won’t. I did a lot of things that I thought would prepare me. Don’t get me wrong, I know that I am a much better parent than I would have been because of all the hard work I did, but it still couldn’t prepare me for the inevitable breaking that comes with parenthood. You know how wild horses get broken? It’s kind of like that. I feel like who I once was is still in me but now I’m more restrained, I’m no longer free as I once was. Only a few days after Luca was born, Caleb said, “I thought I was an adult before, but I wasn’t.” Parenthood shatters your sense of entitlement. Oh you think you deserve a good night’s sleep do you? Ha! Think again. Even our most basic needs are stretched thin. Speaking of “thin,” that was one part of my identity I thought I would never lose, but despite my healthy eating and exercise routine during pregnancy, I still managed to gain sixty pounds. Did you hear me? SIXTY POUNDS. That’s a lot of pounds. For whatever reason, that’s what my body felt like it needed to do. So for now, even that part of me is gone.

Despite feeling tired and chubby, I have a new sense of strength within me that I never felt before. I now know that I can have a natural childbirth and that is empowering. I know that I can be sleep deprived and still provide my son what he needs. I also know that my husband will still love me even when I have ankles that look like sausages. The way Caleb looks at me now, it’s like he can’t even see the remaining weight and that makes me feel so loved and has grown my love for him. So all of that is good… but still, as I write this, I’m drinking ‘Mother’s Milk’ tea and listening to the monitor as my kid grunts in his sleep. It’s so hard not to feel consumed by motherhood.

So I was talking to my doula (aka personal angel sent from God) Becky Leonard, about all of this and she said that maybe it’s time to reclaim my identity. She asked me what kinds of things I liked to do before I was pregnant. One of the first things that came to my mind was Zumba. I loved going to Zumba classes at the Y. I would laugh at myself during class (like actually laugh out loud) and I would leave feeling so refreshed. It was a blast. Another part of me that I miss terribly is seeing clients as a therapist. Walking alongside people as they journey through life is an honor. I also love to learn and having just graduated in May I feel like I’m still mourning the loss of my awesome professors and classmates. I was also pretty crafty and enjoyed giving handmade cards to people or re-beautifying something in our house. Other moms will probably also admit that finding sexy-time with your husband (and even physically negotiating that) after just having a baby, is not easy. I miss sexy Jaclyn. I have to do something to integrate these parts of myself back into my life.

Well, it’s New Year’s Eve and I’ve never really been one to partake in the whole New Year’s Resolution thing but I think I need to jump on the bandwagon this year. So I now proclaim 2013 to be the Year of Reclamation! (Is that a word? Yep, I just googled it, definitely a word.) I will set out to get back into the swing of things. I have to be intentional about connecting with my friends and hubby. I have to diligently protect the times when I need a break to go to Zumba or do crafty projects. Of course, I’ll never really be back into “the swing of things” because I am forever changed now that I am a mother, but I can slowly (slowly being a key word here) bring back parts of myself that made me, “ME.” I won’t be back in the therapist chair anytime soon, but there are things I can do to stay involved in the Psych world. It’s time to be creative and figure out how to meet my own needs too. I think I will be a better mama to Luca and wife to Caleb because of it.

What are your New Year’s Resolutions and how do you stick to them? I’m curious if there’s anyone else out there who’s feeling like a part of themselves has been lost and wants to reclaim it. I think us mamas need to stick together in holding one another accountable to this stuff. How can we be good at mothering if we’re burned-out? If any of you veteran moms have suggestions for us newbies, please share!

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23 thoughts on “Reclaiming Jaclyn

  1. I loved reading this…thank you. It really can apply to all of us, how reclaim our identity over and over again. I know over the last 31 years as a mom and wife, I have reclaimed my identity MANY times. And, specifically have CREATED a new identity in the last 5 years as a single woman. On an interesting side note…I have also seen in the past that when I reclaim my identity I ‘find my voice’. It’s as if the voice that I tucked away or did not even know existed, now has a ‘speaker’ connected to it. I love how you found your voice even without doing all of those past activities, crafts, schooling and even Zumba. Your voice is inside of you….and your ability to find it as a new Mommy….. will be a gift to Luca.

    I mess you sweet girl. And I still have Luca’s cute little present sitting right here in my bedroom. I want to come and see him, smooch, smell and maybe? even babysit for you one day soon. But, this week I am moving…ugh, so I won’t be able to set a date to come see you until I feel like I have my head screwed on straight and I PRAY I don’t lose it somewhere!

    Bless you!!!
    Love Karen

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  2. I will be in the same boat here pretty soon. And, so you feel better (and me, too), I am 60 lbs gained and counting! So glad there are only a few weeks left of the pregnancy. I think it’s awesome that your doula helped you think about things that help you feel like you. That’s something I think I’m afraid of about becoming a mom…losing myself completely. While I know that becoming more selfless is a part of the gig, I also know I will have to make extra efforts to do the little things that make me feel like Samantha and not like a mom blob. Anyway, thanks for this post. I’m excited for your journey and hope that this year is a great year for you.

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  3. Thanks for the post, Jaclyn. It spoke to my heart! I am thinking about resolutions as well so maybe I’ll post about that. Anyway, I also wanted to say that you helped me reclaim me when you watched Abby a couple of times so that I could just get out of the house without a baby on my hip. Any time that you need that favor returned please feel free to ask! We can’t wait till you guys are back down here! Love you guys!

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  4. I really can relate to what you say here about thinking you are prepared for parenthood but you totally aren’t and about the necessary loss of freedom. It’s surprising, actually, and I don’t think you can really understand until it happens to you. There is a large part of self that you sacrifice, but I also agree with the idea that it’s important to reclaim self, slowly. I hope I can do that too.

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  5. Jaclyn, I don’t know you, but I know your amazing Mom, and am glad I read this. From a perspective of many years down the road from where you are now, I can tell you things you may need to hear. “You are doing a great job, Mom!” “You will reclaim Jaclyn!” Yes, the pounds will come off…the words “nine months to lose the figure and a year to gain it back” might help here. (I gained 50 pounds. Twice. For what turned out to be rather small babies. I remember my OB/GYN saying “well, we know how your body reacts to the extra estrogen.” So good for you that you have cut yourself some slack here. Only in Hollywood is there some fantasy of instant baby weight loss.) You will have a full and wonderful life and mom can be one of the many roles you fulfill in your own unique way. Oh, yes, and there will be nights of uninterrupted sleep too :).

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