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!