For pretty much two years straight I was either pregnant, nursing or knee deep in baby rearing. When I look back at the month's following Ethan's birth it's as though a fog covers up my memories. I have to push through the haze to remember the details of those months clearly. All I can remember are the months of dealing with a colicky baby. The nights locked in my bedroom closest, sobbing as Ethan lay screaming in his baby swing. The crushing feel of anxiety that was always present, the weight of a panic attack always at the verge of taking over. I don't like looking back at those months for I don't recognize the woman I see. And the worst part of it all is the guilt that I feel. The guilt for not fully being present and enjoying every moment of Ethan's babyhood. In some ways I feel like his first few months was more like a marathon that I pushed myself to get through than some of the most joyous months of my life
As much as I knew I wasn't myself I didn't know how to fix or change things. My husband was off fighting a war, my daughter was always sick with constant ear infections and my family was miles away in Wisconsin. I felt alone. I tried joining mommy groups and consuming my days with constant activities but that just led to more stress and anxiety and I didn't find the connection I was looking for from any of those groups.
I felt unsure in my job as a mother. I compared myself to all my other mommy friends and became even more upset with myself when I felt like I didn't match up to those around me
When the husband came home in April I thought all my problems would be solved.They weren't. I think I put so much pressure on my husband to just jump in, take over and fix everything for me that it had the reverse effect on our marriage and relationship. We struggled. I gained weight, lost it and gained it back again. I was a constant ball of anxiety and stress just ready to boil over at any second.I was heavier than I had ever been, had no self confidence and was highly irritable and emotional
A few weeks before he left again we finally had one of those heart to hear moments. A moment where we talked and listened to one other instead of cutting each other down, proving who could hurt the other more by hurling insults at them. And it was amazing the relief and release I felt after that conversation
When he left this fall I cut back. Focused more on my family and worked on cutting out the excess and negative influences in my life.While that worked, it didn't quite do the trick either. I was still missing something
In October, after Ethan's first birthday I did the advocare 24 day challenge and lost all the baby weight. I felt lighter and happier for the first time in over a year. Doing something for myself was what I needed to come into my own again. I spent the whole month of December up in Wi with my family and now I'm back in Florida feeling more refreshed for the first time in a long time
For some reason, that month away gave me the clarity I needed. I learned I need to make time for myself. I learned I need to let things go. The house does not need to be picked up multiple times a day or straightened up every night. Instead of following the kids around during the day picking up after them, or spending the hours after their bedtime cleaning I need to actually engage and play with them. And focus on my husband when the kids are asleep. Nap time has become my time to read, write or relax. I refuse to do anything household related during their naps. I have been reading more which is so amazing.. Reading is something I have always loved and enjoyed, but aside from numerous parenting books over the last few months, I rarely have lost myself in a work of fiction. But now I am reading more fiction it is amazing how much that little time spent doing something for myself refocuses and grounds me.
I also figured out that I am a good mom. As I watched my kids play with their cousins and interact with my family and friends I saw that I am raising two sweet, funny and kind little kids. Kids that love everyone with all their hearts and who for the most part are extremely well behaved. Much more so than I give them credit for at timea
I feel like I have come full circle in my journey as a mom, a wife and woman. I have my self confidence back and I know that I am good enough. I no longer feel the need to compete to be the prettiest, skinniest, craftiest, mom and wife out there. Because to my husband and kids I already am all those things. My house no longer needs to be spotless out of fear that someone will stop by and judge me by my messy counters. If they do judge me because of that than they aren't friends worth having. I learned that friendship is about give and take and above all honesty. I had some of the most amazing conversations with my friends back home. Conversations where we talked about how hard marriage and parenting can be but how wonderful it is at the same time. Conversations where I spoke from the heart, knowing myself, the kids and my husband weren't being judged. I was blessed by those around me and realized that it's ok to sit back and let other's help you. I learned that my marriage has only gotten stronger as it has gone on and while we have had our rough patches, there is no one else I want to spend my life with
So at the end of the day my kids birthday parties may not have the best decorations, Gianna may not sit on my lap during story time like all the other kids, we may eat pizza(homemade)three times a week and my blog posts and pictures may not be perfectly edited. But that's me and my life and I am learning that being yourself is the best way to be
Here's to finding me again and becoming the best me I can possibly be