Notes from a UCMom graduate

Becoming a mother was one of the most humbling experiences of my life. Since I had worked with kids for several years prior to becoming pregnant and after being called “the baby whisperer” with my friend’s kids I thought parenthood would be a breeze. Uh, NOT! It was really hard. In fact, it sucked (literally and PAINFULLY!) The first year of my daughter’s life was the worst year of mine! It’s hard to admit that, but it’s true. I was depressed, lonely, and pissed at the world that my life had suddenly been turned upside down and no one else’s (including my own husband’s) seemed to be. I felt like I was expected to do ALL the things I was doing before becoming a mom, only now I had a newborn for a side kick. There seemed to be no ending to my todo list: wash the clothes, change the diaper, pump (sometimes all at the same time)… And repeat. It was exhausting. PLUS I had a baby who wouldn’t f*cking sleep, so neither could I. I constantly felt like I was falling behind. Like I was missing out on something.

Well, my daughter recently turned four and around the time that she did I began to feel a little bit more at peace with myself and the state of my life. It was almost like I had graduated from a 4 year college and I finally feel like I can put the letters M O M after my name. Well, a few months ago (actually 24 weeks as of this writing) I enrolled in a PhD in mothering program called “baby number two.” So, the fun continues! This time around HAS to go better than the first time or I’m not sure I’ll survive.

SO… I wanted to take note of, and share, somethings I learned since going to UCMom in hopes that if I write it down I might REMEMBER it and also to help those of you who find yourselves in a similar spot.

Here goes…

The world does not count on me to continue spinning. In fact, Brandon (the hubs) is fully capable of doing his own laundry and having a tidy house at all times is actually much less fulfilling than having a home that looks live in.

Behind is just a state of mind. Rather than feeling behind all the time, now I do what I need to do. I prioritize so I know what is really important and let the other stuff slide. (BTW, deadline is an interesting word, isn’t it?!) I prefer to think of my priorities as my “lifelines” and let deadlines die.

An over crowded life is not the same thing as a full life. I regularly ask myself these questions: How is my life out of balance right now? What can I do to simplify and create more balance in my life? What would I need to let go of to bring more sanity to my life so I can really be there in a way that I want for my projects and for the people I love?

-Busyness is not a badge of honor. Do you know anyone who, when you ask them how they are, always says, “I’m so busy.”? Are YOU that person? I actually DO feel like I’m always busy. And as a stay at home mom it is offensive when someone asks me, “What do you do all day?” as if I’m eating bonbons (I don’t even know what those are) with my feet up. I feel much more at peace though, and am a better parent and partner, when I create space (not busy time) in my day. Now, when someone asks me how I am I’ve been known to say, “I’ve been resting and taking it easy.” Most people exhale a little at even the thought of resting. This reframe gives me and the other person permission to not always be doing something. Let yourself experience this spaciousness and you’ll be hooked too.

-Grasping is a trap. When I feel trapped I tend to constrict instead of relax- which is actually a much more helpful choice. For example, I cling more desperately to my stuff when it gets ruined. (“I JUST bought that rug and the dog has already torn a hole it in? Are you EFFING kidding me?!”) I cherish my personal time and space and clutch it close to my heart. (“My morning time is sacred. It’s my chance to meditate, do yoga and be by myself. How dare you tell me that I won’t get that time when I have a new born.”) AND I’ve been known to hang on to the stories that I’ve been telling myself since I was a child even though they no longer serve me. (“Well, this happened to me once so I can never…” “Oh he’s just going to disappoint me again so…”) Stories about what others think of me, about my past or things “they” ALWAYS do.

When I find myself constricting around something I ask myself, “Is this a monkey trap?” And I experiment with loosening my grip a little bit in hopes of getting some more peace around the issue. Very buddhist of me, don’tcha think?

Do you have something to add to the list? Please share.

Peace, Isabelle

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