On motherhood, holding onto yourself, and the beauty of the tribe.

Motherhood is tough. Beautiful, amazing, wondrous, and flat out difficult. When becoming a mother, women go through a change that is really unlike anything else.  A recent New York Times article on The Birth of a Mother put it well: “becoming a mother is an identity shift, and one of the most significant physical and psychological changes a woman will ever experience.”

I think every mother is familiar with the feelings I’ve been struggling with: overextending yourself to try to juggle life, work, parenting, partnering, *and* being true to your pre-mom self. The feelings of love (sweet, all encompassing love), exhaustion, guilt, and I’ll say it, dissatisfaction are in a constant ebb and flow.

Recently I’ve been feeling depleted, overextended, and far less independent than in my previous life.  I love spending time with my daughter more than anything else in the world, I honestly do, but I’ve started to realize that I’m losing myself. I don’t have time. Not any, really — but even if I did have time I started to feel as if I wouldn’t even know what I would do with it. My single friends have drifted away, and my mom friends are up against the exact same challenges that I am.  I realize, though, that in order to be the best mother/teacher/wife/friend/self I can be, I need to try to regain some of myself, even if I have to dig for it.

This is when I turned to my “tribe”. What’s a “tribe” you ask? Well, google will give you tons of results on “mom tribe” — essentially, its a group of females who will get you like no one else in the world. Other women who are in the midst of motherhood themselves, who are experiencing sleepless nights, tantrums, potty training… Moms who are down for play dates or coffee, play dates *and* coffee. My tribe is a group of local moms that I originally connected with online, but have built relationships both in real life as well as in our internet community. These ladies are *awesome*. I seriously don’t know what I would do without them. Their children are playmates to my little lovely, and their support to me, and to each other, is invaluable.

I shared this image in our Facebook group, along with a sentiment reflected in this blog post, and the questions: What do you do for you? What would you do if you actually had time to be you?

The support, shared experience, and advice that I got was amazing. And I want to share it with you.


Voices from the field

On how to nurture yourself:

  • A happy mom is a happy child. Find what self-care means to you. -Sarah G.
  • It took me a long time to start to feel like me again… I now make sure to prioritize myself.   -Arin C.
  • Some good eyeliner and cute flats make me feel awesome.  -Samantha O.
  • Take solo walks in the sun… carve out weekly *me* time to help work on fighting the depletion. -Naethra S.
  • I enjoy trying to do things that I really liked before kids. I used to like just hanging on the beach reading a book or running on the beach. -Lauren P.
  • I try go out to eat with a friend or two at least once a month. …once I’m out it is really restorative. -Maria P.
  • I go for long runs to different places. My mind gets to go quiet. I try to take at least one picture I like on the way.-Kelly R.
  • I try to sleep in when I can. That’s what I miss most; going to bed and waking up when my body wants to. -Regan S.
  • believe it or not I will back to grad school. It gave me a new purpose and help to me refocus my career. I loved having that outlet to do something differently academically and professionally. -Mary T.

On what a mother would do were there enough time in the world:

  •  I would get in my car at night and drive with the windows down and music playing until morning. -Keri S.
  • I would read and do yoga every day if I could. -Jennifer P.
  • I’d bike more. -Jennifer E.

And one of my favorite sentiments:

  • May this be the summer of you! -Yael S.

The advice, support, and friendship I’ve gotten from other mothers has really been my motivation to shift my focus, if even just a little to myself. I’ve promised to care for myself a bit more, to treat myself to a new pair of shoes, to pay attention to my body and my mind, and generally put a focus on self-care. I’ve decided to return to school for just one class, and to carve out at least a few days a month for “me time”. Now I’ll wrap up this blog post to do just that.

Please share with us in the comments what you do for you, and follow Peace, Love and Literacy on Instagram to continue this conversation, leading up to Mother’s Day this Sunday!

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