The fog of pregnancy does not go away at birth. I’d argue that it only truly begins at birth.
Thankfully though, 18 months into life with two kids and four-and-a-half years into motherhood, the fog has finally begun to lift, and I can more clearly see my priorities.
A Modern Problem?
Moms have smoothly handled far more than I face, but I struggle to simply see four feet in front of me in this fog.
My grandmothers raised far more children than me. My great-grandmothers raised 4, 5, 11, and 13 children. So, really? This fog of mine seems like a rather modern problem.
Of course, my grandmothers and great-grandmothers each handed out their own brand of crazy…
Modern motherhood has pressures that I have (mostly) willingly bought into. I have to mom so hard, work full time, pick up a few hobbies that turn into side jobs, get fit (fast), tend to my marriage, family and friends, and do it all with a smile and with my sanity intact.
What Happened to My Body?
Once my second child arrived, self-care flew out the window. Her arrival coincided with career growth for both my husband and me. That meant that, in addition to the fact that the girl hates the stroller, I had no time for the long runs I used to treasure, the time that kept my mind clear and my body strong.
As much as I craved children before I had them and as much as I love them now, five years (and counting) in a row of pregnancy and nursing has left me feeling that my body does not belong to me.
Most days, I don’t mind.
I willingly give my body to my children, and the snuggles, the cuddles, the crawling all over me is honestly, heavenly.
But, alone in the bathroom I have trouble recognizing myself.
Where Did My Mind Go?
I anticipated that my body would change, but my mind? Oh, I miss my mind.
In my day job, I am a teacher and I exist with a constant stream of conversation coming at me. When I get home, my own children need me. And my mind is a pinball game.
My amazing husband suffers the consequences.
Can I just get a minute to myself with no one talking at me?
Knowing that I needed to get my mind back, I started aggressively seeking time for myself.
I thought I needed to fight. But I really needed to give it all time.
Fighting Too Hard
While I aggressively fought to find myself again, I made the situation worse.
Some projects enriched my life; most added to the fog.
Rocking my daughter, my mind wandered to online sales. When building towers with my son, I thought about photography.
Then I had the wildly awful week. My phone screen cracked. I dropped a weight on my toe. Someone broke into my car and stole $500 worth of LuLaRoe and Thirty-One.
Something broke. Or maybe, something lifted.
I had to change, but how?
The Rising Fog
Three months later, I could see what I needed to do.
I know now that a mother’s mind can never completely return to pre-pregnancy status.
I never actually stop thinking about my children. End of story.
I had set up these escapes for myself, could I let them go?
My kids demonstrate some independence.
My daughter wants a banana, “Nana, Mama,” and pats her chest for “Please.”
I hand her the banana, she says, “Dadooooo,” climbs into a chair and starts coloring.
My son can sit for hours and flip through books, or build tall buildings, or have all of his super heroes talk to each other, “We are going to get the bad guy.” “Yes, I will call the policeman to come and help.”
And I can take a moment to write or organize or…think.
Admitting that I needed to let go felt…awful.
Actually doing it and starting to see changes in my life? Now that, that feels amazing.
I’m a better teacher and a better wife. I hope I’m a better friend. I know I’m a better mom.
My son asked me to play with him. I could be the car who asks the other cars what they are doing for Thanksgiving, no Halloween, no Thanksgiving. Actually, it’s Christmas, Mommy. Ask them what they are doing for Christmas.
My daughter needs to run around buck naked and saying, “Daddoooooo.” I’m there to chase and giggle, with no pinball thoughts taking up space.
And I know where I belong.
At the moment, you know, for now.