Five Things I've Learned About Myself Since Becoming a Parent
1. If my basic needs aren't met, I can't be the "happy mom" I want to be.
When I look back at the end of my worst days home alone with Hudson, I can usually see a few common denominators. I didn't get a shower. I didn't get any alone time with my coffee and my bible. I was thirsty all day. I didn't eat enough, or I ate unhealthy food. Sometimes, this happens because I'm already too worn out to worry about getting these things done. Sometimes, it's because Hudson is sick or going through a phase where he needs me more. Either way, making sure I take care of myself makes the biggest difference in my attitude and ability to cope with my toddler.
2. I don't need to wear make up or do my hair for the majority of my trips out of the house.
The pre-parent version of me would at least put on make up before leaving the house for almost any reason, and I never went to work or church without straightening or curling my hair. However, now that I spend a lot of my time getting ready with a toddler at my feet, those heat styling devices are now a burn hazard, and make up seems like a waste of time. I mean, with a kid this cute, is anyone even looking at me, anyway?
3. A lot of my identity was tied up in my work.
When you spend 40 hours a week doing something, it becomes a pretty big part of who you are. I do miss my job, but when I look back at how much it consumed me, I realize I'm in a better place right now. It was sometimes hard to stay positive when I realized I was working with students whose parents did not care at all about their education, and at times thought the school was out of line for punishing their children for things like hitting and slapping!
4. I thrive on routine, but I'm not in a place where I can have one right now.
My husband is home four days, then gone 4-6 days at a time. His returns and departures are inconsistent. He might get home at 2 AM or 10 AM or 6 PM. That makes it tough for us to set consistent bedtimes and wakeups for the adults in the family, let alone a routine for the day. We have a rough routine for Hudson, but for us...Not so much. I'm making peace with the fact that it might be awhile before we can have a normal routine again.
5. I need community.
I always thought I was a loner. I grew up with my sister on a farm far, far from any other children, so I didn't have a lot of good friends until I went to college, and even then, I really only had one close friend (we're still besties today, texting daily). When I started my last job, I connected quickly to a group of wonderful, supportive teachers. We were part of a community group at church, where we loved on one another and prayed for each other. Both of these groups were lost when I had Hudson. I became a stay at home mom, and Hudson couldn't stay up late enough for us to be part of our community group. While I am still in touch with all these people, it just isn't the same as being part of the group.
We've since joined another small group through our church, and I've become a member of our local chapter of Mothers Of PreSchoolers (MOPS). However, both groups have been off for the summer, so I'm really noticing their absence right now! No one was meant to do life alone. I'm so glad I've got these opportunities for community.