(This is a guest post that a friend of The Emily Effect shared on Facebook. We’re re-sharing it here with her permission.)
I turned 33 this month and my only child turned 18 months, marking him more officially in the toddler category and graduating from the baby days. He’s old enough that my life should be put together. For the most part, he sleeps through the night…ish. I’m not breastfeeding round the clock, I can have ‘me time’ during naps and bedtime, someone else can put him to bed so I can go for a girls night or attend book club. I have more freedom. I don’t have an extraordinary story, but before you delete this wondering, “why bother contacting us with no story?!” understand that I believe THAT might be one of the most relatable stories. I became a mom and life is just life.
I’ve done some great things in my new role as a mom. And I’ve had some crappy experiences. I’ve learned more about sleep patterns, eating patterns and digestive (read: poop) patterns than I ever knew I could care about. I have parts to a story, but they are me as a woman, wife and person, just like most other mothers. I was an owner in a wedding planning and design business before selling to my partner so I could stay home full time with my son. I went from working incredibly long hours to having all the free time in the world. And I went from a position in a industry and clientele that led me to praise, affirmation and challenge (things I thrive on) to a crying, non-sleeping newborn.
My newborn who wouldn’t sleep and led me to multiple middle of the night breakdowns sobbing for relief and acutely aware of the postpartum depression symptoms I may or may not be experiencing. I have a history of depression and was aware of the fact that I would be prone to postpartum depression and anxiety. Add to the equation my friend had recently helped start a foundation for moms suffering from postpartum depression. Her closest friend had a panic attack from postpartum anxiety that led to her death, so my friend was passionate about the topic. This friend and her family (along with many others) checked in on me to make sure I was adjusting to mom life okay. For the most part, I was fine, but only after I hired a sleep consultant when my baby was 8 months old did I feel a burden lifted from my shoulders and placed elsewhere. I had tracked every minute my son had been awake and tried to pin point any reason his nap was 40 minutes (or fewer) instead of the 2+ hours every blog, book and forum was telling me it should be. It was now the sleep consultants job to find the magic cure. And it sort of worked and sort of just taught me that’s another part of mom life, some kids will sleep, some will eat, some will walk at 12 months and others won’t. Part of the mom job is accepting and learning and adjusting expectations (all things very hard for my organized, type A, spreadsheet, check list brain to accept).
At 6.5 months old my husband and I took my son with us to Iceland for 5 days. At 11 months old I took him with my brothers family and my parents to Switzerland and Italy for 3 weeks. I’ve traveled domestically and internationally with him, but I’m not the ‘mom who travels everywhere with her son’. I’ve decorated a darling nursery and a fun garage-turned-playroom but I’m not the ‘cool, hip, interior designer mom with unique spaces for her son.’ I have a cute enough momiform wardrobe but I’m no fashion blogger with an #ootd anyone needs to copy. I’m not ‘this mom’ or ‘that mom’. We eat organic…sometimes. We do cool kid activities…when I have the energy. My kid sports a preppy bow tie, sometimes a hipster romper and sometimes a pair of lederhosen from our Swiss vacation. My mom life isn’t this chic chick with a clear point of view for followers to admire. It’s just life. As a mom. And most of my friends are in similar stories. They take their kids to church and lacrosse. Hustle to meet a work deadline and spend time doing volunteer work. Try to make time for hair appointments and happy hour. Like I said, it’s not an extraordinary story, but I think it’s what moms need to know and understand. Most of us are doing the daily grind and not posing for Instagram photo shoots. We are reality in the everyday way, not the reality of ‘reality tv.’ Both have value. But value is often overlooked in the ordinary, everyday mom because her point of view isn’t followed by thousands or liked by masses. But I hear the everyday mom and appreciate her. Her story, like mine, may seem ordinary to a magazine editor or a headline writer, but that mom is who I see, talk to, watch and follow. Her seemingly ordinary inspires my ordinary and we both have worthy stories.