There are all kinds of moms out there. For me, it was a lifelong goal. Probably my top goal. And now that I’ve arrived, I am thankful for this privilege every single day. I also feel exhausted, lost, impatient, and as though I’m constantly chasing a level of serenity that I can never quite reach.
I remember wanting to be a mother before wanting to be anything else. I have vivid memories of cradling dolls as if they were my own babies. And over time, while so many parts of me changed, wanting to be a mother was an unwavering constant. When the time came, it took longer than I’d hoped. It took pokes, prods, needles, hormones, appointments and more appointments. Open tears, hidden tears, and many prayers. I remember feeling as though it didn’t matter how long it took, I just needed someone to guarantee me I would be a mother one day. And no one could do that. I felt incredibly lucky to get pregnant when I did, and with a child who is pretty fricking awesome. He slept his nights from three months on. He smiles all the time. He eats like a champ. He’s never been a great napper, and he did surprise me with an allergy to my own favorite food, but in all honesty, he was and still is an angel of a child.
Fast forward to a few months into my postpartum adventure. I was a woman who had desperately wanted to be a mother. Who was more than “ready” when her baby finally showed up. Who had an incredible network of helpful, loving family, a support group of mom friends, a hands-on, amazing husband. And I was thinking to myself, HOLY SHIT I WAS NOT PREPARED FOR THIS. The adjustment was the biggest transition I’d ever gone through. And it felt like there was a new transition daily. Even hourly. It was also the single most fulfilling gift I’d ever been given. I want to make that clear from the beginning — being a mom is exponentially more amazing than I could have imagined. It just also happens to be a lot harder too.
Why is it so hard? Every mom would answer this differently. And I can’t stress enough that I know I have it EASY compared to the majority of the population. I’m not sick, or underprivileged, or alone, or unhealthy, or unsafe. So for a while, it was hard for me to admit that I “struggled” when I knew things had been going pretty damn easily for me. The thought brought on guilt, an all-too familiar mom feeling. Because, shit, how lucky was I to have a healthy baby, a job, a beautiful home? I shouldn’t complain, right? But damn, I could really use a little pause to recharge. Or a big pause to focus on my career. Or a month-long vacation to fall back in love with yoga. I’ll happily settle for a weekend morning sleep-in while Leo has a blast with his Nonna though. And I think that feeling is relatable. I also believe my quest for more overall satisfaction in life could be applicable to women in many different situations. For me, having a little one at home has challenged almost every habit that has been ingrained in me for decades: cleanliness, alone time, self-growth, self-care, morning routines, career goals, sleep, fitness, finances. And I know I’m not alone in this.
The most comforting part of my journey to motherhood has been the network of moms I have opened up to, and who have opened up in return about their wins and struggles. Bringing up babies looks really different from the outside than it does from the inside. And once you’re in it, it can feel isolating to have your world turned upside down while life outside seemingly goes on as normal. Sharing experiences with other new mothers has been my main motivator. It has humbled me to hear stories from single moms, ill moms, moms who have experienced loss, moms who are struggling with their babies’ health, moms with babies who don’t eat or sleep well. They have taught me to be grateful for all that I have, and they have given me the gift of being a supporter and listener for them. It has also comforted me greatly to hear from moms who have seemingly “perfect” lives, and “easy” children, opening up about their hidden messiness and admitting that they are drained and fed up too. These stories have helped validate my own feelings, and have shown me that so many of us are in a relatively similar boat, no matter how things may appear.
I’ve been talking to a lot of moms since giving birth. I’ve started following different types of moms too through social media and podcasts. I’ve been listening and processing and I’ve realized that no matter what the circumstances are, moms are generally effing tired, and struggle to find the time and energy to fuel their inner fire. It’s not explicit unhappiness, because for the most part I feel that moms are overjoyed to be parents. And absolutely, we are fulfilled by our role. But finally, I can admit without shame that I am not as happy as I could be. Because the nurture I’ve freely given to my children is the nurture I have unconsciously withheld from myself. And I firmly believe that if I could find a way to feed my soul the way the way I feed my son everything he needs, I wouldn’t just be happier. I would be able to feed that soul food back into my kids, my husband, my friends, my family, my work, my community. And everyone would win. I think we all have the power within us to be the best versions of ourselves while maintaining our ability to be great moms.
And thus the birth of my project: finding peanut butter for the soul. I want to figure out how we as women can thrive. How we can find time to do things we love within a schedule that’s already bursting at the seams. How we can find energy to do things that give us more energy. How we can keep up the momentum without burning out. And most importantly, how we can sustain a lighter, freer soul in the long-term.