As a new, young mom I learned some things once my daughter was born.
- Newborns don’t necessarily love to sleep.
- Elastic waistbands should be required on every set of pants. Seriously, why do we need buttons when elastic is so much more comfortable?
- I could forget to eat.
Number 3 may not be the revelation of the century, but for me it was a pretty big deal. I’m a snacker and it’s not uncommon for me to snack all day, depending on my schedule.
However, when my daughter arrived in May 2018, I learned I could be so busy caring for her that I would forget to eat. By noon I would be even more exhausted and a little shaky, annoyed that my body was betraying me. What I couldn’t see is that I was actually the one betraying my body.
My husband and I were living with my parents at the time, our house under repair from damage that occurred in April. More than once my mother would call out “Kelsey, have you eaten today?” My answer would come as one from a child, my head hung low and my face flushed with embarrassment as I confessed I hadn’t.
Many people in my life pointed out that basic necessities could not be forgotten. I still had to eat and sleep and shower and do all of the other things that were required to live a full existence.
We moved back into our home when my daughter was only a couple months old. No longer did I have extra people to hold Cece while I ran to the bathroom or made myself a meal. By this point my husband and I were both working full time so our time at home was spent taking care of our daughter then flopping into bed, exhausted.
I don’t remember when, but one day I decided that I would take my showers at night and get into bed shortly after my daughter’s bedtime of 7 o’ clock. My own bedtime became 8:30 p.m. most nights.
Obviously things would come up and I’d have to stay up later, but very rarely did I see 10 o’ clock. This prevented me from sleeping late and not getting a proper shower.
My husband and I started making sure the dishes were done every night before bed. Slowly, I started to create a routine so that I could be the best version of “mom” I could be.
Now, lunch is made and clothes are picked out the night before. Snacks are packed and the diaper bag has extra clothes for when Cece inevitably makes a mess of herself. People in my life know that if I have plans, I’ll be home by 9 o’ clock at the latest.
Sure, there are still times when I drop the ball and end up with way too much dry shampoo caked in my hair because I should have washed it and didn’t have time.
Yes, there are days when I forget to pack enough diapers for Cece so my grandmother has to buy some on an emergency trip to the store.
I eat way too many Hot Pockets and still struggle to drink as much water as I should; however, most of the time I stick to my routine.
I don’t stay out late and I barely watch TV during the week. When I’m not in my pajamas by 7:30 p.m., my internal clock gives me a “red alert.”
Sometimes people don’t understand and they comment on how babies are adaptable. They say kids will be fine staying up a little later, etc. That’s all well and good, except it’s not the baby that isn’t adaptable.
I’m not adaptable anymore. I can’t go to bed too late because I risk being late for work. I can’t drink too much caffeine because it makes me jittery and doesn’t allow for a good night’s sleep. If I eat poorly I feel sick and sluggish and that means I can’t keep up with my very active daughter.
Motherhood made me acutely aware of what things are good for my mental and physical health. While some people may not be bothered by dirty dishes in the sink, I have to make sure they get done or I’ll start to feel anxious when I walk into my kitchen. If laundry stays piled up too long, I get overly anxious when I have to search for my daughter’s pajamas.
Don’t get me wrong, these things still happen quite often. Life happens and we don’t touch our dishes or laundry for days. As I type this, I’m looking at two laundry baskets full of clothes that need to be refolded and put away.
I’m not perfect and neither is my house. However, I have learned the tasks I must complete in order to thrive.
I want to be a mom that is loving and attentive. If that means I have to be stingy with my time and energy, I won’t apologize for it.
Motherhood may not have made me ruthlessly self-centered, but it has caused me to pay attention to my own needs. If that means a 9 o’ clock bedtime and a clean kitchen, I’ll take it.