Don't lose yourself.

It has been a whirlwind 9 months since our little man made his appearance into our lives. And I've got to tell you that, even before he was born, I was already trying to set up my life in a way that placed him at the center of everything. I made sure that everything was perfect, that we had enough books, that I had all of the best slings and carriers to have him close to me at all times, that our co-sleeper was at arm's reach, and that I was up to date with the latest research on raising a child.

All of these things were wonderful. But in spite of it all, I learned the hard way that I needed to shift my energy and strive to find balance. I had to learn how to let go of my tight grip on the pursuit of mothering "perfection". I had to allow myself time to pursue those things that were once life-bringing. 

Before I became a mother, I was a scholar, philosopher, student, researcher, wife, sister, friend, foodie--among some other unofficial titles. I continue to be each and every one of those things. But in the process of becoming a mother to our baby boy, I began to lose myself. In the caring of our baby, I didn't allow myself to enjoy those things that once made me so excited. In the process of caring for our babies, we run the risk of completely denying ourselves any other joyful pursuits. I was afraid that by taking some time for myself, I was neglecting our baby boy.

Guilt became a commonplace word in many of my conversations. I felt so guilty when I went away to shop on my own. I felt so guilty when I had quiet time to read a book. I felt so guilty when I asked someone to help me with Gabriel. I felt so guilty when I needed a break and was not constantly entertaining him. The Guilt list went on. 

I began to allow this guilt to affect the way that I cared for myself. My actions were affecting my marriage and my extended relationships as well. I knew that I needed to go beyond my constant focus on caring for him to my own detriment. I had to learn the difference between loving our son and wasting myself in his care. I had to allow myself that yoga class, those outings with friends, those high heels and that extended time for meditation and devotion. They are precisely the things that would help refresh me in both body and soul. In turn, I could give our son the care and love he deserves. If I did not take care of myself, I could not fully care for him.

So much of what we do as mothers becomes a delicate dance of being the best mother to our children as well as finding what renews us within.

If there is any advice that I can share to any new mother or mother-to-be, it is this: Give yourself a break. Go to the store and bust out the lipstick. Don't be afraid to ask for help. Take a step and pursue what makes you laugh. Find those connections that brighten and renew you. And for goodness sake, don't go down the guilty road; it's a dead-end. You will feel the difference, and your little one(s) will see the difference in you.

You are doing an amazing job!