I still remember what a haze the first year of my twins’ life was. I was sleep deprived, hormonal and always had a baby or breast pump attached to me. My life solely revolved around taking care of those babies, our house and our dogs. My poor husband probably thinks I did not even know his name that first year. He fell at the bottom of my list. Oh, wait, I did know his name – if only to snap at him for something. Sorry hon.
I lost my job while on maternity leave, so we decided that I would stay home as long as we could afford. I ended up staying home for two years. We are so thankful they were home with me for that long, but I realized after about a year, that I was starting to forget who I was. My life was DEDICATED to caring for my kids. I did nothing else. I did not go out with friends and I think my husband and I went out three times the entire first year. I even took them (and the breast pump) to get my hair done – a lengthy 3 hour process. I would pump during processing and other clients would hold the babies if they woke up.
When I was constantly attached to two small babies (and my boobs to my breast pump), my mind was just in baby mode. All the time. 24/7. I started to forget what it was like to have any interest outside of my kids. And for some moms, maybe that is okay. But not for me. Because I know that one day they will grow up and leave the house. I do not want to look at my husband and wonder who he is. Or look at myself and wonder “what the hell do I do now?”
Like the flight attendant always says: “Put your oxygen mask on first, then assist your children.” I realized I was not doing anyone any favors by not taking care of myself. Once I stopped breastfeeding, I did not feel so compelled to stay home at night. My husband and I started going out again – without kids. We were both in shock at how great it felt to be adults and enjoy each other’s company without the constant fear that someone would start wailing in a restaurant or throw a temper tantrum. We love our kids more than anything, but EVERYONE needs a little adult time.
I actually got a sitter when I would get my hair done, and I remembered how much I love it! Once you have a baby, you quickly forget how life was before it. And for me, I was starting to forget who I was before them. And I was forgetting who my husband was – the guy I had so much fun with before babies became the daddy who I yelled at to get this, or do that.
When I went back to work, the babies had just turned two. I was a wreck for the first few weeks. It did not help when people actually SAID to me: ‘Oh, I just could never have someone else raise my kids.” Yeah, me either. I still raise my kids and work full-time, thank you very much. I am not judging you for being a SAHM, don’t judge me for NOT being one. Oh wait, now I am judging you for that dumb ass comment, though. Let’s get over these Mommy Wars, shall we?
I am still evolving as this mommy/person. I recently started working out again – I had not worked out since I was 6 months pregnant. My kids are almost four. Now it is something I do for myself and look forward to. My kids need to see that I do things outside of them. That I have interests, friends, and mommy & daddy have “adult time” when a sitter comes over and we go out. It has put new life into our marriage. Or maybe it is a little of our old, pre-kids life slowly creeping back.
I know there are lots of others out there who still do not put their oxygen mask on first. I was talking to another mom the other day about how excited I was to go out with my husband that weekend. She looked at me like I had three heads and said: “Oh, we still haven’t left our boys like that yet.” Her kids are three and nine months old. Left our kids like that? She acted like I was leaving my kids with Chester the Child Molester.
My best friend told me a long time ago that it is important to have a life OUTSIDE of your kids. I did not know what she meant at the time, because I was still so immersed in mommy mode. Now that I have started feeling human again – a little like the old me, I see what she meant. I am a better mommy, a better wife and a better person because of it.
Please put your oxygen mask on first.