Most days from my pre-mom working days blur together, but there’s one conversation I remember well. It was with a coworker talking about how lonely her maternity leave was and how isolating new motherhood could be. She was happy to be back at work and to have conversations with other adults. I remember saying something to the effect that I couldn’t wait until I could go on maternity leave some day–I loved to spend time at home alone.
I know what you’re thinking–maternity leave is not a staycation at home, alone. It’s the opposite, really. There’s not much relaxing about it, and you are not alone. Despite the fact that you’re not alone, those first few months of motherhood can feel so isolating. After birth, your body goes through so many hormonal changes. You are exhausted, and it’s easy to become worn down.
It’s also easy to think that nobody knows how hard this is, putting some tiny person’s needs before your own. Leaving the house feels tricky, because you know that as soon as you feed and change the baby, you have exactly 75 minutes before you have to start over again, best case scenario.
It’s easy to get lost in this new mother-ness. It is all-consuming, life changing, beautiful, and awkward.
In my experience, it’s good to find something that connects you to your pre-mom self. I did a satisfactory job of this after my oldest was born, attending once-a-month craft night at my favorite fabric store or going out with my husband. The second time around, though, was nowhere near satisfactory. In fact, I failed for months at really caring much for myself at all, beyond the basics.
I heard someone talking about having one night out a week to herself on a podcast when my youngest was about 6 months old. Her husband comes straight home from work, and one night a week, she walks out the door and can do as she pleases. I proposed this idea to my husband and we started this the very next week! I often go to the gym, eat and drive while listening to podcasts, and sometimes schedule dinner with a girlfriend to catch up. I’ve never regretted it.
If you feel lost or isolated in new motherhood, find something you used to enjoy doing, and do it. It’ll likely take some detailed planning, but don’t let that stop you! Join a gym*, take a class about something you find interesting, or date your mate.
You are worth the effort.
Originally published June 2017.