“The days are long, but the years are short.” I don't know who first said this, but for me it was a fellow mother of three.
She is an OB-GYN and we were spending a late night together in the hospital, waiting for babies to come. We were away from our families, feeling exhausted and empty.
We discussed the workload that came with small children. While we were grateful for our children and their health, we bonded over the things you don’t learn until you’re a mom: 1. How steep the learning curve is and 2. It’s the hardest and (probably) the most thankless job on record. Sometimes, it’s more challenging than being a doctor.
She reminded me that although raising my children was demanding, one day they would grow up and not need as much from me. She reminded me that with this independence, I may be left feeling empty, lost, and searching for how to redefine myself outside of a relationship that has defined me for so many years.
I have to admit, this conversation unnerved me.
I am mommy.
I wipe tears.
I read books, make lunch, and bring the giggles.
I enjoyed being Mommy, but would I — could I — find joy in just being Kameelah again?
The answer is yes.
That’s when the Virgo in me kicked into gear. I started to imagine and plan for Kameelah 2.0: life after babies.
I started to prepare myself for this transition for two reasons. I didn’t want to be unprepared or heartbroken when they chose to spend time with their friends over fall apple picking, storytime, or a cuddle on the couch with me. I acknowledged that a shift in the relationship was coming and wanted to be prepared to fill it with something wonderful for myself. Secondly, acknowledgement and preparation has helped me live in every precious and chaotic moment. I wanted to focus on being present with them and not miss the last time they asked me to help them get dressed or feed them dinner.
Have you started to think about your motherhood transition? Your 2.0?
Many of us have not, and I totally get it. We’re in the trenches of our day to day, minute to minute demands that can be overwhelming.
If that is you, save this post for when you come up for air. If you have started to consider your life after babies, let’s dive in.
1. Embrace your evolution.
I started to think about the change in our relationship as a positive, not negative, transition. The mindset we use for reframing the relationship with our growing children is everything. As our children spread their wings and need us less, please view this as a win! It means you were successful in creating strong, curious, well adjusted mini-adults. This is a remarkable achievement and you should congratulate yourself. Just as they explore the world, you too have earned the reward of reclaiming the aspects of yourself that were put on hold.
Do you remember yourself before you started raising children?
What brought you joy?
Believe it or not, you are approaching the time, freedom, and flexibility to focus on yourself again. Daydreaming reminds you of what brought you joy before and independent of motherhood. Daydreaming allows you to fantasize about the adventures that will fill your cup in the near future.
For me, I remembered my passion for baking and started taking professional baking classes again. I went to storage and unloaded the pans, cutters, and racks that allowed me to create works of art. I also used this newly found time to revisit my mental and physical health. I soon looked forward to meeting with my therapist or finding a moment of mental clarity during my workouts. Wherever and whenever you can, create a space for yourself that allows you to daydream about your former and future self. Imagine what she wants to do with the next phase of life and start manifesting her now.
3. Journal, journal, journal.
Lots of emotions come up as you consider your mommy transition. Journaling can be helpful to organize these emotions and make some sense of the intense feelings.
Keeping a journal is a valuable way to help you prioritize your personal, professional, and mental health goals, especially when time and resources are limited. Journaling is an outlet for the positive self-talk we need on a daily basis, creates a safe space for you to manage anxiety as you try to figure out what’s next, and will be the base for brainstorming your greatness.
Know that you are not alone in this journey. We are all struggling with the ups, downs, and transitions of parenthood. While it may seem like it, we did not lose ourselves overnight. In a similar vein, reclaiming your purpose will take time and intention. Breathe, be kind to yourself, and take it one step at a time. We are all in it with you.