Full time Momma, full time Girl Boss.
There is no handbook passed out to a new mom on how to take of the tiny little human they just brought into this world; let alone how to do that while maintaining the semblance of routine and life that they are going to have to return to. Becoming a mother is emotional, blissful, stressful, and complete. Each day you wake up to this tiny human who depends on you entirely, whose window to the world is you. The impacts of motherhood are quickly found in every aspect of your personal life, social life, and love life. It can be so easy for your identity to become “mother” rather than the beautifully multifaceted woman each of us are.
My son is two and a half years old. To date, through all of the moments of growth, I can honestly say the best advice I could give to any Momma is ‘do whatever it is that makes you and your baby the happiest & healthiest.’ When motherhoodbecomes central to your life and consumes you the effects are sometimes subtle, sometimes clearly evident, but always very real. What I found was when I was not proud of my identity as Alexis and taking care of who I was and my needs first, I was a less present Mother, wife, and friend. And in that, I also discovered that the positivity of self and confidence in who I am radiated to those I love. However, this unfortunately was something I learned the hard way a year after I gave birth.
My name is Alexis and I am a wife, daughter, friend, full time employee, free willed, opinionated, and confident woman that is a proud Mother. And I want to share my experience of motherhood and identity with you through my exploration of freedom, sacrifice, and balance.
It may feel overwhelming when you think about what it means to be a mom and wanting to work. Some moms choose to go through maternity leave and continue to focus on being a full-time Mom, while others can’t wait to get back to their jobs and the careers they have been building. To me, no one should feel guilt or shame for making either of these choices. Decide based on what you think is best for you and your family.
Working full-time and being a Mom full-time can pull you in two directions, which can make you feel like you are wearing thin. A few months after giving birth,I realized I could not throw myself into only being a Mom. I had responsibilities as a wife, daughter, friend, employee and most importantly I had to be myself. Before being the best Mom, wife, daughter, friend, and employee I could be, I had to be happy with myself and what I was accomplishing personally.
It is important to build a routine for yourself as well as a unique daily mom routine. While I was pregnant I decided that being a stay-at-home mom was the best option for us. However, during maternity leave I quickly learned that my day-to-day routine revolved around the baby entirely. I would stay home all day attending to our baby and the household errands while my husband was free to schedule his day for work and the gym. There was no issue until I began to find myself feeling jealous. Jealous he was able to work. Jealous he was free to plan a schedule as he needed. I was jealous that he knew he could focus on providing for the family and being an incredible husband. Never a day went by where he did not offer to watch the baby for me, empowering me to take time for myself and anything I needed. But I always declined because I was overwhelmed with the dreadful ‘Mom Guilt’. I felt like I should not be able to go out and enjoy myself when my baby needed and deserved my attention. After several months of being in this singular mindset that only I could provide for the baby’s needs, I felt like was suffocating myself. Something had to change. I chose to go back to work full-time. I enrolled our baby in childcare/school and went back to work. I was able to establish a new routine. Let me tell you, it felt SO good to go to work and be able to socialize with other people again. The initial pang of guilt that I felt after this decision quickly led to reminding myself that I needed to have purpose professionally and personally in order to be the best mother I could be.
Work led to freedom. I was free to grow in confidence and pride in myself. We were free to continue to grow together as new parents and young married adults. Our family was free from the restricted feeling of guilt and pressure to be us. Though this worked for us, I understand there are family dynamics unique to each and every family. No matter the process you decide, ensure you are empowering yourself through honest communication to be the best YOU for your significant other and child. You deserve to be free to be you and your family deserves that from you.
Love requires sacrifice. There can be compounding emotions through the sacrifice required of a significant other and that of a mother for her child. Our relationship has been uniquely marked by sacrifice. My husband is in the Army. He is often required to attend training for weeks or months and is currently deployed overseas. Prior to the birth of our child, it was easy to adjust to his everchanging schedule and shape our relationship around that reality. But when we were blessed with our baby, adjusting was not so easy and fluid. Raising a baby was both a team effort and one that I had to learn to do on my own for those weeks and months my husband was gone. As my biggest supporter, my husband has sacrificed immensely for our family to have the life that we do. Yet, in his sacrifice to perform his professional duties, I had to learn to sacrifice for our family in my new way and learn how to parent when he was away and show our baby twice the love, attention, and time. It was a scary process to go through on my own, and that pressure lingers even now as my husband has been deployed for the past eight months.
Being a parent requires sacrificing your time, attention, social life and sometimes a little bit of your sanity on those bad days because, let’s face it, those days happen. And through this, sacrifice without awareness can lead to resentment. It is something that builds quietly, that projects outward in your interactions with others and perspective. And therein lies that most important lesson I learned through sacrifice. My husband and I had to communicate our appreciation for the efforts of the other. We had to acknowledge the toll on ourselves and each other. We had to love that we were willing to take the action needed for our family and love each other through the time apart and time together. We had to love our sacrifice. And that is what I think you deserve. Love the sacrifice that you and your significant other need to make, no matter how great or small.
Being a business woman and a Mom requires just the right amount of balance. You must balance the professional responsibilities while also taking care of the responsibilities that your baby requires. This is not always going to be easy and there are going to be times where you are going to have to say no to social events and things that you may selfishly look forward to. There is a saying, “you can’t pour anything from an empty cup.” I did not realize how true this was until I found myself trying to juggle my job and my roles as a wife and mother. This felt like I had the weight of the world on my shoulders with no one being able to help. But you have to focus on yourself first. It sounds selfish but you cannot be fully invested in the needs of others if you are not settled and confident in the space you are in. Fill your own cup before you can turn to help fill someone else’s. Take a day for yourself or doing the one thing in a day that is just for you is often all it takes. Find what makes you happy and devote some time to it. Make it part of your routine. Sacrifice for yourself. It’s okay to need a break from all of yourresponsibilities, to make time for you, to step back and reset. It is okay to not let that ‘mom guilt’ make you think all you are and have to be is a Mom. You are so much more. Your baby deserves your greatest and most cherished love. And there is not greater way to do that than to be good to yourself, honest with your needs and that of your significant other, and fearlessly own who you are as a couple and as individuals.
The freedom that work gave me empowered me be a mother that provides for our son and our family. The sacrifice we make each day, week, and month for each other is truly seen and appreciated. And by learning to love our sacrifice, our love for each other and as parents grew ever deeper. Balancing this freedom and sacrifice was my greatest way of being a mother, wife, and friend. I have grown to confidently and fearlessly owning who I am. I love that I am Alexis. I love that I am a Mother. I love my husband. And as I see and understand the love I have as each of these things, I see that I am each and yet more. And I hope that these words help you see that you too, are each of the things you love about yourself and you are so much more.
Written By: Alexis Castro