The fact that having children literally tears most of us apart (either on the operating table or the delivery table) is a pretty apt way to start the parenting journey. Because I’m learning that as a mom I always feel torn. Torn between my goals for myself as a unique human being and the goals I have for being a mother and providing for the humans I’ve helped to create. I’ve written before about how I am still breastfeeding my one year old daughter. At this point, it’s 1-2 times a day; maybe more if she’s teething. I love it, she loves it and until that changes we keep on keeping on. This wasn’t a problem until recently when I started a macro counting program to help me lose the baby weight. OK, it’s not baby weight- it’s Stephanie weight- but regardless I don’t like it and I would like to part ways. (Buh bye) When several weeks in I started having problems with actually GAINING weight (um no thank you) I read all the FAQs which include this gem: Not suitable for nursing mothers. I’m no scientist, but I’m guessing my milk factory of a body was like- um no. We need this here, eff you very much.
So I’m looking at a choice: stop breastfeeding my little and work on my own goals or keep breastfeeding and put my goals on hold.
And here’s the problem- I think both choices are totally reasonable! I’ve nursed my daughter for a year. Everyone and anyone would tell me “Great job! Don’t feel bad for stopping!” I don’t think it’s unreasonable, after almost 23 months of my body building or feeding human life, that I want to focus on my own individual body. Can’t I just be one human for awhile? Flip that argument around and call me devil’s advocate. I most likely will stop nursing in the next 6 months or so, so why not just enjoy the cuddly breastfeeds I have left with my last baby and embrace being a little softer for awhile. See the problem? I do wonder if part of that problem is the focus on women getting back into “fighting shape” so quickly after having babies. We may say it’s socially acceptable to be a little softer around the middle after we have our babies, but do we truly believe that? Or does it make us feel less. Less worthy, less disciplined, less sexy, and ironically less feminine.
Ready for dilemma two?
I’m considering going to grad school. I’ve had some amazing opportunities pop up for 2018. ( And by ” pop up” I mean I worked my ass off for them.) I’ve been a working mom of one, but since my youngest was born I’ve been home full time. There are moments every single day when I want to pull all of my hair out strand by strand due to boredom, stress, lack of adult interaction or just plain feeling unfulfilled. Then there are moments where I can’t imagine leaving them with someone else all day. One or both of them gets sick and I’m there for them- there’s no shuffling of jobs, or carpool. I got this. Cuddling or nursing my baby to sleep at nap time- yep I get to do that. Being involved in my son’s school and being at every party and event he has- not missing a thing. But part of me is missing something, because I crave a new challenge. I’ve been told I’m selfish for having these thoughts, that this time should be about the kids. And part of me agrees… and part of me doesn’t. I also read in an online parenting forum ( just don’t go on those…ever) that going back to work after staying at home with your kids is cruel. Which I do NOT agree with.
Being a mother is trying to strike a balance between yourself and your children. We all know that. And no matter which camp you fall in: working or SAHM, nursing or formula, cloth or disposable- someone will be there to judge that choice. I’m realizing that a balance is mostly perceived and not actual; that at some points you will be choosing yourself over your children and other times your children over yourself. But at both times you will probably feel guilty about it. So I sit here with my big choices; hoping I make the right ones. And praying for grace if I make the wrong ones.