The puzzle pieces of early motherhood
Becoming a mom for the first time is filled with so many emotions and pieces of logistics it can be a hazy whirlwind to sift through to find the right fit for you. I was recently chatting with a friend that just had a baby about the fears of going back to work and I found myself spiraling back into what my life looked like leading up to Roderick’s arrival. It’s amazing how over time the mind can erase some of the hazy new mom moments. When I was pregnant I was running my own boutique and sewing studio featuring locally made goods and sewing classes mostly for neighborhood kids who were excited to make their own stuffed monsters or doll dresses. Owning my own shop meant that I was flexible but also responsible for figuring out my maternity leave and my return to work. Growing up, my parents were fortunate as musicians to have wiggle room in their schedule. But I also remember tagging along to suzuki group classes, private lessons, or orchestra rehearsals and was expected to play quietly by myself. Owning my own shop theoretically gave me freedom but it also meant that I was the one scheduling and running classes, contacting local designers and managing wholesale/consignment accounts with them, scrubbing the toilets (I think you get the picture), etc. I wasn’t really in a financial position to bring on employees. But I was confident I would just bring Roderick along with me to the shop I mean after all they just eat and sleep right (ha!)? I’m not sure if it was more manageable for my parents being that I was the only child or that my little ones were more demanding but the reality of them tagging along was quickly squashed. In hindsight I think I was more wrapped up in the fear of actually giving birth and figured that people raise kids all the time so it can’t be that hard to figure out - I would just keep doing my life just with a bonus little side kick, boy was I wrong!
It’s a bit difficult to envision what motherhood will look like since variables are involved. Here is a 5 step exercise to sort of help guide your plan.
1. Think of it like a puzzle - you know those cool blank ones at the craft store you can draw your own picture and then break apart all of the pieces?
2. Picture your ideal situation - what does your daily life look like? Do you want to be the one to pick up/drop off from the care giver? Are you going to leave your little one with family or a day care? Can you take them to work with you?
3. Take the time to look at what others in similar puzzle situations have done. While each child, mother, family, etc are different you can get some ideas at a starting point.
4. Don’t forget self care! Even if it’s as simple as 15 minutes of alone time every day, don’t be afraid or guilty to carve out that time. If you make it a priority before the baby even arrives, it will help make it a habit and can ease the transition.
5. Put the pieces back together. Are there some areas that could use some more attention? Try it with a few scenarios that may be less ideal. It will be helpful to know that you have explored different options and bring to light the reality that there will be things you won’t have control over.
You can do this before the baby comes and then a few weeks after birth before returning to work as some of the above “variables” become more solidified. Some priorities may have changed and that’s ok! You’ll be able to make more educated decisions. Ultimately I think if I had taken a little more time to focus on what life might look after birth I would’ve set myself up to have an easier transition to motherhood.