Lately, I’ve been grappling with the idea that in three short months, when I give birth I will no longer be just Melissa; I will also be Mom. It has taken me many years, travels, therapists to truly start loving Melissa and even now I’m not always sure of myself. So, accepting this other name as my new title might take time to adjust to. One thing is for sure, after all the searching I’ve done to find myself, I don’t want to just give “me” up.
I’ve attended several mom seminars and sessions about Postpartum Depression, and the statement I hear over and over again is: once you become a mom, the old you is dead. How depressing is that? I understand that you change when you become a mother. You’re more selfless. You think of your kids needs above your own. You give up your freedom and tranquility. You give autonomy. You’re expected to be perfect, because the world and your child and your partner are watching.
No more long baths. If you work- people ridicule you for not raising your kids. If you stay home- people put you down for having no drive or purpose. If you say no to your kid you’re stifling their growth. If you never say no, you’re not disciplining them right. If you give them a treat every once in a while, you’re gonna cause obesity. If you never give them treats you’re too strict. Women and mothers can never win. In the process you’re past self shrivels up and dies next to all you’re old memories and party attire.
I don’t want this. I want to be a mom, but I still want to hold on to a semblances of myself. I like myself. I spent a lot of years learning to like myself and celebrate myself. How can I be expected to abandon that person I worked hard to become and to love? Will I be considered a bad mom, if I hold on to me?
Of course, I already love the little boy growing inside me. Once he’s out of my womb, I would die for him. I’m going to say something most people won’t like, but while he’s still inside me, I won’t die for him. I won’t give up myself right now so he can live a life without me. Hate me if you want, but I want to meet him and be in his life and if for some horrible reason his life were to threaten mine before he’s born, I’d have to sadly choose myself in this scenario. Does that make me a horrible person? I’m not ready to be that selfless yet.
When he’s born and I see him then I’m willing to sacrifice myself for him. That being said I want to hold on to at least a few threads of my own individuality as I become Mom. I want to continue working at my job, because it makes me happy and gives me purpose. I want to still see my girlfriends regularly with and without him. I still want to occasionally take long hot showers and get mani pedis. I want alone time to decompress and to write. Am I selfish for desiring these things when I become a mom?
I also want to hold my baby constantly and read to him and sing to him and hold his little hands in mine. I love him, but that doesn’t mean I can’t continue to love myself. I also want to continue building on my relationship with my husband. We are important too. We need to hold on to us in this process. We can’t sacrifice us to be perfect parents to him. Hopefully he will understand.
When I was 12, my mother lost her business and went back to school to complete her Bachelors degree and to get her Masters in Child Psychology. She worked the whole time at Headstart then as a school lunch lady. I was annoyed with her. I felt abandoned. She was always busy and stressed out. We attended her graduations. She went on to become a Guidance Counselor.
Years later as an adult, I look back on those years and truly admire her. She was not willing to just give herself up for us. She worked hard to improve herself and reach her goals. As a child,you may not understand and appreciate your mother for her hard work if it is focused on her not you. As an adult, you learn that she did what she had to for the betterment of herself and ultimately the family. She is my hero.
I have goals. I want to succeed in achieving those goals. Of course, I want to be a great mother but I also want to one day be an Executive Director of a Nonprofit. Can’t I be both? I know I can’t be perfect at both, but I can try my best. I hope that my child or children will admire me one day for my hard work. I don’t want to neglect their needs or miss their milestones in pursuit of my own success though. This is where women get criticized in the workforce the most. We can’t be 100% driven in our careers and be 100% present for our kids.
Sacrifices will have to be made. I will have to be half Mom, half Melissa the career woman, and 100% crazy for trying to be both. Judge me if you will, but women have figured out how to make this work and been successful at it. I’m definitely not the first nor will I be the last. I’m just tired of hearing about the impending funeral of myself. I’ll let some parts of me die, but no way am I killing Melissa off completely to be Mom.