I'm Not "Back" (And I Don't Want To Be)

I remember when my daughter was about a month old and I kept thinking "if I can get back to my old routine, I'll be okay." Ha! Sure. That type of thinking was naive and it was never gonna happen. But in hindsight, I have to ask myself,"why did I feel that way to begin with?"

I think it's because our expectation is that we--as women-- need to get ourselves "back" after childbirth... Back to work. Back to body. Back to life... As though it never happened. Part of this has to do with the fact that we are completely discombobulated by the entire experience. We are irrevocably changed, hormonally on the ropes, and it's all a little disconcerting at the start.

But the truth is that childbirth is a singular experience. It's unlike anything else and, once you've come through it, the icing on the cake is you've got a whole new family member. Life will never be the same.

So what does going back really mean, anyway?

I found myself thinking about this as I simultaneously kept my child from jumping off the settee in the living room and read THIS Hello Giggles article about Kerry Washington speaking about how utterly unproductive the language of "going back" is. And I couldn't agree more.

The day my daughter was born, a new version of me was also born; only I didn't know it then. It took me a while to grow into and accept my new roles as a mom and person. I was changed in some unexpected and great ways. Sure, I sometimes mourned the changes, but mostly, I celebrate them. There is, as Washington says, no going back. There was never a way to go back, and we've got to stop telling women this outright lie

A lot of emphasis on this theme has to do with our bodies. On that note all I can say is that my body now is a thing if wonder. I have stretched myself to the brink of its capability and I'm so proud. Breastfeeding is an amazing weight loss regimen (inadvertently I had to give up dairy and lost even more!) I don't mourn a single second for my prebaby body. I know that some women do, but I want to urge self acceptance.

As for work, what can I say? I work from home, as I have for the past several years, and I continue to evolve in my career. My newspaper column was canceled, but at the end of the day, I had to just keep my chin up and continue to press forward in ways that felt fresh and healthy. Because it's not about getting anything back--not even the things that clearly have been lost as a result of motherhood.

All I want for myself and my family is be whole. Mothers and fathers have to find new ways to do that once a baby joins the family, and I think mothers have a few more changes to sift through than fathers. So we should support one another on our journey. No pressure. Don't strive to do anything other be yourself as the new mother who was born on your child's birthday. Scars and all, we are fabulous, strong people!

If women could stop using wrote language with one another when it comes to our childbirth/mothering experiences, it would be easier to do this. Stop asking mothers if they are feeling "back" to things...back to their old size, or back to normal. These things don't truly mean anything. It's like asking if your baby sleeps well (no one really wants to discuss this, do they?) Instead, maybe we could ask one another how we are moving forward. Ask: how has this monumental life moment changed things for you? Ask: how do you feel differently now that you're a mother (or father)?

These questions have value and they start new conversations that allow us to think and process our new challenges as women and parents.

I don't feel back to anything...and I don't want to be. I'm evolving in new ways since I've become a mother, and I'm damn proud of it! 

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