Most people know that once you become a mom everything about your life changes. I expected for my life to do a complete 180 once I had kids – but what I didn’t expect was to become completely unrecognizable to myself.
Since the summer of 2010, Roller Derby has been a HUGE part of my life, almost to the point where it defined who I was a person.
When I first began my Roller Derby journey no one believed it was something I would stick with. Being under 5 feet tall (just barely) and not really fitting the hard hitting body type, most only gave me a few weeks before they figured I’d quit.
Fast forward 5 years and there I was, attending every boot camp and training opportunity available. My evenings and weekends were spent learning everything I could about the game. I was at my most fit and not only did I look my best, but I felt my best. I was happy, healthy, and completely in love with this unconventional sport.
Then in 2015, I became Pregnant.
Needless to say, a full contact sport was no longer in the cards for me. While I have found ways to stay involved, hoping I would be able to return to skates shortly after the little one was born, my relationship with Roller Derby changed.
And so did my relationship with myself.
You see, motherhood has always been my endgame. For most of my life, I have daydreamed about raising sweet beautiful babies. I had often thought about what it would be like to bake cookies with my children. Or to read them bedtime stories before tucking them in and kissing them goodnight.
I was also certain that once I had kids I would be one of those moms who managed to find the perfect balance between being a mother and being the person I was before having babies. Every part of me believed that maintaining some pre-baby normalcy would be possible for me; I even had myself convinced that returning to the sport I loved would be easy.
As it turns out, I couldn’t have been more wrong.
My plan to return to skates hasn’t quite gone how I imagined it would. It has been almost a year since my son was born and I have laced up twice.
I have struggled to find any sort of balance, let alone a perfect one. Oh and that pre-baby normalcy, I mentioned earlier? Yeah, that’s nothing more than a distant memory.
Well, the answer is simple – life.
And by life, I mean Mom Guilt.
When I first heard the term Mom Guilt, I thought it was completely absurd. Not the idea that a mother (or a father) would experience the feeling of guilt, but the idea that they would associate that feeling with attending to their own needs. As parents, you spend 99% of your life focusing on keeping your little humans alive. Surely it would feel okay to put yourself first every now and again?
Now that I am a member of the Mama Tribe I completely understand why the term Mom Guilt exists. Anytime I do anything that takes me away from my son, my family or my responsibilities as a mom I feel as though I am doing something I shouldn’t be.
It could be something as simple as taking a bubble bath that triggers the guilt.
That’s right, a bubble bath!
Because that time spent alone, relaxing for maybe half an hour in the tub, could be spent doing something else – anything else.
Laundry needs doing, dishes need washing, meals need preparing. How dare you (or I) take the time to have a bubble bath. Who cares if all you need is a few moments alone with your thoughts to recharge.
Then there are those moments, while you are in the tub when you hear your child crying and immediately feel the need to tend to your baby.
Even if your baby is in the perfectly capable hands of your partner.
But here is the thing about mom guilt. Even if you feel it on a regular basis, it is something that you need to learn to ignore. At least a little bit.
Because if you don’t take the time to take care of your own needs as a mom, you aren’t going to be the best version of yourself. And your family deserve the best version of you.
When you don’t take care of yourself, almost everything in your life becomes a struggle. Getting out of bed in the morning and tackling the day can seem like a huge task all on its own. The smallest of things start to irritate or frustrate you for no reason.
Your sweet darling baby can start to frustrate you for no reason.
You find yourself picking arguments over things you normally wouldn’t care about. You begin to feel as though everything is your responsibility, regardless of the support system around you. Then you start to justify why you no longer make plans because staying at home feels like the only thing that you should do.
Not taking care of yourself and or ignoring that mom guilt can lead to a downward spiral of feeling poorly about yourself as a mother, a partner, and as a person.
You deserve more than ever feeling poorly about yourself.
Everyone tells you how much life is going to change when you start having kids. You believe them, but you don’t always know to what extent. I believed with every part of my being that my relationship with Roller Derby would go back to normal, but it hasn’t. To be honest I am not even sure if I will ever play again.
But that is okay.
I am finding new passions in life and am creating new outlets that give me the “me time” I need. I am more open with my partner about when I start to feel less like the version of me I want to be.
Slowly, I am beginning to understand that regardless of the overwhelming sense of responsibility I feel to take care of everything all the time, that I also need to make taking care of myself a priority as well.
Even though I have only just begun to focus on finding a few hours each week to make myself a priority I am already noticing the positive effect it has had on my life. I am happier when I am home and I no longer find myself frustrated when it takes a little longer than usual to get my son down for bedtime. I am excited about making plans, and I LOVE the fact that when I leave my house, I miss my family and can’t wait to get back home to them rather than feeling like I have to be home with them.
Motherhood is a huge job where you don’t get to take days off. So while you are taking care of everyone around you have to remember that it is okay to take care of yourself too.
*** On a side note, there is a huge difference between feeling a little mom guilt and experiencing PPD. Postpartum depression is a very real thing and is not one size fits all. If you think that you might be experiencing PPD, I strongly encourage you to talk to someone. For more info on the symptoms of PPD please check out this link