Motherhood Musings

Hi friends!  Today I want to share a bit about my experience of motherhood these first 20 months (it has gone SOOO FAST but also somehow feels like just yesterday that I found out I was pregnant in a wild life timewarp).   So here we are almost two years in, our beautiful son and I, madly in love and figuring this out as we go.  It’s been the best years of my life but filled with some of the hardest moments that have pushed me to grow in ways I never expected.  I want to share a few of the things I’ve struggled with, mainly because I’m starting to come out the other side and I think it’s important to reflect back with a bit more understanding than I was able to muster while I was in the thick of it.  And hopefully some other mama who is in the thick of this will read it, feel compassion for herself and march forward knowing she is soooo not alone.

As you may remember I fell into motherhood unexpectedly.  We weren’t planning a pregnancy and while it was a very happy and exciting surprise, we were totally unprepared.  We did the best we could in the months before Teo arrived to get our heads around what parenthood would mean for us, and how it would change things, but there are things we couldn’t anticipate that simply because we had to experience them to understand.

I think the hardest thing for me was that I felt like I lost myself somehow.  I became a Mother and then all of the other parts of me- wife, friend, daughter, business owner, creative- they all took a backseat because my new role was just so consuming.  And I wanted it that way, I chose to take time off of work, I chose to be the primary caretaker and I chose to make this very special time in our lives with this new person as the center of our universe.  And I wouldn’t do it any other way given the choice again.  I am so grateful for the bond that we have and for the memories we’ve made, and for the secure and happy little boy that Teo has grown into.  I attribute most of it to his personality and nature, which he arrived here with, but I like to think that all of our efforts contributed even if only in a small way.

This did not come without sacrifice though.  There were times when I really struggled.  I miss my pre-baby life- the travel, the dining out, going to the movies, the freedom.  I miss the wife, friend, daughter, business person I used to be.  I miss my creative self and my ambitious self, and I miss getting dressed without worrying about how my clothes will fare covered with dirt and food and who knows what else.  Mamas, you know what I’m talking about right?

I am trying to find some balance.  I love being a mama more than anything in the world.  I just also want to revisit some of my old self.  I want to reconnect with my creative side.  I desperately miss being in the kitchen to innovate rather than to rush together enough food to feed the family.  I want to exercise the part of my brain that has business calls and works with other creatives.  Speaking of, I cannot wait to share a project I’m just digging into (more soon).  I needed head shots for something so the other night I got dressed up, did my hair and had Lou take some photos for me.  I felt awkward AF but also, there was a little part of me that was like YES!  I’m pretty!  And I’m still here!!!!!  Totally silly.  Vain even.  But I can’t lie, it felt wonderful.

I realized recently that since Teo was born I’ve developed a pretty critical voice in my head, and been plagued by self doubt.  The voice tells me that other women can work, take care of their babies and do it all, so there’s something wrong with me that I haven’t been able to make it happen.  The voice tells me that I’m not good enough, that I’m lazy, that I don’t have anything of value to share, that I just can’t do the things I used to do anymore because I’m just not that interesting.  Ouch!  The voice is a defeater of hope and ambition, of creativity and joy.  My confidence and self esteem have plummeted with this negative thinking, as you can imagine.  So I’ve got to work to get back to myself.  I’m so curious to know if other women struggle with this as much as I have and do.

I feel a shift coming.  I left Teo with his dad for almost an entire day recently.  Lou put him to bed for the first time ever!  I know that it probably sounds crazy to some of you that he’s almost two and he’s never been put to bed by anyone but his mama, but I wasn’t ready to be away from him until now.  It may be because when I was just a bit younger than he is now, my mom left.  She sent me to live with my dad, and I didn’t see her again for a few years.  That fact has probably been the thing that has shaped my life the most- I imagine it changed my very chemistry and it’s certainly the driving force behind a lot of my personality.  I don’t think I’ve held Teo so close exclusively because of that, but the very idea that he could feel abandoned, even for a minute, hits me like a punch in the gut.  I’m sure on a subconscious level I’ve felt like I needed to be here for him until I felt for sure that he would be ok with me being away.  I told myself I just wasn’t ready to be away from him yet, that I would know when we were both ready.

That time has come!  He did great with his dad and he’s so independent that I think we may even send him to preschool for a couple of half days a week in the fall!  In the meantime, he’ll be spending more time with his dad and his Abuelita.  And that means that there is space freed up for me again!  Ahhhh!  What will I do with myself?!  Well, I have some ideas….. lots and lots of ideas!!!  I know it’s going to be a mixed bag of emotions, this letting go of our baby to serve him and myself best.  I hope I can do it with grace and strength.  I know it will be that way from now until forever, the beautiful and excruciating push and pull of hugging him tight and then letting him go into the world to live his life.  Ahhhhh.  Motherhood.  Brutally wonderful.   More soon!   xx- Sarah  (Dress, shoes (similar))

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Reader Comments

  1. Lynne|

    I’m so glad to hear you’re doing well! It’s hard for mom’s who had childhood trauma to relax as parents. I’m glad you have support. Your baby looks so happy so you must be doing a great job with him!

    Reply
    • Sarah Yates|

      Thank you so much Lynn! I try to be cognizant of my childhood trauma and how it effects me and my parenting as much as I possibly can. He is very happy, and if even some of that is because of us that is all I need! Thank you for the kind words and support!! xx

      Reply
  2. Alison|

    Heyyy
    All of this is real, normal and perhaps the initiation we know as motherhood.
    It looks different for all mamas. For me a similar partner of not wanting to put my child in the
    Hands of another is a double edge sword. It’s both good and makes an imbalance. But mainly
    We absolutely 1000% percent are another person. And yes you have to rediscover yourself, you won’t be
    the same woman you once were. And Yes you willl be better than ever! This is called the Labrynth of Birth.
    We go in and come out within a 2.5-3yr cycle. Definitely by two we start to reclaim ourself. Your not alone babe! Welcome to the journey of Womahood 🙂

    Reply
    • Sarah Yates|

      Ahhh Alison, that is such a beautiful way to look at it!!! The Labrynth of Birth. I love that so much. Thanks so much for the kind words and support!
      I’m easing into the idea of letting go but only because I have spent every minute with him and know him so well, and I can tell he’s ready for it and needs it. I will struggle with it until he flies the nest I’m sure. That love, it’s so much sometimes!!!!

      Reply
  3. Katie|

    Sarah! I’ve been checking in on the blog for a long time, wondering if you might resurface. Happy to hear that you’ve been spending that time with your sweet baby boy.

    I had 2 babies within 20 months, and each time, I had to return to work full time (in production, no less) after just 3 months. No matter what decision you make, it is so tough! I think every mom struggles with their new identity, their lack of “freedom,” and their creativity. But I like to think myself as Katie 2.0 now. I’m never going to be the same as before, and certainly some things will take a back seat (sleep! white clothes!), but being a mom brings a whole new awareness to the world and can be so inspiring in other ways. It’s important that we all share our stories so no mom feels like she is alone in her experience. Thank you for sharing yours!

    Reply
    • Sarah Yates|

      Hi Katie!!! Oh my gosh, 2 babies in 20 months- I cannot imagine! You are a hero. I have fantasized many times about going back to work and having childcare, but in the end until this point have chosen not to. I don’t know which would’ve been harder for me, to be with him 100% of the time or away from him for work. I think that’s the thing about motherhood- no matter what it’s just so hard!!!!
      Katie 2.0 sounds lovely and definitely more inspiring! Thank you so much for sharing your story with me!!! xx

      Reply
  4. Amy|

    I love this real, honest look at motherhood. I know we briefly emailed about our experiences, but I also think some of these feelings can be attributed to your terrible childbirth experience? It makes you (or at least in my case) realize how fragile life is and wow, does that make you hold you family close! Additionally having a complicated childhood doesn’t help. My dad also left our family and after the birth of my first child, I felt some pretty intensive anger towards him. I remember staring at my baby thinking how could someone leave this? It has been a process to see him as a flawed human being, one worthy of forgiveness, if even just for myself. I find most comfort in knowing I am nothing like him. You are a wonderful mom. I’m happy to hear you are ready to do some things for yourself too! Motherhood has a way of imploding our lives and ourselves and putting us back together in a new, profoundly different (and better!) way.

    Reply
    • Sarah Yates|

      Wow Amy, I’m amazed that on top of our similar birth trauma experiences we had similar childhood trauma! It does make me hold my family close and also possibly be a little more fearful of something happening, although I try to be cognizant of that and keep my fear mongering down. 🙂
      You are so right – motherhood totally inspires a tremendous amount of growth and self discovery. As if we weren’t tired enough. HAHAHA! Just kidding. It’s wonderful! Exhausting and wonderful and hard and beautiful. And so much more.
      I hope that you’re doing well with your (two, right?) littles! xx

      Reply
    • Sarah Yates|

      I love that too Geri! Thank you so much for sharing!!! Awe, and it goes so fast. I wish I could freeze time!

      Reply
  5. Morgan|

    Thanks for sharing all this. I relate sooooo so much with what you are saying. I have a one and a half year old son, and sounds like my approach to parenting has been very similar to yours. I put him to bed every night, do all the night wake ups, we still nurse a lot. The only substantial time I spend away from him is when I go to work four days a week at my job, and everyday I wish I could quit to stay home with him. Everyday. So many of my mom friends seem comfortable with so much more emotional, and physical space between them and their babe. Sometimes I feel like maybe I am being too clingy or something, so extra thank you for your post, making me feel a lot less alone in this. It’s interesting that you feel your own parent’s abandoning of you made you parent even closer to your son, for me I feel like my parents did such an amazing job being so there for me I want to replicate that for my baby. So similar result, different inspiration. You are doing a great job, we all figure it out as we go along, listening to our own strong internal Mama intuition. Big hugs to you!!

    Reply
    • Sarah Yates|

      Ahhh, Morgan I love to hear that you feel the same way! Such a comfort to know that someone with a secure and attached upbringing is also approaching parenthood the way that I have/am. The fact is that we all just do the best we can, right?
      I’m so sorry you have to spend time away, I’m sure that is such a struggle especially since you wish it were different. That breaks my mama heart for you. I am 100 percent sure though that your little boy will grow up to be happy, and attached, because that time away is nothing compared to the time you give him. There are babies with full time at-home moms who probably spend less quality time with their children. The time you have matters more than the time you don’t in the end I figure. It must! 🙂 Thanks so much for the sweet note. xx

      Reply
  6. Pascale|

    It’s so nice to hear from you. It’s like seeing a dear friend again, even though we don’t personnaly know each other.
    The first few days I left my children to daycare was very challenging emotionnally. But when you see them happy to participate in all the activities with the groupe, and having fun, you feel then that everyone is at the right place.
    A french-american follower.

    Reply
    • Sarah Yates|

      Pascale, thank you! It’s nice to hear from you too!!! 🙂
      I am dreading that moment of dropping Teo off at school and knowing it may be a challenge for him but that it’s also the best thing for him. In fact, I’m dreading all of those moments of struggle in his life when I know I have to stand back and let him struggle. Soooo hard but so important I think. But I do really look forward to the time when he has overcome and loves his school life, and loves his friends and teacher. That will be the sweetest moment! xx

      Reply
  7. Krizia|

    I read your post a couple of days ago and stuck in my mind. I tried to write something and I have 2 kids got interrupted and forgot (mom life)
    This happened to me, when I had my first I was the first of my friends to have kids. I felt sooo alone, I felt the boring old friend who has to stay at home taking care of the family. I stopped talking to my friends and got the baby blues. When my kid was 3 months old I was sooo depressed that I started to look for help. I joined mommy groups and started Gymboree.
    When I decided to join this groups I realized I was not alone. I have my mommy friends who have kids the same age and we can do play dates! Ask questions and share our experiences.
    The second time was not so scary, I made my own support group which is very necessary when your family is soooo for away.
    Good luck it’s just a different stage of life you’re still cool.

    Reply
    • Sarah Yates|

      Krizia, thanks so much for sharing your story! I can’t even imagine if I had to try to do this without having my friends having already done it! Their support has been wonderful. But it is a relatively isolating experience, even if just because logistically you are home SO much with the baby! That’s brilliant that you were able to recognize what you needed and create it for yourself. Good for you mama!!! xx

      Reply
  8. Chelsea|

    I had kids before I got started in a career at all. I finally went back to school for interior design right after I got pregnant and I convinced myself I’d be back in school 6 months after having her. Well I got pregnant again before I could even think about going back to school! So I have struggled big time with not feeling interesting, or having the energy to get ready enough to look like i have my shit together at all. My kids are now 1 and 2.5 and I am just now getting the energy back to wash my face regularly, put on clothes that aren’t stretchy, and sometimes think about make up. I too feel that I am the only mom in my group that struggles this much with all of this. My 1 year old would not take a bottle so I have been a breastfeeding “milk slave” for an entire year. I was really only interested in breastfeeding for about 6 months. So that has put a huge strain on trying to feel like myself again too.
    All this to say, you are definitely not alone. It seems to me that a lot of moms don’t want people to know the struggle. That want to be seen as blissful and fun at all times. Really they are alienating themselves and others by doing that. Thanks for your honesty. It’s more important than you know!

    Reply
    • Sarah Yates|

      Chelsea you are a hero!!!! Two kids that young- if you’re getting out of bed every morning and keeping them alive through the day than in my opinion you should be celebrated and revered! Anyone on earth who can do that AND be “interesting” or looking anything other than exhausted is a robot or has a nanny. HAS TO BE. I bet you’ll feel the shift soon and find your way back to your creative self and pick up where you left off. And really, the few years won’t matter in the long game. I keep telling myself that- you’re in it for the long game. And these baby years are short and fleeting, don’t wish them away.
      You’ve got this mama! Keep on, you’re doing the MOST important work.xx

      Reply
    • grace|

      I wonder if men (or husbands of any gender) realize how important they are in supporting and validating the self-worth of mothers during these early months and years? How much they can contribute by offering appreciation and support during these times.

      Reply
  9. Jill|

    Sarah – reading that took me right back! My kids are 10 and 13 now and I don’t regret a moment that I spent with them. Do lavish in the time you have to yourself to refresh – us mommas tend to be there for everyone else. And I see now how time apart incrementally builds independence – for both child and parent. And builds the daddy bond as well. I’ve since had to go back to work, sometimes full time and sometimes part time. Motherhood is an ever changing road – most days I feel privileged to be on it. But pit stops and solo side trips are a necessary part of the journey as well. You’ll meet up on down the road with stories to share!

    Reply
  10. Leah|

    Sarah! So nice to hear from you after so long! Thank you so very much for writing this, it is exactly what I needed to read. I have a 5 month old and have been checking in on your blog periodically to see where you are at with this crazy motherhood life! I too have decided to take care of my son full-time and have been able to work while he naps. I have been feeling pretty isolated lately because like you said, it’s A LOT of time inside doing the same thing over and over and over. I have mom friends with older kids who seemed like they were out and about and doing all kinds of things with their little babies. I on the other hand feel like I’m a slave to his schedule. We take one walk a day and the rest of the day I’m feeding him, changing him, playing with him and then putting him down for another nap. I see pictures of friends online with their babies in parks, restaurants, etc and I honestly don’t know how they do it. It makes me incredibly jealous. Being a mom is so much harder than I ever imagined. The lack of sleep, the self doubt, adjusting to a totally new life that is not your own, trying to come to terms with your post-partum body. It’s just SO MUCH. What does help though is hearing other women talk about the reality of their experience. So thank you!!! Now I’m going to go back and re-read your posts about sleep and see if I can get a few pointers 🙂

    Reply
  11. gfy|

    I don’t even have a child and I struggle to express myself in the world daily against the onslaught of comparisons that present themselves so stunningly via the internet and etc. Everyone seems to be so much more competent and to know how to value themselves so much more highly. I guess that’s just life? What spurs me on is the knowledge that we must do it first for our own personal growth and to know that is the primary reason for doing it. Validation from others can not be the main reason. How difficult that is however, when you rely upon self-expression for income. But that’s the point of growth and self mastery. It can be done and so we do it, ideally with a great deal of love and self-compassion.

    Reply
  12. Carrie Green|

    Love the article especially the pictures you have posted alongside. I am also planning to take a proper vacation. Thanks for the inspiration. Also since I am a new mommy, have been researching on the topic and came across whattoexpect.com which is very useful. Hope this helps your readers too.

    Reply
  13. amy|

    thank you for sharing this! i have a son who just turned one, and i related sooo much about having that critical voice in your head! how other mothers seem to have it together and take care of their babies, while i feel like my day ends with taking care of baby and housework. i miss my creative self. it’s hard trying to calm that voice and i’m still trying to figure out how. your message is encouraging and uplifting, thank you!

    Reply