One of my most recent challenging life transitions has been having kids. So far, hands down, this is the most difficult life transition I have handled yet. Last week I had blogged about life transitions being so difficult because of the flip flopping between the past and the future and I think this is no exception. I struggled with the idea of having a little one dependent on me and losing a good majority of my personal freedom (future thinking). I kept thinking about people I had known as parents and some of the issues they talked about were not having any "me" time (past thinking). "Say goodbye to your personal life" is what I heard most often. How discouraging. I was determined that I would still have a personal life and I would find a way to balance it all! (cough... control freak perfectionist anyone?!)
I don't know about everyone else, but avoiding things or pretending they don't exist does NOT work. I really struggled in the beginning of my first six months of being a new mom. No one really clued me in to the amount of time committed to your newborn baby; especially if you are a breastfeeding momma. My mind was completely preoccupied with the baby. What time did she eat? Is she eating enough? When did she last have a diaper change? Is she sleeping enough? How can I help her sleep more? Is it okay to hold her through out the day or should I lay her down more? What's the scoop on co-sleeping? Schedule or no schedule? How are these present situations going to affect her in the future?
No longer were my thoughts me-focused. How should I wear my hair today? Does this outfit look okay? What am I going to eat today? I had somehow convinced myself that I was losing me and all I was now was my daughter's mom. I quickly started thinking about how I was going to manage doing anything else in my life beyond being a mother (future thinking). How am I possibly going to figure out how to still be a wife, counselor, business woman, friend, and daughter? After six months of trying to split myself into parts, I realized that I hadn't been voicing any of my frustrations, anxieties, short comings, or even achievements with anyone because none of my friends had kids so I didn't think they'd understand (Past issue with friends still haunting my present relationships). How often do we not express what we're feeling because we assume others won't understand?
Thankfully I work with some pretty great counselors. I expressed what was going on to one of my coworkers and realized that what I was telling myself wasn't true. I had some idea of how I needed to be and it wasn't working out that way. After realizing I needed to share the load of my emotions and thoughts with my friends and family, I realized I needed to stop splitting myself into parts and realize that I am just one Rachael... with many different roles. I just needed to remember my values, realign my priorities, and everything would balance out. By flip flopping between past and future I was preventing myself from growing into a better version of myself because of the shoulds and fears that were preventing me from moving forward and adjusting to my "new" life. Who needs to think about themselves much anyways? I'm much happier NOT having my thoughts so "me-focused" and being able to embrace the present more fully. It's amazing how much more of life you pick up on when you embrace the "now."
"When I look back on all these worries, I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which NEVER HAPPENED." - Winston Churchill
Have you ever had your worries take away from experiences you have had?
Rachael Kool, professional counselor and normal, everyday adult screw up