N.D. asks from Cincinnati, OH on July 23, 2010
School and Baby
Before my daughter, I had a full schedule. I was in school with 18 credit hours with a 3.8 GPA, I was working full time, I worked out 4 times a week, and still had time for various other activities. Now, I am not working and I am only taking two classes. I have time for NOTHING outside of school work and mom work. I hardly even have time to get together with my family for dinner once a week, which is a 20 year old tradition in my family.
This is a totally new ballpark, and I can't help but feel overwhelmed and critical of myself. It just doesn't make sense. I used to be that person that everyone else hated bc I could get so much more done (and done well) with less time than most (are willing to put the time and effort into). What is wrong with me?
Does anyone else have an suggestions for a routine? I have no idea what I'm going to do with myself once I have to actually get a job after I graduate (if I graduate, at this rate.)
So What Happened?™
Just about every one of these made me tear up. It is so obvious, but I guess I have not been ready to accept the fact that I can't just go back to being "me". It's so unsettling not knowing who I am anymore, and wondering who this experience is going to turn me into. I should mention, that I am a single mother. If I had just one other person here to help, I would like to assume that my efforts would be much more effective. My daughter is five months old, and she has definitely been a blessing in my life. I love her more than I ever thought possible to love another human being, or anything, for that matter. The pregnancy was not planned, and came as a total shock. I was under the assumption that I could not have children. My ex-fiance has quite a few severe issues of his own, that have prevented him from being involved in our daughter's life, so, it's just my girl and me.
I always pictured myself being the type of mother who devoted herself entirely to her child's needs. All of her needs. I always imagined being at a different place in my life when I became a mother, one where I could give her all of the attention and playtime that she could handle from me. I feel so guilty that I am not giving her that attention, but I don't want her to think that having a child is an excuse to settle. I want to give her a better life than what we have going on now. When she faces obstacles in her own life, I want her to show her, by my example, that she doesn't have to be a victim of her circumstances. I don't want to teach her to never give up, only to have her ask me why I never finished school or achieved my own dreams. I don't ever want her to say to me "so if I wasn't born, you would be _______________, mommy?".
I just don't know the right answer. Sometimes, while I'm studying for an exam, or trying to fit in that last bit of homework before class, and she's fussing or just created a huge poop that needs changed, I get so frustrated. I feel so guilty for that. I ask myself if being a good mother isn't giving up the rest in order to be entirely available for her with my entire being, or if being a good mother to her bearing through it for just a couple of years. A couple of years never seemed as significant to me as it does now, though. A lot has already happened in five months. I don't want to miss out on her being my sweet little baby. At some point, she's going to be a teenager, slamming the door in my face and telling me she hates me. When that happens, I know I'm going to beat myself up over and over again for not appreciating the baby years more.
I want to give her everything I have, as that is my instinct. However, I don't want to lose myself, as I've heard so many other mothers talk about. I am determined to find a way to stay "me" and be the most nurturing mother I can possibly be. Maybe I'm just still in denial that my "life [as I knew it] is over". I never understood what that meant before. It sounded so melodramatic and silly to me, but now I realized that it just means "life as you knew it" is over, not literally "life" itself. I feel so much older, just by becoming a mom. I almost feel like I need to go through a mourning process for the loss of "myself". It's so conflicting, though, because I wouldn't trade my daughter for the world. I'd do everything all over again to have her be here with me, if I could go back in time.
Anyway, I'm just rambling on now. Thank you all so much for your kind words and advice, it really does help.
M.P. answers from Portland on July 23, 2010
I suggest that there is nothing wrong with you. You've entered a different world. Look at this as an opportunity to learn how "the other half" lives. You may have thought that everyone could do everything as you did and didn't feel much sympathy for the "common folk." Now you know that variables can make a big difference in what we can and cannot do. I suggest that this experience will have matured you in ways that no other experience could have done.
I suspect you took pride in your accomplishments and they became a part of who you thought of yourself being. Without those accomplishments and on top of that, with all this extra responsibility that is new to you you're having difficulty accepting the new you. You may feel a sense of urgency to get "back on track." In part because you were a success on that old track. Now, you need to find a different way to measure your success.
Yes, there are ways to schedule your time so that you don't feel so overwhelmed but I suggest that first it will help if you can accept that you've entered an entirely different world than the one you're used to being in and it will take you time to accept who you are in this new world.
Be easy on yourself. You've given birth. Pregnancy and birth take a whole lot of energy that you used prior to your pregnancy to accomplish all that other stuff. I bet, you used to get a whole night's sleep in one block of time. You not only felt rested, you were rested. Now, you wake up during the night to take care of your little one. You have very little control of when you can sleep let alone for how long. Before, you could schedule your time so that you had none or very few interruptions. Now, you can't schedule when you can get anything done. You could schedule yourself. You can't schedule a baby.
You are the same person you were before but without the convenience of being without a baby. Accept that you are doing the best that you can do. Know that over time you will figure out ways of doing things that will help you get more done but that won't happen until the baby is older. For now your baby runs your life.
You can have a routine but it will get interrupted. You don't say how old your baby is. Some babies take to a routine and others don't. Before it was just you and now it's you and baby. Often mothers have said that they feel that they've lost themselves somewhere along the line. It will take time for you to find yourself but you'll never be the same again. A new N.D. is being formed right now. You'll retain the essence of yourself but as you mature into this new role your priorities will change and you'll find new ways to define yourself.
And that's OK because you've taken on the responsibility for another life. If I were you, I'd not try to keep up with any of your previous standards and give yourself time to adjust to this new way of living. It's time to put all of the things you used to do on a priority list right along with all the other things you have to do now. I think you'll find that you're still doing as much but what you're doing isn't so easily seen. Also, what you're doing takes new skills which take time to learn. As a full time student/employee you were in your comfort zone having spent years doing those things. You'll develop a routine as you did in your previous life but the routine will be different and based on a different set of needs and standards.
Perhaps it would help if at the end of the day you wrote down everything that you did that day. I make lists for that very purpose. I cross things off the list as I do them and then when I feel like I haven't accomplished a thing I look at the list and feel better.
Say to yourself several times during the day. Write it on your mirror. Tuck a note into your diaper bag. I'm doing just fine. Say it over and over until you believe it. The idea is to fake it until you make it instead of being critical of yourself because you've lost the comfortable world of before baby.
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S.H. answers from Honolulu on July 23, 2010
My Husband is you... except that he works a full time day job.
He is a Dad, works AND goes to school, taking 2 classes per semester straight through the year. Even summers.
He is busy.
Prior to kids, he and I, did what you did. Had a life, for our own things and activities. We had no other obligations.... to other people, ie: kids.
Now, we have 2 kids. My Husband has your schedule except he works... and I am the parent at home.
He barely has time for anything.
I am like a single-parent... because he goes to school in addition to working everyday. His "time" is spent studying/working whenever he is home. It is important. We don't expect him to play and hang-out and goof off. He has to study and keep up his grades and assignments/projects. It just is. He gets overwhelmed too... but he knows, one day, it will be over and he will have his degree. It is a 'temporary' thing, for now.
He doesn't have time for other things either or time with 'family' either. Not very often. But it is for a reason. He goes to school, too, on top of everything else.
For him though, he will make time, to at least eat dinner with us. And he will spend about 1 hour with the kids when he comes home. The kids know and understand, he is going to school and has to study.... and it is important. It is a good example, for the kids. He will even show my daughter what he studies... and things on the computer. She finds it fascinating.
The other factor for you is, you are the 'woman' and the 'Mom' AND you go to school. Even though you are home. Raising kids, is busy. It consumes all one's time. And because you are the 'woman' .... 'you' are expected to still parent... even if you are going to school/working on school.
What has to happen is: Your Husband... HAS TO HELP... and pitch in. He has to understand and realize... that school takes dedication/study time uninterrupted/and is time consuming. It is not a "hobby"... but an important here and now, priority. He HAS to help... and with the kids... and with the household.
For me, I let slide many things that I would normally 'expect' of my Husband and his time. Because he works and goes to school. So, I do everything else...the kids, the household, home maintenance, cooking, cleaning etc. Which is not a default 'job' just because I am the woman/Mom. It is the role of ANY 'parent', man or woman. Regardless.
So as for your question about having a 'routine' and help with managing everything... you need to be able to ask for help from your Husband, sit down and discuss it... and BECAUSE you are attending school... BOTH spouses has to view this as "important" and a "priority"... otherwise you will be a poor student and your grades will reflect that etc. Your Husband... has to be a "Mom" too... meaning... he has to pitch in. Regardless of his gender.
For your question about what to do with yourself after you graduate: well, you are studying for a degree in your chosen field. If you are not going to get a job.. nor in that field...then how valuable is your school work and your degree to you personally? Once you get your degree the assumption is that you get a job in your field. Or not. So that is what you do with yourself... because as you said, you don't know what to do with yourself, after you graduate.
The thing is as well: you have a baby. So you will be busy with that too... and having a 'schedule' for your child. And as she grows up. That takes a lot of time, raising a kid. Your hands will be full with that, and your time.
There is nothing wrong with you. Your life has simply changed. And your roles. You don't have to be... what you once were. Every human, goes through various manifestations of themselves, per their life stage and age. So.... go forward.... not trying to 'stay' the same as you once were. Because that will be self-defeating. No one, is the same as they once were.
I used to be like you too.... so very on the ball, so very efficient, so very able to do it all with aplomb and quickly. But that was before I had kids. I have 2 kids now. I am a SAHM... and I still... am so busy... with no time for myself... and different priorities. I do not 'expect' myself... to be like how I was 8 years ago.... before I had kids. I am different now.... better in many ways... and proud of it. And happy.
I don't look backwards.
just some ideas,
all the best,
4 moms found this helpful
B.C. answers from Dallas on July 23, 2010
Being a mom is the most demanding job in the world!!!! When my youngest one one was 5 months old (they're almost 3 and 10 now), I began to watch 3 other children to make up for income. It was an amazing, horrible experience! Now that I don't watch the extra kids, I find my job even harder!! It's hard being a SAHM!! I'm always wondering what I am/not doing right. Time with the kids or time at work cleaning? Time at family or time for myself?? It's hard. Don't beat yourself up! When my #1 was born, I was still in HS and still graduated, leaving her in daycare, and me miserable, but I was determined to not have her thinking that she was an excuse to not graduate. You are already a great mom just for worrying about it. :)
No matter what router you choose, you're going to always second guess yourself. DONT! Do what you feel is right at the time. That's all you can do. Life always throws you more than you bargained for.
3 moms found this helpful
I.G. answers from Seattle on July 23, 2010
No routine will help you with this, that is my belief. You have to start by reorganizing your priorities and being honest toyourself what what can and cannot be done in a given amount of time (aka a 24 hour day).
It's not that you are not getting anything done, it's that to don't assign the proper value to the things you are doing. You are nurturing, feeding and raising a human being! You are her teacher, her source of comfort, every minute she spends with you, she learns from you. Mothering is the most important task for humanity. Without mothering and bonding children fail to thrive, they don't reach their full potential and they most likely will not develop into productive adults. Without mothers and other caregivers that "fill in" to nurture a young child our entire society would fall apart - and yet we do not acknowledge their contributions, not even for ourselves. Sad.
Who cares when you graduate? It might even work in your favor to take a little longer and maybe by the time you are ready, the job market will have improved (it will, it is only a matter of time, the economy is cyclic, it has always been).
Focus on your baby, she is only little once... and trust me, you will not look back at this time one day and think "I wish I had taken more classes or worked longer hours". My daughter is almost three and I still want to cry when I think about how much time I did NOT spend with her.
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B.P. answers from New York on July 23, 2010
Having a baby completely changes your life. More so than anyone can possibly understand. You don't say how long ago you have your baby. If he or she is a newborn, the first couple months are the hardest. Especially if you nurse or have a baby tha only wants you. Having a child and raising him is a huge transition and hopefully soon, you will realize that although no one is going to be jealous of you for all the time and dedication that it takes to raise a child, it is the most gratifying and unbelievable experience you can have. I think you need to be realistic though. Try working out once a week, studying while the baby is asleep and having someone take care of him while you go to class. As far as family dinners go, I don't really understand why you don't go to those. Your child needs to see his family and I am sure they are dying to see him. And if its an issue of not having time to fix your self up, try your best to look decent. No one really cares if you look perfect. Once your child is older and you have a job, it wont be easy but lots of parents are working parents and you will make it work.
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J.B. answers from St. Louis on July 23, 2010
Im a stay at home mama with a 4 yr old, 2 yr old, and baby #3 due in a few weeks. Right now Im in my third semester taking two college classes. I figure it will take me at least a couple of years to finish instead of just a couple of semesters. Which I think at least by then all of my kids will be in school so I will be able to go back to work and have my own little schedule again. I wouldn't worry about making the weekly family dinner. If anything maybe you can let your kids go while you stay home to catch up on house cleaning and home work. The weeks I have a lot of homework or a test my kids get to go to grandmas for the weekend so I have time for that and a little extra time for myself.
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Y.C. answers from New York on July 23, 2010
Yeah, being there.
I was in collage too before I got pregnant, had a 4.00 GPA, work out everyday, take care of my then 10 year old girl and my 36 year old other kid (aka. husband).
Now, I will be please I can manage to cook from scratch, clean the house (after kids go to bed, before that is just a waste of time) take the kids out for a least 30 minutes at day, have enough energy to bound with my husband, take showers...you know, as I am writing, we do still do a lot, is just a lot of something different.
Of course I could get more done if I don't spend as much time in Mamapedia, but I found this my almost only interaction with grow ups that most of the time appreciate our "mom wisdom" and I have learn here more things that even in collage, lol.
Don't bit your self, with my first kid I was a mess, it was such a shock how my life change, but by the time she went school I was so used to her it was more painful to me.
Once they start sleeping through the night is easer and once they start going to school it starts to get even more easer (slowly but it will).
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K.Z. answers from Cleveland on July 24, 2010
I read your post and the "So what happened" but not all the responses....
There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with you, you are a mom, and taking care of a little one is a big job!
Plus your hormones may still be a bit out of whack. You could ask your doc to check your thyroid, sometimes that also gets off-kilter during pregnancy. One of hte symptoms is fatigue.
I think you are right on the money when you say that you may have to grieve for the loss of your old self, and this may possibly have to happen before you can fully embrace your new self. But like other grief situations, it is not a linear progression, necessarily, you will go back and forth thru the stages.
If you have to take two only classes at a time, then that's what you do. You'll still get through it. It will just take longer. I know a mom who took a year off from school after she had her first baby (she was also a single mom), so she could just be with him for that important time. (Yes, I know, all the times are important....) She has her degree now (plus hubby and two other kids!)
You are smart to know that you don't want to miss out on her baby years, yes, they will be gone before you know it (Yep, another cliche that you don't appreciate until you have a kid!)
I think you are setting a great example for her. Give yourself a break, you are doing the best you can, and making the best decisions you can given the info that you have. no one can ask anything more of you!
Don't sweat the small stuff, the housework will get done eventually (believe me, it'll wait for you). As one previous blogger said her mom told her "Don't wish (this time) away".
I'd do my best to keep up with the weekly dinner with family though, it is good to keep up traditions like that; they (family) are important, and I am sure they want to get to know your daughter! they may be able to help you out---babysit for an hour while you go out (yes, it is important to do something for yourself), cook while you study for finals, etc.
When (not "if") you graduatae and get your job, you will manage. "IF God brings you to it, He will bring you through it!"
Don't know if that helped or not........
Congrats and enjoy your little blessing!
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