The guy next to me at the smoovie store at my gym is supposedly 7’3″ but he seems more like 8 feet tall because I looked like a toddler by his side at the cash register. So, that sentence was my way of casually sliding in the fact that I finally went to the gym today after a long hiatus. So long that it was mimicking a retirement. I haven’t been since…well, the point is I went tonight.
I had even purposely let the membership expire because I didn’t want to pay up if I wasn’t going to go regularly during my second pregnancy. But I just HAD to go tonight to check in. To see wassup out in the world away from my living room, away from my double stroller. I had fire in my eyes so I knew I was gonna go no matter what. Usually, to just get out the door, into the building’s hallway, past our doorman and neighbors coming home from work, through the other side of Queens Blvd just a handful of blocks away, especially in the winter, triggers all kinds of psychological obstacles but there was no stopping me tonight.
I have been feeling down lately. To be more accurate, both up and down, then down and up. Probably exacerbated by postpartum hormones but also the very natural ebb-and-flow as an at-home mama.
Moments of, “I am the most fulfilled, blessed woman on the planet as I now have TWO morsels to nibble on. This is better than ANY meaningless office job as a lawyer that I had to struggle through each day. Thank you Jesus,” but interspersed with, “I feel like crap. Who am I other than mamamamamama? I am an all-you-can-eat-buffet for my new bundle of joy when not engaging my toddler. Even during my ‘down’ time at night when the kiddies are sleep, it’s more mama duty follow-up on the laptop like arranging playdates, researching stepstools and preschools, or email-consulting with my fashion-forward girlfriends back home about different shades of red for a perfect winter jacket for my Micah.”
Though it is natural to feel like all I am is mama especially as I am currently in the thick of it all (newborn plus toddler plus winter gloom plus hating on my post-baby body), I wanted to do something about feeling cranky and lost at times. Though I am FAR from being a Martha Stewart mama, I am still so SPENT from doing only mama duties. Started feeling really imbalanced as a human being. Craved using the other side of my brain. Everything I lived and breathed was mama-related. Of course when I mention that to my own mama from another generation and culture, she be like, “AND? Of course, you are mama, mama, mama. As you should be. You blessed.”
In some ways, I can’t help but agree with her as I am old school in many ways, but I don’t want to feel guilty about admitting that while mamahood is beyond amazing and rewarding, I just want to carve out a little nugget for myself. To recharge and regroup. I may not be able to figure out a five-year plan or ten-year plan for incorporating a livelihood into my full-time mama life but I can carve out more me time, to invest that into being a better mama and wifey at home.
So after a Monday full of:
fingerpainting (to curb his requests for tv and computer),
battling Micah to please wash his hands after fingerpainting,
battling him once again as he ran away smirking with his diaper full of grown-man poo,
feeding Ellis any time he fussed,
finally getting to eat my breakfast for lunch while wearing Ellis in an Ergo because he realized that being stuck on mama was the way to go at ten weeks old,
vacuuming Micah’s tiny Play-Doh and lunch crumbs scattered about the playmats,
picking up after toys strewn all over the living room so that I won’t trip over them as I walked around with Ellis still stuck on my now sweaty chest,
enjoying a playdate full of toddler noises (x 3) when our beloved little twin friends came over to help our afternoon go by faster…
I sat on the couch to nurse once again. I started caressing Ellis’ explosively fat cheeks when Micah came to join us, snuggling on my right side. A picture of love and tranquility…
until my usually too-gentle-with-his-friends little rascal started to pull out my hair from my half-ponytail. Pulling it HARD, strand after strand, while beaming at me and beaming even brighter when I pleaded with him to stop. He thought it was hilarious. Then Ellis started strumming my tri-rolls, the fatty fats on my torso as he nursed, like he was saying, “Oh, mama! We have the same body! Tri-rolls rule! I love you, you squishy thang!”
Once Kevin walked in the door, I was ready to bounce in my fingerpainted pajama/lounging/workout/going out elastic-waisted pants and a very unforgiving t-shirt perfect for showcasing my tri-rolls.
Sure, when I got to the gym, I realized I was too hungry after nursing to do a full workout, but at least I got there. I read my US Weekly on the elliptical machine and only 20 minutes later, I was in line buying a chocolate shake for dinner. I belatedly realized that “Performance Shake” was probably meant for bodybuilders who wanted to gain mass (doh!) but some natural peanut butter and whey protein wasn’t gonna kill me. And so what if I got hungry after my meal REPLACEMENT drink and had to eat a gang of cheese on Fire-Roasted Tomato Triscuits?
What I’m gonna take with me tonight is that instead of giving into the nightly temptation to NOT step away and do something, anything, just for me, myself and I, even if it means walking around the block to talk to a girlfriend on the phone or going across the street to CVS to look at nail polish colors or Christmas wreaths or fill an overpriced antibiotics prescription, the key is to be ALL BY MYSELF. To step away. To unwind. To exhale the stale living room air and inhale some wintermint air. To remember that the world does not stop just because mama duties call, that this is just a season in my life.
Once these seasons pass, it would be beneficial to remember who I am since the boys won’t need me as much (sniff, sniff) and I can’t hover over them forever. I need these little “me” moments to balance me out and even revamp myself once the time comes.
If I do step away just a little bit, say every other day once Kevin walks through the door, I think I’d have more energy and peace for my daily duties. For playing hide-and-go-seek 11 times in a row with a toddler who never even bothers to hide and refuses to let me use the computer during the day. For switching sides every few hours as I sleep for a newborn who has started snacking on me throughout the night.
Champagne wishes and caviar dreams have been replaced with longing to go buy milk and grapes all by myself please.