New Year, New Mom Reflections!
2023—while incredible in an immeasurable number of ways—was also the hardest year ever.
I don’t know if people know this but being a mom is hard (lol).
I am really proud of how Mike and I tackled parenthood this year. I’m so thrilled that Benjimin fit so well into so many aspects of our lives (like eating out a lot + travelling). And honestly he is such an amazing baby. We are so lucky and so grateful to have this babbling bundle of joy in our lives. We have had so many wonderful moments.
But being a parent is pretty hard (understatement of the year).
And I think, as a working mom, it’s been a little more challenging than it would be had I actually taken a proper maternity leave. Since I work for myself, a formal ‘leave’ wasn’t really an option. And because of my workaholic tendencies (this is not something to be proud of, it just is), I really tried to juggle a lot this year and I think for the most part, I juggled successfully—but at the expense of my mental and physical health. I wonder what it would have felt like to spend days with Ben where I wasn’t also trying to send an email, bang out a post, edit graphics or any number of things working for myself requires.
They say you should try to nap when the baby naps and that’s always laughable because traditionally moms have to choose between napping or housework.
For me it was deciding to nap, do housework, or do work work. No matter what, I was and still am behind on something. There was never and continues to not be enough time in the day to do all the things I need or want to do, even with a supportive partner.
I make sure I have moments with Ben where I’m fully focused but even then I feel I can get away with it for a short time before I need to get to something else. If I don’t do things during the day I’m up late into the night. Do I stretch myself now or suffer later? I know these feelings are temporary. I know I’m being a good parent and doing good work. And heck, eating great food and going cool places. But I also know I could be doing all of those things better. Or like, should I only be doing the one thing better (being the mom)?
I love being a mom and I love the work that I do, but combined, I struggled last year. I am struggling. I am not really showing it, but I’m not really okay lol. But at the same time, I am because so many things are so good. But some things are so hard. And a lot of that hardness is in my head. See how this is hard? lol.
For me, parenting itself doesn’t feel hard. Yes, you don’t get as much sleep as you used to, or that you’d like to. Yes, it takes longer to get out of the house with a baby. Yes, you are now responsible for a whole human and that means a lot. Yes, it’s more expensive—there’s so much more things you have to account for, like for instance, fruits and vegetables when maybe your fridge wasn’t as stocked with those sorts of things before, but now you feel guilty if you’re not providing enough of those types of foods for baby. But it’s all do-able. We’re doing it.
The hardest thing for me personally isn’t the act of being a parent—changing his diaper, putting clothes on him, reading him books, keeping him alive, that’s all stuff. Yes that can make for long and challenging days and it is harder tasks than if you did not have a baby of course. Actually changing a 10-month old baby’s diaper may be one of the hardest things you could actually do as they squirm all over… lol. But honestly, that’s all do-able stuff.
The hardest thing for me as a new parent is reconciling the time and work and priorities I had before I was a parent and sitting with what that means now that I must prioritize Benjimin. And the feelings that come with the mental back and forth of doing things with baby and doing things unrelated to baby and feeling like I’m not doing either thing good enough.
And I want to make the distinction, it’s not that I miss the life I had before Ben because I’d say by and large I’ve been able to maintain that life pretty darn well. It’s specifically the desire for more time in the day to do everything that I want to do and because there isn’t that anymore, I feel like I’m failing. That mom guilt is something else!
I know we are doing so much for Ben and that he is doing great. So well! So loved. So cared for.
But that guilt is always there.
Should I be giving him more variety of food? How do I get him to eat more? Should I be playing with him more? Did I drive him too long when I ran errands? Does he think I’m ignoring him if I’m on my computer or my phone? Did I position the phone away from him enough so he doesn’t get weird baby screen time? But really the biggest one—am I working too much? Should I not be working right now? If I’m not working, when the heck am I going to get this work done?
I don’t feel guilty going out to eat, or having moments without Ben. I want to be clear about that.
I think it’s important for parents to have their own time and do their own thing and I think Mike and I have created a really great groove of when we’re parenting together and when we’re parenting alone to let the other person have their own moments. I am so thrilled that we do that. I am so thrilled that we can take Ben out to eat with us and that we can take him on our travels. That was really important for us going into parenthood. Those things I think we knocked out of the park in 2023, our first year as parents.
But I really sucked at maintaining a work/life balance + time management and going into 2024, I wonder, I hope, it will be different. That it will be better? Part of that involves Benjimin going to daycare—maybe? The wait lists are so long? I feel like we dropped the ball on that whole thing and might not get in? lol. So will I be juggling Ben and work full-time for another year?
If something’s got to give, it won’t obviously be parenting so do I need to scale back my work?
But I don’t want to do that.
I think for most parents / moms, not working can be a very welcome thing.
And frankly, the whole cog in the capitalist machine is pretty overrated (and bad for society).
But I love working. I love creating. I love doing what I do. I love being a mom too.
You should be able to do both. But how well can you do both?
This was my main mental struggle in 2023 going into 2024.
Of course it goes without saying that parenthood is hard even for moms who are fully focused on being a mom / not juggling another job. Obviously I am not the only mother / working mom who has felt this way. Nor do I really have any tips or advice around this (yet?)
There is not really a neat bow to tie at the end of these reflections.
I just wanted to put my thoughts down amongst the fun year-end / new year content.
I am looking forward to seeing what the year holds, and hoping that 2024 Linda has a better handle on this mental back and forth of working and parenting.
If you made it to the end of this post, you get rewarded with cute Benjimin photos!
Just me and Ben as this is more about my mom struggles than general parenting, sorry Mike lol.