Thoughts on Returning to “Normal” Life

It should come as no surprise to anyone that my life has changed in the last several months. For a while, I felt so irreversibly changed by the experience of having a child that I thought I wouldn’t return to this blog. But since returning to work, I find myself emerging from the haze of new motherhood and realizing that it’s time for me to find a way to merge my new life and identity with my old ones. Slowly, I’ve stopped seeing this as a complete change in identity and started re-incorporating my old loves with my new.

It was easy to see such a start transition. First of all, my nausea and food aversions ramped up gradually during pregnancy. Then, as soon as the baby came out, it was gone. I felt like a different person. Add that onto the perpetual hunger of breastfeeding and I was a bottomless pit, whereas for months I had had to avoid all kinds of things, simply because they didn’t play well with my pregnant body. There is also a mental difference. Beyond my postpartum depression, which I’ve discussed on my other blog, there is a certain ethereal sense of mental detachment that happens when your sleep schedule is so altered. I spent many weeks basically living my life around the clock, rather than having day and night. It was merely “upstairs” vs. “downstairs.”

And then there was the deep, unexpected sense of love that overwhelmed me from the first moment I saw Elliot. I knew I would love my baby, but I was unprepared by how all-consuming that feeling would be. I will leave it at that, mostly because I can’t find words to put to the feeling.

But then, after a couple months, something started to happen. I started to emerge. It began slowly, with a tea session. I spent some time to have a nice session with a new tea in nice tea ware while I was home with Elliot. And then, one of the early days that we sent him to daycare before I went back to work, I used my quiet free time to enjoy the backyard and have my tea outside, like I used to do each weekend. Finally, we got the news that my husband wouldn’t be taking a new job out of state, which meant that I would be staying in my job. I had spent so long trying to see myself as a stay-at-home mom because it seemed like we were probably going to move that I didn’t know how to cope with the idea that, yes, I was going back to work, and it would be for the foreseeable future.

I will be honest, I was not at all excited to go back to work.

But I had to. And the days of my leave counted down. I hugged Elliot a little tighter. The weekend before I returned to work was the hardest. And then that Monday came and I got up, did my morning routine, and got on the metro.

And I had a wonderful day at work. Being away from work has almost been like a reset. Motherhood has given me a limited willingness to put up with other people’s drama, so I take what I need and leave the rest, and it’s given me more clarity on my work. But even more importantly, it’s helped me see myself as something more than a mother. I’m not the “old” me, but I’m not entirely changed, either.

That has drawn me back to this space. I will still endeavor to keep the mostly specifically-baby-related updates on my other blog, but I am going to try to blend the two sides of this transition into one life, because I’m not one or the other. I’m both. I’m all of it. And it’s nice to be back.

6 thoughts on “Thoughts on Returning to “Normal” Life

  1. I had a very similar journey back to myself, or a new merged version of myself before- and after-O. I remember telling friends that I’d naively expected to be able to fit the “mother” wedge into my identity pie chart, and that the trouble would be squishing the other parts of myself to make room. Nope. The pie chart blew up and I had to rebuild it from scratch. Two years in and I feel like I’m nearly there!

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    • I think it helps that I don’t really identify myself so much with my job. It’s a little sad that I haven’t figured out how to fit dance or theatre back in yet, but that will come in time.

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  2. Welcome back! Congratulations on your baby and on going back to work and on surviving a series of erratic changes. I’ve been a silent reader of your blog btw so I apologise if this comment comes off a little creepy. You’re right, you’re not one or the other, you’re all of it, and I can’t wait for more posts from you, because I’m here for it.

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