Posted in Blog, Emotional wellness, Family life, Just for you, Life as a mom, Mother, Shawna, Wife, Woman, Working or staying home

Zen mama

I am not just a control freak, I am an I-need-to -stay-alert-every-second-of-the-flight-or-else-the-plane-will-crash control freak. I am also a planner, a list-maker, an organizer and a workaholic.

Or, wait, I mean I was those things. A long time ago. Back before I became a mom. (Just 14 months ago.)

I had approached motherhood the way I had approached all other milestones: with a carefully detailed five-year-plan that I followed to a T. Hubby and I married in 2004, I got my Master’s Degree the next year, worked as a reporter for four years (at two newspapers, one in a mid-sized and one in a big city) and then I got pregnant right on schedule.

For the most part, the pregnancy proceeded without a hitch. I worked up until two weeks before my due date (as planned). But then the baby didn’t follow the schedule. When she finally came, two weeks late, I had been off work for nearly a month–the longest I’d gone without work since I was 15 (and if you count all of the summer camps, babysitting and other activities I always crammed into my childhood summers, I guess you’d have to say it was since I was 7 or 8).

Much to my surprise, I loved the inertia. I assumed at the time that it was my massive girth and all those pregnancy hormones, but I realize now that my transition to zen mama had begun. I practiced yoga three times a week, floated in the pool, stopped to talk to my neighbors.  I wrote and cooked and organized my closet (Ok, I was still me a little bit). I lost track of the time, the day, the news cycle. I lived an unplanned life and found myself fulfilled and relaxed.

You know what happens next. The tiny feet, the hamper full of burpcloths, the sleepless months. The joy, the magic, the

panic, the late night soul-searching while bouncing the screaming baby on the exercise ball.

When the tidal wave of new mommyhood subsided, I found myself completely unrecognizable. My focus had shifted completely from me to her. My career path seemed like a lark; my accomplishments looked like ants from where I stood. I knew that somewhere in the distance I would want those things again, but it was hard to even imagine from my rocking chair, my daughter’s warm body pressed to my chest.

They say that parenthood will change your life completely. I expected that. I even considered, in my wildest imaginings, that I might want to quit my job and be a stay-at-home mama for a while (though it seemed about as likely as me giving birth to a trio of kittens, a recurring pregnancy dream). I didn’t expect motherhood to change ME completely. To suck the control freak right out of me, and replace her with this strange creature who smiles beautifically at a messy toddler trying to feed herself with a fork and dropping every single bite on the floor.

I look at all of these amazing supermoms I know, racing around and somehow being everything to their families, their employers, their friends, their husbands. They are amazing! I thought that would be me, that I would want to every day achieve the impossible. But instead I spend a few hours at the park, read a book while the baby naps, play peekaboo with my daughter in the middle of the day, in the middle of my prime career years. Motherhood has granted me a slower life, and I’m amazed how much meaning I find therein.

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  1. Thanks Shawna! This was so good to read today. It sounds like we have a lot in common. In the midst of my new mama bliss though I applied for a job that seemed to perfect not to get (and that will never come along again). I found out last night I didn’t get it and am suffering a feeling of huge loss, but your essay reminds me where I am right now. Definitely, the wrong headspace for starting a new job full time. You helped me appreciate what I have and reminded me of everything I gain by not having to pack up, move my family and start all over in a new place.

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