Some days I miss my old life. You know, before kids. I am not sure I am supposed to say that out loud. Please don’t judge me. I know I am not alone. Just because I miss my old life, does not mean I do not love my current one. However, confessing this kind of guilt is not easy, mostly because it opens the door for mom shaming, like so many other guilty mama confessions.
A new mom recently confided in me. She said, “I knew about the sleepless nights, diapers, screaming babies, etc. But I had no idea that I would feel like my old life died.”
What a powerful statement for a new mama to make. I couldn’t stop reflecting on that conversation. It made me wonder . . .
How many other women feel this way and have never actually grieved their old life?
This doesn’t mean you cannot cherish and enjoy your new life as a mama, but it does mean it is okay to miss your old life and be sad it is no longer your reality.
I want to recognize and support the mamas who feel isolated and lonely. To acknowledge the ones who don’t quite know who they are now. Some of you gave up your dreams when you became mothers. For many of you, your identities did a 180 the moment you touched skin-to-skin with your first child.
I was that mama.
A woman who did not know that it would feel like I had lost myself during a time when everything was supposed to be so perfect. I wish someone would have told me it was okay to feel that way. Instead, I tucked away my insecurities and kept them to myself. What a scary, dark place that was for me.
I am not writing this for your sympathy. I am writing this for her. The mama who didn’t know that others feel the same way she does.
I want her to know it is okay to hold your baby while daydreaming of easier, more adventurous times.
You know, back when you went on spontaneous, long weekend trips without worrying about babysitters or if you forgot to pack the butt cream for your toddler’s diaper rash. Or that two-week vacation to Hawaii when you slept the whole flight without having to think about entertaining two toddlers. Reminiscing about the nights when you sang karaoke way off-key after one too many margaritas and not enough tacos instead of the long nights of repeated lullabies for your child going through a sleep regression. What about eating a hot meal while binge-watching the newest Netflix show, uninterrupted? That kind of freedom just doesn’t exist in mothering young children.
When it comes down to it, I think freedom is actually what we miss the most from our old lives. Freedom to go to the gym whenever we want. Being able to do a Target run and spend hours roaming the aisles, carefree. Freedom to read a book on the porch from start to finish.
It is not that we cannot do these things anymore. We can definitely still go to the gym, shop at Target, and read a book. It is the ease with which we do these day-to-day tasks that we crave. Target runs are rushed and maybe a little less enjoyable, especially with a screaming child riding in the cart with us. Books are read at a snail’s pace with occasional ripped pages and pink hearts colored in the margins by our toddlers. A gift from them we will someday cherish.
Those memories of life before kids seem so far away after endless nights of not enough sleep and being tied to the couch while feeding a newborn.
I think we sometimes forget that the lives we lived prior to becoming mamas were also important.
They impact the way in which we decide to raise our children and mold the morals we want to instill in them. When our babies are older, we will tell them about our lives before becoming a mom. Most of them won’t believe we were ever that fun or daring. They might even be surprised and proud of the women we were, and the battles we won.
Sharing stories about our pre-mom lives shows our children that despite what they may think, we were and still are individuals outside of motherhood.
One day, our babies will be grown up and that freedom will be back. I am willing to bet, though, when we reach that point, we will yearn for those sticky fingers and slobbery kisses that consumed our lives.
But for now, it is okay to miss your old life, mama. I do too.
A Guilty Mama