I had been a little apprehensive to write this because of how hard I’ve been working to regain my identity over the last year, but after watching an episode of Teen Mom on MTV I felt it was necessary. What really struck a cord with me was the way one of the girls was treated by her family after having her child. Farrah got pregnant during her last year of high school. Now she has a four-month-old daughter. She’s balancing culinary school, modeling, and a waitressing job with being a mother. Any time she decides to spend time with friends or date a guy, her mother and sister go apeshit. They start telling her how she should be spending time with her daughter. They go on about how she has more important things to worry about than boys or a social life and how irresponsible it is to not spend all of her free time with her daughter.
Yes, she did have a child when she was young and this child should be a priority in her life, but it’s unfair to expect her to stop doing anything for herself just because she gave birth. It’s not selfish of her to want friends or boyfriends. There is enormous pressure on mothers to conform to some Super Mom ideal that just isn’t attainable. Actually, there’s a lot of pressure on women, period, when it comes to children. Everyone and their brother has an opinion on when we should have kids and how we should raise them. You look too young and people sneer at you with thoughts of what a whore you must be, especially if you’re not walking arm in arm with a husband. As you age or get married, people start questioning when you’re going to start having kids, sometimes before you’ve even made it to your honeymoon destination. Talk show hosts enlist mothers with extremely different parenting styles to come debate about them on their shows.
Do you want a hospital birth or home birth? If you go to the hospital, will you have medication? Are you going to circumcise your sons? Will you breast feed or formula feed? If you breast feed, will you nurse in public and come to nurse-in protests when another mother gets kicked out of a restaurant for breastfeeding her five-year-old at the table? Are you going to quit your job to be a stay-at-home mom? Will you put your kids in public school or home school them? The list goes on and on and on. It’s no wonder so many new mothers get caught up in the confusion of everything and lose their identities. I know I did. I use to be a fun, flirtatious, and fabulous woman. I was madly in love with my husband (then boyfriend) and we would fuck like rabbits.
Pregnancy and motherhood gradually changed all of that.
I remember our first date after I gave birth. We decided to go to dinner and a movie after my postpartum check-up. The one where the doctor gives you the okay to have sex six weeks after you give birth. I bought a sexy little navy blue halter dress for the occasion. I use to love wearing tight jeans, short skirts, and tops that showed off my belly button ring. I was thrilled to finally be fitting into something that wasn’t my maternity clothes. We kissed our son and told my mother-in-law we’d be back later. As soon as we got into the car, I told my husband that it felt weird to be wearing something so sexy. He asked why and I said, “I’m a mom now. Moms aren’t suppose to dress sexy.” The rest of the night, I kept asking my husband if he missed our son as much as I did. I kept feeling guilty for not being at home with him. That guilty feeling continued with every date we went on and anytime I left him at home. I even quit going to the gym after a few visits because I felt bad for leaving my son with my husband.
Over the next four years, we had three more children. I was leaving the house very infrequently, pretty much just to go grocery shopping. I started to develop social anxiety. We had been playing World of Warcraft and pretty much substituted that for dating. I didn’t have any real friends and was scared to make new ones. I stopped buying clothes for myself and only wore pajamas. The less I got dressed and went out, the less sexy I felt. The frumpier I felt, the less I wanted to get dressed and do anything. It was like an downward spiral. I hated my body and how it had been changed by four pregnancies. I was miserable.
Then my husband got stuck working overnight for six months. He had been my only friend and now I would rarely see him. I was lonely and depressed. We were having less sex than ever. I just wanted to sleep all the time. I was exhausted from dealing with the kids by myself all the time. I loved my kids and my husband, but I hated my life. I would look at my kids sometimes and wonder what it would be like to give them up for adoption or if I had aborted them. Then I would sit in my bathroom sobbing and beating myself up for having those thoughts. What kind of mother would think those sorts of things?
What had I become? I felt like a monster. I had no idea who I was anymore. When people would ask me about my life the only interesting things I had to talk about were weird things the kids had done. Everyone thought I was a great mom, but they had no idea. I was terrified to talk to anyone about the things I was thinking or how I felt because I thought they would think I was a bad mother. I thought I was being a bad mother.
We bought a house and my sister moved in to finish high school. I wound up having to get a job to help with the bills. I felt so weird being in public, but it felt good. Talking to adults, making friends, getting dressed up, and wearing make-up again had me regaining confidence in myself. I absolutely loved working. I had something interesting to talk about when I came home. I would go on and on about the crazy customers I dealt with or my co-workers. I applied for my first credit card and got approved. I started buying new clothes, shoes, and make-up. I felt sexy again. I was starting to feel more comfortable with myself. I was able to let go of my anxiety. I could be silly like I use to be. People thought I was funny and interesting!
I started to think about what I wanted for myself. What I was interested in and who I am. I didn’t feel like just “Mom” anymore, and was starting to feel more and more like Sarah again. It felt good. This confidence and happiness has translated over into the bedroom and my relationship with my husband. Our relationship is strengthened and renewed. The sex is amazing now. We’re trying all sorts of new things together. I’m even giving him lap dances, having sex in broad daylight, and looking into his eyes while we’re making love. It has been an incredible transformation.
Being a mom is important but it doesn’t need to take over our life. It’s important for us to maintain friendships and relationships. It’s healthy for us to have hobbies that don’t involve our children. It’s okay to be selfish sometimes. Our kids need to see that we are ourselves first and moms second because eventually they grow up and move out. If you don’t spend any time worrying about your relationship with your spouse or doing the things you like, you’ll have nothing left after all those years you spent focusing on your kids. You don’t want to look at your partner eighteen years from now and say, “Who are you? Why did I marry you? What do we have in common anymore?” You have to find a healthy balance between motherhood and everything else in your life. In doing this you will not only be doing yourself a favor, but you’ll be setting a good example for your children in the process.