The birth of my daughter, Chloe, woke me up.
I’d been working in the advertising industry for a decade, clambering up the corporate ladder to build the life that I thought I needed to finally be happy and to feel full. For Chloe’s first year of life, I clumsily stumbled my way through life as a working mom, waiting for the “new normal” to feel normal.
I was almost a year in, and I didn’t feel anything close to normal. Quite the opposite. I felt like I was hanging on by a thread, failing at every role I held. I didn’t feel like a great mom. I didn’t feel like a great wife. I didn’t feel like a great employee. And I surely didn’t feel like a great daughter, sister, or friend. And I didn’t know it at the time, but I was suffering from postpartum anxiety.
At the same time, like a little undercurrent, I felt something changing inside of me. It felt like a snake shedding its skin. The old world that I had worked blood, sweat and tears to create wasn’t fitting me anymore. And it was becoming super uncomfortable for me to live in it.
Lots of tears and panic attacks later, I did what I never thought I would do and decided to quit my job. It was one of those decisions that I couldn’t believe I was actually making, but that I knew in my heart I had to do. Had I lost my mind?! Letting go of something that I worked so hard to build, something that I enjoyed, something that I was good at — to go do something that was filled with unknowns and learning curves?
I knew the decision was important at the time, but now I see it as life-saving. Becoming a mother to Chloe brought me back to something I had been ignoring for far too long: myself. I’d been so distracted by all the things I needed to be and do to be deemed successful that I completely overlooked “me”. The irony of this timing is that, as a mother, I had almost zero time and space to call my own. So, I had to get creative. I declared 2017 as the year of self-care and set out to find myself. It was my official commitment to myself and started what I now see as my healing journey.
In the last year, I’ve questioned everything about myself and the life I had built. I’ve felt more joy and pain in this short time than I could have imagined. There are moments where I feel on top of the world and moments where I feel isolated and burned out. Moments where I feel like super mom and moments where I feel like I should be fired. Moments where I feel so at peace with where I am and moments where I feel like I am not enough. Moments where I feel scared of the unknown and moments where I feel excited about who I am becoming.
These moments are fluid and fleeting — just like all the emotions and challenges that come with being a mother. And I’m learning to be more fluid with them. And to accept that I don’t have to do it all to be successful. That I just have to do and be in alignment with who I am and what makes me happy. And in turn, I’ll not only be better for my family and the world, I’ll be better for me. I’ll teach my sweet Chloe how important it is to believe in yourself enough to put yourself first. In many ways, it’s ironic that in putting yourself first, those you love benefit the most.