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For months after my daughter was born I rotated between two outfits and accessorized them with a unibrow and hair thrown back in a bun. I had no time to shop or go anywhere near a beauty counter. And some version of “I can’t, I have a baby” was my standard response to most questions.
Meet for coffee? Ah, baby’s napping!
Dinner? No, I have to put the baby to bed.
Sex? Sorry honey, but are you even kidding me?
Self-care? Pffffft. When?
But the truth is I could have hired a sitter, adjusted my baby’s sleeping schedule, had my husband put our daughter to bed, and allow myself to be intimate and let go. But for both good and not-always-good reasons I chose not to.
One evening I was cleaning up from the day and complaining to my husband about how much I missed my yoga practice and he said matter-of-factly, "Well, you could practice, you just don’t."
"But…" I had no words. I was so mad at him. He was right. I could squeeze in a home practice, tote my baby along to Mommy and Me yoga, or get to a class at night. But all of the above require such a herculean effort that I find it much easier to not do anything and then complain about it. Besides, my days are jam packed already and at night I really like sitting on the couch, drinking wine and watching The Bachelorette.
Really, it's about priorities.
And nothing has shifted my priorities more than becoming a mom. I care much less about how many yoga classes I can squeeze into a week now that I have someone dependent on me for meeting all of her basic needs.
But when a mom friend of mine who had gone back to work and she brought up how she was working out during her lunch hour I was dripping with sweat envy.
“I would love to work out,” I moaned, “but…” I gazed at my sweet faced little one sleeping next to us in her carseat.
She rolled her eyes. “You can go hiking.”
Sure, for years I hiked everyday but I explained to my friend that my baby was too heavy to wear in her carrier, that our hiking stroller was also very heavy and difficult to get out of the garage, and then there’s getting her changed and dressed for the outdoors, and planning it all around her eating and napping, and the dog who I have to take out first, and as I heard the excuses tumbling out of my mouth I knew my friend was right.
The next day, I went hiking.
And it took a lot more effort than it did pre-baby. In fact, what I used to fit in before breakfast took all morning. But it sure felt great. And as I built this into my daily routine I became much more efficient. While motherhood may make things more challenging, it doesn’t render them impossible. It is easy, though, to grow complacent.
When my in-laws were in town they insisted my husband and I go out on a date night. We hadn’t been on one since our baby was born because we "don’t feel comfortable leaving our baby with a sitter." However, I was fine with the idea of leaving her with my in-laws. But that night, after being a mom all day, I was tired and I didn’t feel like showering and putting on makeup and "date clothes." I told my husband I didn’t feel like going. He looked me in the eyes and said, "We have to do this."
Dammit it all to hell, he was right again. As new parents, my husband and I had been putting our own relationship on the back burner. "Fine," I said. "But I’m not getting dressed up."
I totally got dressed up.
We perused used vinyl and ate sushi and talked about nonparenting things in between talking about how strange it was to be out. At night. Without our baby! Also, we were home by 8:15.
The next day I felt a little less like a tired mom and more like a capable woman just leading her life. I felt whole. And that’s what happens every time I muster the courage to crawl out from behind the veil of motherhood and say yes to doing things that make me feel like me, even when it involves getting off a very comfortable couch.