Being in a completely different country without my children made for a much larger learning experience than I had anticipated. I was completely removed from everything that I associate myself with on a daily basis in terms of routine. My responsibilities as well as most of what I hold in my heart were left in the home that we built around them while Justin and I flew thousands of miles away to find a little space, and rediscover a bit of ourselves. It’s so obvious and natural for us to be-willingly and eagerly-completley immersed in the lifestyle that we’ve created, Justin as a dentist and a father and me as a mother and a creative, social gypsy.
What I didn’t realize I would find was a bit of me, the self that I spent 27 years getting to know before I became a wife and mother and fully devoted to both. This understanding has come with the wisdom that bestows each blessed year on this earth along with the patience and selflessness of bearing and raising children. Despite that rediscovery, the self awareness and knowledge has been there all along, quiet yet strong. It felt really strange to be solely completely responsible for my own needs for nearly a full week straight, but it was something that I didn’t know I really needed.
Coming home I decided (like, I actually had to mentally make the choice) that regardless of schedule or other demands of everyday life as a working parent of three young children, I would make time for myself. It’s essential to preserve what I had found on that island in the Caribbean before I become physically and mentally devoted to our newborn baby and our new family dynamic in the next several weeks. I’m admittedly apprehensive about the mental and physical toll that a new baby will bring, especially as I’ve already felt it happening. Not as it affects me, rather how it will affect Jack, Zoe and especially Beau. The excitement and anxiety is rising, and in order to temper it in some way I’ve taken to swimming laps whenever and however I can.
The only time I’m able to completely let go of everything is about 15 minutes into a good, long swim. Or, in the middle of the Caribbean, physically thousands of miles away from my responsibilities… Our local athletic club is much more manageable. It took our trip away to remind myself that it’s really good to find this space that I’m able to devote to my own well being, and how crucial it is to my health and how it affects my family as well.
And, as long as I have someone along to help, I can bring the kids to swim and play too.
I’m not a stranger to the hormonal effects of pregnancy, and having experienced postpartum anxiety after I had Jack, it’s definitely on my radar to be proactive about taking care of myself in the best possible ways before and after our new bundle arrives. That means building up myself and my team around me, because asking for help is the single most life-altering decision I’ve learned to make as a mother. Whether or not that means hiring someone to clean my house, play with my children for a couple of hours, or taking the kids out to eat more than once a week, so be it. I’m lucky to be in a space that I can finally afford these things without causing too much worry and stress financially.
It’s good for me, it’s good for my people.
My dear friend Katherine Stone recently celebrated her 10 year anniversary championing women’s health with her nonprofit organization, Postpartum Progress. I wish I had known about this incredible resource and community when I experienced these things with Jack. It’s been completely awesome to watch how many women have been helped though Katherine’s work, and I encourage anyone who has experienced,or someone you know that is going through any mental postpartum illness to visit this site. Her annual fundraiser, Climb out of Darkness, has raised over $160,000 (their goal was $100,000) this year alone. It’s a force in this community to be sure and I am more than happy to support it.
Be healthy and strong, mamas. xo