The space in which you exist that is your life- after-giving-birth, I've learned, is really a lot like living in grief. But no one tells you that. Maybe most don't even see it. Or maybe it just sounds ungrateful or sad, or too confusing to say out loud. I don't mean that it is like grief in the way that we feel, but rather it mirrors grief in the way other people treat us, as mothers to infants.
Have you ever experienced a great loss, and notice that people give you a sort of "deadline" to get back to your old self?
Maybe they apologize for your loss, come around a bunch at first, check in on you and show you support. Even judge you, perhaps, if you don't seem sad enough. You're supposed to be sad, and you are. And the social norm of expectation is right where's its supposed to be (insert: sarcasm).
But after a short time, they expect you to move on, to be the same person you always were, and maybe not talk about the loss anymore or express emotion about it. They pull away, become distant or don't spend time with you as much because you're just "different," or "not getting on with your life."
People want you to be who you've always been because it's more comfortable for them. If you aren't who you used to be, they don't quite know how to treat you or what to say, maybe some don't know where they stand in your new situation, or others still may have only valued you for a specific role you fulfilled in their life story. while change can be a confusing and stressful trigger to human kind, and we are creatures of habit, no doubt, what they may not realize is, it's not about them at all.
The space you exist in... after giving birth... is a lot like grief.
People swoon over the scene of you doting on your new child in the beginning, even judging you if you don't seem excited enough. You're supposed to be excited, and you are. And the social norm of expectation is right where its supposed to be.
But after a short time, they expect you to be the same person you have always been. "Don't love your child too much... you don't do anything for you. Don't love your baby too much... you don't want them to be spoiled." People may even be vaguely apologetic, showering you with sympathy if they see that you "have" to bring your child to a social situation or errand, as if your newest love is somehow a burden.
Can't anyone see that sometimes leisure and the status quo is not more important than this precious new being you've been blessed with to protect and care for? Can't anyone see that it's not something to feel sorry for someone about, but rather to rise up to the occasion for?
People want you to be who you've always been, because it makes them more comfortable. Go out how you always did, pick back up with your old hobbies, care about all the things you cared about, b e f o r e.
But how? How can you, and why would you, want to go back to who you were before? Your life has changed, whether we're looking at grief or gaining a child or a million other things, your life is never the same. And so why should you feel pressured to be who you've always been ?
A beautiful thing about life, in fact, is that as it surprises you with different major events, you learn and grow and evolve, your passions shift and morph and jump around. And it's wonderful. Even the bad. Because you get a chance to discover more pieces of all that makes you, you. Maybe parts you never even knew existed. Life is full of seasons with ample free time and exploration, and seasons of hibernation and fostering love, growth and change. Fighting the flow of life by trying to maintain an old "normal" sounds full of fear and stagnation.
So, if you find yourself sitting in a season of your established life pushing you to be who you've already been, and your post- major event-life pulling you to embrace new and different pieces of your existence, just be.
Simply be whoever you feel you are. Do what makes you happy and brings you fulfillment. There's nothing wrong with grieving a little longer, nurturing the life of your baby as priority a little longer, or simply existing in whichever messy place you may be. It doesn’t mean you have to unpack and exist there forever, but there’s so much good in the idea of taking your time.
Look for the people who love you whether you're in a funk or evolving, who continue to show up in your life, whether you're dressed to the 9's ready to hit the town or in your baby-food-covered pajamas.
Look for the people who are enjoyable to be around even without a social scene to distract you. Look for the people who can call you out when you need it without feeling as though they're pulling away.
Take responsibility for accepting people's attempts at treating you to something fun and just-for-you. But don't feel pressured to live anyone else's story that they've written for you.
And, if and when you're good and ready, feel free to be who you've always been, too. There's nothing wrong, after all, with that, either.