The Many Faces Of Perseverance Blog Series. I thought it would be nice to take the filter out of our daily lives and to be able to relate to many different people about struggles that we each face. I am learning everyday to embrace the struggles we go through, instead of fearing them. I am learning that everything we go through is putting us on our path and helping us grow. I am learning that even when its uncomfortable and hard that we are learning so much about ourselves and that our struggles are shaping us into a better version of ourselves. I hope you gain guidance, inspiration, and support from this series – Alexa
Stephanie, what made you want to share your story?
When I became a mother, I was pretty young. I wanted to be the absolute best mother to my son and in the mix of trying to be the best mom, go to college and put the final steps into my career, I lost myself. Being a mom is the most rewarding job on earth, but it is also exhausting and can be overwhelming. I hope when other mamas read this, they can relate or maybe even learn from my mistakes!
At the young age of 19, I got pregnant with my first child and at 20, I gave birth to him. My then boyfriend (now husband) and I were so excited but from a very young age, I struggled with extreme anxiety. I hid it well , but I couldn’t hide it once this wrinkly, little newborn was placed on my chest.
Being young and pregnant, I had my guard up. I felt the pressure of family and friends. How could she possibly be a good mom at such a young age? She’ll definitely need help. Are they crazy? Anxiety, fear of failure and love made me become a mother, and nothing else. No more Stephanie the friend, no more Stephanie the daughter, no more Stephanie the college student, nothing. Just mom.
When this tiny bundle of joy came into my life, I gave that tiny bundle of joy 140% of my life. I wanted him with me and near me at all times. I did not leave him (not even for five minutes) until he was FOUR months old. And that was just to go to dinner with my husband. I wanted to ensure his safety (not to say I didn’t trust others but with extreme anxiety, you fear the worst can happen, to avoid that feeling, you do whatever you can to keep it away) in my case, that was keeping him with me at all times. I began to fear having a job, I wanted to be with him, always. I gave all of my attention to my son, and no attention to myself. I lost myself. I lost my identity.
Fast forward some, I was pregnant with our second child. At this point, I hadn’t even realized that I had completely lost myself. We were ecstatic. My husband and I want a huge family, because let’s face, our children really are our entire world. We couldn’t wait to bring this sweet baby girl into our family.
A couple months after my daughter was born, I was exhausted. I’m talking running on zero hours of sleep, taking care of a defiant toddler who was adjusting to being a big brother, and a newborn baby who demanded my attention at all times. My husband was working two jobs so I could be home with the babies. I remember this day distinctly; he walked in the door tired, from working both jobs and I begged him to go to Target by myself to regain my sanity. I needed just a half hour of alone time. I walked into Target for the first time without children in MONTHS. I felt awkward and uncomfortable and it hit me right there in the dollar section of Target.. I lost myself.
I gained control, grabbed a cart to make up for the normal double stroller I was pushing and walked around that store for an hour thinking how could this happen? How could I possibly be here, in Target, realizing I cannot identify as anything but mom.
Don’t get me wrong, I full heartedly believe I was put on this earth to be a mother. I love being a mom more than anything in this world, but I also believe to be the best mom I can be, I have to take time for myself and have my own identity.
I went home that day, put my sweet babies to sleep and talked to my husband, my best friend. I told him what was going through my head and with full support, he said he’d help me gain myself back.
With anxiety, change can be hard. So at first, I started out with having my husband put our son to sleep and I put the baby down. Once the kids were asleep, I forced myself to have alone time for even just an hour. I would watch Netflix, take a bubble bath, crochet, or even just do a small craft. It was amazing what just an hour a day to myself did for me. I began finding old interests, old hobbies, connecting with old friends and new friends, setting up coffee dates or even just going to Target alone for an hour. I remember thinking damn, I really can be more than just a mom.
I became a better mom. I wasn’t so mentally exhausted. I was happy and fulfilled, it was amazing. It is amazing.
Some days, I still have to stop and remind myself to take a little “me” time but I’m truly getting there and I’m proud of the mom, wife and PERSON I am becoming.
My advice to new moms and old – Make time for yourself. You don’t have to physically leave your child every day for hours in order to do this. A bubble bath, a book, a trip to Target; just do it! You need time, too. You can’t pour from an empty bucket!!