In the heart of the city, on the first day of spring, with my laptop and a huge cappuccino.
The moment had to come, eventually. I used to love having breakfast, coffee, lunch or even dinners in my own company while living in Amsterdam. There’s just something about that city’s energy and liveliness that never lets you feel alone and at the same time allows you to hear your every thought and gives you enough space to just..be. I knew every coffee place, every secret croissant shop hidden between canals, I knew where to get the best red velvet cupcakes with my best friend, just as well as I knew where to have a Prossecco with a guy by the canals. It was my city, where it was all about me.
And it had to change as I made the decision to have a baby. And I am still figuring out all the “why-s”. There just is something that happens to us when we become moms. Every cell in our body modifies, we change in every aspect – from our looks ( yes, we do look different than “before”, more MILFS, if I can say that, whatever I will say it), to our obsessive care and worrying and unconditional love that we exhale with every pore. In one word, La Magie happens, and motherhood strikes with all its good- and not so good parts, and during all this time, we are supposed to embrace it and enjoy everything to the fullest without complaining.
But why is that? Why are we, as women, supposed to be tagged as just “mothers” by the people around us, and not as… simply women who have kids? Why are we supposed to never complain about the struggles that come along, we should we always end each sentence with “but it’s the best thing that ever happened and I wouldn’t change a thing”, why is our continuous 24/7 work seen as natural, while our husbands’ involvement in the kids’ lives as admirable?
People only want you to be one thing after having a baby: a mom. I refuse to be boxed in like that. If you’re a man, parenthood does not define you like that; you go on about your life, you have a career, you do your job and maybe you have kids, maybe not and nobody knows. But if you’re a woman and you have kids, people know. People care. And the word “motherhood” is tied to so many expectations of what you should be doing and how much you should emotionally engage and whether you should or not delegate some of these duties. No wonder so many mother say or feel obliged to say “Oh but it’s such a joy, it’s not work”. But it is work. The feeding, the diaper changing, the cleaning, the rocking to sleep, the fevers. And in all this chaos, nobody comes to you and says ” Oh you are doing an amazing job! Let me handle the rest from here”! The emotional work, the giving up of all control in your life and the lack of time for yourself is so much harder than the physical work.
Anything you used to do for yourself is now on the back of the line, in pending, and God forbid you are not ok with that because you.are.a.mom now. Being fully engaged in your kid’s life and caring for them every single day is one thing, while taking care of yourself and not losing who you were B.K (before kids) is something else. While I’m sitting here by myself indulging in a huge cheese sandwich and watching the city’s frenzy happening 5 m away from me during rush hour, I can’t help but feel like..I’m back. I feel like stopping random people and wave to them introducing myself. And I wonder, why did it have to take me 1 year and almost 4 months to do this? For me to leave the house and have a coffee by myself – no girlfriends, no husband, just me, myself and I. I just read a quote that says “Small, healthy choices make the difference in the long run”. Same applies to this whole motherhood “trap” so many women fall into and forget about themselves, forget to rediscover who they truly are and ignore the fact that in order to raise happy, healthy and emotionally balanced children, we should start by being all these things.
I found so much peace in that small corner table accompanied by my coffee and my laptop, while at the same time my heart was aching for my son. But hey, since when can we have it all and at the same time? Someone wiser than me once told me : every ‘getting-used-to also has an ungetting-used-to’. Like we get used to spend whole days with our kids, we can equally get used to create time for our souls and our well-being. A new hairdo and a fresh manicure will change your whole day; a sexy night shirt worn around the house on rainy days while making pancakes will instantly boost your mood and make you look and feel attractive; and a Saturday night out with your husband will remind you where you started from and why you got here in the first place: the love and attraction you have for one another.
So what I learned today while sipping my coffee and soaking my eyes in the hot February sun was this – it’s never too early to carve time for yourself. Whether your baby is 3 months old or 2 years old, it’s a start and it’s a healthy initiative on the way to becoming a self-confident, balanced and fulfilled mom. Don’t be afraid to call the nanny in and accept your husband’s invitation to a dinner & a movie every single Saturday. The kids are alright, as the movie has it, and they will be the ones to benefit most from your daily well-being and from their mom shining out good energy and motherly confidence.
For emergencies only: there are 24/7 wine shops around pretty much each corner of the street, so fling in and make sure you have enough wine supplies in the fridge for black days and for happy dads.