I remember a time in my life when wearing sweats was a conscious choice I made. Now, sweatpants represent survival. My days of slowly rolling out of bed, making a pot of coffee and contemplating how to spend my free time are long gone.
Why? Because I have taken on a new role: Mom.
Before becoming a mama to my tiny human, I had more time for myself. Time to pay attention to my interests and hobbies, time for spontaneous date nights with my wife and the occasional party night out.
Then I got pregnant and things shifted a bit.
There is this beautiful transformation period sometime between finding out you are expecting and giving birth. The sickness, prepping, stretching and swelling is tough but they are also signs of the magnificent miracle your body is growing. This is what kept me going even on my toughest days of pregnancy.
I was still very much living my life as if nothing different was happening—even though I was carrying a baby. I worked 40 plus hour work weeks, coached, volunteered as a firefighter in my town and traveled. This was me. In my mind, being pregnant didn’t mean I had to give up being myself.
I later found out that I have never been more wrong.
During this transition phase of my life, I had to learn how pregnancy worked with my life…or how it… didn’t. Obviously I could no longer run into burning buildings and maybe being on my feet coaching for hours on a field wasn’t going to do much to help alleviate my swelling feet. So, I adjusted.
I did desk work and brought a chair to practices. Happy hour after work? No brainer—I ordered a club soda with lime so I still felt included. I even stubbornly wore my non-maternity clothes until the end of my forty weeks.
I did not want to let go and surrender who I was just because I was going to be a mom. Though, the beauty of this process was that I had no choice.
Many people in my life told me how hard this would be, but no one gave me the stamp of approval for it to feel that way. No one told me that it was okay to think it was hard.
This is when it all clicked for me. I am supposed to change. I am supposed to be another version of my current self. I am supposed to feel different. I am supposed to grow and evolve.
I had finally embraced my pregnant body and this revised way of living, and then I gave birth. And just like that, I was back where I started.
The instant my daughter was in my arms, I felt purpose. I experienced an overwhelming feeling of love that I never knew existed and yet at the same time, I felt lost.
The days and weeks after my daughter was born I struggled with figuring out who I was. Yes, I was a mama (and a very happy one at that!) but what did that mean exactly?
No one really talks about the redefining moment that happens after you become a parent. It is self-discovery in its rawest form.
Who are you besides a mom? What do you like besides talking endlessly about your baby? Your spouse? What spouse? As far as I am concerned my name is no longer Jackie, I am Mommy.
The stress on one’s relationship is real and having made it through those first couple of months of parenthood, I can tell you that my wife is a saint. Not because of the whole helping me heal and handling just about everything that isn’t baby related—but for her constant affection.
It may sound silly, but being told you are beautiful while wearing three-day old sweats is a gift. These nuggets of intentional support pulled me through my new mama haze and got me to to the other side of my new normal.
Now that I’m on the other side, I feel free. I feel okay. No, I am no longer my old self—I am better, I am bionic, I am a mom.
Given the choice, I still choose sweats—but my sweats are a conscious decision again. I’d rather spend time with the ones I love instead of worrying about the perfect outfit. I may not have the luxury of rolling out of bed at a leisurely pace anymore, but instead, I have the privilege of snuggling my little girl for as long as I want.