I’m going to let you in on the punchline now: after having kids, it took me two years to feel some kind of normal again. Yes, you read that right, two years. Actually, to be completely honest, it was more like two years and another month or two. And to be brutally honest, I’m still not to a place I’m actually satisfied with yet.
After my husband and I had our first, I read somewhere that two years was the amount of time it took a woman’s body to heal and the ideal length to wait before getting pregnant again. To that, I thought, “pshhh, sure,” and we decided to try for our second when our first was just over a year old.
It wasn’t until just recently–shortly after my second’s second birthday–that I realized I was starting to feel and do things like I did before kids. For example…
Before kids: I had no problem filling my days with several events and things to do.
After kids: If we attend one major event over the weekend, that’s it for the weekend because it’s exhausting.
Before kids: How could doing one thing possibly be exhausting to anyone?
After kids: … I was an idiot.
Before kids: I’m going to run to the store at 10 p.m., because why not?
After kids: Someone could not pay me enough to leave my house at 10 p.m. for anything.
You get the picture. Since I’ve surpassed my two-year mark, however, I’m starting to gain pre-children energy back. I want to do several get-out-of-the-house “major” events in a day again. I’m starting to physically and mentally notice things that weren’t as prominent right after kids. It’s not a big, exhausting deal to hang out with friends in the morning, take the kids to see grandma and grandpa in the afternoon and go to a painting class in the evening all by myself.
This may sound discouraging if you’re just starting your journey, but it’s more to tell you it’s okay to be fumbling around for a while. If you don’t step foot outside of your home some days, you shouldn’t feel guilty. You can be that person who’s ten minutes late to everything, with a stain on your shirt and your hair in a messy bun because you only slept three hours. It will get easier, you will get better, but that may not mean you feel normal then either.
By no means is this to say you won’t be on your A-game for years, it just takes more effort, and you, mom, are not required to function at that level of effort day in and day out. Realize you’re in the trenches of exhausting motherhood, and that generally means the only thing that gets you to the other side is time. Time to heal, time to grow and time to find your way through.
Now, (two years later) I don’t feel like I need to plan three weeks in advance, allot seven hours for everything and pray to the terrible-twos gods every time I go out. I can wrangle up my kids and go do whatever, whenever because I’m me again. I’m trying to tell you there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Day by day things get easier, but at some point, you exit the tunnel. You may be on the other side with a new view, but the relief of feeling like yourself again will come.
To the mom who has met all the “it gets easier” milestones but still feels like half the person they were, that doesn’t last forever either. Remember your other half is currently completely absorbed in your baby whom you’re working tirelessly to make into a whole person, just as you’ll be again. Soon enough.