The first time my big, screaming baby boy was placed on my chest and promptly peed on me, I felt that maternal instinct kick in. I became Mommy Abbie. In the beginning, motherhood seemed to take precedence over every other facet of my personality. It still does, but now I feel like I've figured out how to balance all of me.
I can remember feeling sad when my maternity leave started, before Joshua was born. I had been a teacher for seven years, and had worked on my family's farm for as long as I can remember. One thing I always knew about my personality was that I'm a hard-worker, on the job and in school. I remember wondering: Who am I if I'm not Teacher Abbie? I was excited to become a mother, but I had no idea what that journey would be like. I think you can't really know until you ARE a mother. As soon as Joshua arrived, all that worry faded away. I'm still a hard-worker, just in a different way. Motherhood IS hard work, and I soon discovered that I didn't have time to even think about my old life as a professional. I was too busy!
I found I had to let go of Domestic Abbie, too, at least for a little while. I used to love to bake pies, can jams and cook from scratch. Joshua wanted to be held all the time and nurse most of the time, and I found I lacked the drive and energy to do the things I loved, not to mention the chores like laundry and dishes that I never enjoyed. My garden filled with weeds and my pantry shelves were empty. I missed being creative around the house.
What about Mrs. Abbie, the wife? She disappeared for a while there, too. Joshua's needs were immediate and highly important. Fortunately, my husband Ed understood that we had six years of marriage to ourselves before baby came along, and now it was time to focus on being parents. Ed did his best to care for himself and for me, so I could care for Joshua.
As Joshua grew, Domestic Abbie started to come back a little bit here and there. I baked a rhubarb pie and bought some yarn. Now, I make plans to crochet a rug out of old jeans or plant a new perennial garden, and I think about making time for projects that I enjoy. When I went back to work, Teacher Abbie made her reappearance and was excited to get back to doing something she loved. It was hard to be away from Joshua, but I found I missed teaching and was happy to be back in my classroom. Mrs. Abbie is slowly coming back, too. I still have trouble devoting time to my husband, but I do try to find time for little things like playing together with Joshua or the rare occasion of going out to dinner (sometimes with Joshua, sometimes without him).
Balancing all of my roles was very difficult when I became Mommy Abbie. In the beginning, I felt like a bad wife, mother, employee and housekeeper. I missed being creative, interacting with my students, spending quality time with my husband. But I seem to have found ways to channel all those pieces of me in a new way, enjoy each of my roles, and find balance. Well, maybe except for cleaning, but who wants to do that anyway?