It’s very confusing. Is anyone else constantly ricocheting between different, totally contrasting emotions?
Here’s the scene:
I have been up since 5am with my tiny tot and my husband is sound asleep. It is now 7am and my resentment grows with each minute. Like seriously?! I instantly start to catalog how many things I am doing: feedings, nap time, reading, playing, etc. I start to (*probably unfairly*) think of how many independent things he’s done recently and come to the conclusion that basically he’s worthless and I deserve a trophy. He wakes up, and upon hearing all my super nice and sunshiney good morning feedback, offers to take over and get up earlier, and basically do everything I’m asking.
But here’s the thing: while I’m so frustrated and resentful, I also have no interest in not being the one to do all those things with our baby. I love playing with him and seeing him learn new things day by day.
How can I both feel resentful and also like I have everything I want?
I know there are many blogs and instagrams on this kind of conflicting emotion; for example, the idea that we can both be so ready for our kid to go to bed for the night, but also feel like we miss them once they’re asleep. I am not a mental health expert, but I am a new mom with a new experience. And for me, I think I’m starting to see that those conflicting emotions as emerging pieces of my new identity. When I look at them more closely, they can actually teach me a lot about what I need in my evolving relationships with myself, my husband, and even my sweet babe.
Baby relationship: my gosh, he’s cute. Through time with him, I most clearly see my new identity as caretaker and unconditional love-giver. I love spending time with him and he makes me so happy. However, I’m also not my best momself when I am running on E. So, through this I can learn that I have to actively fight the urge to stay with him all the time and do things that give me some sort of rest or energy.
Husband relationship: also pretty cute. Through our changing dynamic as new parents, I see my new identity as “independent mom”, as we are often dividing & conquering to get through the day. And when I dig into this identity, I really don’t mind the actual act of doing a lot of things on my own; rather, I mind when I do them and feel like they aren’t appreciated or noticed. So I’ve learned to communicate these feelings to my husband and share my need to hear validation. And truthfully, it’s also made me reflect on the fact that I can also do more to acknowledge and celebrate all my husband does.
Myself relationship: I am learning to understand my new identity that exists outside of the identity I used to find most prominent, that identity being the career I had before baby was born. This new identity feels a little uncomfortable, like it’s truly pushing itself out from the ground and finding space, like something is blooming. In this, my identity often feels rather empty because I don’t really know how I would define it. And in this “emptiness,” I am learning that I need to consciously reflect on who I am and try to name different elements I could see as part of my identity: explorer, learner, creative-play-maker, performer, chef, teacher, thought-partner, problem-solver, etc. For me, naming those things helps me proactively and intentionally feel fuller in my sense of self.
Moving forward, I’m sure I will still find my emotions in conflict with each other. But I hope I will take the time to pause, notice which piece of my identity is speaking, and learn what I might need in the moment. Because real talk, moms have needs too!