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Having a Baby Doesn't Have to Mean Losing Yourself

Having a Baby Doesn't Have to Mean Losing Yourself

Having a Baby Doesn't Have to Mean Losing Yourself

Are you the exact same person you were before you gave birth? Or have you found that you are fundamentally different? I think many of us would answer the latter. Having a child shifts your priorities around, often profoundly.

It's in my own changed attitude towards traveling where I find this shift to be the most obvious. Before my son was born, I traveled about once a month, sometimes for work and sometimes for pleasure. Travel was a big part of my identity, and my happiness. Now, the notion of travel is daunting. Recently though, my partner and I took our two-year-old to Italy for two weeks, and it was an entirely different trip from the kind I was used to. Instead of looking for great restaurants, we were always on the lookout for parks, local kids, and kid-friendly activities. By the end I wondered, "Am I no longer a real traveler?," where "traveler" really means "adventurer."

In some ways, I feel more adventurous than before. Traveling with a child presents all kinds of new challenges. Your activities are hemmed in by nap time and early bedtimes, and you have to work even harder to procure basics necessities in unfamiliar environments. During a day trip on this recent trip, for example, my son shattered his glass bottle on the ancient stone floor of a wine bar we were relaxing in. We were hours from our hotel, and felt pretty panicked, since the plan had been to time the long car ride back to coincide with his bottle so that he would be distracted and comforted. It was Sunday and only one pharmacy in town was open. We pored over the map, schlepped to find the street address, and spent more than $20 for a replacement bottle all so that we could leave town with a bottle in his hand. An adventure, to be sure.


A Shift in Ambition

But what does this story say about me? Clearly, my priorities have changed. In addition to my transformed relationship with travel, I am also less ambitious at work. Whereas I used to go above and beyond at work, I now want to fulfill only the minimum requirements so that I have more time to spend with my family. Does this make me less of a person? I would say that my ambition has simply shifted, and now my chief desires revolve around personal happiness rather than job status. (I also want to exercise more, find time to relax, and take better care of myself, both physically and spiritually.)

Many Circle of Moms members who feel dissatisfied with their jobs say that having a baby highlights those woes. The combination leads to a feeling of entrapment. Working mom Tamra P. shares that, "I hate my job, but don't have time to look for a new one, and I fear not being able to pay the bills while looking for a new job — so much stress!"

Other moms would rather stay at home with their kids, but can't afford to. Amanda N. says, "I want more than anything to be a stay-at-home mom for my daughter.... I feel like I am stuck where I am because of the economy."

Do What You Are Afraid To Do

Do you need a little self-reinvention, whether personal or professional? If the latter, what does that really mean?

In terms of self-discovery and reinvention, try to think about your ideal job, or your ideal use of your free time, in comparison to how these important aspects of your life play out now. This will allow you to make a concrete plan to pursue your truest, most positive goals, from scheduling a vacation to getting a job in a field that you are passionate about. A therapist, or even a good friend, can help just by listening. Often an outside lister can help you see yourself more clearly.

Stephanie B. has recently transitioned from running a daycare to teaching aerobics, and though it was a scary move, she is much happier than before. She offers advice from Ralph Waldo Emerson: Always do what you are afraid to do. Given my own paradigm shift, I second this notion!

Image Source: jessbezz via Flickr/Creative Commons

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.

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