Today’s guest post and response to Dear Mom Friend comes from a friend and previous coworker, Cindy Evans Badamo. Cindy is an MSW and Licensed Clinical Social Worker and works with children, adolescents, and their families. She and her husband raise their three teenagers in St. Louis, MO.
Dear Mom Friend,
Balancing life’s changes is difficult for most of us. As a mother of three teenagers, (my youngest turned 13 last week) my life has ebbed and flowed with the changes that raising a family brings.
It was wonderful and overwhelming being a new mother. I remember the intense feelings of joy that lasted for many weeks following the birth of our first. I was in love, and could not believe how wonderful I felt. I now know that it was the release of oxytocin and dopamine that sometimes happens in women as they give birth and breastfeed, but I didn’t know that then. (All women do not experience this extreme joy, some even feel the opposite response) All I knew was that I felt incredible. A few months later, when sleep deprivation began to take its toll I became extremely haggard. I was working full time and nursing exclusively (pumping at the office) and could barely see straight let alone be present with my family or productive at work. I thought I had to do it all- and was paying for it physically, emotionally and spiritually.
Luckily, I was beginning to learn one of the greatest lessons I have ever learned about being a Mom- good enough REALLY is good enough. I could not do it all, something had to give. For me, the answer was part time work. I went to my employer, negotiated part time hours and began to take care of myself a little better.
When our second was born, again that good ole oxytocin/dopamine combo kicked in and I was in heaven. She was such a gift and I felt so fortunate to have two healthy girls. Unfortunately, our first born did not get the oxytocin/dopamine boost and began to ignore me. She was so angry at me for what must have felt like infidelity. She would rarely acknowledge my presence for what seemed like months (I think it was actually weeks). I would cry daily, while my husband tended to our first born almost exclusively. She would have little to do with me. My pain was so strong; I constantly questioned my interactions and felt incompetent. I questioned everything I was doing and secretly believed not only was I to blame, but I should be able to fix it. But time was the healer and eventually she got used to having a sister, sharing her mother and came back around. I was good enough, certainly not perfect, but good enough.
When our third was born, our family was complete. My husband and I always wanted three and we were fortunate to now have three healthy children. But our son was colicky, he cried more than half of his waking hours until he was almost 6 months old. I had decided to quit work, stay home full time, my husband accepted another job and we all moved out of state. Going from a career woman to a full time Mom is a culture shock. Add a colicky baby, a new state and you’ve got quit a challenge. My husband would come home from work and I would hand him our beautiful colicky screaming son as soon as he walked in the door. Only to then leave the house and cry in the garage. I was so lost. I didn’t know who I was or how to care for myself. For me, the transition to full time Mom was one of the most challenging. It was far more difficult than becoming a new Mom. A large part of my identity had been linked to my career. I now needed to redefine who I was as a woman and as a mother.
As they became older, I became better able to balance their needs with mine. My focus was able to broaden little by little again. I began to allow myself emotional breaks to care for me as an individual and not be so consumed with my job as Mom. For me, that took maturity (there’s and mine), experience (good enough REALLY is good enough), exhaustion (sleep deprivation is one powerful motivator) and most importantly really fabulous women in my life to help. Thank GOD I have such wonderful woman to help me learn how it’s done. When our youngest was in school full time, I decided to go back to school, change my career path and return to the career world in a profession that I love.
This past Sunday we had dinner together as a family. We can’t always do that as frequently as we used to with three teenagers. We said prayers and took turns thanking GOD for what we were grateful for, as has been our tradition since they were little. We discussed our lives as individuals and as a family. Occasionally I miss those days when they were little. Mostly I am so grateful for the individuals that I get to watch become wonderful loving adults. It just keeps getting better, being this Mom person. And I am constantly flooded with such joy watching them grow and navigate all the joys and challenges of life.
I have been incredibly fortunate not only to have wonderful women in my life, like my sisters, girlfriends, and mentors; but I also have a mother that isn’t perfect. Mine is a good enough mother; and she reminds me often how I am good enough as well.
A Mother of Teenagers
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