Monday, March 14, 2016

Why I Stopped Worrying About Staying Relevant

When I was pregnant and still working, I would daydream about being at home with my new baby. I loved my job, but I was excited and thankful to be a stay at home mom once the baby arrived. I pictured us playing, learning, and experiencing together. While those things did come to fruition, a lot of other things I didn’t expect also came into play. Feelings of fear, restlessness, and resentment started to creep into my days. I didn’t know why. I had everything I ever wanted…a beautiful baby and the opportunity to be a stay at home mom. Why was I not completely and absolutely fulfilled? After many months of contemplation and serious reflection, I figured it out. I was too worried about staying relevant.
Whether or not I was fully aware, I spent most of my pre-baby days working my butt off to stay relevant. Relevant at work, relevant in my social circle, relevant in my city. I wanted to be on the scene, in the loop, and on top of every new trend. I prided myself on knowing the coolest new places to eat and drink before everyone else. My friends came to me when looking for new music and book recommendations. Then the baby came and all of that grinded to a halt. Now my days were consumed with breastfeeding, diaper changes, and praying that I could sneak in a quick shower while the baby napped. I was totally and utterly irrelevant. To my disbelief, the world went on without me (and so did some of my friends). I felt like shouting from my front porch “Hey! I AM COOL! Believe me! I am SUPER cool!” But no one cared. People stopped coming to me for advice on dating and where to find the best happy hour.  

Being forced to shed your previous identity is tough. Really tough. I knew motherhood was no walk in the park, but nothing really prepared me for all the soul searching it would entail. I was ready and willing to put everything I had into motherhood, but all the baby books and classes in the world did not prepare me for the physical, mental, emotional, and social sacrifices that being a mother would require. When I was pregnant I constantly received unsolicited advice: “Oh honey, sleep while you can…This is going to completely change your life…You will never be the same…” But no one talked in-depth about the metamorphosis that I would have to fight through, while also caring for a newborn. I felt like Kate the Writer, Kate the Dancer, Kate the Teacher, Kate the Comedian, and Kate the Friend were all forgotten and from now on I would only ever be known as Kate the MOM.  
What I didn’t realize, however, was that turning into Kate the Mom would actually bring me the most reward. Once I stopped worrying about what I was missing out on and started focusing on being mindfully present, I gained a new kind of confidence and strength.  Becoming a mom taught me that I am enough. I don’t need to be the queen of the social scene in order to feel important.  My daughter deserves more. She deserves a mother who creates her own happiness and who practices gratitude.  And I am grateful. Grateful that becoming a mother pushed me out of my comfort zone and provided amazing opportunities for personal growth. Now, instead of wasting my energy worrying about staying relevant to everyone else, I spend my time working towards becoming the best version of myself. And you know what? I am still all of those things: a writer, a dancer, a teacher, a comedian, and a friend. I am all of those things and so much more. I didn’t need others to tell me that in order for it to be true.  



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