I was the ultimate martyr.
What a lucky husband I had! *not*
I woke up with every sound the babies made.
I nursed forever.
I lived with yoga pants, my hair in top knots, never wearing makeup. Never taking a single moment for me. Sometimes not even a shower.
How will the world turn if I am absent from my children for 10 minutes to bathe?
When we moved to Egypt, Piper went to Kindergarten and Liam went to preschool.
Suddenly I was thrown into a new role. Pathetic Mom who didn't know what to do with herself.
I spent the first week lost. Sitting in a quiet house missing my kids and not missing my kids. After that week, I decided to embrace my newfound freedom.
To say it was liberating is a vast understatement.
At first I thought of all the things I could do for my family during the day. Yes! I could finally become that Pinterest-worthy Mom I read about. My children would come home to a glimmering home filled with after-school snack-origami and easels ready to be finger-painted and hung with care.
We are so crazy these days! We put so much absolutely unnecessary pressure on ourselves to be perfect. From the perfect bikini body that belies the fact that we just had children three weeks ago, to the idea that our homes, dinners, attitudes, should match every other doctored photo and article of perceived perfection we see. No wonder postpartum depression is so prevalent these days. The moment your baby pops out you think you are supposed to emerge from the hospital fresh, perfect, and filled with endless energy and happiness.
It just doesn't happen.
You must make it happen.
Instead, I started working from home part-time. I joined the local community choir. I invested in friends that I will carry with me in my life and heart always.
I started reading again. For pleasure!
I hired a driver to take me outside of the expat bubble I live within. (Necessary in Cairo... Traffic here is deadly!)
Two years later and I have entire days dedicated to hanging with my peeps. Today, we went to Zamalek, the trendy island that lies between Giza and Cairo. We had a leisurely breakfast on the banks of the river. We shopped in little boutiques. We came to our respective homes and napped. When I collected my darling children from school, I did so with a full and happy heart.
Is it a coincidence that I'm the happiest I've ever been? That I have happier kids, a happier marriage, and a happier me? No way, Jose.
I am FINALLY taking care of me.
I really think it's the hardest and most important lesson in motherhood.
I was wrong all along.
I can't be everything to everyone.
I didn't have to be everything. I was already everything to the people who mattered most.
And now, I'm not just coping. I'm happy. I'm thriving.
I truly enjoy my kids because I am happy.