I think it was the day after June was born, I noticed an invitation to join a Facebook Group for Mom’s who work in Student affairs. I thought the colleague who invited me wasn’t wasting any time–turns out, it had just been formed.
The group has quickly grown to over 4,000 members and I’ve been able to see the amazing women out there in my field and connect with other NICU mamas who work in Student Affairs. I’ve gleaned wisdom from some pioneers in our field sharing their journey of motherhood. And I was intrigued when the founder encouraged folks to share how they’re more than a mom–what are the other things you do to help bring balance and boundaries to your life.
Since balance and boundaries are a favorite topic of mine, I thought about what I’ve learned in motherhood in these 6 weeks (now 7). After writing, I realized what often happens after I write–that the writing has been cathartic for me; apart of my healing and growing process. I hope my sharing can bring you some peace today. And regardless of what role you’re filling–Mom, Wife, Daughter, Sister, Caregiver, Employee–know that there’s more to you than just that. You know it. It’s okay to let those other parts shine. We all need them to make this world brighter. And if you are a parent, a mentor, a friend, a neighbor–let those folks see all the wonderful facets that make you YOU.
I’ve been a mom for a little over 6 weeks, but I’ve been a caregiver for quite some time as I was the primary caregiver for my Mom for many years. Her battle with Rheumatoid Arthritis and several other health concerns ended this past November. One of the biggest things I learned as her caregiver is that I can’t be there for her 24/7 and if I’m not taking care of myself, I can’t take care of her. She taught me a lot about being a mom. My daughter is in the NICU at our university hospital and I came back to work on Monday to have 6 weeks with her once she’s released. I’m taking advantage of a super supportive office and supervisors by coming in early and making the 15 minute walk to the NICU a few times a day. It’s been a challenge thinking about how I’ve been #MoreThanAMom since June came into our lives. But then I think about the ways in which I had already implemented boundaries and balance and desired to place presence with others over perfection. I still love my friends well, enjoying hosting in our home even though it’s rarely perfect (especially in the remodel phase) and enjoying taking care of myself holistically—mind, body and soul.
Here’s how I’m sensing that I am #MoreThanAMom:
- Being present where I am. When I’m in the office advising a student—I do my absolute best to be fully present (even if I’m a few minutes late if June has had a milestone or I need to chat with someone at the hospital). When I’m in the NICU with June, I do everything possible to not let my mind wander to what students are on my calendar that afternoon. Walking to the NICU each day—that’s my self-care time. And I’m learning NOT to basically run even if I’m running late. What am I thankful for? What will I fix for dinner? What’s the schedule when I get home? What laundry must be done today? I literally flip a switch when I go through those rotating doors of the hospital—what questions do I have for the nurses, is there anything I need to address while here?
- When I realized after a walk to the NICU that my neglected toenails were literally causing me pain on my increased walks, I immediately texted a friend to see when we could get a pedicure next week after I leave the hospital one evening.
- I’ll take the time to S L O W down and grab a Starbucks (Thanks to the generous gift cards from friends)
- I’m doing my hair and putting on make-up each day. Even before coming back to work, this made me feel human (at least the make-up part—a top knot was my BFF until Monday!) Plus, a good concealer helped with the bags and dark circles!
- We are still planning on hosting supper club in May for our friends.
- Agreeing to go with a friend to Cincinnati a few weeks ago to see Newsies when her husband unexpectedly had to go out of town and she had an extra ticket.
Sometimes being #MoreThanAMom is almost a state of mind rather than things we do. Seeing all these posts has made me think hard about how I want to parent our daughter. I want her to know that she can do lots of things and that so can I. I’m her mom, but also an Academic Advisor, friend, worship leader at our church, theater buff and lover of coffee and good meals around the table with those I love.