I’m Bree and I have no idea what I’m doing in life or in motherhood. So, naturally, I wanted to participate in Stevie’s amazing blog series about being a mom and keeping your identity. EL OH EL. Nothing like plunging into the unknown and revealing your soul to the interwebs, right? I looked at this experience as a cathartic one — this topic brought a lot of things to the surface for me and it felt really good to let it all out, so thank you, Stevie, for allowing me this space to share my thoughts.
If you haven’t read the previous posts from the other contributors, I highly recommend that you go back and check them out. Everyone’s stories and perspectives have been so different and enlightening in their own ways, and I’m truly so honored to be part of this series.
Identity is kind of scary word for me. It feels so defining and big and intimidating. Like one explanation is supposed to tell the world who I am, what I believe in, what I stand for. I’ve never been the person who knew exactly what they wanted to do or who they wanted to be, but I was gradually making my way toward finding those things. I was starting to feel comfortable in my skin and more confident in settings outside my comfort zone, I had married my favorite person and was constantly going on fun adventures with him, I was working at a company I truly believed in and doing work I felt was making a difference, and life was just really, really good. And then I got pregnant.
My husband, Sam, and I had been married for a little over a year when we got the surprise of our lives. I always knew I wanted kids but we didn’t have any official plan for when we wanted to start our family. We were living by the beach, cruising around town on our scooter, taking last-minute trips whenever we felt like it, and just generally living a very chill, carefree life. We weren’t at the point where we were officially trying and I was in a state of shock and a little bit of denial after seeing the positive sign on five different pregnancy tests. Yes, five. I realize this explanation sounds incredibly selfish — like becoming pregnant put my totally awesome life on pause and dark clouds instantly covered my sunshiny world. It didn’t, but it was a lot to take in and I was more or less terrified.
Fast forward a few months and my fear quickly turned into elation. I tried to play it pretty cool but I was freaking out with excitement for a majority of my pregnancy. The fear was still there (because it was a completely new experience and bringing a child into the world is a big effing deal) but it was about 98 percent happy anticipation. I was lucky enough to have a fairly smooth pregnancy and a mostly uneventful delivery, and on May 6, 2017, River Morrison Pitluk was born.
Sam and I were (and still are) obsessed with him. He was instantly the center of our worlds and we essentially forgot what life was like without him. We were on such a new baby high for the first few months that I barely ever thought about “me before Riv.” That’s what I sometimes feel like it’s come down to — pre-Riv Bree and post-Riv Bree. Two different versions of me with different lives, different priorities, different schedules, and different pretty much everything else. With Riv, I was constantly thinking about him and all of his needs, oftentimes putting myself, my aspirations, my emotional wellness, and even my marriage on the back burner. Life with a new baby was beautiful and exciting but also overwhelming and isolating.
I had planned on going back to work in some capacity after about four months of maternity leave but my mindset quickly changed as my new normal slowly started to set in. Aside from the insane cost of childcare, I was adamant about not missing a single one of River’s milestones and I was preemptively upset about only having a small number of hours with him every day before and after work. So, after tons of lost sleep, tears, insane feelings of guilt, hours of number crunching, and a million conversations with my husband, I officially put in my notice.
If I hadn’t liked my job, I think it would’ve been easier. I couldn’t stop thinking about all of the work I had put in, the progress I had made, the relationships I had built, the confidence I had gained and, despite desperately wanting to be home with my child, I don’t think I was mentally prepared to let my career go. And, if I’m being completely honest with myself, I don’t think I was mentally prepared to have stay at home mom be my new title. Selfish? Maybe. My truth? Definitely.
I found myself stuck between the desires of pre-Riv Bree and post-Riv Bree. I wanted to be an incredible, present mom but I also wanted to flex my brain muscles (are those real?), find fulfillment outside of my son, and contribute financially to my family. I was literally googling the best ways to make money from home during every free moment that I had, trying desperately to find that happy medium. I started to feel like if I wasn’t working, being River’s mom was the only thing I’d ever be known for. I know that sounds harsh (maybe downright awful is more accurate), but I wanted to be that, plus some. I didn’t want my whole life to solely revolve around diapers, feedings, defusing temper tantrums, and discussing sleep patterns of a sleep-averse child. I didn’t want all of the conversations I had with friends, acquaintances, and extended family members to be about the latest with Riv. I didn’t want to feel like all people could ask me about was my life as a mom. I’m more than that. My Instagram feed might lead you to think otherwise (ha!), but I am.
I was so fixated on being more that I was forgetting to take a step back and appreciate the position I was in. It goes without saying (I think) that raising kids is not for the faint of heart. It’s relentless, it’s unforgiving, it’s oftentimes thankless, it’s all-consuming, it’s exhausting, it’s freaking brutal. It’s all of these things and more. BUT it’s also the greatest “job” on the planet. I heard this all the time before becoming a mom and definitely rolled my eyes more than once. It felt too mushy and gooey to me and like a little bit of an exaggeration, but now I know it’s the real deal. Yes, I have days where I want to curl into a ball and hide from the tiny terrorist who hates me for not letting him lick the bottom of my shoe, but the days where I’m in awe of the kind, big-hearted little boy who will hug you if you look sad or fake laugh until he’s got you real laughing are far more frequent.
So, what I guess I’m getting at is this: my life, purpose, and identity are all slightly different than I may have thought they’d be at this point, but that’s what makes it fun. Life is unpredictable. If I could control every outcome of every situation, how would I ever be pleasantly surprised by anything? If I hadn’t become pregnant and brought a child into the world, how would I know how strong I was or how capable my husband and I would be as parents, or how much love we could have for another human? If I hadn’t decided to stay home, how would I know how much I’d enjoy being by River’s side every day to experience the big and small moments? If I hadn’t decided to embrace my new normal, how could I ever understand how thankful I’d be for it?
Identity to me is no longer a stagnant representation of who I am, but instead something that is constantly evolving. New and changing versions of me will forever come into existence. Who I was a year ago is different than who I am now and who I’ll be in another 12 months and beyond. My days may look different, my dreams may vary, and my perspective may change, but I’m promising myself now that whoever I am, I’ll always be grateful.
I met Bree through the best app ever, Instagram! It has become such a community for me, finding like minded Mama’s and people that influence me daily. Bree happens to be one of those Mama’s. While we have never met in person, I believe if we lived in the same area code we’d be great friends! Thank you so much, Bree for contributing and bringing up the caboose on this series. You have certainly impacted me and I know you will do the same for others! Also, you can find Bree blogging over at www.gogetyourhappyon.com her blog has so many great finds from favorite children’s books to her house remodel (kitchen goals fyi). Be sure to check out her gorgeous little squares out too @gogetyourhappyon
Read along with the girls prior to Bree who shared their truths about motherhood and identity. Every story is so worth it!