Oh how I have loved being Crosby’s mom. Everyday is an adventure full of play and discovery. He’s beginning to communicate with more ease now, though his words are not plenty, his intention is and we have a language we all understand… for the most part. He laughs all day throughout the day and makes incredible faces at the bits my husband and I do. If you are ready to be a parent, then being a parent is the most gratifying and challenging part of everyday. This was a great move on my part… you know… making a human and then following through with the raising a good human. Oh God I hope I raise a good human!
Honestly the hardest part for me was letting go of the things that had occupied me in the past. Not that I felt any less of myself or a person. I was never upset or angry that I wasn’t able to easily do those other “me” things. I simply missed that freedom I had to be me.
A friend of mine said to me one night “I see more of you now that you have a baby than I did before he was born. You go out more.” I thought about it and it was true. Now that Crosby is here, my husband and I make a stronger effort to be social. We’ve actually gotten really good at going out. We get a sitter (or one of us stays home) and we have a night out with friends. Sometimes our friends come to us and we host. We at least put forth an effort to go to anything we are invited to, babysitters dictate absolute freedom. This all became doable once Crosby started sleeping through the night. At first we were just happy he was sleeping all night. We got rest, caught up on our favorite TV shows, reconnected with each other. Then like a brick we realized that he would never know if we left. And that’s it, HE DOESN’T KNOW WE ARE GONE! It’s perfect. I have zero guilt. Not that going out should ever be accompanied with guilt but if I am going to be honest, and that’s the point, I do have guilt when he is awake and I am gone. Until now! Our sitters have the easiest gig ever, they show up, he’s already asleep, they watch TV and eat our food and we pay them. We pay them for our sanity, our freedom and our opportunity to each be “me” again.
I bumped into a new dad at iO West the other night. His baby girl was two months old and you could see on his face that he was a proud daddy and a tired daddy. A mutual friend mentioned that I had a baby boy and he and I started chatting. He was shocked that both my husband and I were out. I simply explained to him that it gets easier and that soon enough he and his wife can escape the trenches together and not worry about it. He genuinely looked relieved and hopeful. We had a long chat about the early days being “keep it alive” verses what is my current “you’re fun now.” It’s important to know that you can get back that part of you that feels youthful, individual and independent.
My sister-in-law and one of my very best friends runs marathons. I always say marathons and she always corrects me that they are shorter than marathons. I say if she’s running in the cold frigid air of Wisconsin in the winter, I’m calling it a marathon. She’s amazing. I can barely do a sit up every day and she’s out there running her heart out. She told me that one race she was grunting and even though she wanted to start walking she didn’t, she just kept running. Why? Why not walk? Because this is her “me” time. This is what she does for herself. This is how she honors her soul, her spirit, her being. By running (short) marathons. She’s a great example to her three boys. A strong woman who despite the crazy cold, the marathon length and the physical difficulty of it all, keeps going and honors her “me.” I’m not a runner but I get it. I get that drive and passion. It’s what keeps us parents humans and not just jungle gyms, cooks, teachers, snot wipers, punching bags…. And don’t we all want to set that example? That we are more than just a person who carries sunblock, diapers, wipes, snacks, hand sanitizer, hats, change of clothes, toys, sippy cups… We are still our own person with our own interests and our own passions. Pushing a human out of our bodies didn’t change that. It only reminded us that prioritizing and including time for ourselves is just as important as making a home cooked dinner every night and reading books to our babies before bed.
My version of it all is improvisation. I still teach improv almost every day of the week. Performing was a different story. I attempted to go back to short form about 6 months after Crosby was born. By the end of the show I noticed my boobs were engorged. By the end of notes all I could think about was why didn’t I bring the pump so I could pump on the way home! It seemed too much too soon. In addition, I played with strangers. I had been gone long enough that the cast had changed and I didn’t know them. I love playing with new people, but that night I wanted to play with friends. I needed to know that leaving my baby to do improv was worth it. That night I wanted to feel like me again, instead I felt like a mom who shouldn’t be doing this. I was simply heartbroken. If I lost performing improv, then I lost my creative outlet. So I waited a few more months. I began showing up to Secret Lab rehearsals, a long form experimental show the College Team does at CSzLA. Eddie, the director, had me play and participate. That joy was flooding back. I didn’t care if I wasn’t in front of an audience. I was having fun. I was playing again. Then I auditioned for Mannerhouse Manor, a British style-Edwardian era-fully improvised- Downton Abbey like-long form. And I was cast. And it saved me. I was back in the swing. Nothing about this show had anything to do with my being a mom. It was me, being me, playing with friends in Edwardian England. Quickly Christmas came and I was asked if I wanted to participate in the ComedySportz LA Holiday shows. Just like that I was in two more long form shows that were fantastically fun, easy, playful and my heart, my soul, my spirit began to feel whole again. Mannerhouse Manor is almost done with this run and I find myself grateful for the journey back that is brought me on. I wonder what other improv shows I have yet to experience that will allow my adventurous spirit to play.
I find I am a happier mama. Not that I wasn’t happy before. I hadn’t realized I could be even happier! I still have all my time with my boy. He’ll go to bed and I will go to rehearsal or do a show. My “me” in Mom(me) is appropriate, balanced and makes me stronger for my family. Taking care of me doesn’t take anything away from my family, it adds to the overall happiness, joy and creativity I need to be individually fulfilled.
It took about a year, but I stayed patient and positive and it led me to my marathon. For those of you who are in the trenches, I hope you know that in due time your soul, your spirit and your being will find your “me” again.