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Mom. It’s a short word to describe perhaps what is the largest and most meaningful role a woman can take on in her lifetime. It also brings to mind the image of an overly tired woman with unkempt hair and out-of-date jeans, chasing children while lugging around a gigantic tote. That’s never how I envisioned myself.
My 20s were about being single, hip and living at Yonge and Eglinton in Toronto, an area nicknamed “Yonge and Eligible.” Even after meeting my husband, there was a never a dull, homely moment. We were always out and about, whether we were playing volleyball, hitting Monday-night trivia at our local pub or planning our next exotic ski vacation.
Now, here I am, 33 and a mom. Reality has hit. My husband and I won’t be hitting the Rockies any time soon. A trip with our daughter to the closest neighbourhood park or nature area is more like it. Those Monday-night trivia nights have become Netflix nights, every night.
This is a working world I no longer recognize. There are no core 9-to-5 hours when you’re a mother; those are a distant memory, much like sleeping through the night or dining at restaurants. There’s only one shift and it’s 24/7. The joy of putting on a freshly dry-cleaned suit is gone. It has been replaced by a feeling of contentment when I find a top that isn’t covered in spit up. The Ted Baker purse I used to so proudly strut is now at the back of my closet collecting dust. It has taken a backseat to my new best friend – a bulky, non-designer diaper bag, which contents could keep someone alive in the wild for three days; or help my baby and I survive an afternoon stroll through the mall.
Some women spend their pregnancies focused on the transition to motherhood, I spent mine hanging onto every last shred of my independent, career gal existence, even though I desperately wanted a baby. I wanted to prove that I hadn’t changed; I could still strut around in my five-inch heels and be the go-getter I’ve always been.
How quickly the arrival of my daughter changed all of that. At first, I resented being the “mom.” My husband and I were once working equals, both contributing to our household income. However, because I wanted to breastfeed, biology made the stay-home decision for me. Initially, my transition to motherhood felt a lot like a demotion – working wife to human milk dispenser.
About three weeks after having my little one, I decided it was time for both of us to start leaving the house, or else we (really I), were going to go stir crazy. So I signed us up for a music class. In the midst of singing The Itsy Bitsy Spider sitting in a circle with other new moms, I looked down at my daughter. She was asleep, passed out cold, and could have cared less about where we were. That’s when I began to cry. How was I going to be a good mother, especially if I couldn’t even remember what happened after the spider climbed up the water spout? Was being a mom going to wash the rest of me out?
Since then, the time has flown by and I’ve caught up on some of that missed sleep. I love watching my daughter develop quite the personality and greet me every morning with a gigantic smile. Ironically, music class is now one of our favourite activities together, nothing brings me more joy than watching my daughter clap her hands in excitement to every nursery rhyme classic (which I now thankfully know the words to).
I’ve come to realize that motherhood is akin to embarking on a new ski hill. The trails and altitude are foreign and frightening at first; but within a few days and with a handy trail guide, you realize there’s plenty of adventure in your new surroundings.
Thankfully, I had a dear mom friend, with her stylish stroller and nursing outfits, show me the maternity-leave way. We started with stroller walks in malls and graduated to taking on kid-friendly attractions throughout the city.
Then we met other moms like us, who liked to get out and about. So we started our own moms group and called ourselves Girls Gone Child. This group helped me realize that maternity leave can be full of adventures with your baby before your partner gets home.
Between the hours of 9 and 3 (you don’t want to get caught with a screaming baby in rush-hour traffic), you can leave your house. You can appreciate your city in a whole new way, through the eyes of your little one. Your old self doesn’t have to disappear with your new role, becoming a mom can be about a new you, evolving. Consider it, a lifetime promotion.
The best part is you don’t have to be the mom who looks like she gave up on hair products, jeans or life. You can strive to be the hip, relaxed mama you always wanted growing up. It’s your choice. Taking care of another human being 24 hours a day can either be daunting or exciting; either way, exhaustion is guaranteed. So why not do it with a stylish diaper bag and concealer in tow?
I don’t know what type of workin’ mom I’ll be when I get back to the office, but you can bet I will be rocking my five-inch heels.
Olivia Glauberzon lives in Toronto.