Q: I'm a new mom and have found handling everything to be wild. I have been trying to find a trace of my old self, and I simply miss it. Until today, I thought I was crazy. I am finishing a masters degree, I have a two-plus-hour commute each way to work, I am looking for a new job, and I have a 10-week-old son. I love to work out, but I simply cannot seem to find the time. I passed exhaustion a month ago. I knew I had lost it when I was pumping my breast in traffic on the way to an interview. Now I know I am just a mom who is doing the best she can. I am trying to swallow the concept of buying the minivan and giving up my sporty BMW. I'm so glad there are women who are standing up and telling the truth. This secret society needs to at least be able to share with each other. I don't think non-moms would believe us until they experience it.
Heija: Whoa! I am exhausted just reading your question. Please accept this virtual hug! You have a lot of challenges in your full life. I hope you are able to find a job closer to home ASAP, as your commute sounds unbearable (even if you do multitask). Becoming a mother does not have to mean giving up your other goals, but it does mean juggling time and priorities, often unsuccessfully. Between the commute, newborn feedings, studying, job search and your day job, it would be a miracle for you to feel anything other than permanently hung over! The reason you cannot find the time is because there is none to find—yet. A shorter commute, fewer nighttime feedings and the confidence to give yourself a break will make things easier soon.
Your mention of a secret society reinforces why this conversation is so important; it's not that we don't want to become parents, it's the best job in the world. It's that we should be able to discuss all aspects of the J-O-B, not just the hearts and flowers or the extreme hardships, but the everyday struggles and triumphs in between. We will be a better society instead of a secret society if we empower each other to freely share our experiences.
Now, about that minivan. Why do so many people assume that all moms need one? If that were the case, the hospital would issue minivans right along with those atrocious diaper bags they foist upon new mothers. Buy a minivan if you want one. But don't be fooled into believing that you need one. I drove a sedan until my boys were ages 3 and 4. These days, my three kids are surviving just fine in my 9-year-old station wagon. I do confess that I am starting to covet those crossover SUVS that offer more seating, less van. My point is this: You get to decide what works for you and your family. It's okay to look around and get ideas and advice, but don't let a commercial stereotype make choices for you. After all, one of the perks of being a mom is making things happen "because I said so."