Beach vacation – my favorite mindset
My husband and I recently returned home from taking our almost 7-month-old son on his first beach trip. The trip was very different from our other vacations pre-baby. We were on Linus’s schedule … and, honestly, I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. On our final night of vacation, I took care of the baby while my husband cooked. After Linus was asleep for the night, Jeremy and I ate dinner on the balcony while listening to the waves. It’s become a ‘tradition’ for us on each trip to ask each other at the end what was our favorite part.
My favorite part was being on the beach with my family. Linus loved discovering the sand, and my heart pretty much melted when he napped in between my husband and me on the beach blanket. We were trying to take a family selfie and it was working out ok, but another beach-goer came up to us and asked if he could take the photo for us. After he took the photo, he and his wife started chatting with us. They were from Chattanooga, but one of their sons just started at Tulane recently. At the end of our conversation with them, the woman said, “Enjoy every minute of this because before you know it, he’ll be heading off to college.”
A Shift in Mindset
I went back to work 10 weeks post-partum. I have been asked countless times if I would have been able to go back at 6 weeks. My answer – absolutely not. Ten weeks wasn’t enough for me to prep myself physically or mentally.
Financially, my husband and I prepared as much as we could. But frankly, my health, my child’s health and the precious time we did get to spend together were our priorities. Luckily, my husband and I were in a situation where we were able to make 10 weeks work. Not everyone is … and this is very, very sad.
Pre-baby, I was one of those people who put in the hours to hit as close to perfection as possible. I was typically at work early and worked after hours. Having a baby was a game changer for me, though. My mindset had completely shifted. Mentally, for about the first 2 months back at work, I felt like I was in a dream. Am I really back at work already? My priority is now this mini-human that needs me. As much as I hate being late, sometimes now, I am later than usual. When 5:00pm hits, I’m out the door because Linus isn’t going to drive himself home from daycare. I didn’t fully accept that my schedule is now dictated by someone other than myself until a few months back at work.
Jeremy followed up my commentary about my favorite part of the trip by saying the 5 day trip we had was the most time he has consecutively spent with Linus in his whole 7 months of existence (aside from the one week of vacation time J used from work when Linus was born. But, real talk, that time is anything but “vacation.”)
Another (Unexpected) Shift in Mindset
Originally, when I sat down to write this, I was going to throw out several stats on why our country needs to move toward paid parental leave. But, you know this already – maybe you have needed the time to heal after giving birth or recall the feedings every 2 hours, the utter exhaustion. Maybe you had a great experience with nursing; on the other hand, maybe you didn’t.
I have been thinking about my husband’s comment about his time with Linus, just letting it sink in. Our son is now closer to being a year old than being a newborn. The woman on the beach was so accurate – time goes by absolutely too fast.
This helped me shift my mindset again slightly to focus on continuing to appreciate the time I do have with my baby, even the times when he does still wake up at 2:00am and then again at 4:00am.
Beyond that, I want to be an example for him – an example of a strong mother, who is not afraid to speak up for what she believes in, a mom who enjoys and excels at her chosen career path, a mom who brings logic to the table, a mom who will hopefully help break the mold of what the expectations of working moms and truly accepted in the workplace, in the world … but right this second, I’m going to feed my baby and enjoy him falling sleep in my arms.