While pregnant with my son, I found myself consumed by menial, yet important tasks, unconsciously knowing, that the only thing within my control was organizing his bedroom and all of the items we would surely need once returning from the hospital. In retrospect I understand my preoccupation with securing these items was keeping my surfacing anxiety at bay. I had an idealized image of my new role as a mother that did not include the multiple sacrifices and changes that were about to occur. I was unaware that becoming a mother would also impact my other roles as a friend, psychologist, wife, sister and daughter.
The first time motherhood interfered with my friendships, was when I had to abruptly end a very emotional conversation with a close friend because my son needed me. I stuttered as I got off the phone and continued to feel guilty for being an unavailable friend and a preoccupied mother. Suddenly, my cell phone was always on the table during dinners and I soon learned that a big part of my brain would always belong to my son. I eventually had to accept the hard truth that all my relationships were transitioning, whether I was ready or not.
The new role of motherhood can be an overwhelming transition. However, there are ways to become more self-aware and accepting of this change prior to it happening. Here are some ideas that can help to prepare for this exciting and life altering transition:
Before The Baby:
- Reflect on previous roles: Think about how you have adapted to change in the past. How did you respond to previous life transitions, such as moving apartments, starting college, and getting married? What feelings did these transitions elicit and what coping strategies assisted in helping make these transitions?
- Establish a support network: Relying on your partner and friends for emotional support is crucial. The more people know the more they can help you once the baby comes.
- Prepare yourself emotionally: People often consume themselves with all of the logistical changes that motherhood brings, and forget or ignore the emotional changes. Focusing on emotional wellbeing and self-care will help make this transition a smoother one.
After The Baby:
- Check in with your self: Continue to be mindful of your new role as a parent. Think about how motherhood is changing your relationships in ways that you did not expect. You may even want to make a list of the specific ways in which motherhood has changed your relationship with significant others, family and friends.
- Prioritize: Think about your new priorities and make a conscious decision about how to structure relationships, your personal time and life in general.
- Compromise with yourself: Think about how you can balance motherhood and your different relationships. Just because you are caring for a baby does not mean that you need to give up on your different roles
Alexandra Goletka is a co-founder of Parenthood Psychology Practice, a mental health practice that specializes in supporting new and expectant parents. She has a doctorate in clinical psychology and has been dedicated to studying all aspects of parenthood including infertility and perinatal mood disorders. Dr. Goletka is also a mother to an 18-month old son and resides in Manhattan. Please visit her company website- www.