Making over Mommy - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

Making over Mommy

After a woman gives birth to her first child, she encounters a crisis of sorts: she is forced to settle into a new role and lifestyle, adapting to habits and patterns that may be vastly different from her “former life”. While this is a wonderful and exciting (albeit exhausting) time, it doesn’t come without its personal qualms.

Virginia at four months pregnant (Photo provided by Virginia Petrucci)

Virginia at four months pregnant
(Photo provided by Virginia Petrucci)

Any alteration to one’s identity can be tricky. Changing schools as a child, going away to college as a young adult, exchanging one relationship for another — most people are no stranger to change. However, when a newly hatched human is entered into the equation, change becomes a little more necessary.

When I gave birth to Dante some fifteen months ago, I was ready and eager for some of the inevitable changes I would encounter in my life. As a mother, I had to learn a more acceptable level of responsibility that I had spent most of my adult life avoiding. I had to be more cautious of who I let into my life (and my son’s). I had to focus all of my attention on somebody else.

I assumed these things would happen naturally, without much cognitive exertion on my part. I would just “become” a mom. But what I wasn’t prepared for was the tremendous amount of anxiety surrounding this change. A few weeks after giving birth, I was intent upon losing the baby weight, fitting into my old, hipster-harlot wardrobe, and having fun nights out with my friends like I used to.

Eventually, I did lose weight. And I did fit into my clothes and went out of my way to purchase new ones that made me feel ten years younger. I was able to eat and drink whatever I wanted without worrying about harming the baby (since I wasn’t able to breastfeed, alcohol became an occasional treat, and caffeine a thrice-daily necessity). But along with this return to my former self was a crippling realization that I wasn’t really anything like my former self. I was a mom, and looking cute, getting impulse tattoos, and staying out until 3 a.m. was no longer doable, nor were they desirable.

It wasn’t my newly acquired responsibility that threw me for a loop — it was the fact that I enjoyed staying in and being a bum, and didn’t want to resist it. The anxiety that I was missing out on something I felt I should be doing with friends was quickly overcome by my love for Dante. Whenever I went out, I missed him tremendously. My bond with debauchery was decisively broken by the enduring bond between my son and I. My baby needed me, and that was that.

Virginia and the new born Dante. (Photo provided by Virginia Petrucci)

Virginia and the newborn Dante.
(Photo provided by Virginia Petrucci)

It felt good to finally be relieved of the anxiety of missing out on something cooler than cleaning up poop and spit-up. My new role as a sleepless zombie was, and still is, the most important role I’ve ever played. And I know I’m not alone in this not-so-seamless transition between party girl and parent.

Many new moms struggle with the identity loss-and-gain pulley system. There is a panicked realization that you are no longer a child yourself (no matter how old you actually are, this is a big blow for a female). There is a feeling of loss, of surrendering one’s freedom and retiring past behaviors. Mani-pedis and hair extensions become occasional niceties, rather than regular necessities. There are no more leisurely naps or hours spent reading a good book. There is very little “me” time at all because the focus is on “we”. Learning to let go of the notion of self-surrender is critical because, in reality, we aren’t giving up anything at all — we are the same women we once were, only with massive improvements.

Now, the real question is: who wants all of these short shorts?

About the author

Virginia Petrucci

Virginia Petrucci is a freelance fiction and non-fiction writer, and a former model and actress. She has a bachelor's degree in Theatre and English, and is pursuing further education in Psychology. She has a one-year old son named Dante. Contact the author.

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