Feeling like yourself again
Becoming a parent changes everything, period. It's the most important realization not only for yourself as an individual, but also as a couple. Before I became a mother, I never imagined how much it would change and how different it would be - you know, from before.
It's logical enough that you go from being each other's center of attention to suddenly being someone else's parents, which is something completely different.
At the same time, being pregnant does something to the body, and we need to accept and stand by that first and foremost. But once the wounds have healed, and as the body and mind are returning more and more back to themselves, I also believe that we as women owe it to ourselves (and only ourselves) to find our way back to our core, with all that it entails in terms of well-being and sexuality.
Not because I think anyone has ever sat down and decided that they don't want to get back to their starting point, but because it takes a lot of hard work to get back to yourself, your body, to be able to surrender and enter into a loving and intimate relationship again.
Finding yourself... It sounds a bit therapeutic and maybe it's also a bit of a rebirth that needs to take place after becoming someone's mother. You have to find peace in the role and enough energy to let another person into the symbiosis that arises between mother and child. Fatigue is a theme in itself, and a slightly underestimated factor, that I personally had never even considered before becoming a mother - the feeling of being touched out. In other words, simply more than filled up on the touch of a baby who is just on your body a lot of the time. And here I just have to point out that this is not just a thing for mothers of very small babies, but that mothers of older children also experience this. I can still have days when I feel this way, even with 3 older children.
And this is where the contrasts really come into play, because at the same time as the fatigue is overwhelming, you can miss your boyfriend so much and want to reconnect without really knowing how, especially because you have to feel like yourself.
But how do you find your way back to yourself, your body and your ability to be in an intimate relationship? And how do you reconnect on an average Wednesday after the kids are in bed and you have finished all the chores?
First and foremost, it's about having the courage to recognize that everything has changed for better or worse, and being able to talk about it out loud with your partner.
Tell them that the lack of desire for intimacy is not a question of "I don't want you", but "I don’t even feel like myself". We're not just talking about intimacy and love... You sometimes reach a point where you can't even decide what you want for dinner, watch on TV or to even do because you lose the ability to feel your own needs.
So for me, it's all about finding a little breathing space where you give yourself the opportunity to reconnect with yourself. For a new mom, it might be a 30 mins. undisturbed bath, where your partner is on duty "no matter what". Later, it might be a 60-minute jog and workout outside the apartment that feels like a spa experience.
In the long run, it's important to create more and more of these breathing spaces, where you can reconnect with yourself and think coherent thoughts. When everyday life really kicks in and the maternity bubble is over, it can help to plan with your partner where closeness and intimacy can be prioritized. And the realization that intimacy is about more than sex, but about presence, and being able to reconnect with yourself and each other.
So, dear fellow moms
- Start by prioritizing yourself and finding those little breathing spaces where you can reconnect with yourself. It could be a long bath, meditation, a walk (alone) or an evening with friends. Whatever gives you the space and energy to connect with yourself.
- Express to both yourself and your partner what you need. And allow yourself to feel. Being able to connect with yourself is the starting point for being able to enter into an intimate relationship with other people.
- Plan together with your partner when you have "you time". Time where you are both prepared to do something together that adds points to the couple's bank account, and acknowledge if it's just lying on the couch together. Intimacy comes in many forms.