My motherhood journey--a jarring experience, really, not because anything terrible has happened to us. I have two beautiful, happy, healthy, lovely daughters and a supportive, caring, present husband. But somehow, becoming a mother was still an experience akin to an earthquake. It’s like the ground under me suddenly became rippled with broken, jagged and fast-moving waves of concrete; I could never seem to get my footing and things were constantly in flux around me. Looking back on that first year, I realize now that I was probably in the grip of a postpartum depression, but I didn’t know it at the time. I just tried to stay afloat, while I continued to get pummeled by earthquake debris. My daughter was colicky for months.
She cried from 10pm to 2am nightly until she was about four months old. My husband left town every other month for work, for the whole month, in my daughter’s first year of life. I worked full-time as a dietitian while still trying to maintain (someone else’s) standards of a clean house. I stretched myself further trying to give my daughter the perfect diet, because after all, nutrition is my specialty. I felt alone, exhausted as all new, nursing mothers feel, and stressed about my ability to keep it all together. My fiercely supportive mother helped as much as she could from afar and during visits, but I was still hurting.
I am an introvert by nature. I love people and spending time together, but it takes energy. And in the midst of caring for my newborn daughter, extra energy just wasn’t in supply. So I stayed inside, avoided friends and family, and hoped it would all turn out well in the end. When it was time to return to work after maternity leave, the schedule was rigorous: wake up, pump breastmilk, wake sleeping baby (such an unnatural thing!) and later, pack lunch of blueberries and homemade sweet potatoes, drive to work/daycare. After work, take baby home for dinner, bath, bed. Then repeat. I am forever grateful to my friends who recognized my stress, anxiety, and depression. They supported me in ways that still bring tears to my eyes. I will never forget our sunny, warm afternoons together having lunch, after they spent their weekend afternoons mowing my lawn and scrubbing my bathrooms and floors so I could spend rare and precious moments with my daughter.
Maybe the depression lasted longer then I knew. Or maybe the schedule was just too grueling, when I felt so alone. In any case, I must say I was relieved when my husband received orders that we were moving out of state. The move meant two things: he would be home more (life changing news!) and I would consider becoming a stay-at-home mom. While I enjoyed my work, I felt monumental amounts of guilt for placing my daughter in daycare. So, we made all the arrangements, drove across the country with my now 15 month old daughter and my pregnant belly (somehow in the midst of the chaos I became pregnant!) and arrived in our new home. It didn’t take long to realize that I needed a break from working full time. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with placing children in daycare, it just wasn’t for me. I needed to be with my babies and didn’t want to miss any more moments with them.
Life was peaceful for about a year and a half. I gave birth to my second daughter shortly after Thanksgiving, and this time the depression was very short lived and easier to manage. It might not have even been depression, maybe I was really just tired and adjusting to life with my new daughter. Luckily, she didn’t have colic, but I did have to spend nights on the couch with her sleeping on my chest. It was the only way she would sleep in the beginning, and I was so desperate for rest that I did it. Later, she would only sleep in my bed, on her tummy, despite all those recommendations from doctors about ‘back to sleep’ in her own crib. To this day, my delightful little 18 month fireball still makes her own decisions despite my best guidance J. Her big sister has adapted incredibly well to her new sibling and life has been pretty blissful, giving me peace that I made the right decision in letting go of full-time work to stay home.
Just around the year and a half mark after our move though, I began to feel antsy. My husband and I decided he should pursue a Master’s degree, so even though he is not deployed, he is often gone studying and taking classes. While I absolutely adore spending every day with my daughters, the daily negotiations over dressing, brushing teeth and putting on shoes leave a little something to be desired. And scrubbing bathtubs and washing dishes just doesn’t fill the void that a professional career, with OTHER ADULTS, does. So again, I find myself seeking balance.
I joined a professional group for dietitians that meets monthly. One time per month, I get out, use the critical thinking app in my brain, and associate with people who are tall, well-spoken, career oriented individuals. Each time I attended one of these meetings I felt so fulfilled! A little piece of myself felt remembered, honored and welcomed. It felt like I was a whole being again. It felt so good that I started to want more, but just a little this time. Several job openings were presented, most of them full time. While there was a little temptation in this, I knew that full time just wasn’t the right choice for me, still. But finally, the perfect position came up: dietitian wanted, one day per month, weekends okay. Internally, I started salivating! This was exactly what I needed! My husband could keep the girls one weekend day per month (excellent bonding time for them all, really) and I can reconnect with the adult, thinking side of myself. In addition, I can work extra hours from home. The autonomy in this job was perfect.
At the same time, I was presented with a business opportunity. Motherhood, despite being the most important and beloved role I will ever have, takes a toll on the body. I felt tired and looked tired. The vain side of me wanted to look more refreshed and I hoped that if I looked the part that I would feel it inside too. A friend sold makeup, so I tried a few things, but I’m not much of a makeup girl and didn’t feel any more confident about myself. Then, one night as I perused Facebook in my 30 minutes of spare time, an old friend was recommending a great eye cream from Rodan + Fields. I was definitely in the market for a more rested look. So I bought some from her, as well as a few other things. After using products for a month, I could see positive changes in my skin. I know how simple this sounds, but feeling better about my skin made me feel better about myself and made me feel more confident socially. A little self care does wonders for a girl! Later, that same friend told me the details of her skincare business and suggested I try it. This was something I would never, ever have considered before. I am a dietitian and a stay at home mom! And besides, this sounded like a pyramid scheme to me! But after listening to the details, I was curious. It was probably a combination of boredom, need for a challenge, and a longing for something of my own. My husband needed a lot, and I mean A LOT, of convincing. Finally, it came down to me saying, “Just let me try. If I fail, we get our money back. No big deal. I want to see if I can do this.” My darling husband couldn’t tell me no, and we haven’t looked back since.
Now I work as a dietitian and a skincare consultant, from home, often in my pajamas. I work super part time hours so that I can be a full time mom. Life is pretty perfect right now and I feel like I have found balance. Beyond that, my little skincare business has given me so much more than I ever expected. The extra income is fun, but the real payoff is reconnecting with old friends, meeting new people, finding unexpected bonds through networking. This has been one of the healthiest decisions I have ever made because it helped relieve the isolation that can come from being a stay at home mom. I am a better wife, mother and human because I am more social and I feel personally fulfilled. I finally found a balance point in our hectic, ever-changing world. Huge sigh of relief!
If you would like any information regarding R+F products or to learn more from the amazing Stacee Silagi, head here:
It just so happens today is a big day for R+F and they have an awesome opportunity to give back. See below for details on how to help raise funds by doing something so easy and how to enter giveaway.
It's time for our third annual #RFGoNaked Day! On Friday, July 8, go naked (from the neck up!) and post a makeup-free selfie on social media using #RFGoNaked & #teamElev8.
For every selfie, Rodan + Fields will donate $5 through their Prescription for Change Foundation to their nonprofit partner, buildOn, to help empower and make a positive impact in the lives of students in need. Then, tag @sheisblankspace on Instagram, and I will donate another $1 myself and also enter you to win one of three free mini facials as a way to thank you for supporting a great cause!
Rodan + Fields will donate up to $300,000 in total. To make sure your selfie is counted, make sure you set the privacy setting on the post to 'public.'
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