From time to time, I’ll host guest bloggers on yayamamas.com to create the space for other moms to share their stories and expertise. Where We Are looks different for each mother and family. Today, my friend Livia gracefully talks about how gratitude and community helped her find her way as a modern stay-at-home mom. Thanks, friend, for your loving, honest contribution. Aloha, Lori Beth
Me, give up my 13-year career as a Spa Director at a luxury resort in Hawaii? I thought, no way! It was a career that I worked so hard to build. It challenged me mentally and came with copious treatment and beauty product perks, a spa junkies’ dream! One that supported our love of 5-Star travel and living abroad, new adventures filled our sails. Not to mention being a two-income family made our life very comfortable. I valued my financial freedom. Of course I was going to go back to work full time…
It wasn’t until the very minute our little guy was born that I felt this intense, instinctual tug to stay home with him. The minute our eyes met, I couldn’t bear the thought of seeing my one and only child, 2-3 waking hours a day. It was in that moment that I knew I wanted to leave my job and stay home with our little. After some serious conversations with my husband and factoring in the childcare calculus and other work-related expenses (commuting, clothing, etc.), we decided to change up our life to make it happen. This was what we wanted and what was going to fit best for our family for the time being. So, midway through my maternity leave I gathered up the courage to resign from the luxury spa world. After a career focused on the wellbeing of others, it was time to take care of myself and our little babe. I should be really good at this, right?!? (apart from the fact that I am not exceptionally crafty or the greatest housekeeper or cook). This was both blissful and terrifying.
There were tidal waves of emotional ups and downs in those first few weeks of my new life, feeling ALL the feels [insert postpartum hormones here]. While I had no doubt made the right decision, I found myself struggling with my own identity. I had a tough time trying to reconcile who I was as a first time mama with who I knew myself to be before baby. My world rapidly switched gears from leading a diverse team of 50+colleagues to perform at the peak of their abilities; managing multi-million dollar operating budgets; always displaying grace under fire. It doesn’t feel very Zen when you’re getting publically chewed out by a guest or handing Kleenex to the employee having an emotional meltdown in the office. Working from home and constantly checking email on the fly to stay on top of it all was the norm. I was constantly pouring out of my own cup to take care of everyone and everything around me.
While there was a sense of slowness to the newborn season, it was a wild ride: Getting to know this tiny human and recovering myself. I discovered a whole new world of “self care” that did not include massages & facials. My beauty products were replaced with nipple butter, nursing pads, heavy flow pads, perineal cold packs, Depends, Preparation H….The exhaustion quickly kicked in. It didn’t help that my head was spinning from the 2am Google searches looking for guidance on what seemed to be every new little thing. Simple things like driving somewhere, just the two of us, and going grocery shopping were anxiety-inducing tasks, which eventually became small victories. The lack of being able to do get-up-and-go things sunk in — like having to cancel the dentist appointment that was scheduled months ago. I’m still desperately seeking a date with my hair stylist, now that my severe post partum hair loss has finally come to a halt. Life had changed in both challenging and beautiful ways forever.
This shift turned out to be the serendipitous respite that forced me to slow down so I could fully experience the “first” everythings in our son’s life. It gave me the space I needed to grow into my new mama role and to bond with this amazing little being. I am crazy blessed to be able to spend my days with our LO and see him discover the world in new and exciting ways, one experience at a time. His wild curiosity, pure happiness, and genuine sense of humor are heart-bursting reminders of the wonder and good in the world. Helping to shape a little human, building his character and teaching him to always be kind is serious work!
What I ultimately realized was that I swapped jobs — from one that had defined me in almost all aspects of my life and wasn’t truly filling my cup to one that brings me a profound sense of purpose: modern mamahood.
Entering motherhood was so transformative. It stripped me to my core, revealing raw emotion and depths of love that I never knew existed, and it was only the beginning of the real journey. I also felt a new sense of freedom. I now had time to re-discover myself in the right here, right now moments of my life – who I wanted to be as a mother, wife, daughter, friend, and all the things that are important and inspiring to “me.” It put into focus that motherhood does not replace who I am; it’s growing into who I am, and I love it! Ironically, finding the vital “me” time that I crave to nourish my body and soul so that I can be the best version of myself has been more challenging than I thought. Afterall, this is why people seek out a spa…but right now I’m lucky to have the occasional at-home-spa night and a glass of wine. Baby steps.
Keepin’ it real, there was another side to being a stay-at-home mama for which I wasn’t prepared: The isolation. The overwhelming loneliness. The intense demands on my body. Those early weeks and months were some of the toughest I had ever experienced in my life. Add an extra element here…I am a self-proclaimed introvert. Being “on” 24/7, even for this wonderful little being we created, can be physically and emotionally draining. Solitude recharges my batteries, but this was a whole different kind of seclusion. In the fogginess of new motherhood, the one thing that was clear was that I could not resign myself to this isolation as my new way of life. I had to push myself out of my comfort zone to find my tribe and the supportive resources I needed to help me navigate this new world. Being an introvert, asking for help is not my strength. It’s a vulnerable place that requires actually talking to someone! I choose my relationships carefully and it takes me time to fully open to people. I didn’t have time to wait; I needed to fast track finding my tribe. Once I got out there, my circle became this incredibly diverse mix of people that I couldn’t have done this whole thing without: an amazing, supportive moms group; a network of body workers, (multiple massage therapists, chiropractors, physical therapists, and one incredible acupuncturist). Then there was the nurturing lactation consultant who became my breastfeeding cheerleader, encouraging me to keep at it, ‘cuz breastfeeding did not come easy. Nine months later, I’m still breastfeeding! I talk to or text family EVERY.DAY. Girlfriends and I share laughter and unfiltered, real moments over brekky, coffee, or lunch; they understand the crazy and beautiful parts of what it means to be a mom and a true friend. I credit much of my survival, sanity, and confidence to having these amazing people beside me on this incredible journey.
While our passports are tucked away (for now), THIS truly is our greatest adventure! Raising our awesome little family, of course, wouldn’t be possible without my husband, my ride or die for life. My gratitude runs deep for him, for everything he does for our family, which affords me the precious, irretrievable gift of time with our son. I’ll remember the magic in these special moments forever. I wouldn’t have them without him looking out for our family the way he does. I am obsessively grateful everyday to be growing up with our little tot, not away from him. There is no paycheck that can replace that. The best part is, I don’t have to be anywhere or do anything other than be fully present with him every day.
I’m exactly where I need to be.
I feel very fortunate to have the choice between working and staying at home. I recognize that every family has different circumstances and choices. I have huge admiration for all the savvy Mompreneurs, #mombosses, multitasking WAHMs, those that work full time/part time outside the home, and all the others somewhere in between. I haven’t abandoned my career aspirations entirely. I am actually secretly excited about exploring this new generation of career possibilities if and when the time is right. This time of transition feels like the perfect jumping off point to pursue my passions and see where they take me. So, whatever your #momlife looks like, your mama heart is just as committed as the next. We are all in this together, modern mamas!
Motherhood is not meant to be experienced alone. Gratitude and community led me on this mindful transition that gave me the sense of peace, purpose, and support that I needed to combat the loneliness, uncertainty, and judgment of modern motherhood. As we approach the day we welcomed our baby into the world, I’m starting to feel the journey come full circle. My heart is so full.
About the Author
Livia lives on Maui with her husband and is proud mama to their son Hudson. She has a huge heart for family and loves traveling, fashion + beauty, food + wine and keepin’ it real. Adventures are still filling their sails post-baby as they plan a move this summer to Florida.