Every mama I know marks the first years of motherhood by a series of milestones not only for the baby—first bath, first laugh, sitting up, crawling, walking, speaking—but for herself. It starts small—first time to the grocery store with the kid(s). First time out without the kid(s). First time exercising, first time sleeping well, first time you start to feel like yourself again. First time some of your old clothes start to fit, first time out with girlfriends, first time you realize that you’ve got this, whatever this is.
And then comes the bigger things: maybe first time back to work, or first time deciding that you are going to stay home. First time starting a small business so you can stay home. First time realizing you’re in a routine, and not only can parenting be wonderful, but it can also be really fun. I love the firsts, especially around the fourth month when the baby’s personality starts coming out, and mine starts coming back. Then, even though there are the inevitable hard days and meltdowns and breakdowns, at least I feel like myself doing it, and not a weird sleep-deprived zombie blob who doesn’t know what she’s doing.
Now, don’t think I don’t feel like a weird sleep-deprived zombie blob after ze bebe in question is four months old. Because sometimes, or lots of times, yeah, totally. But around 4-6 months, I’ve found (the two whole times that I’ve done this) that things start to level out, and I start feeling more the Cassidy the Mother instead of someone I don’t know very well who is surviving and taking care of all the things but isn’t very connected to herself because hormones and alien skin pouches and newborn sleep cycles and pumping and oh yeah getting the hang of a whole other person. You know?
(Cassidy the Mother [is this an allegory?] sounds weird, ya? I can’t say Mama Cass for all of the obvious reasons. Or, maybe I should say Mama Cass for all the obvious reasons.)
So. We have babies, and every time we come back to ourselves, our husbands, our children slowly, slowly, and then faster and faster and bam! We’re back, baby. Or at least back enough, because I was talking to a teenager (young adult? I don’t know, the kid was in college), and I’m never going to be that back. That ship sailed awhile ago, but the land on the horizon disappeared almost exactly three years ago and there’s no going back.
I’m not sad, though, because golly the fraughtness (that is a word; I say so) and the drama and the uncertainty of being that age. No thank you, hard pass, been there done that, no mas.
Anyways. I’ve had two babies. Each time I’ve gone through almost the same milestones for myself and watched for the same for my babies. Yesterday, I hit another one, and it made me very contemplative, as these things can do.
Bert looked at me on Saturday and said “Let’s ride tomorrow.” And after thinking of all the reasons we shouldn’t–so much to do–I said “Let’s.” I’m not going to tell you how long it’s been since I’ve been horseback. This isn’t a huge, huge deal to me, to be honest, because I know it’s a season and someday, when the kids are all in school, I’ll ride as much as I want.
But, as my husband helpfully pointed out, if I waited oh, ten years to ride a horse it would be a) a travesty because we ranch for heaven’s sake b) ridiculous because we have nice horses and I really enjoy it, and c) I’d have to pretty much start over, at least muscle-memory-wise, in a ten-years-older body, and I hate starting over, and feeling old, so better now than later. So, we snuggled Buster in the stroller, saddled some horses, and rode in the round pen. Wacey played in the pen next to us, roped with Bert, rode with me, and it was prettttty amazing.
When we were done, the horses were put up, and I was sitting on the sofa marveling at how tired I was because Lord, we used to ride all day, I remarked to Bert that I felt good riding, that I felt like I actually had a pretty good seat, which was surprising considering the muscles that are used for riding are also the ones that are pretty consistently wrecked by pregnancy and childbirth, and I’m not exactly exercising consistently. I expected him to laugh a little and say something nice while also saying no, I looked like a sack of potatoes, but he said “I thought so too. I think you looked better than before, actually.” Friends, that was great to hear, because so many things are so hard after having a baby, and it was nice to have something be not so hard. Or that getting back in the saddle was, really, just getting back in the saddle and picking up where I left off, or maybe even a little ahead.
Motherhood has consistently reminded me that I can do hard things, that the human body is amazing (but also gross), and that getting back into things that remind me about myself are very, very important.
Which leads me to this aside: If you saw my stories yesterday, you’ll also know that my riding pants finally fit, which is a BFD for me because if you know me at all, you know I have very specific ideas about how work/riding pants should fit, and that I hate buying new pants, and that I found my last few pairs of these unicorns at a tiny feed store in Pennsylvania, and that they’re the last jeans to fit, usually, because of how they fit and the lack of stretch.
I don’t think we need to “bounce back” after baby (ew, stop), but for me it’s so nice to feel at home in my favorite clothes again. And to not have to wear unacceptable pants to ride in.
So, if you’re a mama who is in the early days, or wondering when you’ll recognize yourself, it will happen. It can take a long time, or a not-so-long time, and it can definitely vary by kid. If you’re a mama, or any person, really, that is worried about getting back in the proverbial or literal saddle, do it. Take a leap of faith! It might work out, it might not (like the last time I tried to put on my riding pants, or actually buy everything on our grocery list with both boys in tow), but at least you’ll know that it’s not time yet, and to try again soon.
Happy Monday! Try something new this week!