I feel like I've been going through a major identity crisis recently. I don't know why, though maybe it's because I'm finally out of the new baby fog. When you think about it, between nine months of pregnancy and a good 6-8 months of new baby fog, that's well over a year of being sort of preoccupied with a lot of other stuff, and it becomes very easy to forget about yourself in the shuffle. Or, at least, to care. With Jacob I was obviously overwhelmed with getting ready for a first baby and being a new mom. I had to juggle that with work and a house. This time around I may have been more used to the baby stuff in general, but juggling my job, two kids, and a bigger house has been a challenge. My downtime is just considerably less, and obviously in the past few months we've had a lot of other things going on with Jacob--behavior issues, school, new doctors, etc., so most of my downtime tends to be spent online researching one thing or another. There just isn't a lot of time that I can dedicate to myself because I'm managing everyone else. I go to the gym once a week, I try to make myself presentable in the morning, and I try to spend at least a little time in the evenings doing what I want to do, which is usually watching a show while browsing social media. But I don't really go out, I don't really have any social friendships, and it's rare that I can even carve out a solo shopping trip where I can really browse for myself.
A couple weeks ago I got my hair cut. I'm still not sure how I feel about it. I mean, I appreciate the fact that Carter can't pull it all the time, and the fact that a lot of it is falling out (hormones? stress?) is a little less annoying, but I'm not sure how I feel about the style. Part of it seems too cute. Part of it seems boring. But then sometimes it seems fresh and professional. The long hair seemed sexier sometimes, but then again sometimes I felt like it made me look like I was trying to hard to be young. The long hair was actually easier since I just blow dried it and brushed it, while this hair must be styled a bit so it doesn't flip out the wrong way, but once it's done I think it looks nicer for the duration of the day. But I'm just not sure it reflects me right now. But since I don't know who I am (or want to be), how could it?
The same can be said for my clothes. As I mentioned briefly last week, I spent a good portion of a Saturday morning clearing out my wardrobe. I have a closet, parts of two dressers, and one wardrobe full of clothes, covering all seasons. Many of them I have owned for a really long time, some as long ago as my old job, which I haven't worked at in almost eight years. Some of it was looking a little ratty, and some of it hasn't been worn in a few years, but some of it I wore right up until the winter before I got pregnant, and it never fit last year around my pregnancy. In most cases the stuff just doesn't fit right anymore, but in some cases it's just not "me" anymore, either. While I don't feel like my body is way different than it was before kids--a little squishier, yes, but I can still wear the same pants for the most part--it was amazing how many of the shirts just didn't quite work. Most were either a little too clingy for my post-baby belly, or they were simply too short to look flattering. I don't know if my dryer has destroyed them, or if styles have just changed so much that my perception has changed, or if subtle shifts in my body's composition has just rendered them awkward. I mean, my chest is actually smaller now than it used to be, but button-down blouses gape...so either I have more back fat, or something else is happening. Regardless, there were a lot of things that just didn't fit right, so they're getting donated. I set aside a handful of nostalgic items (maybe someday they'll become a t-shirt quilt or something), but for the most part it was good to get them gone. It felt a little wasteful (and sometimes sad, for pieces with memories attached), even though most of those clothes have gotten a considerable amount of wear. It made a little room in my closet, but at this point I'm not even sure what to replace them with...because, again, I don't know what to buy. I wear a lot of sweaters with camis, and the layering makes me feel a little more put together, but beyond that I'm not sure which styles will work for me. Stacy and Clinton, where are you?!
Like I alluded to above, the process of having another baby tends to trigger this issue. I remember having that feeling last time around, too. After spending months not buying clothes in anticipation of being pregnant, then shopping only maternity racks (or shapeless stuff) for six months or so, followed by months of being unsure about how my body might turn out, that equaled a lot of months away from stores and a lot of changes in styles. Going back in and having to shop countless "normal" racks, as opposed to a handful of racks with very specific styles, was very challenging. This time was much the same. I'm also a few years older at this point, so many of my "younger clothes" don't feel right--particularly for work.
This time I added in the long hair vs. short hair debate. Did long hair make me more of a fun mom? Or was I looking like I was trying too hard to be young? I had a really hard time deciding on a length once I decided to go shorter, which is rarely an issue for me. I couldn't figure out if going too short would make me less feminine or too mom-ish, but I also didn't want to be stuck in between and look as undecided as I felt. I've been hiding behind longer hair for a while now (can't believe I grew it out for three years!), so the thought of going back worried me a bit. Was I trying to be something I no longer was, at any length?
But the biggest problem this time around is that despite being more comfortable in the mom role, I'm more frazzled with even less time for myself. Add in that Jacob's issues have been at the forefront for months now, and suffice it to say that focusing on myself has been more difficult than I ever imagined. Or even if I have the chance to focus on myself, caring enough to make an effort is a challenge. I guess it just seems like small potatoes compared to all we've been dealing with. Like, why should I worry about changing my look when it's not going to make a difference in Jacob's situation?
On the other hand, I have noticed that lately I have a tendency to gravitate toward "fixing" little things. Maybe it manifests itself in a new storage system, or making it a point to finally fix something that was broken, or clearing out a pile of clutter. Mind you, I'm not very good at it, but when I get something on the brain, it bugs me until I do it. I've mentioned here before all of the unfinished projects around my house, and yes, they are all still driving me nuts. But most of them are too big to conquer with the time I have, so I've been going off on little tangents to fix what I can in the moment. For example, I decided that I want to get storage binders for all of my CDs so I can get my easy-to-topple, very heavy storage rack out of the living room. I don't really have time to do that, but yet, it is bugging me. I've been meaning to get a bin to put Carter's peek-a-blocks in (so they're easier to access than when they're stored in the Incrediblock), so imagine my joy when I realized mid-shopping trip that I already have a container that I can use. It took me days to remember to get it out, but it felt good to do that tonight. I get excited when I figure out a new gluten-free fix, or find a way to convince Jacob to do something without complaint, or manage to conquer one mess that's been bugging me. All of those little things are so small in comparison to the major problems that really need fixing, but I guess mentally I take comfort in controlling what I can amidst the rest of the chaos in our lives.
I guess I just feel a little lost right now. I don't know how I should look, how I should feel about being 35, or how I want people to see me as a mom. I don't know where to start on my to do list, my cooking repertoire has been blown to smithereens, and my house is a mess. I can't relate to one of my kids and I'm probably a pretty crappy wife right now, too. I'm exhausted, my priorities are a mess, and there just aren't enough hours in the day to make it all work for everyone. And yet I sit here and blog because I need some sort of outlet for all of the stuff that makes me crazy right now. And I wonder where Jacob gets his irrationality. Hmmmm.