A mamas perspective on dealing with change
My mind blowing moment
Ever have a brilliant idea? You know the kind that comes to you when you are doing something mundane in your day and then boom, an idea pops into your head and you think “this is mind blowing!”
For me, it was when I suddenly realized that I was a mommy…and that my life had totally changed!
Yes, laugh all you want, but it was only several months after I gave birth to my son, that I had this realization. Did anyone else experience this?
What puzzled me the most was not that my life had changed, I mean I have spent most of my life chasing after “change” (hell I even studied it), but that this one felt different! I am not sure I would say it was the most difficult, but it did seem to take on a different form.
And then it dawned on me, perhaps everything I learned about change management is completely backwards when you become a mother!
Dealing with change
In order to provide a little context around my thought process, I want to share a simple model with you that I learned during my Masters program at Columbia University.
It is known as the SARA curve, which stands for: Shock, Anger, Resistance, Acceptance.
This model has been very helpful for me in both my personal and professional career because I am able to identify where someone (including myself) is in the model and then cater my approach or reaction in a way that is aligned to their needs so they can move to acceptance and even healing more effectively.
Note: Everyone goes through the model differntly. Every change you experience will have different results. It is not a guarantee that once you pass one phase of the model, you won't regress back to a previous phase.
What does this have to do with motherhood?
Funny enough, I truly believed these models worked because they have helped with the majority of my experiences dealing with change.
That is until I started reflecting on life after having a baby. I asked myself “did I ever really have time to be shocked or angry”? Hell no! In fact, I started to think that maybe the SARA curve starts in reverse when you become a mom.
Think about it. There is no choice other than to accept you are a parent when this tiny human being squeezes out of you! After hours of the most intense pain you have ever experienced, you are handed your little one and Mother Nature waves its magic wand at you, kicking instincts into full gear. Without any hesitation, you are waking up every 2-3 hours feeding a fussy baby, changing explosive diapers, learning to shower in under 2 minutes, and finding a way to squeeze in personal time (and by that I do mean the toilet).
Once you are able to wake up from this automatic response to motherhood, you realize that your whole world has been shaken. For me, that is when the “resistance” kicked in.
How did resistance initially take shape for me? Well first, I kept on working like nothing had changed!
Need to have a team meeting at the kitchen? No problem, Aiden loves his carrier so why not take him with me? Have an event for the business? Aiden is a good sleeper and likes noise so he will just come with us! At first, I didn't think twice about my demanding work schedule. I just kept going like before he was born.
How did anger show up for me? One day when we had some friends over at our house, someone asked “how has life changed since Aiden arrived?”
My husband was quick to answer, by saying “actually, funny enough it hasn’t!”
I sat there speechless and stunned for about 30 seconds. And then I started laughing. I mean, was he serious? My entire world had changed!
And that is when I realized how vastly different the changes have been for both of us. Most of this is by default, a man just doesn’t have the same capabilities as a woman (don’t take that the wrong way…I am referring mostly to breast feeding here).
But even with these facts, I couldn’t help find myself getting slightly angry about the imbalance of responsibilities and therefore the choices woman have to make (e.g. your career) as a result of this beautiful but significant change.
This anger stage led to shock!
I started to feel like I had lost my freedom, which has always been super important to me.
Overall this resulted in a lot of denial trying to prove that I could still do everything; hostility towards my husband which meant little things were triggering me to react more emotional than normal; and just overall frustration that I couldn’t find time to take care of myself!
So where am I today & what have I learned?
Today I am closer to acceptance! However, I would be lying if I said that I didn't find myself occasionally regressing to previous stages. Mostly because I still find myself craving more me time!
What I have learned? It is important to allow yourself time to go through these phases of emotion. Being open to how you are feeling makes you stronger and helps you heal quicker. Ignoring them or trying to hide them will only make them worse and most likely prolong the time you are in each phase.
Finally, I realize my life will never be the way it was before, but I wouldn't want it any other way. This little guy has brought more joy in my life than I could ever imagine! So I guess the biggest lesson is that although change may be tough it has sweet rewards!