Pieces of Me: Keeping Some Pre-mom Rituals Sacred

Don’t tell my my younger, more adventurous self because she would never admit it, but I like ritual. The daily or weekly habits that have become so ingrained that I know to look forward to them.

 

Everyone warned me that things change when you have children. Family and friends said,  “Go out to dinner as often as you can, go to the movies with your husband, sleep now because you’ll never sleep again.”  I took that advice seriously, but there was a part of me that was really looking forward to not knowing what things would be like when our son Jacob was born.  I thought: of course everything will change.  We’ll be a bigger family, we’ll do family-types of activities together, we’ll play!

 

But I didn’t consider our rituals, the things that were so much a part of my life and frankly my enjoyment of life. I wasn’t ready to part with them.

 

There are some things that I just didn’t want to sacrifice. I could deal with less sleep ( really? ask me about the “dark days” when Jacob only slept for 90 minutes at a time), I could handle fewer date nights out (we can count the number of date nights on our fingers, womp womp), and I can adjust my work-out routines to ensure that I have enough time with Jacob and my husband (read: I don’t exercise regularly anymore).

 

Not a typical weeknight meal, but we try to grill on the weekends, and got these beautiful string beans fresh from the farm that morning.

Not a typical weeknight meal, but we try to grill on the weekends, and got these beautiful string beans fresh from the farm that morning.

But my husband I made the decision early in Jacob’s life to, for as long as we can, hold sacred and practice the ritual of cooking and eating dinner together.  This has been good for me, good for us, good for the soul.

 

Every night after work, we play with Jacob and feed him dinner, give him a bath, read stories to him while he drinks a bottle, and put him to bed in his crib.  Once he’s asleep Robert and I set to the task of preparing something with each other.  It is usually something simple, but we take the time to cook and set the table together.  And then, for several moments, the evening is just ours.  We can catch up on our days, on how Jacob is doing, on future plans, the stuff that couples talk about.  I can imagine a very different alternative where dinner together was not a priority, where we prioritized other things. I’d be lying if i said I think these one-on-one dinners will last.  My son is already adamantly (loudly) protesting his early (convenient) bed time, and I think we will be starting family dinner time any day now.  But for the first year, when I desperately needed to feel like some part of my former self, and that some parts of my former life were still in tact, I was so very grateful to have this time to connect with my husband.  The past year has helped me clarify what I value and what I enjoy in life, and I experience deep satisfaction making and breaking bread together with those that I love.   I’m looking forward the time when Jacob will join us (it will be sooner rather than later).

 

I think that ritual is important but have also come to embrace the art of being flexible and open.  Accepting that I didn’t know what was about to happen on any given day, that the way I spent my time would largely be determined by my son and his needs, and that I needed to be able to bend and flex the ways in which I was used to doing things.  That was (is) the new way of life.

 

Being in the moment is hard for me, but if I’ve learned anything in the last year, it is that being present and being able to listen and watch for cues, and being responsive to those cues, have been invaluable skills that I’ve needed to practice…daily.  Maybe those are also my new daily rituals.

 

Are there rituals or routines that you hold sacred in your family?  How did those things change or evolve when you became a mother? How have they changed and evolved over time?

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