The Steak is in the Diaper Bag (and Other Things Lost and Found as a New Mom)

Of course I put the steak in the diaper bag.

I mean, what other logical thing would I have done after returning from my first grocery shopping excursion as a new mom? Five weeks into this motherhood gig, I was just thankful that we got in and out of the store without having a major baby meltdown, or anyone commenting that I hadn’t brushed my hair that day (or the two days previous).

So when Brandon came home ready to cook and couldn’t find the beautiful cut of meat I thoughtfully picked out from the butcher, we searched high and low for it, until in a moment of clarity I thought, ‘maybe it’s in the diaper bag?’ And when I said it out loud he didn’t seem too surprised but just went to check, giggled a bit when he found it, and then continued to the kitchen to start cooking. In that moment, while I felt like I had lost my mind in addition to our dinner, I also smiled at the bit of comic relief we had been gifted. And I thought, if this is how it will be, that we can laugh for every “losing my mind” moment, well then we will have gained a lot of laughter in this new life as parents.

And while losing my mind and gaining laughter has been a central part of motherhood so far, so has the exchange of losing and finding myself. Overall I still feel like me—the person I was before Quinn—who I was while she grew inside me for 42 weeks and who I am now—feels rooted in the same person. But the edges are a little softer, some days a little more ill-defined, and I’d be lying if I said that things haven’t changed or that I haven’t lost things.

I’ve lost independence—to just take a walk, or run an errand, or hop on the phone to chat with a friend. I’ve lost the focus I used to bring to conversations, where I couldn’t be distracted from anything anyone said. I’ve lost the sense of time, with each day finding me surprised again that it’s already 5pm. I’ve lost the feeling in the fingers on my right hand (thanks to baby-making carpal tunnel). I’ve lost bonding time with my cats and leisurely nights on the couch watching a movie or chatting with Brandon.

But, while I’ve lost independence, I’ve gained nimble-ness—the ability to start, stop, start and stop again any number of tasks and know that eventually they will get done, and if they don’t, well who really cares?

I may not be as focused during time with others as I once was but I’ve gained appreciation for the time I have with them, even if it’s quick or regularly interrupted. I can’t feel the fingers on my right hand but I gained back the feeling in my left hand which was also numb and tingly during pregnancy. And while my cats have forsaken me and the quiet nights on the couch with Brandon are a distant past, I’ve gained a partner in parenting, a husband who anticipates my needs and gives generously, and a father to Quinn who loves deeply.

Some days what I’ve lost seems to stack much higher than what’s been found. Other days I can’t even find the list of what’s been lost because it’s buried so deeply beneath all that’s been gained. And on particular days—okay let’s be honest—on most days, I trip over those piles of lost and found things, both real and figurative, as I stumble around trying to find something I’ve physically lost, like my glasses, or my keys, or a pacifier, or on some nights, a steak dinner.

Written by Katie Willse

Mom to Quinn and cat-herder to Saul and Ellie, Katie works as a consultant supporting nonprofits in the youth development and education field. She is passionate about building strong communities that provide positive opportunities to all families.

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