Doing It All
I have no doubt that no matter what day in age you become a mom there are, and were, intense challenges. Be them the dangers of childbirth itself, the societal expectations of being a stay-at-home mom/homemaker, to the difficulties of living far from family and their built in support system. But, at least from my personal perspective, todays moms have it rough (too!). While we have endless freedoms and resources, there are also myriad pressures to be ‘super moms’. We feel these expectations to be amazing, perfect mothers. While also being wives and bread winners and house keepers and support systems. Not that I have one single issue with us ladies wanting to have it all, who the shit wouldn’t? But what I take issue with is achieving that ideal is close to impossible. And not only that, it creates layers of anxieties and feelings of guilt that can weigh even the strongest of us ladies down. And keep in mind, on top of all of that, it’s absolutely crucial that we take some time and make some effort to save a little something for ourselves, you know, in the never ending endeavor to keep sane and balanced.
Before Kula came I pretty much planned on returning to work, full-time, at six weeks postpartum. That’s when I was needed back so that was the deal. Luckily for me, I work for family, so having Kula in tow was expected and not a problem. But let’s be honest here, and I know every baby is different, but between the lack of sleep, the lack of any idea whatsoever of what I was doing with this new baby, and the need to be somewhat present in mind to actually get anything constructive done made for a stressful time. I wanted to get back to work, to do something outside of breastfeeding and changing diapers and doing laundry, but it was hard. And I continually felt a little left behind. A little out of the loop. A little less needed.
So that got me feeling: us modern day moms (see feminists...) are supposed to do it all, want it all, have it all. Our happy partners, our passion filled jobs, our well adjusted, genius, good looking babies on our hips. And while, of course, sure, I’ll take all that any day, it sure ain’t my reality! It’s been an adjustment to say the least... actually that’s putting it a touch too mildly. It’s been more of an ass-kicking, emotional-roller-coaster, come-to-Jesus, sometimes-you’ll-find-me-in-the-fetal-position journey thus far. And the reality is, I get wound up sometimes. With thoughts of ‘I should be doing this and that and the other thing’. Working and cooking and cleaning and have sex with my husband and playing with my baby and calling my grandmother and having wine night with my friends. So sometimes, as the end of the day comes around, I tend to feel like it’s been the shortest, yet longest day of my life.
Yet, part of me feels lucky in a sense. I have never been particularly career oriented. I have never felt the need to have a job that is all consuming or looks good on a resumé. Instead, I would classify myself as more passion focused. I am deeply motivated by doing and acting according to my morals and values. And in turn, those have led me down some very interesting, fulfilling and educational paths. But most of the time, those routes have not been all that lucrative. So, when I had Kula, there was not really a moment when I felt pulled between a high powered job and taking care of her… well, at least in the beginning. That is not to say that I am itching to get back to some 9-5 profession, actually I feel quite fortunate that I have a flexible schedule and get to work from home. But what I am looking for is just a little something more. Something outside of being a mom and a maid. Something that will continue to make me feel like an individual that is still learning and growing in more ways than just motherhood. And I think that is perfectly normal. And should feel perfectly guilt free.
From my mere six months as a mom I can already tell you there are just so many ways and versions, circumstances and ideas, iterations of motherhood that I cannot believe anyone feels the need to judge or compare themselves to others. I’ve just decided that what works best on my end is to ask for advice when needed, reach out with struggling, but mostly know that my version of this looks different than my neighbors, than that women at the grocery store, then that ‘perfect’ mom on instagram (she can’t be a real thing, right…?). I think the best course of action, for me, is to figure this whole thing out my way. What feels true and authentic to my way of life. And I kinda think that should be the motto of sorts for motherhood: you do you, and with a little support, I’ll try and survive my way over here!
And when I think about all of this, I continually return to something my mom said to me one day, and I’m not sure she really knows how profound a piece of advice it was for me... she said: “But Erin, really... what’s more important than being able to be with this little creature?!” I don’t think, per say, she was looking for an explicit answer, it was more of a rhetorical question. But it turns out how I truly felt about that question was really quite simple. Obvious even. My answer was sitting right there, smack in the middle of my heart: Nothing. Absolutely nothing is more important.
So here I am. Still, and most likely continuously, trying to figure out how to be me, but a new version. One who’s priorities have shifted, who’s passions are in fact more intensified, one who wants to be better and bigger and more fully me. Minus all those pesky outside expectations, of course