Warning: today's post is an honest note regarding my awareness (anxiety) that I soon will be a madre.
Growing up and envisioning future me, I always imagined myself in a powersuit, with a baby on my hip and holding another ones hand as it stood beside me. I don't know what my job was but obviously I was pretty important if I was wearing a skirt/suit jacket combo, had good hair and was in heels. There was not a man in the picture- I figure I was divorced or maybe I adopted the kids on my own. But that was us, that was my family and I was a busy and important woman with two kids along for the ride. Not surprisingly, I was raised to be a strong and independent girl who would undoubtedly become a strong and independent woman. My peers were other girls- best friends and cousins. We were a group of imaginative silly characters that played games, sang songs, were neighborhood entrepreneurs and became women together. Today we continue to celebrate and support each other across the country.
With this group of girls by my side I never saw myself getting into a serious relationship or getting married before thirty and definitely not having kids until my mid thirties. We had a strong bonds and extracurricular activities that were fulfilling and did not have us wanting or needing more. We had plans and experiences and lives to live that no one could get in the way of. But life surprises you. My life surprised me as I was engaged at 28, married at 29 and now am pregnant at 30. How the hell did this happen? Where is my powersuit? Who am I becoming? Can I press pause or rewind?
Flash forward from the 'future me' above- I am 30 years old. I work for a company that I love and with people who I admire, respect and count as friends. I have a dog, a garden, a solid partner, and we own a house that we are making into our home. I have friendships and relationships that keep me curious and smiling. I never expected my life to be like this, so fast. Its great and its wonderful but this whole motherhood thing is really messing with me. I am now 33 weeks pregnant. I have a baby arriving in a few short weeks and I don't think I have yet really let that sink in or that I have really dealt with how this is going to affect me. Some call it selfish to care and worry about how this new life will change and affect me. It will all be for the better I am sure, but half of me is wondering where my identity is going to go. Will I always be me* (a mom) and am I okay that motherhood is always in my liner notes?
I know its going to be half wonderful and half frightening. I know there are going to be days when I am feeling like a complete and utter wreck but other days (maybe just moments) when my life will feel blissfully awesome with this little person that we created together. Those emotions of course are nothing new to my past 30 years- ups and downs, difficult and wonderful. But lets go back to my younger self's idea of 'future me'. The powersuit- obviously women and work place fashion have come a long way in the past 20 years. I wear sneakers, leggings, jeans, booties, leather jackets and gold accessories to work- and will continue to do so with a kid on my hip or holding my hand- so I can picture that and it looks just fine, probably much more comfortable than the powersuit. But the point in my career in which I am now having a child is not what I had planned. I think what the powersuit represented was a woman who was established. I do not feel like I am there yet, my plan has always been to wait on motherhood until I had more experiences and accomplishments to my name.
It is disappointing. But what is probably worse is that I am saying this all as if I cannot move on or continue to prove myself, work hard and earn those accomplishments with a child or with a family. If you read Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In, she talks about the struggle facing career women and the balance of family and work. I cannot speak for the book in detail or provide an opinion on it since I have yet to read it. I originally snubbed the idea and the hoopla around it because I am 15 years her junior and want to believe that her struggles are different than my struggles. Being raised in the late 80's and 90's I was given every opportunity, encouraged and believed that I can and could do anything that I wanted. No career or experience was out of reach. With that mindset I will welcome this baby. I will adjust to the changes, react to the differences and continue to be independent, stylish, occasionally selfish and irresponsible.
Maybe it is just my youth I feel slipping away... But I see this new person entering the world and I think about losing my sense of self. I know I will be a good mother and nurture this kid into a smart, caring and confident person. I trust I will continue to be a good partner, friend and family focused person. That I will continue to work on projects and with people who inspire and reward me. That life is not over once you have kids. That is all I want to believe and all that I am truly struggling with. I know its not a new struggle or a special struggle but it is my current state of mind. With all the emotions that come with bringing a new person into the world, the weight of the responsibility and the hope for the future I find myself returning to these questions and fears. Hopefully after putting this out there and being straight up I can begin to embrace and appreciate the responsibility and try to enjoy the struggle.
Thanks for listening.