Where is the Me in Motherhood?

 

These past two weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind. Work has picked up quite a bit which has left me working late and skipping my lunch time workouts. A year or so ago I would have found this mildly annoying but this is a new era. This is the era of baby. Working late means I can’t spend much time with HEB in the evening who goes to bed at 8. Skipping workouts at lunch almost entirely eliminates exercise from my life since putting HEB in the stroller equals sleep. No evening runs/walks for me.

It’s more than that though. There’s the sleep deprivation for sure as the wee babe has taken to sleeping mostly through the night only once or twice a week (yes, sleep training is soon to come), but that’s not it either. It’s me time. I feel selfish just saying it but that’s what it comes down to. That’s where my daily struggle lies. I miss my time. I came into parenting with the misconception that all babies nap. I knew I’d feel tied down at times but then I thought that there would be naps and I would blog or sit on the porch alone and feel like a human. Well…. bullshit. There are no naps.

I miss riding my bike to work.

I miss writing this blog.

I miss working in the yard.

I miss staying up late just hanging out by myself.

I miss doing crafts and knitting.

I miss my house being passably clean.

My mother continues to tell me, “This, too, shall pass,” and I know she’s right but I should clarify.  It’s not that I want my old life back. I’m just searching for some balance. Where is that minimum I can use to get by? What parts of me can still be present as I learn to be a mother? What parts are still mine?

After a couple weeks of struggle, today I went for a run walk (where there was a moment of running). I went up a path I’ve never gone before. I was in the sunshine. I listened to music. I didn’t worry about anyone else. It was only 30 minutes but it was glorious. Now I’m off work early and sipping a beer. I’m almost a person again.

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Still there is so much guilt in writing this. I pull up my photos to look for one for this post and I see a pictures of HEB on my recently passed birthday and mother’s day. He is the best baby! Those were wonderful days! And yet here I am still feeling the way I do. There are many circumstances that make motherhood way more difficult and I have none of those. My point is though that this is all hard even when everything goes your way. My hope is that if someone else is feeling terrible about feeling terrible, if someone else is not sure who they are now that they’re responsible for another, that you know I’m right there with you.

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Okay, he sometimes sleeps, but only for about 10 minutes at a time. 

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Pretty much my favorite photo ever. 

 

From College to Career: Taking the Long Road

Between graduation weekend recently passing and my friend Chrissy’s recent blog post on being a late bloomer I’ve been spending a lot of time considering my college to career path. I should preface this though by letting you know I’m an internship coordinator. This basically means I spent 50% of my time speaking to primarily undergraduate students who have one of two attitudes:

Option 1: I’m just getting started in my career and am trying to figure things out. I’m hoping this internship will help me determine the focus I want my career to have in the long-term.

Option 2: I know exactly what I want. I’ve always known what I want. Even if I haven’t, I have come to my current conclusion by a series of logical steps including shadowing, internships, volunteer activities, school projects and so forth (Sidenote, overacheivers always provide examples.)

I can safely say I didn’t fit either of these options when I was in school. When I interned during my sophomore year of college, I was… terrible. I thought I would connect quickly with my work reading the slush pile at a children’s publishing house. Uh, no. I was incredibly intimidated by the constant silence that permeated the building. No one ever seemed to walk through the old converted house. No one stopped by to chat. No one exchanged humorous stories about their weekend. My mentor tried to offer me some guidance but mostly kept to her incredibly quiet self. I started to shrink beside the staggering pile of papers. By the time the summer ended I had learned very little, mostly due to my own inability to ask questions, and still wasn’t sure if I wanted to be an editor.

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I may have totally lacked direction but sometimes I looked like Nicole Kidman back then. So there’s that. 

Since I didn’t have a plan B I just kept working at my hospitality jobs and my anxiety grew over what to do next. I spent most of my senior of college depressed that I had no sense of direction. It worsened during summer camp and the months I spent living with my mom afterwards.

There is this expectation when you come out of school (or perhaps this is just millennials) that you should know what it is you want to do. You should be focused and forward thinking. If you don’t know what it is you want then at least create some sort of awesome app/non-profit/small business in the meantime to prove you are kicking ass at being an adult.

One of the other somewhat acceptable options was to travel after graduation, which I did. I assumed that traveling would help my destiny emerge. In reality it took another 5 or 6 years of customer service/hospitality work before I landed a job in a publications department finally putting me on a career ladder towards an editor role. It was then and only then that I found out where I was most suited- human resources.

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I found my way to cycling and HR all at the same time. 

Although it was shocking to discover, I’m really social. I like working in teams with lots of collaboration. Problem solving? Strategy? Love it! I’m all about process improvement and trying new ideas. If you’d told me that ten years ago, I would have never believed you. Turns out I prefer books for fun not for livelihood. I wouldn’t make a great editor.

Most of the interns I work with find my career path unnerving. They are focused overachievers and the idea that their internship won’t put them on the path to success completely throws them off. They nod suspiciously as I suggest there may be alternate routes to finding their path. For the rare few though my zigzagging journey gives them breathing room. Their graduation panic starts to subside. One of our best interns is taking the summer off to travel before applying for full-time positions with us in the fall. When we talk about strategies for how to present her time traveling to employers, I know she’s making the most of both worlds: her ambition and her need for more.

As you might guess there are times I wish I started my chosen career path earlier. Maybe I’d make more money or be in a position with more influence. But just as often I think about how I could have traveled more and taken my time. It leads me to think I struck the right balance after all. Looking at today’s college students and their ambitious inclinations I have to wonder what Haines’ generation will be characterized by. I hope we’re able to share with him the importance of the journey over the destination.

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First stop coffee shop. Next stop the world!

Our New Adventure

If you had asked me ten years ago , when I thought I would get married (because in college this is the kind of question you ask) my answer would have been, “If I get married, I’ll probably be in my mid-thirties.”I know the person I was picturing: a more practical Sex in the Cities type career woman, living in New York City, focusing on writing and her career, dating but not letting it get in her way. In my mind, this person has always just walked down the stairs from her brownstone towards her sky scraper office. She’s even wearing heels.

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If you had asked me if I thought I would have kids my answer would have been uncertain. It was hard to imagine not having children- whether that’s because that is the typical, “expected” path or because that’s what I wanted… it’s hard to say. My heel-wearing vision didn’t seem on that path but was I?

 

But life is not what my twenty-year old self expected. I never learned to like heels and the rat race of New York City didn’t end up appealing to me. As it turns out I’m too social to want to be an editor and Sex in the City isn’t all it was cracked up to be (did you see Sex in the City movie sequel? Yikes).

movieI traveled the world when I might have been working towards that corner office. I found my career by happenstance not by over planning. Dating didn’t get in my way as I feared it might, instead it led me to a wonderful person. This fall we’ll celebrate two years together.

In December, shortly after our second anniversary we’ll also be expecting our first child. We’ve completely planned this and yet I find it a total surprise. Each day I look down to find a growing belly and think, “Is that mine?” At another point in my life I wasn’t sure I wanted kids. I certainly didn’t feel pregnancy was an experience I needed to go through the way many women do. Of most of my long time friends, I was always the least sure about a life with kids. How would I travel? How would I maintain my identity? How would I not only share my life but dedicate my life to someone else and still feel complete?

But I will travel with a baby strapped to my chest (and keep my distances short!) and my identity will continue to evolve the way it has over the past thirty years. My life has become more joyful with every person I have ever shared a part of it with and this will certainly take the cake.

I cannot yet wrap my mind around how our lives will change even as I try to imagine both wonderful and challenging baby scenarios.  Lately it feels like people are constantly asking me questions in which I am forced to try to imagine what it is like to be a parent. While I may have tried to imagine this before (either to help someone figure out a situation or in a self-righteous  “when I have children I’ll never do that” moment) now that I am truly faced with imagining parenthood, I now feel that I have no idea what I’m talking about. It feels like I am on the edge of an abyss and any minute I will jump in and find out what everyone has been talking about but for the time being I’m still up top, left only with my ideas.

For now it’s the two of us watching in wonder as our lives evolve, a growing addition and an app that tell us what type of produce it’s the size of. This week we are an avocado which I find particularly endearing. Please google images for “baby avocado.” You’ll thank me later. It’s even better than you would have hoped.

 

Here’s the basics in case you’re wondering:

  • Our due date is December 14.
  • We will not be finding out the sex. This is partly because it will be fun, partly because it drives my sister crazy (love you Jamie!) and has the bonus of helping us avoid gifts of princess outfits or Tonka truck type clothes.
  • No matter what happens, I will not let Tyler name the baby Bubba Earl. Poor Tyler.