when summer was a week old, i knew that her very presence was going to change my way of thinking. about family. about my priorities. my marriage. my career. i remember writing her birth story and getting to the very end, and writing "you've answered questions i didn't know i had". that sentence right there was it. the moment i woke up and realized that things were going to be different for me. right then. right there. because i needed them to be.
i recently made a call to change my path. the path i was on was great - for us financially, for my career. on paper, it was what i always wanted. a great job, with a great company, with amazing people. people i consider family. i cared so incredibly much about what i did there every day. so much so, i found myself caring more about my accomplishments at work then i did about my accomplishments at home. i battled hard to be "in the moment" in meetings, during 1:1s, on conference calls all day long. but when i got home, i found it relatively easy to check my phone constantly during dinner for just "one more" response back to an email. or during bath time, getting frustrated with wyatt if his splashing interfered with a text conversation i was having about a project at work. all of that came first.
i've asked myself why a lot on that. why was it so hard for me to let go. draw lines. create boundaries. set expectations. the only real answer i can come to is this - it fulfilled me to do well there. i didn't want to let anyone down. i felt good working through professional challenges. i enjoyed supporting people and their professional careers. i loved the people i worked with.
as i reflected that week summer was born, i came to a couple of pretty rough conclusions. as much as i cared about my work, i didn't really like who i was becoming. not only there, but mostly at home. i didn't really like the mom i was - on the weeknights especially (i tended to rally ok on the weekends - turning email off on my phone on friday afternoons and not turning it back on until sunday night). absent, distracted, impatient. it wasn't who i imagined myself to be when i had kids. i didn't plan to be a mom that cared about letting the people she worked with down more than she cared about letting her own family down. it was easier for me to disappoint them for some reason. what. the. fuck. is wrong with me?
i remember reading this article a couple of months into my maternity leave and really feeling it - to my core. it was about the need toddlers have for your time. it was a story from a mom of a two year old that basically calls out that the struggle at bed time could very well be related to the lack of time your toddler had with you that day. that last 6 weeks or so of being pregnant weren't pretty on me. i was so tired. i was on the verge of cracking - both mentally and physically i guess. i wanted to leave everything wrapped with a perfectly tied, giant pink taffeta bow at work. i cared so much about the loose ends, the unanswered emails, and the never ending to do list. i rushed through my evening routines with wyatt just so i could get back online and finish whatever it was that definitely could wait until morning. that last 6 weeks, bed time was what i considered at the time "a joke". i remember complaining about how difficult it was - that it was worse than when we attempted CIO at the 6 month mark. the kid would NOT go to bed without crying. sobbing actually. after reading that article i felt like i got punched in the stomach. i felt like someone just handed me the "you suck as a mom" brown paper lunch sack filled with burning shit "award". why didn't i realize that then? those were my last few weeks with my little guy. my first little. my munchy. my monkey. why didn't i slow down, and just think for one second that he needed me. most likely for just 5 more minutes of hair stroking, hand holding, story telling, sing songing time. to this day i kick myself for the nights i just let him cry in there until he got cozy without me. just so i could open up my laptop. for that first couple of months, until i read that article, i never really knew why summer was so late. why was i pregnant for 8 days longer than my due date? that thought crossed my mind a lot, even after she was born. it just didn't make sense to me. wyatt was so early. what could i possibly have done to deserve such torture?
looking back now it's so very clear to me. that last week was exactly what i needed. i stopped working the morning of my due date. i spent that entire day with my boys. i may have squeezed a pedi in that morning, but other than that i was there. i was present. i walked and talked and played and soaked in every moment i could. i spent that week waking up every day with wyatt, bringing him to bed with us, watching sesame street, knowing that could be it. the last morning "just us". even if i didn't know, the universe knew that i needed to keep cooking little miss so i wouldn't look back feeling like a complete asshole.
throughout my entire maternity leave i knew in my post pregnancy gut that i had some things to sort through over the next four months. i needed to make some changes so that i started caring about the right things, and less about the wrong things. i needed to create balance somehow. i knew the kind of mom i wanted to be and feared i couldn't be her there. i feared that i would not only let people down at work, i felt i would let my family down. most importantly, i felt like i was going to let myself down.
i actually put in my notice. Up until that point, really expecting nothing but an "i understand" and "good luck to you"… maybe a "you're welcome back any time you're ready". instead, i got the opportunity to stay on in a capacity that i could do. in a role that allowed me to spend a bit more time with my family, and a little less time pouring myself into my work. it's behind the scenes, and just about 30 hours a week give or take. and exactly what i need to still feel a bit like me, and a lot more like the mom i want to be.
this blog post circulated last week. another "sock it to me" read. it talks about "the ache". also known as, "no matter how many kids i have, i'll always feel this void in my heart for more because i am totally addicted to everything that comes with having a baby". yah, that one. i honestly couldn't see out of my eye balls about 5 sentences into it because i was sobbing like someone died. i actually felt the ache immediately into the post. i knew exactly what she was going to write before she wrote it. i nodded with every word, every description, every visualization. i related to it all. everything from the absolute elation i felt after having both of my babes, to the realness that is breast feeding. in the words of my bestie, annie - "it cut deep". so deep, it hurt.
i love this time with these kids more than i can even describe to you. the thankfulness i feel overwhelms me most of the time. the absolute adoration i feel for my family is so intense, it actually hurts my heart to think about it not always being like this. this is everything. the completeness i feel when i see these two faces that are part of me and ty is what i've always always always wanted. reading that article after i made what seemed to be some pretty tough calls at the time, really sealed the deal. the only thing that could possibly make me feel better after reading it was knowing that by being with them more, and being engaged, focused, and present as a parent made the "ache" a little bit easier to swallow. it doesn't go away. oh, hell no. every stage i experience with them brings a new layer to the ache. a new time i want to bottle up, and never forget. the moments i think about when i lay my head on my pillow at night, just hoping to relive them in my dreams.
these are the moments of our lives. my accomplishments can be many. and they can absolutely still involve professional wins. promotions. a career. i have time to figure that out. but right now, they have to include these two little people. who they become is so incredibly dependent on who i want to be as a mama. sure, they'll grow up and survive with out me. but that's not the life i always wanted. i want it all - and right now, that means i put a few of the professional "dreams" to the side, and put two of my dreams turned reality first.