Come January, we will a part of the “two under two” club. With this unexpected (but exciting) curveball tossed our way, I’m glad that I documented this first year in my new role as a mom; both the goods and the bads. Thanks to the partnership with Baby Dove, I’ve had the opportunity to share my challenges and delights as a new mom with you, dear reader. As I prepare for this new baby, I’m glad that I have these memories documented (and well photographed), especially since I have a hard time remembering what I had for breakfast yesterday, let alone six months ago.
Motherhood has fundamentally changed who I am. I’m not just talking about the obvious “mom” role, but my core identity. I’ve found myself surprised by the woman looking back at me in the mirror. Sometime in the last year, the Kate that I knew has been replaced with this new woman. Lately, this woman is trying to balance a very tall stack of china plates on her head while juggling flaming torches. I know some of us see a void where we once stood pre-baby. Some of us see a warrior with battle scars and wise eyes. Some of us see a one-woman band, playing six instruments at once.
What keeps me up at night, and it’s not the heartburn (at least not yet), is I can’t figure out who I am supposed to be when I wake up. Or what I am. Doting Mother. Adventurous Business Owner. Loving Spouse. Do I have to be defined or can my roles vary from day to day? Can I be all things to all people in my life? It’s enough to keep me hiding under the covers.
Most days I put on these hats in this order: Wife, Mom, Professional Dog Cuddler, Business Owner, Designer, Daughter, Friend and Confidant, Writer, Chef, Semi-Professional Lullaby Singer, Housekeeper and Personal Shopper.
I used to feel so proud of how well I was handling all these roles. I saw my friends (albeit a smaller group) on the regular, I was growing our business, August was happy, and Joe and I were connected. This identity crisis began when I found out I was pregnant again. Life was evening out. Joe and I had a rhythm to balancing work and baby; August was getting older and thriving with independent play; friends were once again dropping by. Life was good.
But all it takes is one hiccup in any one of these areas of my life, and everything else felt like it was spinning out of control. I started traveling more for work and BAM, 67 unread text messages and broken plans with dear friends. I hadn’t talked to my mom on the phone in weeks. I didn’t even know where in the country my husband would be at next. The clincher? August had started to notice when I was paying attention to him or not. He tips his head to the side and gets very still and waits for me to notice he has crawled up my knee and is clinging to my leg like a life preserver. It breaks my heart.
I don’t believe in finding the perfect balance in work and life anymore because it doesn’t exist. There is no perfect ratio of business to family to friends to make one happy. I find joy in building my business; I also find joy in being with my son. While often, these two points may often be at odds with each other, both round out who I am. And more importantly, what I need.
Over the course of this last year, I’ve learned to trust my way; to listen to that primal instinct on how to care for my child, and myself. This seems to be a universal theme amongst mothers. We learn that the only thing we have in common is that we have different experiences, with different solutions, for very different kids. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for motherhood, no matter what that expert from that best selling novel or your mother may say.
This season of my life has changed the way I think about myself and mothers. Gone is the expectation to be all things to all people. Gone is the judgment on parenting and accepting what works for my family may not work for yours. “Trust your way,” at the heart of Baby Dove’s brand position, has evolved into a mantra for me. Much like the little engine that could, in moments of doubt, this runs through my head.
It’s not in my nature to let things go or to not follow through, but over the course of this year, I’ve learned that it’s okay to not give 120% to everything. It’s okay to order takeout three nights in a row. It’s okay to wear the same leggings and tunic combo two days in a row. It’s okay to not care that the laundry isn’t folded and that the TV has been on all day. It’s okay to ask for help.
Not to say there isn’t guilt or regret, but it doesn’t do anyone any good to wallow in self-pity. As hard as it may seem, we have to make a choice. Not between work and life, but a choice to accept the fact that we cannot be all things to everyone, all the time.
Since accepting that one aspect of my life will demand more attention than the other at any given time, it’s made it easier to find the space for all roles. Knowing that I can take off my “perfect wife” hat for a night or my “serious business owner” some days makes it a whole lot easier to put it on the next day.
I’m so excited to share with you 10% off all Baby Dove purchases at Target, using Cartwheel. The offer does expire 12/2/17.
Ed. note: This post was sponsored by Baby Dove. The compensation received in exchange for placement on Wit & Delight is used to purchase props, hire a photographer, write/edit the blog post and support the larger team behind Wit & Delight.
While compensation was received in exchange for coverage, all thoughts and opinions are always my own. Sponsored posts like these allow for the development of additional dynamic content to be produced, unsponsored. Thank you for supporting our partners!
BY Kate Arends - November 28, 2017
Thank you for being here. For being open to enjoying life’s simple pleasures and looking inward to understand yourself, your neighbors, and your fellow humans! I’m looking forward to chatting with you.