Thursday, January 21, 2016

Life gets harder as you get older.  That is my takeaway.  When I become a mom, I want to remember, life was hard now too.  Really, really hard.

I don't know what will happen to me - I don't know what it will be like.  I worry I'll go mad.  I mean it.  I really, sincerely worry about that.  I worry it will be too much.  Thank you Woolf and Plath and life.

And then sometimes, I wonder if it will really be nice.

I've always wanted to be a mom.  When I was little, it was one of the answers I alternated with when asked "What do you want to be when you grow up?"  I wanted to be a lawyer, a writer, a soccer player, and a mom.  I had 13 babies.  I should correct that and say, I have 13 babies.  Because I never let my mom throw a single one of them away.  I paid for a sitter when I left the house.  Seriously, my business minded older sister suggested that perhaps her doll, who was naturally older than all of mine,  could keep an eye on mine while we were away from the house.  So, I paid her doll.

Yesterday, the InDesign decided it would repetitively error out on page 28 of my proposal.  I didn't know it was page 28, and I didn't immediately know what image on page 28 was causing it - but this isn't my first time at this rodeo so I traced it pretty quickly to the problem, screen shot it the page, zoomed and linked the screen shot of the picture instead of the faulty actual picture - and away it ran to the printers (thank God!).  This meant I missed my UPS pickup by about 3 minutes.  Thankfully, again, not my first rodeo - I had a backup plan and ran it down to the UPS drop box that usually gets grabbed around 5pm.

It had been like that all day - with a critical boss, faulty equipment, a lot of questions coming from a lot of people, a lot of missing and poor information for me to track down. I was coordinating company-wide new headshots - leadership group shots - collaboration shots, while rushing through creation of a proposal --- all due to be done by end of day yesterday.  And then I started feeling sick, right around 4pm.  My calves, thighs, back and abdomen started cramping like someone was dragging a metal rake from the inside of my toes all the way up. So there was that fun reminder of my gender - and a deadline.

I made it to the UPS box, with minutes to spare.  I think.  This morning I'm waiting for notification of the UPS delivery, like I do regularly.  I walked back up from dropping off the proposal, sat down at my desk, drank water and opened my Facebook. And straight up top was a Mommy article about how tiring it is. The woman had a cute messy bun, an adorable graphic tee about coffee, she was wearing yoga pants and drinking coffee with a cute little kid next to her.  From the comments, I gathered it was about how tiring it was, but truth be told, I don't really know what that article said.  At that very moment, I just couldn't read it.  Too many long days under deadlines.  I needed sleep too.  By Tuesday afternoon, I realized I wasn't even able to speak full coherent sentences to coworkers.  I'd hoped they hadn't noticed.  They looked at me strangely.

I closed the article and wondered again if being a mom would push me over the edge.  Or if maybe it really wasn't worse than this mad house I've been running around in for 3 years.  I know that's an almost illegal statement to make.  This isn't a "who has it worse post" - this is me letting you into the question and fear that cycles around in my head regularly.  A both longing to be a mom - and a fear that makes me also want to push it away as long as possible.

I don't know if all the mom's realize their Facebook posts actually do that. I suddenly feel like I'm not allowed to think it won't be too hard, because that's wrong and judgmental and who the hell am I anyways?  So all I am allowed to think is that it's the toughest job in the world and it's terrible and the children will make you want to tear your hair out like little tiny adorable demons.... and if my current job already takes everything out of me and already makes me want to cry and scream at the same time... what will this unspeakable terror do to me?

I don't know.  But I decided yesterday, I shouldn't read that article right then.  And I should write to myself for the future - now is hard too.  Remember that.  And yesterday, while I was exhausted and tired and angry and frustrated and knew I had to do it all over again the next day --- I was in a dress, with full makeup and my hair done and uncomfortable shoes. And I wasn't allowed to yell. Or scream. Or say anything terrible to anyone.  I had to be direct, and kind, and keep going.  I had to let it go.

I hate not being in control.  I don't like being tired.  And I have incredible anxiety about feeling trapped. All of these things will make being a mom (and being pregnant for that matter) challenging for me.  But, they also make being a manager, as part of a company, working with a history of very difficult bosses and people difficult too.  Thank you Woolf and Plath and life.

As a friend has always reminded me, this is all training for something.

I am sure being a mom is very difficult.  But right now is difficult too. And life isn't as separated as we like to make it.  You're not a career woman.  And then a mom.  You're you - and I'm pretty sure you bring that same you into parenthood, just like you do into every other challenge and new phase or career.

I think I'm starting to get what that friend had meant.  Before, I had thought she was trying to tell me that learning to coordinate my bosses' schedules meant I'd be good at coordinating my family's one day.  Now, I think she meant less tangible things - but maybe more meaningful.  Like learning not to lose my temper. To be kind under pressure.  To be consistent without sleep. To be better at communicating what I want a teammate to do, what I need my coordinator to learn. To treat others with respect - even when I'm in charge of them. To care about their growth. To present a cohesive front. To be trustworthy.  A confidant. To guard what I really need, but also to push myself.  To put John ahead of the rest. To be the same me in every situation. To learn to trust and find peace when I feel stuck or trapped or out of control of my own life.

I think then and now are difficult. I also think now is part of then.  I'm learning the same lessons.  I'm just not allowed to wear yoga pants and posting about it on Facebook could get me fired. But we're all learning similar lessons, or our own lessons.  So I hope I won't crack.  I'm going to try to see those mommy posts as them training just like I'm training so I stop feeling crippled by this looming doom that I once just called my dream.

I hope this wasn't hurtful to any of my friends who are in the yoga pants days right now.  I honestly really didn't write this to you - I wrote it to me. To the me on the unknown mommy-side in the future - and to the me today who's on the cusp of it and realizing she's been made terribly afraid and to feel largely unprepared and inadequate. I wrote it to remind myself that today really is/was hard. And to convince myself that it does matter, now and then.


Elise Mitchell said...

LOVE, LOVE, LOOOVVEE EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS!! (yes I am yelling) You are one fantastic kickass woman and I agree with everything you wrote! I think all women really want, no matter what their daily duties, is to have their work acknowledged as hard, important and worthwhile. I love you Kate!

Ashley said...

This is pretty timely for me. Thank you :)

Rachel Nystrand said...

What Elise said! I hope my Instagram and Facebook posts only show how wonderful mommyhood is. Of course there are hard days, as with any season of life, but the wonderful joys and fulfillment far far out weigh the hard. Whatever the season we find ourselves in, it's really all about perspective.