You know when people say things like, “It will all change once you get married” or “Wait till you have kids” or “Things will be different when they’re older” or “Running your own business is almost impossible”? Well I used to hate shit like that. And I still do. But it’s unavoidable. People have life experiences that you don’t have and they want to share. It’s hard to get real, true, honest sharing into casual conversation. We’re not used to examining our lives at regular intervals and processing the stock of our lives and then shortening the results down into snippet sized chunks of useful information to share with people. The lady at the bank probably isn’t going to give you core-gripping, tear-inducing advice that will serve you for the rest of your life and stay with you till your dying day. She might. But probably not. Even your closest friends and family might not give you that kind of advice, but they’ll want to. They’ll try to impart their deepest wisdom on you and what will come out might be gunk. You might get some really amazing pieces of advice mixed in with an awful lot of gunk. I hope that I can give you some good advice. But I’m no expert.
When I got married everyone wanted to tell me how things would be different. It didn’t matter that we had seen 10 whole years of relationship intensity. People felt they had to share their advice. They told us that we’d stop caring about how we look and that we’d get bored of each other, and that the romance would disappear, that they knew a couple who had been together for ten years and then got married and instantly got a divorce, blah blah blah. And were things different once we got married? Yeah, they were. But Eric and I didn’t suddenly become different people. We didn’t get bored of each other and 18 years into our relationship we’re still not sick of being together. Have we had hideous fights? Hell yeah. And have we been hurtful to each other? Yes, we’ve been there. And have we seen the ugliest sides of each other? Yeah, man. We’ve been to some dark places. And we still like each other. We still rock it as a team. We are still each other’s biggest fan and best support system.
As soon as we got married people wanted to know when we were going to have kids. Before the answer was even out of my mouth I was getting advice about kids. People really wanted me to know that things would change when we had a baby (thank you for that insightful advice, by the way). They wanted me to know that I would stop caring about how I look (just in case I already didn’t care now that I was married), and how much work it would be, and how much energy kids suck out of you, and how much harder everything is when you have kids, and how you can’t travel, and on, and on, AND ON. Here’s where I got kind of stuck. Because I was totally certain about my relationship with Eric when we got married. It wasn’t hard to say, “yeah, whatever” to people’s advice. But with a kid, everyone who had kids kind of had a one up on me. I really had zero experience with babies. Or even friends with babies. So I knew it would be tough, but I had no idea whether or not I’d actually be wearing yoga pants for the rest of my life.
In case you’re wondering, I’m wearing my usual work from home getup today: Jeans, a floral sweater with elbow patches, a pink scarf, and slippers. I’m wearing makeup and my hair is decently cute. I’m wearing a pair of my bird earrings. Even though no one but me will see. Because that’s the kind of mom I am. That’s the kind of person I am. I knew, early on in my pregnancy, that I didn’t want to be all of the things that people told me being a mom would be. But I was afraid. I was afraid that the minivan would suddenly become the most appealing method of transportation and that without noticing, I’d stop caring what I saw in the mirror, that I’d have no hobbies other than what directly involved my kids. What no one told me about being a mom was that I would still be me. No one told me that it was going to be a difficult and complicated ballet of getting shit done, but at the end of the day I would still be fucking awesome and so would my kid.
So now that I’m really starting this count down to baby #2 (we’re due in July), I realized that I’ve had this same fear building, unspoken, in the back of my mind. As I nest like crazy while also rebranding my business and prioritizing morning snuggles and navigating tantrums and menu planning, and still managing to accomplish craploads every day, I’ve actually been feeling super low. Super complainy. Despite the fact that I am doing massive amounts of awesomeness every single day, I’ve been feeling less than. I’ve been feeling underwhelmed with my own efforts. Really what I’ve been feeling is fear. Fear that . . .? Fear that I’ll be a different person, that my world will implode, that I won’t be able to cope with a second kid. Fear that I’m spending time, energy, and money on a business that will actually just collapse the moment this child comes out of my body. And then I look back at my history of being me and I feel like I can actually take a deep breath and realize out loud that I am still me. I will still be me when this baby comes. I will still be me with two kids. I will still get shit done, I will be awesome at my job, and I will take this business to a whole new crazy ass level. When I think about where I was when I had baby #1 and where I am now, I can honestly say that I am way, way cooler. I am way, way more badass.
So no, Polly, you will not implode. I am positive that it will be difficult in ways that I cannot fathom right now. I am positive that I will cry and I will complain and I will say bad words and I will feel like it will never be better again. But it will. So I’m saving my future self the trouble of giving in to “advice”. I’m saying to you, Polly, that you fucking rock it. It will be a difficult and complicated ballet of getting shit done, but at the end of the day you will still be fucking awesome and so will your kids.
If I have any advice to give to other people out in the world, reading this, about going away to college, about starting a new business, about changing careers, about getting married, about having a baby, about having another baby, about whatever big giant thing you’re approaching right now, my friends, it is this: