It’s my second Mother’s Day with the baby and this one is more delightful than the last because he’s so much more interactive. He has changed my life in so many ways. Most of them are for the better. Some….debatable. Here are 5 ways this little person has changed my life.
- He helped me prioritize my life. This past week, I spoke to Geri Stengel at Forbes Magazine about the struggles of juggling motherhood and running a business. Read the article here. When my little guy came into our lives, he had to compete with my first baby, my business. I started Tabii Just, a clothing line, in 2012, before we even thought about having a baby. When the real baby came along, I struggled for months trying to balance the two. Both were ever present and needed constant attention. Only one would be emotionally scarred if I checked out. I had to make several major decisions to prioritize the human baby over the business. They were all incredibly difficult but worth it. Some days, because of Adam, I can still work long hours and focus completely on my business but my schedule, my life, my thoughts, now revolve around what is best for the baby. Some days I am a better mother than I am a business owner and some days I am a better business owner than a mother. I’ve learned that the key to not going insane is to not judge myself. It is what it is and I am okay with that.
- He made me discover my nurturing side. I am not naturally a cuddly person. I had a rabbit for a long time because she was the most detached little bitch ever and I loved it. She didn’t need me to meet any emotional needs and I was safe. When the baby came along, he demanded that I be emotionally present. He needed me to touch him, hug him, cuddle him, gaze into his eyes (boys especially need this from their parents). An interesting thing happened. I did it. It took me a while to adjust to having to meet this need but I now find it an honor when he comes to me to meet his emotional needs. He is super independent emotionally but dissolves into a puddle of neediness when he is sick or tired. He nuzzles his face into my neck. He wraps his little arms around me and finds peace against my body. I find this to be one of the most gratifying parts of being a mother. The idea that just my physical presence can calm someone and help him feel safe is a dauntingly beautiful thing.
- He taught me about routine. Before he came along, every day was different. Around 5pm every day, I would either be going into a coffee meeting, sitting down at my computer to work for the next couple of hours or going to an after-work networking event or party. Now, 5pm is cherished. On most days, I stop working and go to pick him up. I usually stand at the door until his eyes land on me. The moment he sees me, his face lights up and he speeds over to me. It’s usually the best part of my day. We go home. I make dinner while talking to him and feeding him bits of what I’m cooking for his dinner. Then, it’s bathtime, stories and bedtime. I now cherish that routine. When I’m not on pick-up duty, I also cherish the opportunity to work a bit later but I rush home because I want to see him before he goes to bed. This doesn’t mean that I don’t still finish work at 10pm sometimes. It’s just rare and for a really good reason, as opposed to weekly. This new routine has grounded me. My life isn’t as hectic as before. Yes, I do miss some important events and opportunities but honestly, it matters to me less with time.
- He made me discover that I do indeed have the capacity to be a mother. Motherhood was daunting to me before I had him. The role of a mother is to raise your child to leave you. The goal is for them to be well-adjusted adults who go on to have relationships, jobs, etc. I’ve seen many, many mothers not accomplish this and not for a lack of trying. I’ve seen mothers who have given their kids everything and the kids turn out to be self-centered, entitled adults. I’ve seen mothers who don’t give enough and their kids are detached or super needy and struggle with attachment in their adult relationships. The one thing all these moms have in common? They love their kids and they want the best for them. Their own upbringings plus current circumstances ended up influencing their parenting styles. I was petrified of the idea that you can love a child with everything you have and that just won’t be enough. When the baby came along, though, I quickly learned that parenting resources are aplenty. They’re really just a click away. I soon developed a core group of mommies who I feel comfortable bouncing ideas off of. Oh, and I have a really good therapist. I was pretty insecure about being a mom at the beginning and I don’t want to jinx myself but I think I’ve figured out a formula. I trust my gut but I try to be as flexible as possible. I also try to say no as little as possible. This has resulted in a very adventurous, curious little boy who may have a tantrum if I say no but can also hear no and just stop what he is doing. It is in me to be a good mom and I am thankful to him for showing this to me.
- He made me not give a fuck. I’m a pretty intense person. I care deeply about what matters to me and am pretty anal about being accountable to the point of putting myself under tons of pressure to perform. With the baby in the picture, I’ve stopped giving a fuck about certain things. Now, for the most part, when people aren’t happy with my actions, I don’t care. I try to reflect on if I should have a convo with them and usually don’t. I would rather spend my energy with my son than delving into an issue with someone that won’t get it. For the people that matter the most to me, I try but it’s usually these people that understand that my energy is now divided. I also don’t care as much about being rigid. This past week has been a shit show that has ended with him waking up this morning with cocksackie while he is also teething. I spent most of the week home with him. I rescheduled mostly everything. In the past, I would have been on my death bed and would still be dragging myself to meetings. Now, when he needs me, either Adam or I or his babysitter try to be present. I don’t want my son to remember me working so much that I didn’t have time to be there for him.
This Mother’s Day, I didn’t want anything material (although the baby did treat me to a dress at Butter Consignment). My only wish is to be the mother he needs. Today, on the way to the pediatrician and emotionally bending under the weight of our week, Adam said to me, “I want my mom. Can you call her?”. I want my son to always know he has a safe place with me like Adam does with his mom. As long as he continues to, I don’t need gifts on Mother’s Day. That’s the most meaningful present I could ever get.