One of my biggest fears in having a baby, especially as someone whose spent almost four decades living my own life, was losing any semblance of balance. I was terrified my scale would be tilted in one of two ways -- mommyhood would warp me into house wife, where my son would never get a break from me, or, it would spiral me into career overdrive, where I would never get a break for him.
But what I have discovered in the three months my little Bear Cub has been here is that balance -- real, true, authentic balance -- is better than I ever knew it.
I know, I know, it wasn't supposed to turn out this way. And maybe I write this with a tad bit of naivety. But hear a Libra lady out: I needed this.
Someone said to me the other day, "Motherhood looks good on you." And although it was taken as a compliment, for me, it's not just being a mother that has motherhood suiting me so well.
It's life. Life looks good on me! Marriage looks good on me! My career looks good on me! My family looks good on me! Macon looks good on me! In the midst of new found motherhood, I found that my world didn't condense, like I feared, but it expanded, like I never knew it could. My son isn't the only center of my universe (although he hung the sun, moon and stars), but he has centered my world like I never knew possible.
Post-baby, I never knew how happy I would feel to be back in my office, pursuing the profession I had no idea I loved so much. I had no idea how proud I would feel that I managed to turn in two newspaper columns and launch the Rock Candy Tours website while nursing a newborn (and the wounds of childbirth). That same sense of pride swelled when I picked up a copy of the statewide Georgia Trend magazine and saw a quote I had contributed to an article about my profession. But for the first time, my first thought wasn't "look at what I did," but instead, it was a world-altering "Look at what Walden's mom is doing."
At the same time, I am shocked at the new rhythm of my day. I love being at work, and I also love leaving work to go pick up my son. I love being home at a decent time these days. I no longer feel as obligated to attend every event and civic happening that community-centered jobs lend themselves to. And I love that new sense of freedom. I also love not having or making plans like I used to. I love that life with an infant scoffs at plans.
And as hard of a time as I have at saying "no" to the metaphorical clay pigeons that tend to fly my way, I finally have an excuse that doesn't include an ounce of guilt -- my time has never been more valuable. I don't just share it with my son; I share it with my family -- which includes an adoring husband and even a little bit of me, myself and I. The great baby balancing act belongs to all of us. We make time for us. And I make time for me.
That me-time may be late into the evening, after the Cub goes down for the night. It may be those last 20 minutes of my day when I'm hooked up to the breast pump for the final milk-making session before bed. It may be the sacred moments of a tub soak with a paperback (an easy summer beach read I've never read so slowly). It may be right now, as as write away in a coffee shop . . . The great mommy's me-time escape place.
Since having Walden, I have yet to waste a minute of the day. It's definitely exhausting -- especially those week nights when Jamie and I are going to bed at midnight after spending our evenings after work working just as hard to maintain household order. But even when I lay down a weary head, there is the most gratifying sense of dual-purpose. We (WE!) made it another day. I (ME!) am a mother and more.
It's the little things that count these days. Little things like the gurggles and coos coming from my three-month-old. Simple pleasures that I used to take for granted, like this Mayan Mocha I'm sipping at my leisure. Small achievements like taking the time to write this blog post. Tiny victories like Jamie and I taking our first family road trip last week.
Well, my coffee is finished. I'm now heading to savor a few minutes on the grocery aisles. And then I've got to get back to my family . . . I take that back. I want to get back to my family. My scale runneth over.
(On the job at the September Second Sunday Concert)
(First family beach walk - we survived a road trip to Florida!)