Recently, I sat down with an old friend from New York, Monica West, who has created a brilliant web series called “Best Thing You’ll Ever Do.” In it, her character Mae, has just relocated from New York to San Francisco and has found love and success in her career, but is immediately faced with the decision to start a family when her fiancee brings up having a baby. It is a thought provoking, humorous and moving take on what we feel we have to compromise as women when we decide to start a family. It made me reflect back to when I was in the same position, and what I wish someone had told me about the years to come.
Dear pre Beyond Mom,
One day, you will close your eyes and think back to what life was like before kids. An array of images representing freedom will pop in to your mind. Dancing at a party, sleeping in, and laying on a beach with a book in your hand, to name a few.
For most of you, there will be a period of time before the decision to have children where we lived in the indecision. Some women know with certainty they want children and have no doubts moving forward in starting their family. Then there is a great majority of women who are utterly confused and distressed about when and if to take the plunge. If you are one of those women, don’t worry, I get it. I felt the same exact way.
You don’t want kids yet. You want them, but not now. Maybe if you didn’t have to be sick and fat for ten months? Or if it came out and was two years old and could walk and talk and had a personality? And yes, sometimes you call babies “it”. You may have never been a “baby” person.
You absolutely wholeheartedly want babies and a family…someday. But dreaming of motherhood and playing house with Cabbage Patch kids was always replaced by dreaming of travel, romance and a huge career. You are continually perplexed by where the time went and sometimes imagine life as one of those old school hourglasses running out of sand. When will you be ready? Are you missing out on this new chapter of life? Are you behind in some way, lacking because you’re not experiencing what everyone calls the best thing that’s ever happened to them? Can you still live your life and pursue your dreams with children? And, oh god….will you and your husband be the oldest parents at the open house because you waited so long?
Yep, I get it.
I lived it. Those words were my own, in a blog post I wrote eight years ago when I faced the same dilemma.
It’s interesting to look back on these words years later when I have my two children. The thirty year old me had no idea how life would turn out; that I would end up losing two babies, having a hard time getting pregnant and wanting a family more than anything in the world. How could I have known that then?
Still the place inside of us that struggles with the conflict of becoming mother and the intensity of those feelings is accessible for so many of us.
Your feelings are normal and valid.
It’s going to be the most challenging, chaotic, emotionally draining thing you’ll ever do. Your life will absolutely be turned upside down. You will struggle with how to do it all, how to be a “Beyond Mom” like the ones you read about here; how to have a career, a social life, and also be a present loving mother. The conflict you are currently facing is real and it’s utterly draining. It might take some time to navigate through the murky waters of motherhood and to find you way back to yourself. I promise you will. It is a huge decision to make, but if you do decide to start a family, from this Beyond Mom to you, I can assure you being a mom truly is the greatest gift imaginable and the best thing you’ll ever do.
Azizah Rowen is an actress, producer and co-founder of ankinrowen productions, a New York based company dedicated to bringing hip, provocative and poignant work to the stage and screen. This creative spirit gracefully balances motherhood and her identity as an artist every day.
Photo credit: Dana Patrick