I have been a rural dweller, then an urbanite, now a suburbanite.
I have worked in the public and private sectors.
I was solidly single, never the kind of girl who always had a boyfriend (but who did have funny dating anecdotes for her friends), and then in a flash I was married.
But the only reinvention in my life that truly matters is the transition from woman to mother.
The supreme wildness of choosing to bring another person into existence hits home the concept that anything is possible. If you are going to make the choice to be connected, obsessed, consumed with love for a little person forever, it puts relatively smaller decisions like moving cities or changing jobs or starting a business into perspective.
When I first had Charlie, my first child, I was convinced my life would follow a predictable pattern. I worked 60 hours a week at my public relations job, which I decided to quit once he was born. I would spend the next 20 years as the most donnable of Donna Reeds, the harriest of Harriet Nelsons, channeling every drop of my ambition and drive into raising my children. Once my youngest child left for college, then I would return to the workforce until retirement. Everything was black and white.
What I didn’t take into account was how I would feel. I had no idea I would miss working, creating, communicating. Especially once the children were actually spending more time sleeping at night than screaming. I had no idea in 2003 when I made my naive “plan” that there were options for mothers beyond working an intense billable hour schedule or an equally intense (though vastly different) newborn baby schedule.
So for four years I mothered and only mothered. I rejoiced. I floundered. I crashed. I freaked. I played. I had another baby two years after the first. It was the weirdest four years of my life, “only” stay-at-home-momming and having a baby, then a toddler and a baby. As I recently reflected in a review of Jennifer Senior’s All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood in the Washington Independent Review of Books, “I had never been filled with so much joy and purpose in my existence. Simultaneously, I had never been so exhausted or so bored.”
But then I tread into the land of blogging, social media, freelance writing and discovered a new way of working in communications. I embraced and adopted terms I had never before considered: Part-time! From home! Consulting! Contracting! Freelance!
It turns out that neither black, nor white were my colors after all. Gray suits me just fine (though I no longer own any suits.)
It took motherhood to let me know that when it comes to work and career, reinvention is easy. You have already rearranged your life in the most unfathomable way possible. Rearranging how you spend your days or make your money? Seriously, it is not as big a deal.
Am I a stay at home mom? Sure! Am I a working mom? Yes, I’m that too. Does it really matter?
Not a bit. The only word that matters in those titles? Mom.
Every month, I write about topics revealing the truth about motherhood with 12 other writers. Follow the hashtag #NakedMoms, and check out the links below from the other moms and find out which stories resonate with you the most!