In some ways, it’s been a rather quiet year for us. To put that in perspective, here are the big events of the last 5 years of my life:
2010: Moved to London. Met Lefteris.
2011: Got engaged. Got married.
2012: Moved back to California. Got pregnant. Had a big fat Greek wedding. Had a baby.
2013: Returned to work after maternity leave. Got pregnant again. Quit my job at POSSIBLE (a great job!) to switch to consulting (while pregnant).
2014: Had another baby. Nursed her for over a year (moms know how much work this is). Picked up more consulting clients while on my maternity break. Worked hard!
2015: No weddings, no pregnancies, no new babies, no major work changes.
2015 has been a year of settling in. Not settling down, exactly (we’re still not sure where in the world we’ll be in the next year or two). We’ve settled into life with two toddlers (aka crazy, wonderful people). I’ve settled into my consulting business – this is my first complete, normal year of working this way, and my clients have been steady and great. We’ve traveled with two toddlers to Greece (not recommended) and then potty-trained them both at once when we returned (TOTALLY recommended). We’ve rearranged our house for the umpteenth time, to facilitate family life now that the kids are almost-2 and just-over-3. We’ve hired people to clean our house periodically, and in fact they’re here right now, upstairs where I usually work.
And that is why I am writing this from a toddler table. I’m surrounded by cardboard constructions (of which I am abnormally proud) and furniture I’ve built over several years, sitting on a tiny plastic stool, listening to the noise of two kids getting ready for nap time and the bustle of a small team of people helping keep our house – and my office – in working order. Soon things will quiet down as the kids wear themselves out and nap time kicks in (I hope).
Years ago I did the math on kids in my head, and it went like this: from the moment you decide you want to get pregnant, let’s say it takes 1 year before that actually happens. They you’re pregnant for nearly a year (we’re rounding off). Then you have infant for another year. Then maybe you have sort of a normalish year where you decide that you’d like to have another one. Then another year of pregnancy, followed by another year of baby. That’s six years where “having two kids” is the top thing you’re doing. Six years where most everything else has to take a back seat.
It didn’t take us six years; it was actually less than 4 years of intense kid-making. I got pregnant with Perry right away, and then Ida came along more quickly than expected. (And somehow, during all of that, I made a huge career change that I am extremely happy about.) But still – four years is a long time. And now I feel like I’m cracking open the door to a new phase, one where my life may get to be at least a bit about *me*. This is EXCITING.
I love being a mom to these two kids, but “mom” isn’t my self-identity. It’s part of it, for sure, but my concept of myself has more emphasis on things that were true long before the kids. I want to paint again and do more photography. I need to be creative (in a non-creating-humans way). I want to be great professionally and solve new, difficult problems. I want to make an inspiring home. I want to prioritize my health. I want to live in the moment, not always be thinking ahead so much – something that used to come very naturally to me, but that has been replaced by questions like “do we have snacks? how MANY snacks? water bottles? where is the toy hammer? no not that one, the other one? and also the OTHER other toy hammer, for the other kid? did we bring an extra pair of undies? is that normal crying or actual trouble-crying? where are we going to store this giant plastic car? should we just sneak it out of the house in the night and hope they don’t notice? should we move to a bigger house? if so, should we buy or rent? where should the house be?” etc etc etc.
I recognize that I can’t answer most of those questions in advance, and I know very well that I can’t stop asking them. Life with kids is genuinely better when you plan ahead. But I can’t keep driving myself bananas trying to plan ahead; I need to plan in a way that works for me, too. I want to be able to handle this life with more perspective. I want to be tougher and less wrapped up in the stressful emotions, and simultaneously be more wrapped up in the many joys of life. I want to be a badass mom. Not badass like “the best mom who does everything perfectly” or “the mean mom” – no. Like, the mom who is unfazed by nonsensical dramatic toddler meltdowns and can handle them without her blood pressure rising. The mom who can think of non-mom things while still doing mom things. I want to be that mom.
In 2016 I want to build the infrastructure I need to be that mom, that artist, that professional, that creator. If that means writing from a toddler table, no problem. I kind of like it here.
2016. Let’s do this.