I think that the best way to address what is running through my mind right now is to simply begin with the overarching statement: being a working mom is difficult. I don’t know anybody who would disagree with that statement, at least not in the presence of a working mom.
I’ve been trying my hand at having it all since my kid was born just around a year and a half ago. Here’s my version of having it all: having my kid with me nearly all of the time and working. This has evolved as he’s gotten older and more interested in leaving the house, but my original scheme is laid out pretty clearly here. There have been so many moments over the past year when it seemed to me that I surely must be mad for attempting what I did, and yet, I could see no other way. While I have wanted to be a mom for as long as I remember, and am so very grateful for the privilege, I also am passionate about my work. And so, it has always seemed to me that the only way to be happy as a mom is to be a working mom. And somehow, I can’t see how being a working mom can be easy, and so I am stuck between a rock and a hard place.
I’m pretty sure that this all gets easier though. Kids get older, we adults get more savvy, things generally fall into place with greater ease. But, man oh man, the first couple years of the first kid? Thank goodness time keeps moving forward!
Back in the days of my thriving business when I was svelte and brimming with confident enthusiasm, I had a few women approach me about wanting to become Pilates instructors. They were interested in completing certification programs at the same time they were planning on having their first children. This struck me as strange. There is, of course, the most obvious reason right? That Pilates is based on controlling the very part of our body which is decidedly no longer under our complete control once that sperm and egg get together. But to me there was another curiosity, why would a person want to jump into the biggest unknown of their life and take up an entirely new discipline and career at the same time?
Now that I’m a mom, I think that I have a better idea about at least part of it. We have a need as mom’s to defend our natural providence over the course that our lives take. This was for me, absolutely essential. If I am going to have even a chance of always being present and ever-yielding to my baby who is entirely dependent on me, then I’m going to have to be well-cared for. And only I can determine what well-cared for means to me. As far as I am concerned this logically extends to the work that we do and with that how we spend our valuable time and energy. To have work that is not fulfilling on a deep level as a mom would be very difficult for me. But in my adult years, my work has always been dictated by my dreams. I realize that not everybody is so lucky. But when motherhood knocks, it seems that people wake up to themselves a little bit more with the realization that work must be meaningful in order to be granted our attention.
There is another thing going on with regard to Pilates, and now seems as an appropriate time as any to bring up the point: Pilates is hard work. But most people don’t realize that until they actually do it. Especially not over here in California where the work Pilates is used to describe such a broad range of exercise experiences and types that it takes a real-honest-to-goodness-body-sleuth to figure out what each and every body is doing (if one really cares to know, that is). While the extent of variations on the theme, Pilates, is large and problematic for many reasons, the fact that not everybody is working hard in the same effective way is par for the course. And so, plenty of people are operating under the false idea that Pilates is some sort of fluffy exercise that women with an excess of resource do. Wrong, wrong, wrong. (Okay, maybe a little right, given the price tag of a proper investment in Pilates). But make no mistake: the people who are doing actual Pilates are working very hard and very deeply, for a long time. That is the only way to get a bonafide “Pilates Body”.
While I did not pick a whole new career, I did reinvent my career along with getting pregnant. (Well, I did start this little blog, mostly out of necessity: a creative outlet was very much needed). I still call myself a Pilates Instructor and Studio owner and yet everything is different. How I do my work is different. How I prioritize my time is different. Well of course it is, in so many ways I am starting over again. And so it would seem that there are some universalities to being a working mom. While we each go about it in our unique way, we will each be forever changed by being a mom. I hope that for each of us, we find more of who we are in our time with our children and in our time with ourselves in our work lives. This, to me, is the logical progression of a life well lived.
And while, I have suffered at the mercy of my own frustrations, more than at any other point in my life in my short tenure as a working mom, I know that I am capable of so much more than I was before. As time marches on it’s inevitable forward trajectory, I see that there can be no other place for me than further along my path than I once was as a fit-go-getter who was ever so slightly intolerant of my sisters’ struggles to find more of who they were.
And while, there may not be much money in these first years, there is oh so much honey. So for now (but not always), sweetness will have to suffice.