1. Tell us about your background and a little bit about who you are?
I grew up in Michigan and am the oldest of four (two sisters and a brother). My parents moved to the suburban Chicago area when I was a Junior in high school, and shortly thereafter, I left to get a liberal arts education from Albion College and graduated with degrees in business and journalism. I’ve always been very adventurous – seeking any opportunity to live and travel abroad or pitch my little REI tent in any starry-skied place. I moved out to Los Angeles seven months after I graduated college to work for a non-profit, start-up-like digital marketing team that was trying to solve a problem and do good. That experience also speaks to a long-time passion of mine: the will and desire to make positive change. I’ve always wanted to help people (women especially) in some capacity, which led me to share my story of unplanned pregnancy in the form of Back in February. Through a heartbreaking and grief-filled journey of finding out I was pregnant in February 2017 and delivered my daughter that following October, I learned so much about myself. To be honest, I became a better person. Motherhood challenged me, for the first time in my life, to choose someone other than myself.
2. What do you find most fulfilling about motherhood? the most challenging?
Motherhood is the epitome of selflessness, in my book. I think I find that both the most fulfilling and the most challenging. On one hand, it challenges me to let go of my own idea of perfection and the need to control every twist and turn. It has challenged me to open my hands up and just simply let go. Every day is messy and busy and chaotic in its own way, but every single day I have the choice to freak out amidst the chaos or open my hands and say, Messiness is okay. Imperfection is okay. In fact, imperfection makes life wonderful.
So I think the most fulfilling part is the empowerment that comes with letting go and continuing to step forward. It’s that thought of “Wow, I can handle this. In fact, I’m killing it.” Because I think that when we let go of all the imperfections, we focus on this perfect, unbreakable love between ourselves and our children. For me, motherhood taught me how to love and be loved. I see the way Renley looks at me – and I at her – with a selfless, unconditional, inexpressable love. In time, I realized I should probably love myself with that same unconditional quality. Over time, I let go of the control, the judgment, and the harsh words; I saw myself as she sees me: enough.
3. What does motherhood look like for your right now? what do you love about where you are? what would you change?
Motherhood is wild for me right now! To be honest, since I launched Back in February, I’ve felt somewhat overwhelmed. I work a full-time 9-5 job in financial services and this little side gig – on top of being a mom (my #1 priority) – has kept me very busy. That said, I love where I’m at right now. After I moved to downtown Chicago into a two-bedroom apartment with Renley and my high school art-teaching sister last July, there was a very difficult six month adjustment period. I didn’t know what way was up, how to organize myself or how to transition from working woman to gentle mother each day when I came home. Along the way, I came up with a couple tricks to stay ahead of my busy schedule and swap hats more gracefully (though I still struggle with this). I love where I’m at in my life at the moment, I don’t think I’d change a thing!
4. How have you incorporated motherhood into your identity without losing your own individuality?
Great question. This is no easy feat. For a long time after becoming a mother, I grieved the loss of my adventurous soul, but as it turns out motherhood is just another adventure. Sure, I miss driving to Malibu every Saturday with my surfboard and diving into ridiculous philosophical thinking in my free time, but my life before Renley was a little bit lonely and I didn’t realize it until she arrived. This might not be the same for those of you who have partners but Renley has become my best friend, my adventure buddy in life. And when she’s sleeping or being watched by someone else, I crack open those philosophy books and make time to cultivate that introspective little spirit of mine. I make time for self-care (#selfcareSunday). Motherhood is all about balance (and it takes a very long time to find that balance). You have to keep working toward that balance because as much as your child or children become part of your identity, you’ve got to foster those little things you once loved and that fed your soul. As for the surfboard, that one is just going to have to wait in storage for a little while.
5. What advice would you give women who are considering/desiring motherhood?
Ah, your biggest life adventure awaits! Motherhood has been my most fulfilling endeavor. In every way possible, it transformed me into a better human being and cultivated a selflessness that was long overdue. I was not one of those day-dreamers for having children and I wasn’t sure what kind of mother I would be, but when it happened, I felt like I was simply made for it. Every evening, I peak (or crawl) into my daughter’s crib, and I gently trace the profile of her nose. Because of my journey, I often imagine what my life would look like without her and each time I do, the imagining feels painful and I’m flooded with gratitude for her rising belly, her wild curly red hair, and her warm existence. I feel so honored to be her mother. For those of you who are facing an unplanned pregnancy or know someone who is, remember that life is a gift – no matter how imperfect the circumstances. For those of you trying to have children, don’t give up and don’t lose hope. Motherhood is beautiful – surprise, single, adoptive, however it comes! And we women are on this journey together.