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Work will always be there, but my babies won't always be this small

But as we reach this place where things are chaotically calm, I realize that while I could make space for those things (and I do in some respects), that I choose my children. With no self-judgment and no second guesses and no comparing myself to other women.

Work will always be there, but my babies won't always be this small

"I think they could offer me a promotion to lead a small team. I'd have direct reports, so more stress, but more pay to go along with it. What do you think about that?" I stood at the kitchen counter and brought up the topic almost hesitantly to my husband. He paused, toy in hand, as he picked up the living room floor.

"Why don't you tell me what you think about it first?" he said.

His response was surprising. I hadn't been sure if he'd like the idea of more money or wouldn't like the idea of more stress. But I was certain he'd have an opinion to share that I'd have to react to.

It was our policy between us to lay things on the line and 17 years together had solidified our ability to just say what needed to be said.

"I think we're only just now getting to a good place, and over the entirety of our relationship we've never been good at both being highly stressed. With your workload and headspace lately, I just think it would be a poor choice to add this into the mix right now. In a year or two, sure. But right now, I think we would all suffer," I said.

He slowly nodded, looking as surprised by my response as I was by his. "I think you're right. Now isn't a good time."

And we both went back to what we'd been previously doing. As I wiped the counter and went through the routine of post-put down clean up, I surveyed my mind and soul. I wanted to be upset by our conversation. But I wasn't.

Our identical twin sons were 16 months old. They came at just 33 weeks. They spent a month in the NICU. They spent the better part of their first year of life with continuous ear infections and just as they turned one, they developed breathing issues that eventually landed us in three back-to-back hospital stays.

I was forever taking them to the doctor or working late at night to make up for days I was out of the office. We didn't have a full night of uninterrupted sleep for so long I stopped keeping track. But they were healthy. And happy.

In an on-paper kind of way, there was no reason for me to not strongly consider this hypothetical promotion. We were through the worst of it. And I deserved it. I'd been with my company for four years. I'd built solid relationships. I had shown them what I was made of. I advanced my skills and proved my worth. I put in a lot of work amidst the hardest year of my life.

This was an amazing possibility and I should have wanted it.

But I didn't.

And the achiever in me—the doer of all things, the ladder-climber—didn't know what to think about that fact.

***

Today began with my husband's iPhone alarm at 5:15 am. Then, heavy steps and heavier eyelids as I stumbled into the shower, reminding myself to have water before coffee. And to take my allergy medicine before I forget. And to eat while I can. Because by 6 am (and generally before) Eli will start chattering from his crib. He will coo and hoot and call out, making it quite clear that he's awake and hungry.

Sometimes Sam will join him, but today, he just rolls around his crib waiting for me to turn on the light and sing, "Baby, baby…my little baby boys." I don't even know where that came from, but it is how we begin every day together. They clamor around, trying to stand, then start jumping in unison. I give them each a kiss and try to remember who I changed and dressed first yesterday so I can alternate today.

Daddy joins us after he pours sippies of milk, just in time to help finish clothing the half-naked child I haven't gotten to. Breakfast comes with music. Alexa plays Justin Timberlake or some pop medley and the boys dance in their highchairs—giggling at our antics while we barter for just one more bite, hurriedly drink our coffee, pack lunches, swap clean dishes for dirty and throw in the laundry.

Forty-five minutes after I've turned on the nursery light, we're in the car and on the way to daycare. Sometimes with a kitchen utensil or hair brush in hand. Sometimes in tears because Mommy wouldn't allow a full-sized skillet to come with us.

It's only once I've pulled into the parking ramp at work and put my car in park that I stop and take a breath. I've been up for two and a half hours and the work day hasn't even begun yet. On the walk across our corporate campus, my mind is back on the idea of the promotion and my willingness to let it go so easily. Everything about this is contrary to everything I know about myself. I keep asking the question silently… But don't you want it? Are you sure?

The resounding response from my heart is, "No. No, I don't."

And for the first time I realize that motherhood has truly changed me.

I told myself for most of the first year that I was still the same person. That once we passed through the hardest season of our lives, that I would resume being who I'd always been, just a modified version of myself. That there would be time for writing and reading and the self-care rituals that had always been mine.

But as we reach this place where things are chaotically calm, I realize that while I could make space for those things (and I do in some respects), that I choose my children. With no self-judgment and no second guesses and no comparing myself to other women.

In this season of their growth and development, of laying the foundation for the rest of their lives, I will choose to put my mind space and energy into enjoying these moments and not rushing them to bed so I can get to my laptop.

I will teach them, learn from them and laugh with them. And I will fall exhausted into my bed at the end of the night knowing I gave them my best and knowing what my personal limits are in this season.

For this brief time when I am their everything, I will let that other version of myself go. Because I'm sure we'll meet again down the road.

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A very important letter for new mamas

Listen, mom-guilt is a dirty liar. Yes, it's your job to fill your little human's needs, but you matter too. Don't forget to take care of yourself. Hang out with friends, take a drive blaring 90's hip hop or shower without interruptions—trust me, you'll be a better person (and mom) because of it.

Dear new mom,

You will shave again someday. Today is not that day.

Set expectations low, my friend, and set your partner's lower—at least where body hair and overall hygiene are concerned.

That conversation could go something like this: “From now on let's not consider shaving a “standard," but more like a gift that happens on birthdays and the first day of summer."

Voila, you are a gift-giving genius. You know what else is a gift? Shaving the inch and a half of skin that is between your skinny jeans and your boots. You're welcome world.

You will not be perfect at parenting.

Boom.

I have yet to meet a perfect mother, but when I do, she's going to be a tiger who is insanely good at making up songs. (Daniel Tiger's mom, we salute you.)

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There is rightfully a lot of emphasis on preparing for the arrival of a new baby. The clothes! The nursery furniture! The gear! But, the thing about a baby registry is, well, your kids will keep on growing. Before you know it, they'll have new needs—and you'll probably have to foot the bill for the products yourself.

Thankfully, you don't have to break the bank when shopping for toddler products. Here are our favorite high-quality, budget-friendly finds to help with everything from meal time to bath time for the toddler set.

Comforts Fruit Crisps Variety Pack

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If there is one thing to know about toddlers, it is this: They love snacks. Keeping a variety on hand is easy when the pack already comes that way! Plus, we sure do appreciate that freeze-dried fruit is a healthier alternative to fruit snacks.

Comforts Electrolyte Drink

Comforts electrolyte drink

Between running (or toddling!) around all day and potentially developing a pickier palate, many toddlers can use a bit of extra help with replenishing their electrolytes—especially after they've experienced a tummy bug. We suggest keeping an electrolyte drink on hand.

Comforts Training Pants

Comforts training pants

When the time comes to start potty training, it sure helps to have some training pants on hand. If they didn't make it to the potty in time, these can help them learn their body's cues.

Comforts Nite Pants

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Even when your toddler gets the hang of using the toilet during the day, nighttime training typically takes several months longer than day-time training. In the meantime, nite pants will still help them feel like the growing, big kid they are.

Comforts Baby Lotion

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Running, jumping, playing in sand, splashing in water—the daily life of a toddler can definitely irritate their skin! Help put a protective barrier between their delicate skin and the things they come into contact with every day with nourishing lotion.

Another great tip? Shopping the Comforts line on Comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices—and follow along on social media to see product releases and news at @comfortsforbaby.

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

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