I am thinking more often and more actively about what it looks like to be a mom in the city.
I am asking more questions of friends who are moms, babysitting for friends, and finally picking up books that talk about child-rearing. I should know by now… this is how I do things. I am a researcher and fact-gatherer at heart. I want to be fully informed on whatever is my current topic of interest. I want to discuss it with anyone who will listen, and then eventually at some point, I feel ready for what is next.
In my first year of marriage, I swore there would be no babies until 2015. I was just figuring out how to be a wife and reside in the shadow of NYC, and at the time the idea of also figuring out how to be a mom was utterly terrifying. There were things I wanted to do and see, milestones I wanted to hit and goals I wanted to accomplish. Last year as I was seeing many of my friends become moms, I was staving off the baby rabies but thoughtfully and prayerfully considering my stance on the appropriate timing for us to have kids.
As we celebrated Moms this past Sunday, I watched some sentimental viral videos and read some great articles, but none moved me more than Shauna Neiquest’s tribute, What My Mother Taught Me. As I read it, I felt hope swell in my chest. Her words struck a chord that reverberated through my soul. I was so encouraged by Shauna’s telling of her mother’s story of how she was an incredibly gifted and passionate woman, but how due to the demands of life she didn’t fully realize and embrace her holistic calling until late in life. Now she encourages her daughter and other women:
“I am grateful that as I have chosen to lean into my own true life, I am now able to give [my daughter] something I couldn’t give her before. But if I had it to do over, I would not have waited so long. I would not have robbed her of the model of an authentically alive mother.”
If I am honest, the largest reason I have not been ready for children is because I have no idea how to achieve being both a successful mom and a writer.
I am terrified that I will screw it all up, that I will end up sacrificing one or the other – that I can not have both a child and a career without serious repercussions. There is a part of me that worries I will be required to give up what I love and feel compelled to do in order to love my husband and children well. I do not want to lose my identity – the person I have become over the last nearly three decades – and become relegated to just “Mom.” I am encouraged by those that have gone before me, and they have figured out how to make it work. But I do not have very many people in my current local circle to look to for this particular bi-vocational ambition.
Add to all of this the particularly stressful financial concerns of surviving with the high cost of living in the New York City area, and I can quickly find myself in a mental tailspin. How will we ever afford to even rent a two bedroom apartment in Hoboken? Does choosing to live here mean I will never own a house? This is probably compounded by the oft-asked question:
Do you really think you’ll stay there?
My mental picture of motherhood has most often subconsciously reflected my own suburban upbringing, but that way of life is no longer my context. I love and value my city life, being minutes from fantastic food and culture around the corner, but I worry that as I have children I’ll start to want something different. I worry that my heart will change, that I will tire of the urban lifestyle, that I will want to have more space and room to breathe. These aren’t bad things in and of themselves, but they can end up being contradictory to the life and mission we have committed to live.
I guess that ultimately, much like tying your life to someone else’s, it requires a giant leap of faith and trust that we will figure it out along the way. I know that I can easily let fear paralyze me, so this is me facing and fighting through it. I don’t want to allow fear to rule my decisions, but rather, HOPE and LOVE. If the life we love and we have built together here over the last four years is the one we are meant to life, we will find and create ways to make it work, even with our kids… right?
How do you (or those you know) balance both career and parenthood? Any parenting wisdom from urban dwellers?