This is a little out of form for me. I’ve never published works from another writer. But reading this today, I feel that Annabel Fitzsimmon of YummyMummy.com has captured perfectly what I’ve been learning over the past months. I hope you also find peace, positivity and reassurance from her words. (And Annabel, I hope you don’t mind the repost :-))
July 08, 2010
The year before I gave birth to my daughter was a whirlwind of fun, fitness and creativity. I was teaching yoga to great clients, running half-marathons, vacationing in Bermuda , doing PR for my (co-authored) book Bittergirl: Getting Over Getting Dumped, for which my two co-writers and I had book launches and press tours. I was interviewed on national radio and tv, and was featured in Glamour and Elle Girl. We were flown to New York City twice: Once for our book launch and then to appear on NBC’s Today Show. And to top it all off, I married the love of my life. It was a surreal and incredible year.
Fast forward one year after the Today Show appearance: I’m in our Ottawa apartment, sitting in a glider chair with my five-day old baby girl cradled in my arms. Tears are streaming down my face while I attempt to master the art of breastfeeding. I am trying not to move so I can avoid the the painful after-effects of giving birth to an eight-pound baby. I feel lost.
At that moment I felt like a completely different person than the Annabel of the year before. More than anything I had experienced in life, becoming a mother rattled the core of my identity. I wasn’t teaching yoga, I wasn’t writing, I wasn’t doing PR, I wasn’t planning a wedding, I wasn’t training for a race, I wasn’t having interesting conversations. I was simply responsible for this new little human being who depended on me for everything. And I was a mess. Seemingly, none of my pre-motherhood experiences had any practical application for the job of being a mom. I could see in my daughter’s beautiful eyes that she didn’t care that I’d been on U.S. network television. She didn’t care! All she wanted was mummy’s milk. All. The. Time.
I recall being worried that I would never quite resume the kind of social, creative, and physical life I had before having children. I couldn’t envision how I would be able to maintain a fulfilling work life and still feel like a good mom. But as I began to acclimatize to motherhood, some strange and wonderful things occurred. Things that had been important to me before were still important but were viewed from a new perspective. My concept of success and achievements became measured more in personal and emotional triumphs, not dependent on external praise. My daughter gave me the gift of the bigger picture.
As she grew, so too did I. We both took baby steps, I suppose. I began to teach yoga classes when I could fit it in our collective schedule. I pitched freelance articles while my daughter napped. I brainstormed with my creative collaborators (who also have children) on ideas and projects we could develop and that fit with our family calendars. I kept reminding myself to look at the big picture – that my work and creative projects didn’t have to happen NOW. They could evolve slowly. And I simply kept at it.
Fast forward to this summer. I now have two children – my daughter is almost four and my son is 16 months. I am once again teaching my fantastic roster of clients and running an online yoga studio. I ran a half-marathon in May. I’m writing for the Yummy Mummy Club. I just returned from a girls’ trip to Florida with my high school girlfriends, and then went on a four-day family trip to Niagara-on-the-Lake to visit my parents.
This weekend I fly to London to attend the premiere U.K. stage production of Bittergirl, then I’ll come back to Toronto to see my family, attend and write a review of Love, Loss and What I Wore, before flying to Banff with my co-authors to participate in a final workshop of Bittergirl: The Musical at the Banff Centre for the Performing Arts. And the grand finale – I get to spend 10 peaceful days at a cottage with my husband and my kids.
The arrival of children is a life-altering experience – spiritually, emotionally, professionally. On one hand, life is never the same. But things return to normal – a new normal, that is. And we can carry on with our same interests, our same passions, our same beloved friends. Yet we now share ourselves with the new little people in our lives.
Four years on, when I think about what my life has become, I have a huge grin on my face. Travel, creative pursuits, teaching yoga and working in fitness are all exciting and hugely rewarding to me. But I know now that it is the sacred family time with my children and my husband that I savour the most.