Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A response.

This is me moments after meeting my daughter for the first time, after 16 hours of labor and an emergency c-section... taking Amy Glass's "easy way out." 

At first, reading Amy Glass’s article criticizing young women who chose to have a family made me want to laugh.  Then I wanted to get violent.  And then I wanted to cry, thinking about the world I have brought my daughter into, where it seems the more absurd you are, the closer you come to something like fame or notoriety.  For days I thought about my personal response to this nonsense, and I had to get it out. 

For the record, I am thirty years old.  I met my husband when I was 23 and was married at 26.  I have a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree.  By some standards, I have seen a lot of the world, by others, not very much. By some standards I had a great start to my career, by others I was puttering around in the meaningless.  I decided to leave my job when my daughter was 4 months old to raise her full time.  Some would applaud that, others (Amy Glass, I am talking to you) would need to try to hold back their vomit. 

As the overwhelming majority would agree, Amy Glass is dead wrong.  Whether or not I fit into her mold of “young mothers with husbands” she looks down upon, I take offense to every single word she said.  This is why.

It is people like her that led me into a rather productive but abundantly meaningless life before I met my husband and had my daughter.  People like her that made me think I needed to live my life like a story, packed full of accomplishments and adventure.  My husband was the first person who cared about what the most honest parts of my heart had to say, not the to-do list that had been written on my brain by every Amy Glass trying to recruit women to close their legs and open their minds to all the world’s ideas.  My daughter was the first person to look me in the eye and not wonder where I went to college or in what ways I was challenging myself.  Or what my ideas and opinions are.  She knew my smell and my heartbeat, and that was enough to love me.  

Amy Glass, you have it all backwards.  Getting degrees, and promotions, and traveling, and running half marathons are the things I used to do to make myself feel worthy.  I was blowing through that “to-do list for women who want to feel like they have earned their place in the world” like an unstoppable rebel force.  I have since realized that not one thing on that list said “be who you are.”  And what I have found in the past five years is looking two people in the eyes, my husband and my daughter, who want nothing more of me than that, has been the most difficult challenge of my life until this point.  It has forced me to look myself more honestly than I ever have before.  I began to learn something about all the achievements I was trying to collect.   They will never have the same impact that a person asking you to bare your soul will.  They will not be there to rub your back when you are sick.  Or wipe your tears when you cry.  Or sit with you at the end of your life and listen to you speak openly about your joys and regrets.  They will not remember you, they will not love you.  Your legacy will not live on through the things you teach them.  They will not notice the small things you do.  They will not honor you.  They will not breathe life into you the way that seeing your child take his or her first breath only can. You cannot love a husband or a child in the way you can love a career or traveling.  In a marriage and in motherhood, you cannot play a part.  You cannot hold your family at arm’s length.  You cannot reveal only the best parts of yourself.  For most of my life, this is how I was able to live. Now, every night I thank God for my husband and my daughter, who are asking for all of me, so I can know what that is, too. 

And to address the most laughable point: This is not the easy way out.  In times of stress I think to myself, why didn’t I just go to law school? Or med school? Or move back to London after I graduated?  I have these thoughts because they are my retreat.  They would have been a more comfortable route for me, because I see them as very concrete and predictable.  But I chose to live my life in real time, in chaos, in truth.  To let go of caring what the Amy Glass’s of the world think of me. I have put down my to-do list, and I am working on listening to what’s in my heart.  Creating my own measures of worth.  It has led to many tears and sleepless nights, but it is an education unlike any other.  Had I ever made it to the top of Kilimanjaro, or the floor of Wall Street, or wherever else you find worthy females, I’m not sure it would have even happened there.  

The freedom isn't in becoming a lawyer or a CEO.  Or backpacking solo across Asia.  The freedom is in being exactly who you are, and that is the piece that challenges you and takes courage.  THAT is the hard way. And for me, taking the hard way will bring me a level of success that is beyond anything I could have planned for.  I am not sure what my next step will be, but the courage I have to chase my dreams with my daughter and husband beside me is infinitely larger than without them.  The only thing in my life I can predict right now is that I will be happy.

And for the record, I love weddings and baby showers.  Being a woman is hard enough and we should get to indulge a little bit.  If that means my vagina is smaller than yours, so be it.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

A welcome and a letter.

Hello! My name is Lindsey.  I am a new mom (eh, newer than many but maybe not as new as the baby weight I am still carrying around might imply) and recently put my career in education on hold to dive into the world of stay at home mothering.   My husband, Walter, and I live in the Hudson Valley with our daughter Carolina (pronounced like the wedding dress designer, not the state).  This blog is a place for me to try to capture, preserve, make sense of, and laugh a little at this wonderful new world of parenthood. 

I wrote the following letter to my daughter on her first birthday.  It inspired the name of this blog, and for that I find it fitting to start from here.

To My Sweet Lovely Girl Carolina:

12 months ago, I didn’t know you.  I didn’t know what you would look like, sound like, smell like.  I didn’t know what you would feel like in my arms.  My sweet girl, there is so much I did not know.  There is so much I did not even dream about because, I realize now, my dreams were not that big.  I look back and wonder what filled my thoughts when you were dancing around in my belly.  I wish I could remember the life I made up in my head, the ways we would spend our days, the things I wanted to hear you say.  I simply cannot. It is as if those thoughts were written on my brain in a language I no longer speak.  

The truth is, 12 months ago it wasn’t just you I didn’t know.  I didn’t know me either.  But in the past twelve months you have awakened me; you have filled me with so much more than love.  You have filled me with something that makes my smiles feel more honest and my tears feel wetter and my laughs go deeper into my belly.  Something that makes me feel so heavy and so light at the same time.  Something electric that makes me painfully aware of all that is around me- the beauty, the darkness.  The shortness of the days that sometimes seem so long.  The fragility of life.  The unbelievable luck in being healthy.   That life moves both fast and slow and we must enjoy it both ways. Caring for you, and worrying about you, and being the one person in the world that you call mother, it is both a privilege and a burden.  The most delicious, deepest, heaviest, most invigorating burden. I carry it so happily, my love.  So happily.  And so gratefully.  And I carry it humbly, because even though I am the one in charge, you are teaching me things I never knew; you are reminding me of things about life and family that I lost along the way.  My life as your mom is one step on the other side of my biggest dreams.  You have made me capable of a happiness that I never had the language to think up. 

When you are snuggled into my neck and just about to doze off for the night, I like to tell you things. I like to tell you things I know you cannot understand, but I hope somehow you are processing, somehow are becoming part of your spirit.  I tell you I am proud of you, I tell you that you make me happy.  I tell you that you are funny and lovely.  I tell you simple things that feel good to hear.  Things that I hope one day you love about yourself.  

The other day you lay heavy and limp over my shoulder, and I said to you,
You make my days feel more lived in.

Whatever gifts I give to you in this life, I am not sure I could match that.  So thank you.  And I promise not to waste that gift.