Today I feel like a happy email sitting patiently in the drafts folder. Like a I feel like a small boat on a laughing sea.
I don’t have children, and jury’s still out on whether I want to have them or not. Some days I feel a tiny spark of desire to be a mother, but most days I’m perfectly happy being a support of the mothers around me without joining their ranks. I feel happy for others who have families, and I feel happy for myself with my two bunnies and small apartment, city-dwelling life.
I’ve been carefully observing the mothers in my life—the new ones, the old ones, the ones on TV and in movies, the ones on Instagram—and I always have a handful of wishes that I want to send them.
You are in charge.
As boss-mama, you are in charge of what you name your children, what they eat, when you cut their hair, when you give them “the talk” (about Santa, of course), where they go to school, how much technology they have in their lives, etc. What I’m trying to say is you are in charge of all of it.
Even if it’s your own parents who are disagreeing with your parenting decisions, I wish you all the strength in the world to stand your ground against that resistance and do what is best for your family. I’m assuming that once a child comes into the picture, it’s not as difficult to set boundaries and say “no”, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Feed them carrots, feed them candy, all I wish for you is the strength to be unapologetic about your decisions.
You are still a whole person.
Again, I’ve never been a parent so I don't know what it feels like. But I hope that you don’t lose sight of your amazing self—mother is just one of your many sparkling facets, my sweet gem. You are passionate about things beyond the diapers, and I hope you always know it. When you’re knee deep in spit-up and don’t have a moment to indulge in some self care, I hope you still remember who you are.
I always think about Elizabeth Gilbert’s commentary on mothers as martyrs (mothers who give up everything in their life, including their aspirations, in order to raise children). I think it was in a podcast episode of Big Magic, but she talks about creative martyrdom in an excellent blog post here if you want to read more. She reminds listeners that “martyrs will raise martyrs,” and I think that’s such a wonderful way of thinking about it.
If I have children, I hope I can raise them to be strong and uncompromising when following their dreams, so according to this logic I must be the same. Celebrate your whole self, so that your beautiful children can celebrate themselves too.
Make the small things count.
When it comes to self care, I know that children can throw a wrench in the Instagram-perfect vision of sleeping in, drinking an artisanal latte, painting your toenails and reading some pretty magazine. So I hope you can squeeze tiny moments of self-appreciation into your day in new and interesting ways.
Get the fanciest soap you can find for your 2-minute shower. Diffuse essential oils while you change diapers. Get nice coffee beans or coffee creamer, or add a special coffee mug to your cart during your next Target run. Maybe two, in case little Billy breaks the first one.
It’s okay to ask for help.
Don’t feel like you must subscribe to the supermom mindset, because it’s not possible. And it’s not healthy—doing all the things, all the time is going to lead to a heckuva burnout.
I wish I could send you a few moments of my own time so that you could take a shower or drink just one sip of coffee without interruption. If you find yourself feeling depressed, I wish you all the strength in the world to seek people who support you and love you and don’t disregard your feelings.
I sometimes think about what my own experience might be postpartum, and I fear the depression that so often goes along with it. I’m saying this now: I will probably need help, and I know how hard it can be to ask for it. Add in the toxic idea that you should be SO happy as a new mom, and I can’t imagine the strength it takes to get the help you need.
If you need help, call me. If you need someone who will believe you and support you 100%, I will be that person.
Teach your kids cool stuff.
Whether you have a boy or girl, I hope you teach them to be a balm to this hurting world. Teach them to stand up for people who are being bullied because they’re different—to speak up for and with women, people of color, people with different sexual orientations and gender identifications.
Teach your children to be respectful when respect is deserved, and to expect respect when they’re deserving. Teach them to be open and curious and to ask questions about the world around them. Give them confidence and offer them your heart as a safe place to confide in. Teach them to be themselves, unique and unashamed, and to always understand their intrinsic value as a human.
And just as importantly, gently teach yourselves these same things. Take this time to see the world again as a child and welcome the daily lessons with open arms. Be a student once more alongside your babe, and see what dusty knowledge you have that could use a little polishing. The world is a different place today than it was even a handful of years ago, and I think we all need a little re-education sometimes. I know I need it.
Mostly, I hope you see yourself, continuously, as a goddess. No matter how you birthed (or didn’t physically birth) your child, you are a magnificent guardian for a human who will be coming into themselves under your guidance. I hope you know that you are magic, whether you accomplish everything on your to-do list or not.
You are magnificent, no matter what your hair looks like or what your house looks like or what anyone, ever says to you or about you. You rock, mama.