I’ve been very open on social media about how my transition into motherhood has shaped my identity, especially as it pertains to my work. I am a verbal processor. If you’re my friend (or hell, if you follow me on Instagram), you know this well. Jon and I had date night last week (which, guys – prioritizing this is a marriage game-changer – but more on that later) and I had a huge emotional breakthrough about who I am. Hunched over my brown butter gnocchi, I realized and admitted that I’m leading a double life.
Each week, we share four things with one another:
- The best part
- The hardest part
- Something we’re proud of ourselves for
- Something we’re proud of the other for
Last night, I shared that the best part of my week was Tuesday. On Tuesdays, I don’t have childcare. On Tuesdays – like every day – I nurse Zuri when she wakes up (while still being asleep myself) and make coffee while she bangs toys on her highchair. But on Tuesdays at 8:20, I do not take her to our nanny, I do not check my email, and I do not brush my hair. On Tuesdays, I am Mama. I recite shapes and animal sounds and read Peek-A-Who for the eleventh time. I nurse and pump and mush up avocado. I wash tiny socks and wipe down plastic toys – and I love it all. I really do. But Tuesdays are HARD. I struggle with balance and letting my Not-Mama to-do list weigh on my mind. As I squeak Sophie, I’m thinking about the email I never finished writing. I want to be present with my daughter but I find myself impatiently watching the clock because of all that I need to accomplish during nap time.
Last Tuesday, though, I found that elusive balance. I really played and I really enjoyed it. I cuddled and sniffed her and laughed at all her new sounds. I did some business goal setting during nap time but I worked slowly – sipping my second cup of coffee – and enjoyed the quiet. This was a huge victory for me.
As I shared this with Jon, I realized that the hardest part of Tuesdays isn’t that I don’t have help. It’s that I feel like one of two very different people. I’m on one side of the identify fence and then the next day, I climb over to become my driven and creative self at my “other job”.
I am two people at once. This double life feels unnatural and yet, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I left the house the other day with mascara and real pants on, shocking even myself. As I crossed my front yard, a passerby did the neighborly smile-and-wave and I reciprocated. I immediately felt like an imposter. This person got a glimpse of just one side of me. Showered, unfrazzled, and (gasp) carrying a purse, I wanted to chase them down the street yelling, “You don’t know me! I’m not just on my way to the eye doctor, I’m Zuri’s mom.”
We were at a brewery a few weeks ago after a ski trip and we barged in, stroller and squealy baby in tow. I took Zuri to the bathroom for a diaper change and as I schlepped back to the table – wiggly girl on one side and the diaper bag hanging off the other – I table of twenty-something women stared as I crossed the room. Not in an ugly way, but their gaze just … lingered. And again, I felt like an imposter. I wanted to exclaim, “You don’t know me! I’m not just a sweaty mom, I run a successful design business.”
And that’s just it, isn’t it? At any given time, we’re just a *little* more on one side of the proverbial fence than the other. I’ll always be a little more “mom” on Tuesdays (and Fridays and Saturdays and Sundays) and a little more “business” on the other days. But both of these people are very, very me.
My internal battle is this: How do I honor both of these women? How can I be two people and be them well? If you’ve made it this far, I bet you’re ready for my magic solution to these looming questions. I hate to tell you this, but there isn’t one.
“I’m still figuring out who I am. It works itself out. It’s a process, but not a linear one.”
Can I get an AMEN? I don’t know how to be the perfect combination of my two identities. I don’t know how to switch seamlessly between the two. I don’t know how my sense of self will change as Zuri grows. I don’t know how my business (businesses?) will change as Zuri grows. But, I’ll always fight for both of these women to be seen. They’re both me and they’re both important.
This I know: There is room for both.