Last spring, we had super fun at an improv show. One of the castmembers was Kristin Wigg-ish, with characters that totally cracked us to pieces. She was around 20 weeks pregnant and doing improv, which is an incredible feat considering the ability of a fetus to drink up all your brain power, with wit being among the pre-brain dinner cocktails—one of the first things to go. A few days afterward my girlfriend who was at the show with me texted that cast member’s bio, saying that we’ve got to remember her name because she’ll be famous for her hilarity in the future for sure.

I’m incredibly ashamed to admit that my first thought was so glass ceiling-y that I want to puke. But she’s pregnant, I thought. A human is about to exit her body and on its way out reach up with its cute tiny fist and with it do the only thing a tiny human knows how to do the best in the world, which is grip the things that pass in front of its tiny fingers so tightly. It will pass and grab with that incredible newborn grip all of her freedom to up-and-go, her immediate life aspirations, her unlimited time to think about and do what she wants when she wants to do it. Those are the things that are within reach of the baby’s hands on the way out as the baby joins us in this world. So the baby will grab tight, bring them with, and they will be lost forever. Are these aspirations and this living for yourself choked to death by the harsh light of day? Or are they be eclipsed by an overwhelming love? I’m 6 years into this parenting thing and I still can’t decide. In fact, I’ve changed my mind on that about 10 times today already.

I then came to my senses a bit. I can’t think this way. Look at the friend I was texting. She has two little ones and yet remains an artist, creating and selling beautiful canvas and wood art that was featured in West Elm and is being recognized by designy home boutique shops all around Chicago. She is managing taking care of her two under four-year-olds and getting this thing going that is growing and being acknowledged so naturally that it has all the early markings of becoming huge. And look at me. I am writing, still, finding myself as a writer. I am enjoying the time I find to write, I’ve been published on Scary Mommy and Mamalode and was picked to be a part of Listen to Your Mother, and I have tens of people who read my blog. (That’s my new favorite way to put it.) We are several years into this mothering thing, and we are finding our way to our crafts—I might even go so far as to say, we are standing back up, poised to take what’s ours—here we are on the cusp of something big. I decided to confess my shameful Lean Out take on the actress’s future to my friend.

“My first thought with your text was, But she’s having a baby! Her career is over! (What’s wrong with me???) No, though, I am trying to tell myself. She will rise like a Pheonix from the ashes like we are, right?” Feeling pretty proud of my turnaround, proud of my encouragement, proud of my friend and I for coming so far, I sent the text.

Then I looked at the clock and realized we were going to be late for preschool dropoff. I rushed to the kitchen table to scarf down the rest of my soup, and somehow managed to lodge some tough unchewed black beans across the whole of my throat. My body’s natural reaction was to sneeze the stuck beans out, and in the process the entire partially chewed two mouthfuls that I had recently shoveled in that were being blocked by the black bean exited my mouth with vigor into the only place I could find that wouldn’t require major cleanup (and make us extra late to preschool)—back into my bowl. As I’m spluttering and wondering if I’d rather be hungry or attempt that backwash soup again, my daughter yells to me that she needs help wiping (because at this point in our lives we either will have the smelly kid in class or we will be wiping said kid’s rear for them). So this Phoenix rose from her chair, where the bowl was currently empty (because for me, hunger is never an option) and was wiping a butt within moments of her own (misplaced?) puffery.

I heard my friend’s return text ping as I was driving to preschool, laughing internally about the soup incident, my beautiful fledgling phoenix, and the waves of emotions that a mother’s ego rides daily. I got my kids into school and checked the message. “I had similar thoughts about the actress’s baby on the way. Eeeek!” And then I felt it—the peace of camaraderie. Her followup text was even better. “No more aspirations for you, lady. You’re a mom now.”

I laughed and thought about my 6 years so far of motherhood, about my occasional grief over my life before kids, and about my kids’ stupidly incredible faces. Let’s be real—my writing would be nothing without them. These kids are my muses. Sometimes this is enough for now. And sometimes, this is everything.

That grief over the loss of freedom to do, those faces—they make me think of that newborn, that grabby newborn with those reaching arms and tiny fingers on the way out—and the space that is left when this time and this living for ourselves is gone. And I remember how that space is filled immediately so you don’t even notice the absence of something. Because right away it’s filled with an impossible love—a love so expansive and vast that it fills the spaces, and the cracks left from the spaces, and somehow even more to where it all feels like you might just burst.

I wondered how my friend’s statement could be so hilarious, flippant, poignant, true, sad, and beautiful all at once.

And I think it’s because, if given the choice, I’d do it all again.

Privacy Preference Center