How Motherhood Changed My...
Sixteen women on their personal transformations.
"I Started Saying Yes to No"
By Casey Wilson
"I am a yes person. Shonda Rhimes lived a “Year of Yes” and I have lived a lifetime of yes. In fact, I prided myself on coming from a place of yes, emotionally, whatever that means?
Yes, I'll take a red eye to be at your bachelorette party.
Yes, I'll help the male stripper round up his lose clothes after the music has stopped and everyone else stands around in horrified silence.
Yes, I'll co-lead a self-help retreat for friends in Joshua Tree, despite the fact my own life is in utter shambles.
Yes, I'll hurt when no one wants to attend!
Yes, I'll go to couples therapy with a boyfriend for a year after we stop dating to "tie up loose ends."
Yes, I'll suport your pyramid scheme and buy your chalky shakes and bad jewelry and Flat Earth pamphlets.
Yes, I'll sell those items myself, to little success.
Yes, I'll host. Yes, I'll speak. Yes, I'll march. Yes, I'll give. Yes, I'll be there. And here. And everywhere.
And perhaps most upsetting: Yes, I'll go to your one-person show.
And then I had children. Two spirited little boys. Suddenly I was barely getting to or even halfway doing the things I cared about most: working, deepening my marriage, tending to my precious female friendships, fighting for change and watching every episode of "The Real Housewives."
Something had to give, and it wasn't gonna be The Housewives. It became clear I had to drill down on what was truly necessary. That meant only doing the things it felt (as a friend puts it) "joyful for my spirit to do." I imposed a Marie Kondo-like approach to social commitments and anything that extended beyond the rewarding (yet relentless!) work of motherhood.
It's still hard for me to say no. It's simply not in my nature. I hate to disappoint people, be they a boss or a male stripper. But nothing forces you to create boundaries like having kids. We have only so much energy. I have, maybe, almost...none?
Because that sound we have always been aware of, that dim hum that has been running under our entire lives, grows louder as children are ushered in. It's the hum of mortality.
There's only so much time. We must say no in order to say yes to what is most essential.
Until the time comes to say goodbye."
"I Started to Worry About Failure"
By Nikole Hannah-Jones
"I grew up in a dysfunctional household because my father was an alcoholic, and when I was young, I would lie in my twin bed next to the window and write out the life I planned to lead when I grew up and gained control. I still have the battered, sunshine-colored notebook in which I plotted my future.
Our family was working class. We had no wealth and no family connections to open doors, but the one advantage I can claim was unwavering confidence in my ability to change my circumstance. I did not trust many people, but I trusted myself absolutely.
Even as a young child, I believed in my mind, my work ethic and my ambition. And so, my journal did not record my hopes for the future. It recorded what would be.
I have been afraid of many things in my life, but failure was not one of the. Until I had my daughter.
Because of my childhood, I have spent an inordinate amount of time thinking about all the things I would never do as a parent, all the ways I would be better. I had a determination to create the home life for my dhild that I wished I had growing up.
Yet before she breathed her first breath, when she was just a flutter in my stomach, I began to feel a tightness in my chest driven by a fear that I would not be up to the task. That no matter how much I loved her, I would make so many mistakes, mistakes I likely would not even know I was making, mistakes that would somehow scar my child the way that I feel scarred.I likely would not even know I was making mistakes that would somehow scar my child the way that I feel scarred. The confident control I have exercised over my entire life feels so tenuous now that I am in charge of raising another human being who is witnessing me and all my flaws while her personhood is being formed.
Even now as I now have more empathy for my own parents, I am consumed by the fear that in the most important venture in my life, I will fail. So when my daughter was just a baby, I started writing a journal to her. Over the pages, I tell her how much I love her, how much she means to me, how she has changed my life, and own up when I make mistakes.
My hope is that one day when she is grown up, this journal will allow her to extend me some grace for the failures I know I will make. It is a strange conversion. As a child, I did not find hope a useful thing. But now that I have my own, I often feel as if hope is all that I have."
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