I’m ironically streaming one of comedian Ally Wong’s Netflix specials while writing this. It’s a hidden and well-cultivated talent—multitasking and all. Moms—if you know you know. So, Ally, who is pregnant in this special, starts off talking about returning to the workforce in her chosen profession of stand-up comedy. Of course, even her fellow comics are thrown off course by this woman coming back to a field that appears isn’t always welcoming to working moms with babies at home. But Ally’s explanation to her colleagues is true for a lot of us. After being at home with her infant day and night—with the sleep deprivation, lack of regular showers and meals, you know, the total, laser focus on a small human who commands your every move, Ally said she loved her baby girl more than anything in the whole world. But if she didn’t return to work, she might throw her daughter in the garbage. Before CPS Karens go nuts, Ms. Wong was joking, ok?
Eight weeks of the stay-at-home mom life turned out to be not as ideal as Ally Wong was told it would be. “A job,” she says. “A wack-a** job.” I’m laughing. Because I get it.
I’m way on the other end of those heady new days of mom life, and gratefully so. And while I squeal when colleagues show us their babies on Zoom meetings, and feel my “quickly expiring eggs in their about to retire ovaries” make some weird quivers when I watch baby videos on Tik Tok, you couldn’t pay me enough to go back to square one with the motherhood/babyhood days. I think this also means that I’m going to dig the grandma life eventually.
“Grandma: All of the hype, none of the responsibility.” Sounds good to me!
While I have found all the stages my kids have gone through to have had beautiful merits in each one, motherhood has demanded something extraordinarily great of me. Aside from the devotion, anxiety, and the willingness to die for my offspring, it demanded I put the Essence of Wilo in storage for a bit.
I think all you moms can relate. Who was this woman that got this man to pledge his life to her because she was singularly sharp, funny, well-read, compassionate, quirky, interesting, beautiful, spiritual, and fascinating, only to pop a baby in her and have all that wonderfulness compete for surface time for the next 18+ years? For all you chicks like me hovering closer to the empty nest drop zone, the idea that there is this person inside firing up her jets for a quickly approaching take-off is exciting. It’s deserved. It’s time.
Why? Because our kids seem to care not that we existed as human beings with dreams, passions, ideas, goals, daredevil spirits outside of our roles as mothers. Because, and some of these precious souls have had the cojones to remind us of this, they know more than us what motherhood means. They know what a mother is supposed to do. And like many a middle-aged mom (or younger or older), you might have been informed that you’ve missed the mark on several occasions.
If you are in the thick of it in those days of toddlerhood, preschoolhood, elementaryhood—all the hoods—I know you are up to your eyeballs. Especially if you are also juggling a paying gig in or outside of the home (and well, a lot of us have that juggle going in the house right now). I know you were also this great girl that did very cool things—who had a bucket list of places to travel to, or art to develop, maybe political interest, or activism in college or grad school. All of those things are still very much burning inside of you, but you—like all moms—have had to reprioritize. And its sucks at times. But it’s totally fine because your kids are the #1 priority—as they should be. But while you have all this great stuff about you and who you are and what you still have to offer this big world, those fluffy-headed munchkin goofball children are completely and blissfully oblivious.
Then come the teen/college years. Now I’ve seen this go both ways at this stage in life. At some point, your kids see you and your “things” as kind of cool. While they are teens and their need for you becomes less all-consuming, thus allowing you to delve into reclaiming some parts of yourself, they will indulge you, support you even. As long as you don’t embarrass them in any way shape or form (like blogging or podcasting, for example), you can continue with your cute new hobbies. Then there is the other side where your almost grown children want nothing to do with this story of who their mother was and what she is still becoming. They want you to stay in your lane, which must never veer into their lanes, while supposedly welcoming them when they try to swerve into your lane, a lane that is none of their dang business.
Moms, we are so much more than the uteruses that brought our offspring forth, or the bodies that fed them and fret over them still. We still have these sides of us that have lain dormant for years that deserve to awaken. We still have growing of our own to do. New things to discover, new accomplishments to add, new ways of thinking and being.
My daughter, at the age of 6, asked me if I’d be dead when she went to college. I was 30. When she did go to college, I was 43 and very much not dead. She’ll graduate next year, and my son will be off this fall as a college freshman. So, what does that mean? At the age of 46, I still have 20 years (as I project it) for my day job and all this other time for whatever the heck I want. And that will be an ever-evolving pursuit.
My point in all this is that ladies, I know the raising of our babies puts a lot of things in a different order than we might have wanted. But advocate for yourself to be true to yourself. Does that make sense? Along the journey of raising your families, you’ll find spaces to tap into the part of you that has nothing to do with who you are as a spouse, parent, friend, or daughter. Give an ear to those things and cultivate what they are saying. And if you get pushback, take the sage advice my mother-in-law gave me on what to do when your kids are being total, ungrateful pills (at any age): ignore them!
We were once these very cool people. Newsflash: we still are.