If someone asked you to use one word describe who YOU are, what would you say? Daughter? Student? Friend? Barista? Server? Girlfriend? Lawyer? Wife? Mom? At various points of my life, any one of those words would have described who I was. Maybe not the entire picture but close enough. In any case, it really wasn’t anything I thought about too hard until I had my first daughter in 2010. I remember being warned about the lack of sleep and the diaper changes, the unexplained crying, the teething, but for the life of me I cannot ever remember being warned that with the cutting of the umbilical cord, my life would be unrecognizable. Nor did I realize that this alien life would stick around for YEARS.
For decades, I woke up every day and went to school, or to work. As a total type A, once there I did what I could to succeed. You see, part of who I was, was an achiever. I NEEDED the validation that came from being really good at something, even when I didn’t even really care about the outcome. Then suddenly, the only thing that people judged me for was being O’s mom. It was as if the things that made me me vanished with the placenta. We were living on Roosevelt Island at the time, which might be the strangest place on earth, and I remember feeling so alone. D was at work until all hours. It NEVER stopped snowing that winter and I was at home with a baby that I didn’t know the first thing about taking care of. People would call to check in, and it seemed like they would ask how I was doing as an after thought, as though how I was coping didn’t really matter. I felt myself disappearing.
At the time I chalked these feelings up as part of my postpartum depression (more on that another day) and buried them deep down. But these things never stay buried. They have a way of coming out and my way is via anger. I am sure D will tell you that O’s entire first year of life was no picnic in our house. I was resentful that my life was completely and totally different, while his was 95% the same as it ever was. Resentful may be an understatement. I was enraged that he got to keep on keeping on while I? Brought O to weird music classes in a dank room of a local temple. This was not what I envisioned.
In fact, I ALWAYS planned to go back to work. Logistically, it was hard to figure out how to make this work with two lawyers working long hours. I knew that fair or unfair if shit went down with O, I was the one who had to be there. Not only that, I WANTED to be that person. I just couldn’t square that circle in my head. I wanted to stay at home with her and be the kind of parent that I didn’t have BUT…I also wanted something for me. I wanted my cake and I wanted to eat the shit out of it. Before you get all haughty on me (and I KNOW there are some of you who are hating me) I realize I am lucky that we were financially able to allow me to stay home with O. My feelings about returning to work were not based on the need for more money (though of course we can always use more of that) OR my love of being a lawyer (which I didn’t even feel). The immediate feelings of needing to feel like myself again were what drove me to throw my hat in the ring. I attempted to find a job as a part time litigator, at a firm close to home. HAHAHAHAHAHAH! Lawyer friends, I will give you a minute for that nonsense to sink in. I quickly learned there is NO such thing as a part-time litigator. Basically, I got paid shit to be in some weird kind of lawyer-mom limbo. It was less than ideal.
From there I found a temporary document review position close to my home. It was kind of awesome because it was 9-5 and I never had to take any work home with me. In fact, it required minimal effort on my part and I got paid handsomely. It lasted until I was forced to relocate after Hurricane Sandy. Then I found out I was pregnant with S, and I just lost all mojo for finding another position. I felt trapped in this life that I created. I really and truly didn’t know how to recapture me.
I know this will sound corny, but this is where a friend and her Facebook post changed my life. Shortly after S was born, I was desperate to shed some baby weight, and feel better about myself. I couldn’t fathom taking the girls to the gym with me, so I needed an at home solution. My friend is a Beachbody coach, and she urged me to join one of her support and accountability groups. I did and it changed my life in more ways than one. I NEVER thought joining her group would lead me to a second career running my own health/fitness coaching business. Anyone who knows me can vouch that this was so far outside the realm of possible career paths for me, but I finally have something that is MINE. I genuinely love helping people find pieces of themselves again. It is a privilege that I get to be part of someone’s journey to become a better version of themselves. I don’t claim to be an expert or perfect. I struggle just as much, maybe more, as the rest of you. But I wont give up, especially now that I feel like me again after so long. Now I can add coach to that list of words that describe me, and I like how that feels.