I got feedback in-person, via email, and of course, on social media + the blog, and I was struck by 3 things: One, I am not the only person pondering this topic. Two, we're all in this together and there is SO much support out there, no matter what path you choose to take as a woman or mother or non-mother. And three, you ladies are really wise and have so much to offer.
So, today I wanted to share some beautiful snippets and universal words of advice that I received from many of YOU last week...
On what it's like to be in the parenting trenches:
- From a 30-year-old mother of 3: As with yoga, awareness is key! Awareness of all the craziness that ensues with motherhood, allows light right where you need it! -Carmen
- Having a baby does not clarify ANYTHING except that you now have this creature that relies on you completely for everything, poops, farts, makes a lot of noise, completely turns your life into chaos and you love it more than anything and can't imagine your life without it anymore (yet you can still remember what it was like before he/she came). -Erica
- It will not be chaotic awfulness because that's not how you see the world or live your life. You will apply all of the amazing skills you have accumulated in your life to this point to being the perfect parent in your own unique family. You will not be able to avoid this outcome, I promise. -Gretchen
On being self-employed with kids:
- I had [my daughter] when I was self employed and the flexibility of my teaching yoga in evenings was perfect for us. We did a lot of quick hand-offs as we passed off the baby, it was exhausting (so we added a second, as you know) but I think it really helped [my husband] develop a great relationship with both kids. He had to figure how to do things his way while I had my way (soothing, playing), but we are really good about communicating & discussing the big things (boundaries, rules, bedtime). We have to since he is in charge solo 2-3 nights a week while I am home other nights and daytime. Financially it was scary, but so was your leap of faith to do what you are doing now. -Siobhan
- [My husband and I are self-employed] and have Aflac disability policies. When I have a baby, I have 3 months of maternity pay. The policy just needs to be in paid and place for 10 months before you actually give birth...You can choose how much you want to pay into it each month. It's not that expensive...and it's better than nothing! -Shayna
- As someone whose kids are now almost 16 and almost 12 and who is also self-employed....it is absolutely doable and crazy and overwhelming and amazing and everything in between. My best friends remain to be ones who I met when my daughter was a baby and who commiserated with me in the "this is so hard and it sucks" moments when our kids were infants. As life shifted from babies, toddlers, etc., to these kids being people who we enjoy traveling with, going to dinner with, and discussing what is going on in their life, I can look back and honestly say, "I can't imagine my life without them!" -Ilona
On deciding not to have kids:
- The thought of having children terrifies me. I feel like that intrinsic motivation to have a baby that so many women have is missing in me. And I'm OK with that. It's taken a long time to accept that, and to accept that my wants may change. We'll see where we are when I'm 30. -Heather
- From someone who wrestled with the subject and then finally came to a very clear "no": My husband & I have had 20 years together without children & so love all of the the deep experiences we get to have as a couple traveling, focused on our incredible careers, where the energy that would have gone toward child-rearing gets creatively infused on the deep relationships and work we get to do with our clients & students. At the end of the day we can rest in each others' gaze, have silence & space to deepen our inner work and outer relations, & never regretting for any split moment that we didn't do it differently. I've acted as a birth coach for 13 deliveries. I so love birth. Midwives ask me how many children I have. I tell them none & they are astonished. The depth of sensitivity and love isn't taken away because I didn't birth my own child. -Tricia
- I always think the people who struggle with this choice are the exact people who SHOULD have children. You are being thoughtful and aware - two things that will make you a wonderful parent should you choose that path. Having a child enriched my life in a way that I could never have found on my own. I'm certain of that. I'm also certain that it isn't for everyone. -Heather
- For reasons that were right for us we jumped in and now that [my daughter] is almost 2, I can tell you that these struggles, thoughts, and conversations don't go away. They shift to conversations, thoughts, feeling about having another. Another decision that is also very much a personal choice that everyone decides to weigh in on for you.-Katie
- Mind loves jockeying. Heart simply lives with solid yes & solid no. Our personal practice is to rest the mind's wrestling into breath & breathe into the heartfelt trust that it's impossible to make a wrong choice & that all events choose us. We bow to the moment and know that the heart doesn't know regret. Mind will gnaw like a squirrel on acorns. All the while, the heart moves into and through with incomparable ease. -Tricia
- So what I'm saying is, be true to yourself, whether in career or motherhood. Though my son is the light of my life, I can tell you that I'm sure my life would have been full and worthy had I decided to stay single and childless and continued with my career and life. Challenge the myths. There are a lot of them out there in this crazy life. -Roula
Thank you for sharing all of your thoughts. I love being a part of this conversation and am so grateful to have such a warm, loving community with which to share my feelings.
Oh, and here's another great resource that was shared with me by a mother of two--an online course for those who might be ready/getting ready to start trying to get pregnant: Purposeful Conception: Preparing Your Mind, Body, & Life for Pregnancy.
If you have any other great resources for people wrestling with this topic, please post to comments!