Looking Back, Looking Forward

In the process of re-categorizing Early Mama for its redesign, I ended up re-reading some of my oldest posts (which is something I never do). And then I read through journals and unpublished posts from my pregnancy, when I felt scared and alone and scared some more. And I forgot a lot, you guys — or maybe I blocked it out.

I forgot about going back to work full-time at 7-weeks postpartum, and dropping off my infant to strangers every day.

"So here I am, sending my six month old off to an infant roomwhere he doesn't see Mommy or Daddy for 9 of the 12 hours he's awake. Please, just take my baby. He's small and fragile and in need of love — please just keep him safe for me." [Daycare Dilemma, 8.31.09]

I forgot about the throbbing ache in my chest — the shortness of breath — every time I'd drive away from his daycare, up to a job that kept us apart for 5 full days every week. I worked long hours, with a 2+ hour commute, and I only saw him for his night feedings — when he'd fall asleep clutching my shirt, keeping me there, breathing in sync with his breaths.

"Have you ever been heartbroken?Normally triggered by an intense loss, it overtakes your body, your mind, like a parasite. It lays like dead weight on your chest, challenging every breath. It plants grenades in your mind, threatening to erupt in a firestorm of tears. A song on the radio, a street sign, a passing car — all can trigger an explosion. Or sometimes it's nothing at all...Thats how I feel when I drive away from daycare, up to work. Heartbroken." [Trapped, 9.8.09]

"I love you more than the tears I cry when we're apart." [What Mommy Misses When She's At Work, 8.24.09]

"There has to be another way..." [Daycare Dilemma, 8.31.09]

I took big risks to be where I am right now — which is sitting on my couch on a Wednesday afternoon, building a career on my own terms. Risks that so many people thought I was crazy to take — giving up a good, stable job for the unknown world of freelance life. And maybe they're risks that aren't right for everyone.

But it never felt risky because I always believed in myself. I believed in my abilities and my perseverance — in my skill sets, in myself.  The only thing I'd ever gamble on is myself, because I know how hard I'm willing to work, regardless of being a mother. But especially when it comes to seeing his face every day.

"For the past year and a half, my life has been dictated by circumstances and events, until — suddenly — I snapped out of it. What am I doing? Take control! Time wasn't stopping for my internal debates, and every day that passed felt like another day lost. Another day that I missed of my child's life. Another day that I felt unfulfilled and unproductive. That's no way to live. Besides that, every day I felt guilty — and guilt is the product of knowing something you did or feel is wrong." [Moving On, 10.16.09]

And now, almost exactly three years later, I feel more productive and fulfilled than I ever thought possible. I believe in what I'm doing — but more-so, I believe in the possibilities of what I can do in the near future. And I get to be here for him, chauffeuring him around, role-playing imaginary stories, feeding him breakfast and lunch and dinner. He knows that mommy works, but he knows that mommy loves what she does (and so does daddy).

And I want him to know that if he works very hard, pursues his passions, and really believes in himself, then he can love what he does, too. I want him to have the courage to take risks and the resilience to keep going.

A lot of people comment on how lucky I am to be able to make a living while working from home.

But I don't think it's luck at all.

I very purposefully made this happen — first, by not settling. By not accepting a less-than-ideal situation as my only option, and by not limiting myself based on imaginary borders. I researched and I planned, incessantly. I applied for dozens of gigs that I didn't get. And I'm well aware that I could face some setbacks along the way.

I don't sleep a lot. I sometimes question the directions I'm going, and every so often I feel like the wheels might fall off.

But I have big, big goals and even bigger dreams. And I won't stop taking risks.

Especially if it means I can still see his face every day.

"I refuse to let getting pregnant define me. I refuse to invest all of my happiness, my energy, my future, into a single event. And I refuse to let the greatest love I've ever known be a hindrance." [Resilience, 10.8.09]

Photos: Picnik Photography ("like" her page!)