It was a hot summer evening a few weeks ago, when I found myself driving home from a busy day of mom-ing in jammed traffic with two sweaty kids in the backseat. The better part of the afternoon had been spent with them chasing each other around an indoor playground. Shrieking, laughing, wrestling, and creating incredibly intricate made-up games with rules only they seemed to comprehend. Before that, we had been to piano lessons, had a coffee date and picnicked with cousins. The day had begun as the sun rose and wouldn’t conclude for several hours as we had yet to tackle dinner, baths and the bedtime routine. In a word, the day had been full. And as my son kept up a mind-numbing stream of Pokémon facts from the backseat, I felt my mind wander as my automatic responses continued, “Oh wow!… Really? Tell me more about that… No, you’re right, Litten is for sure my favorite character…”
I was tired from the adventures of the day, and as it happened, with my defenses down I felt a sudden wave of anxiousness roll over me as I realized I hadn’t spent a single moment working that day. Granted, every waking moment I had been working in my mothering capacity, but I hadn’t spared a thought towards my professional world. I hadn’t checked my email or social media. I had declined a few phone calls I knew could wait. I hadn’t thought through outfitting for upcoming events or marketing strategy. I hadn’t even worried about work… nothing.
In fact, it hit me that this is my first summer since I was a 14-year old slinging sugar and coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts and sporting my newly purchased Doc Marten sandals (in the ’90’s when they were popular the last time), where I am in complete control of my schedule and how I spend my time. A little over a year ago, I resigned from my corporate career with structured hours and expectations to start my own company, but also to have the opportunity to be more physically present with my kids. And for some reason, that particular evening after a day filled to the brim with fun, the floor seemed to drop out from under me and I felt panic as though I had been cut adrift at sea. Because who am I without my traditional job? Who am I without an easy and succinct answer to the age-old question, “What do you do?”… For decades, I thought it was an easy answer: my job title. But as I’ve grown older, seen more life, had kids, moved, loved, lost and stepped further into the rediscovery of who I really am as a unique being, the answer has become more complex. I am a wife, a friend, a sister, a daughter, a writer, a stylist, an artist, a creator. I am me. A person and an individual.
And I am also a mom. In this season of life with a couple of kids under the age of eight, my mom title shouts loud most days. Because as moms, we do so much. And I don’t just mean the cooking and cleaning and coordinating, but we are universes unto ourselves. Our kids’ boundaries, and their safe havens. We are their entire world, and that is such an incredible mantle of responsibility. So why, on that hot summer day as I drove towards home with a couple of very contented kids in the backseat of my car, was I filled with fear over the letting loose of the professional reigns of my life?
In that moment and with effort, I made the decision to breathe through the panic and the anxiousness and the comparison mentality and, instead, tried to focus on the fact that fallow time in our lives is necessary for growth. Farmers have long since figured out this essential concept in the planting of their crops. This need to allow the soil time to simply exist without expectations, as it’s allowed to restore and reenergize before another season of planting. The same is true for us. In order to do the work of life, rest is required in different areas throughout its broad spectrum for rejuvenation and reconnection. (Even if “rest” doesn’t seem to follow the traditional definition when negotiating with an overly confident toddler at nap time while I momentarily yearn for the days of back-to-back conference calls.)
I have suddenly found myself in a new season of what can look and feel like a fallow time from the outside. It is a season of hard work. But a season where I am choosing my work. And this summer I decided this work would focus on all things kid. It’s been a harder transition than I imagined, as I admit to being used to spending the lion’s share of my time with adults instead of kids. But I recognize and embrace this magical time in life, where I am my kids’ anchor to this world we must traverse. So, while I am hitting pause in some ways – not sitting at my desk for 40 hours per week, to start – I am jumping fully into park dates, swimming (and getting my hair wet! Come on, somebody!), bike rides, blowing bubbles, reading Click, Clack Moo 147 times, driving people to day camp, laughing and watching movies.
So how about you? Have you experienced times of fallow in different areas of your life? And do you sweat as much as I do at the park on those scorching summer day playdates? If so, call me and we can seek out the shady oak trees together.
Here is to embracing the rhythm of life as mothers, and eagerly walking through the ever changing seasons.