“I feel like the body snatchers came,” I said on the phone, as the old Altima sped jauntily down i75.
“As you know, I always thought being a stay-at-home mom would be the ideal life, but now I’m not even really interested in being any kind of mom. I want to grow my career and stomp around in heels and make money that I can spend selfishly. I no longer have the urge to snuggle every baby I see. I honestly don’t know what happened.”
“Wow, the body snatchers really did come!” agreed my best friend. “Hello? Who’s this? Am I talking to Maya Trevathan?!”
Motherhood Was Always The Dream
Let me back up a little.
I’ve always loved kids. I have a five-and-a-half year younger sister. I’ve been a camp counselor, babysitter, and nanny.
I always wanted to be a mom, and as I got older, I decided I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. You know, the glamorous kind who can afford to hire a cleaning lady. The type who frequents pilates. I always assumed it would be exciting and a bit of a relief to elegantly phase out your career and place the household financial responsibilities in your husband’s capable hands.
From around age 17 to age 24, becoming a Pilates Mom/Lady Who Lunches was the ultimate goal.
It was during my Floundering Period that I started to question this goal. For those of you who are new here, those were the years during which I was waiting for my acne to clear up with the intent of rejoining the high fashion modeling world (2016) and the year I changed my mind, wanted to model in Florida, and attempted to string together enough HSN shows, promos, and shoots to make a full time income (2017). Neither was a particularly happy or successful year for me, especially the former. I hated how I felt about myself while I wasn’t working full time, but I was in a rut and continued to bang my head against a brick wall of expiring dreams.
I’m Not Crazy, I’m Just a Little Un…willling to Relinquish Control
Fastforward to 9 months post Floundering.
I love my job, and more importantly, I love who I am when I have goals I can (for the most part) control.
Control freakishness is definitely a curse at times. It fuels things like eating disorders, it begins demanding an engagement ring at age almost-22 (yes, I was that girl 🙄) and has tantrums when life is, well, life.
But feeling out of control, or disempowered, is just as dangerous. Feeling like the world is acting on you, rather than you on it, is terrifying.
I was so helpless during pretty much all of 2016. Since I’d spent about half of the previous year without a car (NYC + Milan, and I also didn’t drive much in SF) I’d developed a moderate fear of being behind the wheel. I also harbored an irrational phobia that my husband was going to die. I remember one evening “Love You Like I’m Gonna Lose You” came on the car radio and I asked Stephen to turn to a different station. When he replied, “Why babe? I like this song!” I dissolved into tears and demanded he turn it off.
Okay I am getting on a tangent. We’re talking about the Baby Fever Rollercoaster.
But the control thing was relevant, because it’s honestly one of the things that turns me off about future motherhood.
- What if they’re not healthy?
- What if they stop breathing in the night?
- What if we’re good parents but they somehow turn out to be delinquents?
- What if they get the worst of both of our looks and personalities instead of the best or at least a combination?
- How do you even take care of a newborn? They are so tiny and frail-looking and TINY!
While we’re on a control tangent… I also like having my share of control over our household finances. I mean that in the sense of bringing something to the table, not in the sense that I wasn’t “allowed” control over our money when I wasn’t working full time. Stephen was very generous while he was the sole breadwinner, but I didn’t like how not earning a significant income made me feel about myself. Not to mention that, no matter how selfless your husband is, two real incomes are a heck of a lot more than one.
Looking back, I can see that it was all connected: the lack of income, the helplessness, the phobias, the disempowerment. The nagging feeling that my brain wasn’t as “fit” as it once was, small tasks seeming like a big deal, not feeling sharp or efficient.
Would I feel that way again if I decided to be a stay-at-home mom? I’ve wondered that a lot. On the one hand, I would be far busier than I was as an unemployed non-mom, but on the other hand, taking care of a newborn/baby/toddler all day isn’t mentally stimulating in the same way that a career is. I know it’s challenging in different ways, but still. I am wary of any lifestyle that could potentially make me feel even remotely similar to how I did throughout 2016. That was probably the worst year of my life …if you don’t count middle school lol.
Reconnecting With My Ambitious Former Self
Speaking of school, being back in the traditional workforce has helped me reconnect with the person I once was. I’ve found myself reacquainted with the little girl who competed with the two smartest boys in her fourth grade class over report cards. Growing up, academic achievement was everything to me. I was smart and competitive. I had a productive means of channeling my psycho side. (Are you bored of basic blonde bitches overusing the word “psycho” in an attempt to look a bit edgier and less vanilla? Same, girl, same, but I couldn’t help myself. 😉 )
Now that I’m back to using my brain instead of my face and body for my employment, I feel like I have School Days Maya back again. Except that Post-Modeling Maya is a hell of a lot more confident and proactive. It’s really a powerful combo, and I feel good about what I’ve achieved in my current position. I do occasionally struggle with feeling “behind” in my career compared to some of my peers, but overall I am happy and feel like I’m in a good place.
I like to work. I like having somewhere to go every day. I like the predictable hours and being able to plan all the aspects of my life that I couldn’t as a model. I like being part of a team. I like my boss and coworkers and current company. I see a future in marketing. I am nowhere near ready to give any of that up.
Here’s the plot twist: I simply can’t picture handing over a sweet pink newborn to a daycare center every day. As much as I love my newfound identity as a career woman, my gut just says I couldn’t do it.
I mean, I don’t even like leaving the dog at home…
Is It Just Lose/Lose for Women?
I feel like I’m in between a rock and a hard place.
I don’t want to be a stay-at-home mom.
But I also don’t want to be a working mom.
I don’t want a baby within the next one, probably two, maybe even three, years.
But I also don’t want to be an old mom. I’m not saying 31 would be an “old” mom, but Stephen and I would like to have three kids, so that’s not exactly young for the first one. Also, we started dating when I was 19 and part of me feels like it’s crazy to wait that long when you got together with your man that young.
I don’t want to struggle to conceive.
But I also don’t want to say, “Hey Stephen, given my past with disordered eating and amenorrhea, my ongoing struggles with hormonal imbalances, and a body fat percentage that walks the line of being high enough to ovulate… why don’t we just stop trying to not conceive now, because maybe it’ll take a few years anyway?” but then it turns out the precaution wasn’t needed and BOOM all of a sudden I’m pregnant and we’re not homeowners and we haven’t been to Europe together, and we’re not financially or emotionally ready, and we’ve ruined the Young Childless Professionals phase of our life that is FINALLY starting to look how I always envisioned it would.
Is this negative of me? Is it dramatic to call these decisions lose/lose?! Are you ladies stay-at-home moms or working moms? Did it ever feel lose/lose or did any of you see it as win/win? How did you ultimately decide?
What Would Life Without Children Be Like?
My mom told me that as a small child I once asked her, “But Mami, what if I don’t want to have kids?”
Apparently she’d made reference to her future grandkids.
Recently she and I had a conversation about my newfound lack of baby fever, and she brought up that anecdote.
“You know, you don’t have to be a mom,” she said. It was one of those moments someone states something completely obvious yet radical. Do you know what I mean?
Stephen and I have talked about it too.
Life without kids would be pretty cool in some ways. You could spend all that extra money on yourself. You could travel more. You could have nicer clothes and nicer cars and eat out more often. You could maintain your psycho (lol) skincare budget without feeling selfish. *Cough* most important expense of them all *cough.*
You could have more hobbies and time for yourself. You could keep the romance in your relationship more vibrant.
Sometimes I talk to certain women without kids and I think, “Wow your life is so cool! Look at all your achievements and interests. Maybe I want that…”
Deep down though, I know I want kids… I mean, I think I know I want kids. But this year has been the first time Stephen and I have even considered the alternative.
Speaking of Keeping The Romance Alive
I’ve heard that having a baby with someone amplifies your love for him in ways you could have never imagined. I don’t doubt that for a minute. That tiny human is a combination of you and him, and a product of your love. I know that’s not news to anyone, but also… WHOA, you know? Sometimes it all seems so profound, despite its commonness.
Conversely, I find there is something very romantic about spending your life with someone who isn’t your Baby Daddy. A lot of couples stay together “for the kids” long after they probably should have gotten a divorce, so I think there is something special about a couple who has no reason to stay together but their unconditional love— okay, and maybe their mortgage. I feel like that is the epitome of “choosing” your husband anew every day.
How would/will it impact Stephen’s and my relationship to become parents? Is it going to be pure magic or stress us the F out until we’re constantly bickering? Is a baby like lighter fluid or a fire hose?
I feel weird putting that on the internet. I feel like I should just be excited to have kids with the love of my life. But I also feel like a long life with my love would be fulfilling and exciting, even without Tiny Trevs.
…my heart flutters typing out “Tiny Trevs” though.
Stay Tuned for Part 2!
Couldn’t resist making a widget of cute baby clothes. 😍😭😍