And for the most part it doesn't feel as "active" in my life as CHOOSE and BRAVE did the years prior. I think this is because "whole" feels like less of an action word. The definition is broad and I am not exactly sure what it really means for me.
I know what I want it to mean. I want it to mean "balanced, full and all-in." Some days I feel all of those things. Other days I feel like it's a load of crap.
Today's podcast episode features a friend of mine, Jessica O'Brien. She is someone I have known through blogland since college. I have admired her style, her honesty, her candor and her "do what works for you" mentality for a decade. And not surprisingly, I have loved watching her share bits of her pregnancy and motherhood experience while working outside the house for the past few years. When we chatted last week, we were able to catch up a bit before, during and after the show. The whole conversation was incredibly refreshing and inspiring for me.
Jessica said something that hilariously (and sadly!!) felt ground-breaking:
"I'm a great mom. I'm a great employee."
It's not often you hear women online say they are a good mom. We sometimes rattle off a list of faults or mistakes before we feel comfortable sharing the wins. And so often it feels like being great at a career and great at parenthood is not simultaneously possible. Like of course you have to sacrifice one and if not, something will suffer. While obviously there are times when you have to make compromises (I do so every single day) it was so nice to just hear someone say they love both and they're good at both and they're doing it without fuss or over-thinking.
Over the summer I was at a bachelorette party in Austin. Both the bride and I are moms and we loved filling the other (not-pregnant) girls in on the reality of those early weeks. I remember joking about how I was covered in liquid at all times because I was either crying, sweating, bleeding, leaking or (the best one) my c-section incision was weeping. The girls looked at Vern and I like we were from another planet. It felt good to be able laugh about those days. It feels good to have enough road between Elise of summer 2013 and Elise of now so I can really see how far I've come and be able to put things in some perspective.
Later that night, I stayed up with a few of the girls and we talked more about motherhood. I remember saying (and this is paraphrased because it was two in the morning and I forgot) "It's hard, for sure. Sometimes the responsibility of it sucks. But for real? I'm good. I feel better creatively than ever."
And that is the truth. This adjustment from no-kid to one kid has been much more difficult than I expected, because like a complete fool I assumed I could tackle anything with a few well organized to-do lists. That's not true. No to-do list could have gotten me through those first few months.
But I have made progress and the secret is not a to-do list. It's time. It's letting time pass. It's getting good at rolling with it. It's getting great at easing up. It's embracing fiercely the wonderful. It's celebrating the small things (I still feel accomplished every damn time I unload the dishwasher or put away a load of clothes). It's knowing that the only path that matters is yours. It's looking inside your own house instead of outside at others. It's admitting you need help and asking for it as quickly as you can.
It took a really long time. Far longer than those original 28 days for me to feel WHOLE. I am still working on it in some ways. But the best part of being the Elise of now instead of the pre-motherhood Elise is that the WHOLE I am working on is infinitely larger. My love is bigger. My passion is fiercer. My family and heart and life is fuller.
As I am sure you've guessed, today on ELISE GETS CRAFTY I am chatting with Jessica O'Brien about what I wouldn't call balance but what I would call life. Click here to subscribe or stream the episode from your computer here.