By Autumn Manning, working mama of one and one on the way
I feel like less of a woman saying this, but I absolutely hate being pregnant.
That is just one of those things that you just aren’t supposed to say out loud, but every time someone asks me if “I just LOOOVE it?”, the most I can mutter is “Well, yeah, it’s different”. But somehow when I say I hate being pregnant, I feel horrible, like it means I don’t love the baby that comes after or something. That’s the funny part. I love being a mom, and I would like to think I am great at it, but pregnancy just isn’t for me. Frankly, it’s horrible. I wonder if I would feel differently about it if I felt like I could focus on myself through my pregnancies more than I do. Up at the crack of dawn, run to daycare, work all day, and then sit down at 8:30 after Miles goes down. My mind and body are almost too tired to think about the amazement of it all, the fact that that my body can make this whole new life (blah blah blah). All I feel is tired, heavy, bloated, and way too emotional.
I say all this knowing that I sound like a brat; like someone who isn’t grateful that I can even conceive and make it through 40 weeks of pregnancy and experience this part of motherhood. I know I am lucky and that so many people struggle here. I don’t forget that through all of my whining. But, this is my reality and I just hate it.
After the baby gets here, though, I finally step into sync with motherhood and I know that THIS is what I was waiting for the entire 40 weeks. It is such a wonderful feeling, focusing on all the little details of being a great mom. I attack motherhood with this vengeance and know that whatever it takes, I will be great at it. Maternity leave is filled with schedules and routines, monitoring everything that my child needs and wants and making sure they are set up with a great jump start. But I almost feel as if I believe all this love and attention and organic food and cuddling and reading and tummy-time can all be stockpiled because, once I return to work, that’s when I feel that the “supplies” are slowly depleting.
After I return to work, I picture myself on this track, running faster and faster just to make sure the baby’s tank doesn’t run below the level that I SWORE I would provide. Lunch breaks are reserved for family errands. I wake up at 4:45 so I can run by Rick’s to get cookies for the school holiday party because I REFUSE to miss it. Vacations are reserved for mommy and Miles time instead of beach trips with friends. So far, with Miles, I think I have managed to be the mom I want to be, but I wonder if I can do it with two kids and still be a healthy person all-around. Surely I will fall into sync like before and the heightened level of chaos will simply be my new reality. I just pray that I’m not headed for a crash at some point because surely this someone won’t be able to manage that level of chaos forever. I think this and get scared, letting doubt creep in, but then I remember that people do it all the time, right? If someone, anyone else can do it, then I refuse to fail at this.
I just have this insane notion that nothing will slip. I have challenged myself to do it all, and in my life, that means home AND work. Part of me thinks I am just greedy because the other part of my marathon is making sure I am the BEST at my career, too. My husband is this crazy, rare find that actually WANTS me to excel at both, so he steps it up when I can’t.
When Miles was a baby and I was traveling away from him for work, I would get pictures sent to my cell phone from his teachers to highlight his crazy outfit of the day when dad was in charge, or to show my just how much peanut butter dad thinks a 15 month old can possibly eat on a PB&J sandwich, laughing and asking when I will be home. I adore those teachers for helping me parent and loving us enough to laugh with us through these times, and I adore my husband even more for trying his hardest but never doing it quite like I would do it. During these late nights or times away due to work, I pretend to have to go to the bathroom during meetings and call home to talk to Miles. Or I will cook like crazy on the weekend to make sure they still have something healthy to eat during the week I have to work late or am out of town. All of this just makes me wonder if I am making it too hard, or is it really just this hard if you want it all?
I meet a lot of women who have this passion for one or the other – home OR work – and I respect that. They have the ability to be “on” only during the necessary work hours and they go home, fully invested in their family life, never giving a second thought to what’s going on at the office. But that’s not me. I want to be in the office as early as possible, not missing a thing or a chance to be ahead of someone or something. I want to contribute to something greater than myself and my children even, and sometimes people can find that in their work. I can.
It’s hard to relate to other women a lot of the time because sometimes I just want to find someone to talk to about how they do it and what they’ve mastered that I can learn and apply to my own insane life. But I swear those women are hard to find! When I do find another woman that actually has a life similar to mine, I attack them with question upon question, poking and prodding them for information and a chance to feel like I can relate to someone, ANYONE! How much coffee do you drink?? What time do you get up in the mornings? Do you ever get to work out? Are you tired all the time? What do you do about daycare? Who takes the kids to school every day? Do you have any healthy fast recipes I can use? Do you and your husband ever spend time alone? And how do you ever have energy to have sex?! I laugh just thinking about how insane I look during these first meetings.
Do any of you have a hard time relating to other people because of your situation like I do?
Autumn spends most of her waking hours at SVI, a locally based organizational development company where she is partner and director of research and has worked for over five years. Most of her time is spent researching, testing, analyzing and supporting the company to feel confident in the leadership and executive development philosophies they use with clients. Autumn also gets to focus her time on developing the business when and where she can, which means traveling away from home from time to time.
Most of her love for parenting and pushing things further than you’d expect they could go is because of Autumn’s experience helping to raise three younger sisters. Having grown up in California and then living in Eureka Springs in her teenage years, Autumn has worked and “raised kids” since the age of 13. She has spent most of her time in Fayetteville since college with her “sweet southern husband”, Morgan. Morgan is an architect locally and has turned Autumn into quite the lover of design and different kinds of art. Together, they have Miles, a serious little 2 ½ year old who is about to be a big brother to Marin, a little girl joining the family in August.
“I have a passion to connect with women who want it all without sacrificing anything. If things can be changed for the workplace and for working moms, I want to be involved,” she says.