Work + Life: 6 1/2 weeks away!

By Autumn Manning, soon-to-be mama of two

autumn-pic1.jpgI am getting so close now to getting to meet Marin, our first daughter.

After having a little boy for the past 2.5 years, I have no idea what to expect with a little girl. This is quite the change of perspective from when I was expecting Miles. Having helped raised my three sisters, girls were a breeze for me…until I had Miles. Now, I just can’t imagine what to expect. I am filled with so much excitement to meet her and love her and be a wonderful mother and teacher to her, but I am equally as nervous…for a million reasons.

It’s funny. For those of you who don’t know, Miles came about rather unexpectedly. Morgan was working in Little Rock for an architecture firm at the time, and I was here, working for SVI. We were doing the weekend visit thing and hadn’t really addressed when we would make our home permanently in NWA or in Little Rock. I think we both wanted the other to give in and move.

When we found out we were having Miles, I wasn’t willing to put up a fight. I felt I needed to support our family by supporting my husband and the move he felt was necessary. I know I am making myself sound like this sweet, supportive wife, but believe me, I went kicking and screaming. I mean, my career, my family, and my life (except for my husband) were all here in NWA. Was he really going to make me say goodbye to all of that for a town that filmed a documentary called “gang banging in Little Rock”?? Really?? At the time, Morgan kept saying that SVI would work with me. “Just talk to them…it’ll work out”, he’d say.

But in my mind, this was something that just wouldn’t work. How was I going to live 3 hours away from the office, have a newborn, and still show the commitment and loyalty I needed to show? It wouldn’t work. But, it did work. We moved to Little Rock and had Miles in January of 2007.

For the next year or so, I worked from home and commuted to NWA anytime I was needed for work. I scheduled one week in NWA per month, but would come up for any relevant meeting or event, ensuring that my lack of physical presence wouldn’t mean a lack of leadership, work, or contribution on my part. I honestly felt my company was going out on a limb for me, but I knew I could do it and I refused to fail.

I did, however, struggle a lot through this time in my life. I struggled to fight a perception that probably wasn’t there, but I didn’t want others to feel that I was getting special treatment, heaven forbid. I wanted to be in the middle of the important conversations at work still, so I tried to be more assertive and more involved than I would have ever needed to be if I would have been in the office physically. And…I struggled to PAY ATTENTION through all of those conference calls. The other struggles were related more to having just had a baby…in Little Rock…away from family and friends.

Before Miles came, I had NO anxiety about having a newborn around because I felt like I had that covered. I had experience with kids and the thought of not knowing what to do never crossed my mind. I shouldn’t have been so confident. I was thrown for a loop from the get-go. I know people go through this all of the time, but for some reason, I took it harder than I thought I would. I look back and think I was a sad during this time in my life, probably because of all of the other transitions going on and not having time to properly adjust to them. I missed my family and friends, but wanted to be supportive to my husband and show that I liked Little Rock and was committed to making it work.

I traveled away from my newborn son too much for my liking, giving me an immense amount of guilt about being a working mother and “choosing” to leave him at such a young age. And, Miles was definitely NOT the picture perfect baby. He wouldn’t breastfeed, wouldn’t sleep, wouldn’t stop crying, and wouldn’t do anything I thought he should do. I didn’t sleep more than an hour at a time until he was 5 months old. I feel for my co-workers at the time, having to deal with my insane mood swings. I let all of this sit within me until one night, only 5 months after buying our first home. I looked at Morgan and asked him if he ever thought of moving back to NWA. Either he felt the same way, or he knew what I needed at the time. He looked at me and said, “Let’s do it”.

All of these struggles definitely brought about positive things for our family. Morgan and I were able to lean on each other, becoming a tight family unit, knowing we could rely on each other for anything, so proud of our “club” and what we formed. Morgan became a phenomenal dad to Miles, having to keep him for a week at a time without me from the time Miles was 8 weeks old. I developed an even deeper passion for and commitment to my company for the opportunity to “balance” my family life with my work life the way they did. I believe their trust in me grew as well.

Even with all of these positive benefits of that time in my life, it did leave me with some anxiety about what to expect with this new child and all of the new and different things we will have to work through. I just have so many bittersweet memories from this time that I think I have even more anxiety now that I await the birth of our daughter. It’s like…I was tested then and I refused to fail. So I didn’t. What will happen this time? Will I be able to balance everything? Will I be an insane person? And will I form the type of connection to Marin like I formed with Miles?

I guess my biggest source of anxiety is the thought of being able to connect to a little girl in the way that I feel she deserves. Girls are tough and complex and I want to be a source of love and support to her. I equally want her to look up to me and admire the choices I make in my life as her mother and as a woman today. I hope I can deliver. I feel like it is a little easier with Miles. Miles thinks I am the best thing in the whole world, but that’s a given. Boys always love their moms. I know that the mother/daughter relationship is one that is so important, yet so fragile. So over the next 6.5 weeks, I will be praying for the strength I need to be the mother to Marin that she already deserves…even before she is born.