One of my close friends, not yet a mother, is subject to all sorts of insane text messages from me as I tell her just exactly what’s going on with my body, my mind, and my spirit as I navigate new motherhood. It’s worth it to tell you: she is planning on becoming a mom sometime in the next few years, but doesn’t know when to begin. 

One weekend I looked up at her and said, “You know, I owe you a letter about all the magic of it. I shouldn’t scare you with all the horror stories.” 

Her response was emphatic. “YES, PLEASE!” 

Here is the letter I wrote to her.

Dear M.,

I promised that I’d write you a letter about the magic and meaning of motherhood, and what having a baby has done for (and to, and with) my life, my identity, and my body.

I promised that I’d write you a letter about the magic and meaning of motherhood, and what having a baby has done for (and to, and with) my life, my identity, and my body.

A letter of all of the love and lovely things about it. I’m afraid my tendency to be honest and, at times, dark about the hard parts can result in terrifying anyone from coming close to this phenomenon.

And so last night, at 8:55pm, curled up in the dark next to my sleeping six-month old son, I wrote a few things down into the eerie glow of my iPhone. I tapped out as much as I could into the phone before falling asleep. This morning I got up to edit, shuffle, and expand on it (including this introductory piece), but also with the aim to send it off as quickly as possible. It is now 10:15AM, and I want to put these words together as quickly as I can for you.

Because he has been sleeping for 55 minutes already, and that means I have somewhere between one minute and an hour to finish this.

We don’t know how much time we have; what is time?

Here are a few things I love about motherhood:

I’ve lost some of the worry that I used to carry. Don’t get me wrong, there are new worries in my life: bigger, ones, deeper ones, like death and dying and meaning and purpose — and worry for a life that lives outside of my heart.

It’s like my heart has taken shape and walks around outside of my body.

I cuddle and I feel the companionship of two heart beats in time. Our bodies and warmth soothes and calms each other. My hormones, my system, my energy works in simpatico with another being.

Routine (and breaking it) has become more of a holy pattern than a happenstance. I am less scattered because I must stick to a schedule for my own sanity. It has been a relief and a release. I am thankful.

I’m so much more fluid and flexible in time. Things can take no time at all. I dart things off in mere moments when I would agonize over them for hours. There is a frankness and a freshness to the quickness, as well as to the unexpectedness of what emerges. Typos become playful poetry. I get to re-examine my first drafts as more instructive than I would have previously imagined.

Even more quickly do I distil what matters and carve out the rest. Cut, cut. We are sharper with time and it’s intentions.

Being with another human feels like a precious gift.

I’ve worked hard to do what I say I’m going to do and mean what I say. I cannot promise things because mostly, I cannot make promises, because I don’t know.

I show up as “I don’t know” much more easily, readily, and gratefully.

I show up much messier and dive deeper faster. I don’t have time — or enough hands — to maneuver changing diapers in a hidden manner. It’s all out loud and up front. It feels better this way.

I work so much faster and sharper because time is so precious. My dollars are spent for each minute he is in daycare. I don’t waste them. I show up.

I have a divine respect for my body and what she can do. There is no other project greater than birthing a new human and the fact that I grew him from my being astonishes me. My body ran a program that my brain couldn’t have dreamed of. I couldn’t have created this with any project management tool or design. It’s beyond. Beyond.

We have so much more to learn.

I live in the future. He is the future and I get to see him witness and respond to the world anew. It opens my eyes.

I watch the psychological development of a human and can map even more intuitively and intellectually the patterns of what makes us human. I see myself inside of him and witness patterns I hold by seeing it outside of myself. It’s another dimension of relating. Previously the bilateral-ness of my body taught me about threshold and difference, (the difference between left and right showing an indication of something), now, between his body and mine, I see yet another facet/layer/dimension.

I’ve let go of the fact that I can somehow be a perfect mother. It’s already decided: I won’t be, I’ll certainly fuck it up, and he’ll get to spend his life untangling the particular cosmic patterns of DNA and timing and culture and parenting that print their words into his being. It’s his journey and I cannot map it in advance or even take full ownership over it. That’s not how it works. This knowing brings me great peace.

Each week there’s a new thing that delights me, and it makes the strange and sobering reality of being up far too often or more tired than I was two years ago manageable.

A few days ago he learned that his hands and fingers can wiggle. And so he spends hours in fascinated concentration, flipping his fingers back and forth and wiggling them. Seriously, how cool is that? I want to serve up his fascination and curiosity and take it as a vitamin and reexamine my own ways of being just to be as earnest and loving and determined as he is. He smiles for the first time. He laughs and coos and ducks and wiggles. He wakes up in the morning and smiles. He calls out and lets me know who he is — who he is! — beyond anything I could have imagined. He discovers the moon for the first time. He swishes an avocado in his teeth. Most of it comes back out, and I rethink my own relationship to avocado.

I get to smell a baby. I want to hold him so tightly against me without crushing him. I want to crush him without hurting him. Is that possible?

It makes me earnest about waking up to what’s most important and ruthless about eliminating the rest.

What’s in your zone of genius is important. What’s in your zone of excellence is not important and must immediately and urgently be sliced away. It’s most often not eliminated because we’re sloppy with time and space and understanding. Rapidly eliminate things that take your time and you will rise to the occasions that are of utmost importance. Time expands when we don’t spend it so wastefully.

Deep connection is formed most often around profound events or life changing unfoldings. I immediately met (and quickly sought out) the company of people in this new space: new moms, mothers, and people in entrepreneurial roles or business owners. Women who worked and were mothers. Progressives. I’ve suddenly and instantly gone deep with dozens of women and found tribes and tribes and tribes. My life is an overlapping set of infinite circles spinning and expanding. It will create a whirlwind effect, I know it. It’s already happening.

I’m still in the newness of the first year.

Everything Feels: Softer. Bigger. Expansive.

And I’ll echo what my parents and parent friends have said: after you meet your kid, whoever they are, you’ll come to a point when you can’t even imagine that there was a time in your life when they didn’t exist.

You are bringing to life a new soul, and nourishing and nurturing to being a baby being. It will make you feel carnal and mammal and strange and guttural and raw, but, like the jump into the Tahoe lake of icy water on a November Sunday morning, it will make you feel more alive and connected than you felt just moments or months before. It’s not about the cold. It’s about the fact that we can feel cold in the first place.

My dad says “if you wait until you’re ready, you’ll always be waiting.” The idea is that you’re never ready. You’re never ready. I think it’s wise to wait as long as it feels prudent to wait, but only inasmuch as the waiting serves a purpose and isn’t driven by unknowing or fear. We will always have unknowing and fear. We as humans will rise to the occasion even when we don’t feel quite ready. What are we waiting for, exactly?

Pregnancy is a wellspring of creativity, an outpouring of ideas. I felt more connected to the source, to the depth, to the earth, to great bodies of water, than ever before.

Certainly I feel grumpy and clunky and waddle-y and wide and barfy, too — but I FEEL. And my body heaved and grunted and groaned with what may be one of the most supremely divine acts of all of creation. I made. I created.

There’s a cliche that you don’t know what love is until you’ve birthed… ignoring for a second my other feelings about how much I hated it when people said that, and that it doesn’t minimize what people who don’t choose to have children feel (of course everyone is capable of deep and ever-present love), I also know… it’s somewhat true. I find I love parts of myself that I see in him. My fight with my mother has rescinded a bit. I love my mother in a new way and I forgive her for so much. I see parts of my husband inside of this being and tears well up. I see parts of myself and I feel a soft compassion for my own heart. A tenderness and a thankfulness.

I see the future.

I see hope.

Everything changes and it is a profound and dramatic shift. But I wouldn’t wait because that seems terrifying or because there are things that have to get done first; you grow more because of and in spite of it, not before it.

And your professional career won’t stop. It will evolve.

For what it’s worth, my husband quit his job the week we found out we were pregnant. It was time. He wasn’t happy, but he didn’t know what he wanted to do next. He just knew he couldn’t be where he was. We didn’t have a roadmap or a plan. He was so scared. He thought he had to stay and make money and yet we took the deep dive plunge — remind me to tell you that story next time I see you. A week later he stumbled into his next job, his next project.

We don’t take fewer risks because we have children. We take fewer risks because we are scared of taking risks, but life itself is a risky proposition. Children don’t make it more or less risky; they just sharpen your lens on what’s real. You still need to decide, choose, jump, act, just like you always did.

Work becomes even more interesting. Coaching and design and writing and philosophy, when examined through the lenses of a child and a parent, and in the formulation of a new relationship with a being whose body (although not Identity) you created — there’s so much more to dig into. I want to learn it all. There is so much more to learn. I never want to stop learning. Learning is living, isn’t it? I can see it inside of him. We are learning and living and creating and living and moving and living and that’s what living is. Learning, creating, moving. It really is that simple.

And this pregnancy, and my baby, and the act of him growing inside me: it started me writing the most important book of my life. This will not be the only thing I write, either. It seems we (my partner and I) are even more ourselves and it is, right now, only six months after he was born. I made happen this thing that is coursing through me. Arguably it’s louder than it was before, because I feel as though I’m hearing things for the first time. I feel as though I’m being taken on an incredible journey and I will keep showing up.

Wait only as long as you need to. If there are ducks you urgently feel you must get in a row, or if the feeling isn’t quite there yet, then wait. And then go. Waiting is not the interesting part. Yes, it is an upending process, and it will transform you, and transformation isn’t an easy process. I feel fragmented in places and different and a profound loss of a part of me. And I feel more whole and energized and awake than I have before. It’s a yes-and. It’s not either or.

But also listen to the craving and the desire. Maybe there’s something beautiful about to begin.

I don’t want to say that it won’t get harder. Because it most certainly will. And yet this is probably true whether or not you have a child, right?

Really, the thing is, even if and when it does get harder, it won’t be enough to stop you from doing things.

Because when has harder ever stopped you from doing anything?

It is now 10:37AM. He is not awake yet, but I am pressing send, and moving on to the next letter.

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