Where are you going, where have you been

Forgive me if I’m repeating myself but if you are just joining us here at Less on the Floor, a few words about me.  I am a mother to two: my elementary-aged son and preschool-aged daughter.  Together with my husband, we live in the heart of a major US city, in a two-bedroom apartment on the 15th floor which boasts sweeping views, a teeny-tiny floor plan, strategic bunk-beds, and a dining room table currently strewn with 4,000 Legos, my laptop, some stray salt and pepper, and (don’t ask) the belt from a bathrobe, which is tying several of the chairs together.  This is what passes for a fort on the 15th floor with no treehouse in sight.

It’s not for everyone but it’s for us.  We are grateful for what we have and forgive ourselves the paths we chose not to take.  At the end of the day, we are people, trying to make good decisions on behalf of ourselves and the two other people we cherish more than anything else in this life (or the next, for that matter).

It’s feels so natural to say that now, but ’twas not always thus.  (In fact, it still isn’t always thus, self-doubt and general overthinky-ness being something of a permanent affliction.)  I am six years into this parenting journey, having long-rehearsed my answers to the many questions — personal and neutral, appropriate and inappropriate — we moms must field every day.  You tend to have to think and justify and rationalize a lot when you become a parent, seeing as how advice and inquiry comes free and (often) unsolicited.  Mostly well-intentioned, to be fair, and in the end I guess it’s a good thing:  better to be challenged and think through our choices than to make decisions in the blind.  But it can get kind of old, too.  Sometimes I just want to stomp my feet and say, It’s my life and I’m living it, dammit.  

Speaking of taking ownership over one’s own life, over the summer I made the long-anticipated leap to being self-employed.  It has not been the smoothest of transitions, either from an emotional or a scheduling perspective, but here we are and here we slowly acclimate.  In addition to minding some existing clients and seeking out new ones, I’ve been studiously but quietly pursuing a new venture which has left me thinking almost obsessively about Motherhood: what it means to me, how we revere and betray mothers as a society, where I am and where I am headed on this journey.Did you ever think about the fact that pregnancy is all about looking forward, but as soon as you have children you start to talk a lot about going back?  I’m trying to decide when to go back to work.  I want to get back to my pre-baby weight.  Or, in darker moments, I just want my LIFE back!

One of my deepest regrets in life is how in the aftermath of childbirth I bought into that “getting back” culture and didn’t give myself the permission to simply immerse in the big old confusing mess that is motherhood for a while.  I was one of the fortunate ones; I did not suffer from postpartum depression in the clinical sense.  But I struggled with becoming a mother, struggled with the expectations, the myths, the endless abundance of “solutions” and the dearth of any that really seemed right.  Right for me, for my children, for my family.  I returned to the gym before I should have, went back to work when LittleMan was only ten weeks old (having “blown” the first chunk of my 12-week maternity leave resting at the end of my pregnancy, if you can imagine such a thing), stubbornly tried way too hard to make it look easier than it was.

I was so in love with my baby, but my life was suddenly so complicated.  I cried so much.  (Mostly behind oversized sunglasses, while walking to work.)

I’m not alone.  The majority of the moms I know — which is admittedly a small, urban, west-coast kind of cross-section of American life — have experienced some kind of existential motherhood crisis.  In many cases this comes in the guise of a professional dilemma; in a small number it actually does manifest as postpartum depression (which is a very real and deeply tragic experience).  For some it presents as a marital crossroads in the wake of roles changing and previously unaddressed expectations about responsibility.

How do we move through it?  It’s different for everyone.  Some women I know run marathons, some take a trip with girlfriends or a mom or a sister.  Some finally leave the workforce.  Others finally get back into it.

I became an amateur writer.  Some 18 or 20 months after LittleMan was born I started Less on the Floor, and for the first time in too long I felt like I owned the narrative of motherhood (my motherhood) in a positive way.  I started seeking out the memorable, the funny, the heartwarming.  I started being honest.  In chronicling our family life, observing it for the purpose of telling it later, I learned to cherish it.  And so by the time my daughter was born I was better, but still, the pressures remained, and were amplified by a power of two.

If it seems unproductive to relive or recount this story now, when I am so far past that phase of life, hear me out.  In January a casual friend of mine approached me with a concept, a challenge: she had a vision to create a resource for mothers to rely on in their first 6 months of parenthood.  I had some working knowledge of the blogosphere.  Could we collaborate somehow, build something together?

And we did.  It’s called postmodyrn, an electronic magazine dedicated to mothers in the 4th Trimester.  Along the way we have teamed up with some very talented collaborators, and we continue to expand our contributor base to curate a truly holistic, expert, and empathetic resource.

We are motivated by this question: How can we help new mothers in this tender, magical, vulnerable phase to exist, simply, in the now?  No more looking back.

Right now we’re a fairly simple website, one part blog, one part magazine.  We’ll probably stay that way for a while, as we both continue our own other careers and responsibilities as parents and partners.  Who knows.  But as we grow I hope you will check out our site, check us out on Facebook, share us with friends — particularly other new moms! — and send me any feedback or thoughts you might have as we launch and evolve.

I want to thank everyone who has been reading Less on the Floor (which will continue!), everyone who has shared or commented or contacted me along the way.  I never got into journaling but this has been, and continues to be, a fulfilling creative space which opened me up to a brave new chapter in my life.  Thank you for sharing it with me.

Onward, ye mothers.

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