Last month Meg and I attended the design summit known as Alt. It’s a big conference where mostly women and some men come together to get inspired and gear up to take their businesses and blogs to the next level. It was a professionally fulfilling conference for me, and at the end of the short week, I left feeling more excited about the possibilities in store for APW this year. Which was pretty much what I expected to get out of it. But what I didn’t expect was the impact this conference would have on me personally. You see, Alt is filled with moms. Certainly not all attendees have children, but a significant amount do. And as I sat between them, watching their kids fall asleep in their laps while we talked business, or not seeing their kids at all because their dads were upstairs in the hotel room watching them, I felt a noticeable shift in myself.
It was the first time I’d experienced a kind of motherhood that didn’t scare me.
Until that point I’d always known that having children was something I wanted (and something Michael and I have been talking about together for a little over a decade), but I’d never been fully convinced it wasn’t going to be the worst mistake I’d ever make. Maybe that’s because I was the product of a teenage pregnancy (not that my parents didn’t love me to pieces, but I’m well aware of the way that my presence impacted their lives), or maybe because I had four younger siblings I used to watch after school every day who I loved, but, you know, not like a mother. In any case, this inner conflict, this wanting and simultaneous dreading, has been keeping me up at night for about as long as I can remember.
That is, until now. I’m not saying it’s completely eradicated, but in these past few months I’ve had the ability to watch Meg as a new mom, interact with these mothers, and watch them continue to be who they were before they had children. And it’s amazing what having just a few positive role models can do for your confidence. (Jeez, it’s almost like I was here in this exact place four years ago feeling this way about marriage. Funny.)
So after Alt, when Meg was pretending to not be working except I was totally bribing her into meeting up with me every few weeks so that we could “talk strategy” (aka I pretend I have a big idea, but really I just want to hold the baby), I pestered her into agreeing to do an interview with me for the site on some of the stuff she’s learned in the first few months as a new mother: the surprises, the good stuff, the not so good stuff. Basically, wedding graduate format for baby having.
Do I think Meg has all the answers on what it means to be a new mom? Obviously not. In fact, she only let me write this post if I told you that she really, really, really does not think she has answers (and she’s not sure there are answers). But I figure if I’m getting something really important out of seeing someone parent in a way that doesn’t make me feel panicked, maybe it’s worth talking about. (Which, based on comments from last week, it probably is.) And I’m probably not the only one who can benefit from having an open and honest conversation what new motherhood really looks like, with someone we’ve all been reading along with for years.
So here’s the deal. In order to prepare for this interview, I want to know: what are your biggest fears about choosing to have children? (Or not choosing to have children? Because I think that’s an important part of this conversation.) I want to put together a compilation of APW readers’ real concerns and then have an open conversation with Meg about her particular experiences (big picture, of course. I want to respect her decision to keep her personal life and the details of her kiddo private. But I assure you, it’s the big picture stuff that’s been the profound part). I’m not sure where it’ll go, but I promise it will be candid and, not the same BS you’re being fed everywhere else. And hey, maybe it will be the first new mom interview of… well not too many, since you and I both know that APW & Reclaiming Wife are never going to be parenting sites. But maybe it’s the first of more than one. Who knows?
Finally, as part of this experiment, Meg and I are toying with trying out a new format: video (because I have a new haircut and I’m really excited about it). But before we go crazy trying to make that happen, we want to know if this is something the community is even remotely interested in. So, head on over to Seesaw to vote on that subject (you don’t have to create an account or anything, just hit the appropriate button), and in the meantime, leave us your comments and we’ll round them up for a one-on-one, Frost/Nixon style.