Growing Pains of a Career Woman Turned Mother

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Here is one of the ways I’m trying to regain productivity in my life. So far, it’s not working.

I’m writing tonight about something I didn’t want to write about: my trouble adapting to motherhood, or my trouble adapting to a life that is family- rather than career-oriented. I’ve decided to post about it because, let’s face it, I can’t focus on anything else these days. What’s more, I’ve decided to type this post directly in WordPress (not on a word document that I will edit, and edit, and edit) because there is no way it will otherwise get posted.

Maybe I could post more often if I weren’t so worried about producing stellar writing…if I hadn’t been “tainted” by the successes of a career or a master’s degree or published writing. My blogging buddy, Kate, recently posted about how sometimes a bit of “fame,” such as being freshly pressed (which success I’ve also had), can hamper a writer’s voice. I wonder how much this has happened to me.

Ever since I became intent on publishing my memoir (which is maddeningly dormant right now), compounded with a growing blog following (especially after I was freshly pressed), my writing process has slowed down. I want my posts to be witty, clever, well thought out, and worth reading. When I began blogging, I told myself I didn’t just want to move my diary online. I tried not to spill my unfettered guts on the blog without first framing them in some (hopefully) amusing or enlightening way, or at least trying to make a larger application for my readers.

Blogging is tough these days because all I can seem to write about are those very mundane things comprising new motherhood: feeding troubles, sleeping woes, baby blues. And by the time I get a free moment to write, I don’t have energy to be clever about them. Do I feel these topics are too pedestrian to write about? Do I feel they are beneath me? Um, a little. Before this stage of my life, I prided myself on having more to talk about than just my family. Than just kids. I smirked (inwardly) at women who had nothing to boast of but children. Prided myself on my multiple degrees and teaching career.

But you know what? Not having kids, not having those “pedestrian” goings-on in my life, made it hard to talk to people. And graduate school made it even harder to swim in casual conversation with non graduate students. I found myself biting my tongue when I wanted to use big words–I didn’t want to  sound too nerdy. I fear I’ve often failed.

Now, my tendency to over-intellectualize has crossed over into motherhood. Whenever I discuss baby Sam with my sisters-in-law, one of my three mothers, or my girlfriends, I find myself saying things like, “Well, I read that babies should start to smile in the second month,” or, “According to my parenting books…” or “In my reading I discovered that….” When I hear myself saying such things, I am appalled. Motherhood is not an academic subject to be learned through books. And yet, that’s how I’ve approached it.

Yes, I confess: despite successes in a career, in graduate school, in writing, I find myself hopelessly fumbling with motherhood. I wish someone would give me a manual to study with clearcut answers. But there is no such manual to be found. As I’ve been telling everyone who asks how it’s going, “This is the toughest job I’ve ever had.”

To those ladies I judged as simpletons for having nothing to boast of but children, I apologize. I was wrong to judge you. Of course, it’s not the physical “having” of children that makes you awesome; it’s the adept raising of them. So far, I’m not adept. As for my strengths, those seem pretty weak right now, too.

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How’s this for unfettered? Me and Sam and no makeup. Yikes! But it’s a common sight at my house lately.

Just now, in fact, I’m fighting the urge to apologize for this incoherent and badly organized post…but it occurs to me: maybe an incoherent and badly organized post is another way, in addition to motherhood, that I can relate to my audience. Everyone goes through periods of uncomfortable growth and change–and this is one of mine.

Maybe I could post more often if I let go of some of my impossible standards.  Maybe I would find that readers even appreciate my unfettered guts, er, I mean, thoughts (how’s that sentence for nerdy?). Maybe I WILL start to make regular posts again (albeit bad and incoherent ones), and let you share this uncomfortable journey with me. Maybe we can all learn something new in the process. At the very least, we can laugh together…once I figure out how not to take myself so seriously.

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7 thoughts on “Growing Pains of a Career Woman Turned Mother

  1. howsyourlovelife February 24, 2014 / 11:33 pm

    I wish I could invite you over to my house for some breakfast and let me squeeze that sweet baby and assure you that everything’s going to be just fine.

    • lindseygendke February 26, 2014 / 2:32 pm

      Lol! That sounds like it would be a lovely morning. Where do you live? Just kidding! I accept your offer virtually and thank you so much for filling my heart and belly with good things! Things are getting better at five weeks, so that I feel I actually somewhat know what I’m doing. I know it will only continue to get easier. Thanks for the encouragement!

  2. Kate February 25, 2014 / 10:29 am

    You are doing great, Lindsey. We love the polished and not so polished you. We all love you and your writing…keep it coming in whatever form or topics you choose! Who are we kidding? We all are pedestrian in some way, some level. I can’t post every day b/c I don’t have that many interesting things to write about. But there is definitely something to be said for the relatable mundane! That’s most of our lives, most of the times. This is YOUR blog – so share it! I will keep reading! You are a deep and substantial, no matter what you write. That’s you, so keep it coming!

    (PS Thanks for the mention! 🙂

    • lindseygendke February 26, 2014 / 2:35 pm

      The “relatable mundane”–I like that phrase! That’s probably going to be my blog from now on (but maybe it always has been, and that’s okay). And “deep and substantial”–what a great compliment. Like Gretchen Rubin admitted in The Happiness Project, I thrive on getting those “gold stars.” Your words mean a lot! And I was very happy to mention you–your blog is deep and substantial, too! Look forward to reading more, as well.

      • Kate February 26, 2014 / 7:19 pm

        Always a pleasure to read your writing. From one Englishteacher/geek/writer to another! 🙂 (Said with the highest admiration! )

  3. Cinda Yager February 25, 2014 / 2:40 pm

    Love that photo, Lindsey! Two beautiful people cuddling…. Listen, one blogger to another, your life is your canvas to paint on with words how you will. Every experience, no matter what it is, is material for your creative exploration. As for a manual for motherhood, I’d say think about this: you are in the process of writing your own personal manual that you will be able to use if you choose to have another baby. Relax! Enjoy the fact that you don’t NEED make-up to be with the main man in your life now, Sam (apologies to your husband). Sam’s priorities are his own, too. But above all, keep writing whether you edit something before posting or not (but please proofread! (smile)). You are doing just fine. If you weren’t asking all these questions, I’d worry….(smile)

    Cinda

    • lindseygendke February 26, 2014 / 2:41 pm

      Such a great comment; thanks Cinda! And what a great reminder that every experience can be used for creative expression. When I was mulling over whether or not to become a parent (a process that lasted most of my twenties), I knew parenthood would make me a more well-rounded person, giving me a depth of understanding about life, about people, I could not otherwise have. I am glad to be able to experience this new depth, even though it comes at a high price sometimes! It will be so worth it in the end, I have no doubt. Thanks so much for the encouragement! Hoping to keep posting on a semi-regular basis…Thanks for reading!

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