I didn’t have a child at the same time period as many of my friends and the common woman, whatever that means. Brooklyn is my one-and-done and I had her when I was 36, quietly approaching 37. No, I wasn’t 80, but in the world of pressured timelines and your OBG warning you about your old eggs, it was considered later than most. Not only were my eggs “old”, but I also had a lot more time on my own with the things that defined me.

Career was a huge identity definer for me. Since the age of 15, I’ve worked hard with self-motivation. I earned my “keep” as they say. I was eager, showed up, went the extra mile, promoted, kissed ass, and was proud that I earned my own money. College had me juggling 3 jobs between when I was at home and at school. I always did well in my jobs, above and beyond was usually the case.  Everything from bagging groceries, being promoted to a checker, the only female selling in the men’s shoe department (and rocking it!), tanning salons (free tans!), waiting tables, bartending, recruiting, administrative work, and then my last job, my career, in hospitality.

My annual reviews were stellar and I always got a raise. I knew my value and where I wanted to go next. During my hospitality career, which was my true career and passion, I had to write quarterly goals and how I was going to measure their success. They were presented to my boss and we went through them together to create a plan for that quarter. The handshake and “I know you can do this” was given as I left my boss’s office.

Another identity definer was where I lived. I talked about this with you earlier with mourning the loss of my life before baby. Living in the city was a huge part of my identity. I mean, I even blogged about it as therapy when I moved(Downtown Julie Brown to Suburban Mom was my blog… I need to check if it’s even still up on the internet!). Granted, I wasn’t kicking and screaming when I moved to live with my fiancé, now husband, but I definitely shed a lot of tears as I packed my apartment and closed the door to the chapter. Being in the city meant you were “hip”, “in the know”, “exciting”, “well-rounded”, “stylish”, “modern” and if you were a mom, you were all those adjectives with the word “mom” behind it. I was proud to tell people where I lived and that I was doing it all on my own with my career. Two worlds working together to what I thought made me… me.

The first night when I moved into my husband’s cookie-cutter suburban town-home was definitely a hard one. I stood in the kitchen with boxes all around when my childhood friend and her husband stopped by with a “welcome to the suburbs!” gift and a big hug. They knew a lot was changing for me. They were the ones that set me up with my husband, I had resisted because of where he lived, so I think they felt some sort of responsibility (I joke about this but I’m sure they felt they had to come check in on me and see if I was convulsing or itching). I was living in the exact place that I proclaimed I’d never live in- ever. (By the way NEVER say you’ll never do something, you will probably put your foot in your mouth) I lived within rows of town-homes, each looked the same as the next, there was a cornfield close by, and a Home Depot within spitting distance. The icing on the cake was that everywhere I turned every female I encountered was a mom. That’s not necessarily a bad thing but I was definitely not in the mom-zone yet. I was barely ripping off the Band-Aid to suburbia.

5 years after the move, I was finally adjusting to living in the suburbs. Yes, you read that correctly. FIVE YEARS. What happened? I had a baby. Until I had Brooklyn, I was in deep with my career and really wasn’t interested in making new friends. Especially ones that weren’t in my world, and I wasn’t in theirs. I had my college and high school friends that I was still hanging around with, so I was set. Within my career, I was jet-setting around the country, making my goals, making good money, entertaining clients, and enjoying a lot of freedom I didn’t realize I had. Even though my stepchildren were in our lives a lot, they were at an age where they were playing with friends and didn’t really want to hang with Dad and their stepmom. They were easy and low-maintenance. Plus, both parents have been very active with their kids and have a great relationship. So I was more of a friend than a parent.

When I had Brooklyn that winter, it was an instant 180. No person, no doctor, no class and no book prepare you for when that baby is in your arms. Especially when you walk out of that hospital, into your home, and you’re faced with reality.

I thought I would be able to be a working mom, and had planned on “making it work”. Within the first week of having Brooklyn home, I knew my life was changing… again. My career didn’t have a work-from-home option. I was commuting 2 hours each way (yes, 4 hours a day) where I was leaving my house at 5:45am and then arriving home by 7:30pm. If I had a client dinner, 10pm the earliest. Then there was the travel. I knew if I stayed that I would never see Brooklyn other than being up all night with her. And that broad was up ALLLLLLLLL fucking night. How much you ask? Every hour-and-a-half. I remember walking around my dark home with her screaming and as I looked out of one of our bedroom windows I thought “How the fuck am I going to make this all work?! What am I going to do? What will I say to my boss? Will we be OK financially? What if I am not working for long enough where I can never return?” Those thoughts traveled through my brain in a matter of 30 seconds as tears welled up in my eyes.

What I told myself that I would NEVER be was exactly what I was becoming. I was turning into a stay-at-home suburban mom. That sounds terrible to actually write out loud but for years I had assumptions of the SAHM in suburbia. The misunderstandings. Oh, if you read my Downtown Julie Brown to Suburban Mom blog you will smell the fear from your computer screen. I remember the talks with my friends over drinks exclaiming “I’ll NEVER move to the suburbs!” or “I can’t IMAGINE not working!” or “I’ll NEVER lose myself in motherhood!” We were a bunch of 20-30 something girls with no children and all the answers. The pressures and restrictions we were already putting on ourselves, that didn’t have to be the truth.

The word “NEVER” is a dangerous word for anyone, especially a mother. I’m learning to never say never… well, except in this sentence. The word “NEVER” led to my identity crisis I had, which definitely contributed to my postpartum depression. This word, “NEVER”, created some pretty high expectations & plans that I had in my brain even before I met my husband. Brooklyn just happened to be the reality that put a wrench in all of those “NEVERS”, but it can happen in so many other ways in a mom’s life. It travels all the way into how you raise your kids- the word “NEVER” can create that unrealistic perfection and judgment where most of the time you will find yourself eating your words.

Learning how to be open to the possibilities of life, new experiences, new friends, passions, and creative outlets can make you realize your identity is far beyond your career or the mother you are. There’s an actual person inside with other things that fuel your soul & personality. Maybe some pretty amazing things that have been hiding behind your career, the lifestyle you had, or the person you wish you could be, but something else is pulling you another direction. It’s OK to switch gears for a bit, nothing is permanent. Maybe it’s just not the time to be working full-time, maybe it is. Perhaps you can’t go to Mexico for a week on a whim but someday you’ll be able to. Or the freedom that you took for granted may be lessened but someday you’ll be able to have it again, and appreciate it more. Time flies so fast (you’ll hear that over and over again) and there may be those moments where you need to say out loud “it’s just not the right time for this- but someday it will be.”

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