A willow tree, wispy and majestic, used to stand tall next to my house. Its roots reached far and away, unseen under the ground, but searching for water and life outside its circumference. While beautiful, the willow was stuck. Deeply rooted and attached to its home– but it never could settle for staying in just one spot.
Sometimes I feel like the willow. Like I am constantly searching, never quite content with where I am planted. I’ve been feeling this restlessness lately. In some ways, my life is changing at a rapid pace, and in others I feel like I’m stuck in the mud and unable to make moves.
Back in the fall, my partner and I found out that we are expecting our first child. We are over-the-moon-excited– so excited that I went dark with my writing, because I selfishly wanted to bottle this joy just for the two of us. This new adventure is my search for something more, it’s my water witching.
And then there’s the mud.
I’ve been thinking deeply about what this change will mean for me. While parenthood is a dream realized, it doesn’t stop me from being anxious that my career and my credibility and my creativity will become a distant memory. After 33 years on this planet, wasn’t I just starting to get comfortable in my own skin?
I recently received a thoughtful gift– a bracelet with empty links, except for one that is fastened to a shiny, silver baby carriage charm. It’s a beautiful symbol of our new life chapter, but I couldn’t help but stare at the empty links and think: Will motherhood erase the pieces of me that I worked so hard to find and finally put together?
My days have been filled with conversations about due dates, baby gender, and the size of my rapidly growing belly (really, thanks so much for this). I watch proudly as my friends’ and my husband’s careers flourish. Mine will soon come to a screeching halt when I take family leave to birth and hang out with the little babe. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little envious and a little bit resentful that I have to choose between two things that I want so badly. Quite frankly, it’s been difficult to wrap my brain around most of this.
I know this is not an uncommon story, many parents before me have felt this way. Despite all the attention, it all feels a little lonely. No one really asks anymore, about my work or my life or the things that used to make me… well, me. I feel invisible in comparison to this person I am growing, and I’m not quite ready for that, to feel pigeonholed into one identity.
A willow tree, wispy and majestic, used to stand tall next to my house. Its roots reached far and away, unseen under the ground, but searching for water and life outside its circumference. I keep asking: Can I be like the willow? Who continues to reach and grow, despite feeling a little bit stuck?
Mallory Bower is a writer, career coach, foster parent, and bio-mom-to-be. She’s an old millennial who won’t apologize for her avocado consumption. She’s free but she’s focused, she’s green but she’s wise. Follow her on Twitter: @mallorybower.