It’s happening, it’s really happening! You’re going to be a mom! I know your mind is racing with all of the exciting things you need to do to prepare, but if I there is one thing I can tell you to do … it’s slow down and not make any major decisions with regard to your financial commitments.
Okay, so maybe that’s two things. But please, hear me out.
Sure, you’ll need a place for the baby to sleep, clothes and blankets to keep the baby warm, bottles, diapers, wipes, a carseat, and all the other essentials, but let me tell you what the baby won’t need. The baby won’t need an extra 1000 square feet in a nicer neighborhood, or brand new car because it’s “safer,” or a fully decked out playroom, or top of line pima cotton onesies and sleep gowns by the dozens, or even a designer diaper bag.
Forget all those things. Cut corners where you can. Buy second hand. And please, don’t double your mortgage obligation.
I get it. You’re having your first child and you want nothing more than the best opportunity for her to have a loving and supportive village to grow up in, a network of friends and neighbors to make incredible childhood memories with, access to the best schools in the county, and most importantly, a safe place free from danger.
But you see, the reality is, you’ll be too busy in those first few years to set foot outside your house and meet all those nice neighbors you were so determined to have. You might find a way to make it to the community pool one time during the season. You might set foot in that extra 1000 square feet once in a blue moon to run the vacuum. And you might wonder why in the world you ever needed all this space to begin with.
Sure, you’ve gotten the promotion and you can technically afford all of those wonderful things, but just wait. Wait until you have her in your arms and you spend those first three months exchanging butterfly kisses and giggles. Wait until you spend that first day away from her once you return to work, counting down the minutes until you can be reunited. Wait until you’ve been called to stay late for last minute meetings one too many times. Wait until your coveted bedtime routines are interrupted by work calls. Wait until you know the struggle of what it will really mean to be a working mom. You love your job and your employees and quite frankly, up to this point, they’ve been your babies, but I’m telling you right now, this little girl, she will change things.
She will make you question every decision you’ve ever made and completely change your perspective on what it means to live a full life. (Here’s a hint: it’s not about job titles, big houses, fancy cars, or designer wardrobes and accessories.) You’ll finally understand what it meant all those times when your mom told you, “Remember now, we’re supposed to work to live, not live to work,” now that there is so much more worth living for.
You’ll daydream of ways to cut ties from the rat race on your 55 minute commute every afternoon. You’ll desperately think to yourself, “how do I live a simpler, more humble life doing only what I’m passionate about, maximize my time with my family, and make just enough money to provide the essentials for daily living?” and “Am I giving her everything she needs?” and “How can I afford to spend more than two hours a weekday with her?”
The bottom line is this. At the end of the day she won’t need any of those aforementioned things to thrive and live a well-adjusted, successful life. She’ll need you. She’ll need your time and attention. She’ll need your love and patience. And most importantly, she’ll need you to establish boundaries and unplug from your work commitments and obligations to just enjoy the simple things together.
One last thing. Be honest with yourself. Are you really making these decisions for her? Or is some small part of you making these decisions on behalf of feeling some social obligation to “keep up with the Joneses?” A word of caution, my friend. In this age of social media and over exposure to the imagery of your peers “perfect” lives, do not succumb to the pressure to keep up because at the end of the day, what your peers think of you isn’t what matters. It’s what that little girl thinks of her mommy.
She will be proud of you no matter what, but wouldn’t it be nice to be free from the pressure to maintain that demanding career and paycheck?
Just think about it.
An exhausted working mom to the most incredible 19-month-old on the planet who has utterly changed my world