"Stories change. Big shifts happen in career, relationship, location, state of the mind and heart--causing an often scary state of unknowing. Our identities are tied so closely to what we have to show for our lives--all the things that are neatly set and defined. But when we see those shifts as points of liberation--that disconnect us from what we're "supposed" to be--the possibilities of who we ARE become endless. And beyond just external changes, we are not obligated to stay in the same internal stories--things we believe about ourself can also evolve. We have internalized a million things about who we are and how we behave that we are under no obligation to attach to. What if you no longer accepted the story you've been telling yourself (or been told) about your life/ yourself because it's an old ass story and you just don't want that shit anymore? What if you allowed your life, and your identity, to be more fluid-to be a more accurate representation of nothing but the present moment you're living in right now? Been "stubborn" all your life but you have worked on being more flexible, been "depressed" since your teens but you're feeling pretty happy, been a "wild card" but lately you're desiring more safety, been a strong single mom but now someone wants to help...just allow it baby--cuz things change, and so do you. #getfree" -Melinda Alexander
I have been putting this post off for some time for a number of reasons: 1) Because I didn't feel like I owed anyone an explanation. 2) Because I felt like I owed everyone an explanation. 3) Because I have been so, so busy. 4) Because I have been so, so happy - just soaking the week in.
Three weeks ago I made one of the scariest career moves of my life: I decided to put it on hold for a while. Let me preface this post by acknowledging how lucky I am to be able to put my career on hold in the first place. Not many parents have the privilege of staying home to raise their children. What’s more, not many parents get sufficient bonding time with their newborns, having to return to work almost immediately. While there are a few companies that are making strides in creating innovative paternity leave policies, there is much work to be done in the United States. Here’s how you can help.
I have always taken such pride in my career, in my ability to get any job I set my heart on, in my ability to genuinely build movements in my community. Community work runs deep in my veins: my grandmother is an organizer with Lideres Campesinas; my mom (a young farmworker at the time) got to rally with Cesar Chavez when he came to the Coachella Valley; my dad continues to fight for Migrant Education students in all his capacities.
I used to think that being a feminist mom meant that you had to work out of the home. That you had to figure out how to balance it all. Since becoming a mom, I have a better understanding that feminism is about choices - about having the freedom to make the best decisions for you and your family. Being a feminist mom is about prioritizing your wellbeing as much as that of your baby's. I went back to work the day X turned 24 weeks old. Lots of my working mom friends told me to wait it out - that it would start to feel normal, that it would get easier to leave every morning after a couple of months. So I waited.
Every morning as I drove away, I felt my heart break into a million pieces all over again. Sometimes, I had to travel for work. Those days were excruciating. Every hour that I was stuck in traffic, was an hour away from X. I knew she was in good hands, but I would spend my day fantasizing about being home with my baby. I was not focusing or completely present at work. Even worse, I was starting to get resentful.
I was resentful of my mom for getting all the one-on-one time with X. I was resentful of my job for "making" me do all sorts of things that took me away from my baby (though I will say my job was INCREDIBLE. Short of letting me stay home - it provided me tons of flexibility, the ability to breastfeed and pump when necessary, and all the support I could dream of. It just wasn't enough for me.) I was resentful of other moms, who got to stay home with their babies. I was resentful of working moms who were happy with the balance that they struck.
And yet, it's always been part of my identity to be a social justice advocate, to be an organizer, to work with young people. I have a brilliant friend who once told me to avoid living in absolutes, but rather to take life in smaller chunks. Just because I am choosing to be a “full-time mom” now, does not mean that I cannot start grad school next year or even five years from now (something I am planning for). It does not mean that I am going to bury myself and hide from work and a community that I am deeply passionate about. I will continue to volunteer, to fight, to write, to stay informed, and to be heard. I just plan to do it with a baby strapped to my back.
So cheers to change. To choice. To being a mother. To being whatever the hell you want to be, whenever the hell you want to be it.
As always, thanks for following me along this wild, wild journey.