Heather Strang, and co-author Brooke Emery, wrote the upcoming book Stop Shoulding On Yourself! A Woman’s Guide From Obligation to Inspiration. The book encourages women to live from an authentic and should-free space.
So, grab a cup of tea and read on…who knows, you just might find some great ideas for your own life…
I recently received a sizeable promotion at work, which has resulted in much longer hours, more travel and inevitably bringing work home on the weekends. My husband and I were considering starting a family, but now I feel I wouldn’t be able to contribute as much of myself to motherhood as I have had to commit to my job. We’re receiving pressure from all sides of the family tree to begin having children, and my husband is understanding but also ready to get the baby-making started. I’ve been married three years and feel as if I should be ready to start a family, but I’m also at an important place in my career and don’t want to compromise that. How will I know when the time is right?
You’re certainly not alone–I can’t tell you how many women I talk to about this very thing on a regular basis! With pressure from family, friends and our culture at large, it can be nearly impossible to figure out exactly what we want for ourselves. Do we want children because everyone else says we should or does it stem from an authentic and strong desire to raise a child?
Parenting, or whether or not to parent, can be one of the biggest areas of our lives filled with should’s. I recently saw famous authors Elizabeth Gilbert (http://www.elizabethgilbert.com) and Ann Patchett (http://www.annpatchett.com) at a Portland Literary Arts event. Both women were absolutely transparent about their desire to not have children. They don’t make excuses for their choice, but simply say it’s not for them. Talk about should-free living! Many women have been shamed for the very whisper of not wanting to have children.
One of our featured women in Stop Shoulding On Youself!, Aleta St. James (http://www.aletastjames.com), had this to say about whether or not to parent, “It is very important for you as a woman to feel that it is the exact right time for you to enter motherhood. Having a child/children is a very selfless all-encompassing choice, even though for most women in today’s economy it is a double income household…My personal and professional experience helping women become pregnant seems to attest to the fact that once they do and they feel that they have reached their potential in their career, it is easier for them to settle into motherhood and balance both factors.”
But the real answer doesn’t lie in what I think or anyone else thinks–it’s about what you feel is the course to take that will serve your highest good and bring you and your spouse the most happiness.
Whenever I, or my clients, come up against situations that leave them feeling scattered, along with a mountainous list of should’s, I have them do the following to shake off any icky energy and to step fully into their most authentic choice.
1) Go with the Flow
What is the flow of your life bringing you right now? It sounds like your career is continuing to rise in both responsibility and satisfaction (and if you love your work – CONGRATS – having a passion-filled career is such an amazing accomplishment!). In addition, you’re married to a man who is excited about making a baby with you and with whom you’re sharing your life. You have so much to be grateful for!
Write a list of all the things that you are grateful for. Feel the gratitude for this incredible life experience that you are now having. Spend as much time as you would like in this space; it can be a day, a week or a month. The important thing is that you’re feeling gratitude, and flowing with the way your life currently is.
2) Explore the Possibilities
Once you’re firmly planted in gratitude for where you’re currently at in your life, you can begin to explore some of the other possibilities that you may want to bring into your experience.
Make a list of women you know who have careers and/or children. Reach out to them to discuss how parenting has affected their life. Better yet, spend time with them, while they’re with their children. Or start asking random women you know about their journey with motherhood.
3) Feel Your Feelings
Pay attention to how you feel when exploring these possibilities. Does the thought of having a baby get you excited? Do your eyes well up with tears and does your heart fill with love? Follow whatever feelings come up and then think about the ways it would be possible to continue in the career you love while also caring for a child. If thinking about having a child right now feels fearful or scary, follow that feeling–where is the fear coming from? Allow yourself to observe how these feelings are manifesting within you. Spend time journaling about these feelings as a way to release them.
Then, take a break from pondering the solution. Nothing makes us crazier than trying to force a decision. Take at least three nights to just BE yourself and have fun. Immerse yourself in whatever you LOVE to do. It doesn’t matter what it is, it only matters that you love it. After the three days, come back to feeling gratitude for your life and see how you feel about baby-making. If your energy feels high around it (before your brain can come up with reasons not to take any particular action), begin to create a plan for how you can move forward.
Parenting may or may not be ideal for you right now. But, only you can know the answer to that question. And you can only know by giving yourself the space, resources and love you need to make a decision that is totally should-free and completely authentic.
Much love & blessings,
Have a question about this topic or any other? Next month, we’ll be focusing on Money. Send your questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org.