Dacy Gillespie | Another Mother Her Way
Dacy Gillespie is who I imagine as the face of the simpler living movement. She has a gentle and introspective spirit that comes through in her work and writing and a love of her family - her two-year-old, Matteo and husband - who she unabashedly puts at the center of her home in St. Louis. Dacy graduated from Oberlin, got a Masters from Rice, began her career in classical music before recognizing her desire to create order, beauty, and calm in the world through styling and editing. I came across Dacy when she was openly discussing the conflicted feelings including confidence in slowing down elements of her business, mindful closet, in favor of balanced time for herself and her family. She's sharing that articulate perspective and more on her transition into motherhood below.
Q HOW DID YOU CHANGE AFTER BECOMING A MOTHER?
This is such a big question! I think I became much less judgemental. Once I had a kid, I realized that it is nearly impossible to plan or commit to a way of life until it’s happening to you. You can say you’ll go back to work, or parent a certain way, or breastfeed or whatever, and until you’re actually IN it, all bets are off. I’ve learned not to take hard stances on anything, because unless I’m in the situation, I’m not going to know how I’ll react. I think this all came from the uncertainty and constantly changing nature of motherhood. Having to have a “wait and see” mentality is hard for a planner like me.
Q WHAT CHOICES DID YOU MAKE TO ACCOMMODATE MOTHERHOOD? WOULD YOU MAKE THEM AGAIN?
My husband and I were actually pretty ambivalent about having children, so the decision to do so was very much more intellectual than emotional. Because of this, I thought a lot about how I would accommodate motherhood. We wanted to make sure we could live on one income in case I didn’t want to go back to work. I shop a lot less, we eat out less, and we take fewer vacations. Currently, I’m having to hold myself back from some of the ambition I feel in my career because of being a mostly stay-at-home mom. It's an odd feeling to want two things at the same time (for me, wanting to work and wanting to spend all my time with my son). As a personal stylist, I work one-on-one with clients to edit and build their wardrobes. During busy times, I work with 4 or 5 clients a week, but without regular childcare, that caused a lot of stress. I'm trying to say yes to only 1 or 2 clients a week at this season of life, but that means saying no to others, which is really hard for me. I'm also developing a course about editing your closet called Making Space, but with limited time to work on it, I'm having to move slower than I would like. I'm constantly reminding myself that the reason why I wanted to build my own business is so that I could take time for other priorities in life, but it's hard not to compare myself to others.
As an aside, it’s unfortunate in our society that having children automatically means you are on a slower career track, unless you have help in every area of life. It doesn’t affect men the same way at all. I wish that workplaces could be more accommodating of people (mothers, fathers, humans in general) who want their personal lives to have as much weight as their work lives. It really doesn’t seem like there’s any way around it. Having said all of that, I’d absolutely do it the same way again, and am so grateful to get to spend so much time with Matteo.
Q DESCRIBE YOURSELF AS A MOTHER IN 3 WORDS. WHAT KIND OF MOTHER WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE?
I’m empathic, patient, and drained. I’m always working to be more calm, open, non-reactive, understanding, and present. My greatest goal as a mother is to be able to refrain from forcing any of my expectations of what my child “should” be and to let his personality develop organically. To be able to discover along with him what his personality type is and to celebrate it, whether he’s an introvert or an extrovert, interested in sports or arts, moves at a slow pace or a fast one, is like me or nothing like me. I want to raise an empathetic human being, someone who can put themselves in others’ shoes and see the way different life experiences create different opinions.
Q HOW DO YOU TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF OUTSIDE OF MOTHERHOOD?
I’m not too good at this. Usually, time away from my child means work, which is sometimes refreshing, but not always. I’m an introvert and I need time alone to recharge. As my son has gotten older, it’s gotten a lot easier. I’m not as sleep deprived, so I’m now able to wake up before he does and have my coffee and some internet surfing time alone. Ideally, five minutes of meditation happens in that time too. Because he needs less direct supervision and can entertain himself, I’m able to take a walk while his dad gets ready for work, instead of one of us having to watch him while the other gets ready. Those are all things that are helping me take better care of myself. Every once in awhile, I’m able to get a pedicure or lunch alone at one of my favorite restaurants, and that is lovely too.
Q EVERY MOTHER NEEDS HELP TO FIND BALANCE. WHAT DOES YOUR VILLAGE LOOK LIKE?
We don’t have family in the area we live in. When Matteo was younger, we had a couple of great babysitters that we found on care.com (because how else do you find babysitters???!), but both of their situations changed and they were no longer able to babysit. Since then, we’ve had a few people here and there, but no one constant person. My mother has been amazing about coming to stay with Matteo while we’ve taken a few trips alone. We have a wonderful group of neighbors that I’m learning to rely on more and more, but it’s definitely hard to ask for help. We tried pre school once before and it wasn’t a good fit, but we’re trying a new school this fall, and hopefully, that’ll give us some flexibility. Luckily, my husband is a completely equal partner in all of the parenting. I also have lots of friends in the same season of life and having people to talk to about all the frustrations of motherhood is invaluable to me.
Q WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON IMPROVING ABOUT YOURSELF AS A WOMAN & A MOTHER?
One thing I’m trying really hard to work on so that I can be a good example to my son is letting go of any guilt around taking care of myself. I don’t want him to see someone who is a martyr or not as healthy as she could be because she’s giving more to the people around her than she is herself. I want him to see that a healthy life is a combination of work and rest, and that your worth is not determined by how much you produce.