What I've Learned in Two Years of Mother Untitled
I just reread my post from the one year mark of Mother Untitled. It’s so clear-headed and free of typos. It’s so far from how I feel right now - one year later - sitting in the dark of Lyla’s room, holding her through her last nap of the day to avoid witching hour. My eyes feel tired, and I can’t figure out if that’s a setting on my phone or because I haven’t had a full night sleep in 12 weeks.
But in the wee hours of the morning when no one else is up, I have the time to check in with myself. Once again as we arrive at two years of MU, I’m just as excited and honored to curate this space as I was on January 10th of 2018 and further back, in 2017 when I pushed this live and wondered what would come. It has been a real learning of how I want to feel when I’m working on anything. A feeling that took becoming a mother to unlock. Never have I believed more in the opportunity that exists within this chapter for women choosing to lean into family life and that keeps me committed here.
It doesn’t mean there haven’t been moments of doubt, tension or overanalyzing. And in those moments, as with most things, they pass, and usually, they leave you with something you can use down the line. So here’s what I have collected in those moments over the last year.
1.Don’t worry about defining yourself, just create what you enjoy and your people value.
At some point postpartum, likely because of those aforementioned wee hours when I was alone with Lyla, I started questioning whether our Instagram read more like a niche media brand or like a personal blog. In an email chain that I began to solicit ideas on the subject, my husband said, “Does it matter? Stick to what comes the most naturally and what the community responds to.” The best advice this year. I stopped worrying about what corner of the content universe we live in and I returned to what brought me to MU in the beginning - my experience making a choice to step away from a traditional career to prioritize time with family, the conversations and ideas it brought up and a desire to show the world my circle of smart, creative women making similar shifts in this season.
2. Put it out there and move forward
At a time when media and culture measure influence by very public numbers, it can quickly become a distraction tallying likes on any given day. The Instagram algorithm keeps you guessing on what’s the right posting time, image composition and hashtag bank you should be using. While I’d love to claim to be above it, worrying about why that gorgeous or informative piece of content wasn’t getting the engagement it deserved ate up some precious headspace of my own. After a handful of those occasions I started looking at our month on a whole instead of any one post and on the balance I was consistently happy with where we were and what we were putting out there. As long as I’m conscious of point one above, whatever we’re putting out is genuine and relevant and ruminating on if it got it’s warranted fanfare that day only takes away from creating the next thing.
3. Non-traditional work comes with non-traditional responsibility
When I had Bodie, I had previously been consulting for clients, so I gave them a hard stop a week before d-day and really relaxed into six months of nothing but getting to know my baby and myself as a mother. This time, after receiving Lyla into the world, I had another child and an investment in our community to take care of alongside this new being. I could have certainly put a halt on the site, but that didn’t feel like an option nor would I have wanted to - MU served me in those weeks keeping me feeling connected and empowered in the messy moments. So I never took “time off” per se, though you’ll see below, I stepped back. This space has gifted me creativity and fulfillment with the flexibility to be very present for these early years with my kids, but it is worth noting that in turn there’s an ownership that you can’t turn off even at the most personal moments.
4. Hire help before you desperately need it
Around the 6 or 7 month mark of pregnancy with Lyla, friends started asking me what time off would look like and without a solid answer I began to formulate a loose plan. The plan didn’t actually include time off, but I needed out from the nitty-gritty back end, so I hired a freelancer in editorial management, social media calendaring and dialed up my hours with my designer. We lined up a few additional, regular contributors around the same time. I made the changes in August and September to give me at least a month and a half to get into working rhythms so that I wouldn’t go into labor and send them a sudden SOS. Having the (right) team in place and acquainted with everything from brand ethos to post nuances to technicalities allowed things here to keep going as I went into labor. These women have been the most incredible caregivers to this community and in turn to me.
5. Own your small
Most days I feel supremely proud of our growth, but there are certain days I look to my right and left, surrounded by the superwomen that are building great, big(ger) things, and I worry that this isn’t enough to show for two years. In those two years, I’ve raised a son and had a daughter. I’ve supported my husband build his company. I’ve taken better care of myself and my relationships. This small corner of the internet has drawn a level of engagement and honesty from women I may never meet but feel I know. I’m beyond happy with small if it gave me the room for all of that.
And that brings me back to where we started, making room for motherhood and finding creativity and connectedness in that space. Thank you to each of you for contributing to this ongoing conversation among a circle of women I’m continually proud to be connected to.