Today I am 31 weeks pregnant which makes me realize how little time I have left before this baby comes. Since the past 2 weeks have been a struggle with either myself or my husband being sick, it feels as if 2018 has not started off on the right foot in terms of ‘accomplishment’. We still have a ton to do on the house, I keep meaning to make myself SOMETHING while pregnant, there are workouts to be had and weekend trips to be made. BUT, I refuse to think about everything that I should have done, because the reality is that this baby could be here in a few weeks, and I need to shift my focus on her.
I am 32 years old and surprisingly, more of my friends my age have kids already than do not. This is especially shocking because most of my friends live in big cities where the the average age for a first child is 35. When I got married, I felt as if I had all of the time in the world to have kids, and then when some of my friends started working on baby number 2 and I was ‘working from home’ building this blog and throwing a bunch of other job opportunities against the wall, I started to feel like I was putting off having a baby for no reason. I felt that I wanted to have my career under control so that I could protect myself against leaving a career that was sort of half-assed to begin with. I wanted to make sure I had a strong foundation to go back to after maternity leave, since I don’t have a corporate job holding me responsible for the amount of weeks I can take off.
Now that I am thisclose to having a child in my arms, I have had a chance to think about the life decisions I made, and reflect on what I have already accomplished. My mindset has shifted a lot from what I wished I had done to what I’m so glad I’ve already done. So, with a different spin on things to do before having kids, I present to you a different take. 5 Things I’m happy I did before having children… and 5 I can’t wait to do! Here we go:
I traveled extensively
This one always ranks high on the ‘things to do before having kids’ list, but is still major to me. There will never be less than 10 places on my list that I’m dying to see, but the fact that I have seen so many areas of the world (especially difficult to travel to ones) already calms my wanderlusting soul. I know traveling with kids will be difficult, not just because of carrying all of the additional supplies, but because of the cost of flights and finding the time once they are in school. I’m sure there will be years where all we do is one family Hawaii trip (and I’m thankful and lucky that we will even be able to do that!) but I know that you can’t keep me grounded for long, and I will find a way to bring those kiddos with me on more extravagant adventures. I am especially grateful that I was able to do so much travel with my mom over the past 15 years as well. I remember when she took me out of high school on a Friday so that we could go to Beijing for the weekend (we came back with hawked DVDs and tummies full of shu mai) all the way up to our most recent trip to London last year. I will have those memories forever and although they weren’t without some epic international mother-daughter battles, I think we both are always planning on the next one.
Want to see some of my travels? Check out my guides and photo journals to Positano, London, Tokyo, Kyoto, Beaune, San Miguel de Allende, Bali, Hong Kong, Marrakesh and Northern India.
I took continuing education classes in London
One of my dreams has been to relocate to an international city. Since that hasn’t worked out yet, I wanted to at least travel somewhere where I could ‘live like a local’ at least for a week, without doing anything too touristy. I decided to enroll in one of the short courses at Central Saint Martins, which is a renowned design school in London and take an exploratory pattern making class to further my design skills. My mom came with me, and we spent 9 days in an Airbnb, where we ate scones with clotted cream every morning and I went to my favorite matcha shop before taking the tube to ‘school’. It was bliss. Not only was I in London, but taking continuing education classes anywhere, in something you are passionate about, is good for the soul. You realize how important it is to learn, and to keep flexing those left and right brain muscles, and to give you a renewed sense of ability. I came away from that trip so inspired, and although I hope to do it again one day, I am so so happy that I made it happen before I had kids.
I had a career, and took time to build my business
This one may sound in contrast to what I mentioned above, but I am actually really happy with how my career has turned out to be… so far. Sure, I wish I were a bigger influencer, an established interior design or that I had started my own clothing line. But given the 11 years that I have been working, I am really proud of the corporate career I have built and the relationships that I have made, that helped buoy me intellectually and financially into taking a chance on myself. I can’t imagine the regret I would have if I had kids taking this time. It would have been so much harder to walk away from the financial security once you have a little one to pay for, and since I have taken the last 2 years to develop some semblance of a paycheck and develop my hobbies, I am more confident that everything will work out. If I hadn’t started taking photos for friends, making baby blankets, applied to Homepolish, designed my first print for Spoonflower, taken a class at Pure Barre, started Project Real Way or taken pattern making classes, I’m sure I would feel a lot less confident about my ability to create and execute. It’s this time away from the corporate world to develop my skill set (and throw a whole bunch of stuff at the wall to see what sticks) that I will never get back after kids. So I’m happy I did it!
I made my house a home (several times)
Again, this might sound counter-intuitive as I write this in a furniture-less room with a mattress on the floor and piles of craft supplies, some dumbbells, and framed photos lying around me. But, I’m so happy that I have taken the time to make our homes (both rented and owned) feel like a cozy, comfortable representation of my husband and my life together. I think it’s very important to enjoy the space that you live in; to love coming home after traveling or a long work day, to wanting to sit on the couch or eating breakfast in your favorite nook. I don’t feel like there was anytime in the past 10 years that my husband and I think back about where or how we lived with regret. We loved each space, have fond memories of all of them (ok maybe not that time we came home to cockroaches in NYC), and generally wanted to be in our homes. Even right now that our home is not even close to being done, I’ve tried to focus on what makes Mr. R and I want to spend time in our house. It’s the bed (we just got a great new one that feels like a royal cocoon), the TVs (sad but true!), the flooring (soft rugs and clean carpets), and lighting (still working on this one in a few rooms!). It’s also in the behind the scenes details: the closet organization, having mugs that you look forward to drinking out of every morning, and a good shower, that allow you to enjoy the little, quiet moments of being in your home. While I’m sure this won’t change exactly with kids, I do know that clutter and chaos will abound and probably cloud my zen-like feelings of my home!
I built a DIY skill set and mind set
In some ways I have always been like this, but especially in the past few years I feel like I have really honed in on my DIY skills, whether it’s fixing a running toilet to painting my own nails to developing no equipment at-home workouts. Once I have a kid I know ‘me-time’ will evaporate, as well as probably a big chunk of money each month. However, I am proud of how self-sufficient my husband and I have become in the effort of saving time and money already… that I know will come in useful once we have even less of both because of baby. Sure, I have no doubt that my at-home facials will happen significantly less than they already do… but they can still happen! And saving some dough by painting walls, installing my own wallpaper, making my own pillows and cleaning my own bathrooms will definitely add up over time. No, I don’t do any of these things as well as a professional does them, but I feel pride in knowing that I did them despite not being perfect. Although my husband doesn’t agree with me on this 100%, I do think he’s coming around to agree with me a little more (right babe? RIGHT.) I’m sure once we have children there will be some things that we outsource more than we do now, but at least I know it’s not because I can’t do it myself!
Now that this post can’t possibly get any longer, let’s quickly go through the 5 things I can’t wait for now that I will have kids, both big and small.
I can’t wait to teach my kids about music
This is a weird one, especially since I don’t really play any instruments and honestly rarely listen to music in my own home. BUT- I want them to know how to dance, be comfortable dancing, and to generally be able to count music. It’s a life skill that brings you confidence at all those awkward times in your life, whether its the eighth grade dance or your wedding, and having that type of physical body confidence comes with the foundation of understanding music first. I look forward to family dance parties and (hopefully) a few dance recitals, where every member of our family gets their groove on!
I can’t wait to adopt a pet
Ok, I actually can wait for this, but I know that the reason Mr. R and I haven’t adopted a pet so far is because of how much we travel and how often we would have to find a place for our pets to stay. While there are no plans of getting a pet in the future (we are still arguing about dog v. cat) I know that someday we will have one and that brings me joy. I used to love cuddling up with my cat when I was a kid and I know that no matter what type of animal we choose, our children will love and learn to love the responsibility that comes with having them.
I look forward to giving back and starting new charitable traditions
There is no excuse as to why I haven’t found time to do this already, but I want that to change when we have kids. Sure, my husband and I donate to various charities annually or contribute when there is a natural disaster, but I would like to establish more hands-on activities and traditions that we do as a family to give back. That can be volunteering at a shelter, picking up trash in a local park or planting trees. I want to make sure this is a priority in my children’s lives, which means I need to start doing them now as well!
I can’t wait to build a family with my husband
This seems obvious, otherwise I shouldn’t have gotten pregnant in the first place! But I am excited to see my husband with a baby girl, specifically. Sure I know she could end up being a Celtics/Patriots/Sox fan just like him, but I look forward to him finding other, softer, or deeper ways of connecting with this baby girl. I actually think it will bring my husband and I even closer together than we are now, as we will both be forced to develop skill sets that we don’t already have. I think it will bring a renewed sense of joy and laughter into our lives (and most likely a lot of disagreement and pain as well) but that we will come out of the other side even stronger than we are now. I’ve always heard that patience is a virtue… so I can’t wait to see how that looks on me ;)
I can’t wait to be less afraid of death
This might be a little deep for this post and honestly I debated even adding it to this list, but it’s the biggest one for me. I have feared death my whole life, and one of the reasons I have wanted to have a successful career or public name is because I want there to be something out there that lives longer than me. Even thinking about this idea and typing it up has me in tears. I am not a religious person so I have a hard time understanding the futility of life and and brief amount of time we have on this ever-turning planet. I am hoping (desperately) that having children will bring me some sort of calm in this matter. I can’t say I am confident that it will happen, because my fear runs very deep, but if I am able to leave behind someone who will remember me for longer than I can be here, I hope that rectifies the fears that I have about not being a successful fashion designer or writer or inventor who’s name is in the history books. Hopefully I will be able to check in with you in the future months/years about how this sentiment has improved with my children!
Ok, so now that we’ve ended on a depressing note… I want to address one more thing. Sure there are things I still wish I could do that I didn’t seem to get in before having this baby, but I refuse to think that they will never be a part of my life. And I strongly believe that if you want something to happen, you can make it happen, so I know the below things (and many, many more) will happen… because I will make them!
Throw more couples only/swanky cocktail parties
Drive the southern route across the USA
Still dying to relocate to my dream city (London!)
Bucket list trip: Safari in Africa