Emily Henderson

Little friday update … ramblings of an expectant career mom

My life is a lot like The Bachelorette, except the men that i’m juggling are more design projects and i have a way shorter torso. About 4 months ago I found myself with 27 projects. This post is already so boring and trite, i’m SO SORRY.  I hate it when people talk about how busy they are as if other people aren’t busy, because EVERYONE is busy … but i have a point, I think. Who knows, this whole post might be the most annoying and cliche’d blogger thing you’ve ever read.

But anyway … I had all these projects written up on a huge floor to ceiling white board, with various people  helping me on each, all the deadlines, shoot dates, boxes to check, status, etc. These projects were all awesome, including the West Elm series, The Land of Nod series, The Country Living House of the Year renovation project in New York (you haven’t seen that one yet, but out in 2 weeks!!!), the Lorey’s living room, dining room and den/office, The Sunrise makeover, One Kings Lane videos, the Fig House, The Americasmart presentation, Oh Joy’s studio design, plus 20 more that are still coming up to post about.

While writing them all somewhere together helped keep things mentally manageable, every time I looked at the board I was like ‘HOW am I going to sustain this with a baby?’. The answer is ‘I’m not’.

Its constant project ADD. I can barely hold a conversation on one of them without something triggering a thought about another one and me leaping on to that project leaving my team totally annoyed. And while I have some amazing people that work with me (Orlando, Dean, Ginny, Sam, Abby to name a few), most projects and clients want me to be heavily involved and sending someone to meetings on my behalf bums them out.

oh joy office shoot  – Random moments from yesterdays shoot with Zeke Ruelas and Orlando at Joy’s studio.

So I decided to start saying ‘no’ to EVERYTHING (well, not everything, little Charlie/Oliver/Starke still needs some vintage cognac leather oxfords to wear). My 10 year ‘YES’ phase has ended. Ryan Gosling could have asked me to redesign his living room, in fact he actually could have insisted that I stay there while doing it, and he’ll make me all my meals and massage me in between coats of paint, and I would have said ‘No’.

HA!! I just reread that and thats the funniest thing i’ve ever written and obviously highly untrue. But you get the point. I realized that I needed some serious time and brain space in order to figure out what is next in my career and how I can streamline everything to make sure its sustainable with a baby.

oh joy studio

Without a baby I can handle it all, truly. I’m a machine. I suffer from high energy, and I truly LOVE doing what I do. All of the above projects were fun and good for me. But the last ten years of being in a ‘yes phase’ have ended in order to figure out how to be a good mom.

It’s all about saying yes to a few large things that are large and sustainable. Or maybe not. Maybe that will be more stressful and less interesting and i’ll miss having 27 projects. But Its just what i’m going to try right now.  Ah the experiment that is life …

I know that a lot of you are in creative fields and can understand this, but just because you love designing, its your favorite thing to think about and do doesn’t mean that it doesn’t take up a lot of space in your brain. Every day I had to look at the board and first try to remember what i’m forgetting that is urgent and behind for each project, then try to stay on top of things that are current and happening today and then think about what is happening next week – what i need to order, coordinate, source now that will take 4 weeks to get here, etc. Thinking about what is happening next year or anything ‘Big Picture’ wasn’t really an option; My tv career wasn’t even a thought, let alone trying to please all the personalities involved, and lets face it, there are a lot of ‘interesting’ personalities out there.

Brain. Was. Full.  (i just read that putting dramatic periods is ‘out’ and very ‘last year’, so i do apologize for being off-trend on that one. How embarrassing).

But never fear, folks. I think i’ve figured it out (‘think’ being the operative word, here). Nothing I can announce yet, but hopefully by next year life will be sustainable. I’m not looking for balance – i’ve talked to enough of you to know that it doesn’t exist. And i’m CERTAINLY not looking for perfection, lord knows that ain’t happening as i can barely use good grammar right now – but just a career that is sustainable and doable … with a baby boy.

Thats all of a sudden striking me as hilarious; that ‘sustainability’ is my goal. Way to really reach for the stars, Emily. That sounds so shitty, but I think you guys know what I mean. It just would be so great if while at dinner with Brian, i’m actually thinking about the conversation that i’m robotically having with him and not whether the wood flooring in the Lambeth house should be oriented horizontally or vertically; or whether we should have used suspender material on Joy’s art installation, even though its more expensive than ribbon, it is more saturated in color and I could probably order it in bulk, but the stretch will make it less easy to manage or maybe it will make it more easy to manage …

Because Brian doesn’t exactly care about whether the wallpaper in the guest room of the Hollywood project has too much yellow in it and its going more towards to the taupe world than the gray world that I intended and if it is then do I need to change out the curtains to bring out the cool tones in the paper? I mean, I haven’t exactly gauged his interest in that conundrum, but i’d imagine his reaction would be full of dramatic eye blinks. I can feel his eyes glazing over just as i’m typing this.

oh joy emily henderson Again, I know this is all trite, but i’m just starting to feel totally on top of things and NOT overwhelmed and its VERY exciting.

Its a lot like how Des, the Bachelorette, feels right about now – she’s finally narrowed her male choices down to 3 and i’d imagine that only making out with those three (although DRAMA THIS WEEK) is a lot less emotionally confusing than the 24 she started with.

But then there is also the fear of just getting old, lazy and less motivated. Should ‘career sustainability’ be the goal when you have kids? Or is that not really reaching high enough? I mean, don’t get me wrong, I still have things long term goals of being the go-to home style expert in the universe, but there is something very attractive to actually being able to stay on top of things and even have time and the know-how to pay my quarterly taxes (which yes, I paid FOR THE FIRST TIME THIS  QUARTER).

Or is this just another phase? From my ‘yes’ phase, to my ‘no’ phase, is this just my ‘sustainability’ phase that will only last a few months because its boring? I think I just fell asleep between typing ‘sustainability’ and ‘phase’.

What started out as a post with a clear thesis about how i’m only going to say yes to a few HUGE projects, has now made me question it all and now i’m rambling like Fran Drescher on adderall.

Is career sustainability with a young child satisfying enough? Or does it just depend on what those projects are if they are exciting enough (and lucrative enough) then maybe its all good?  I think i’ve just heard from so many career moms with babies that the first year is so hard that i’m trying to prepare myself and avoid the nervous breakdowns, but is it possible to avoid them or are the inevitable anyway?

Help. Advice. Please.

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