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.

  1. Emily

    There’s no way to avoid the freak outs, you just have to be kind to yourself and recognize that your priorities and what makes you happy/fulfilled may change over the next few years. My profession does not lend itself to free time/family time (the law) and the hardest part for my female friends and I has been to not beat ourselves up when either (1) we want to spend time at work away from our kids or (2) we want to spend time at home with them, away from work. Don’t feel like a bad mom if you find you’re the type of person who cannot be with your baby 24/7, because there are many of us. And alternatively, don’t feel like a failure at your job if you realize you want to spend as much time as possible with your kid instead of working.

    You will figure out what works for yourself but it will probably be bumpy and the best thing you can do is just listen to your gut and what feels right to you, no one else.

    • Sandy

      Wow, I couldn’t have said it better myself. So, I second this sentiment.

      • Jenny

        Hi,
        First of all congrats on your baby boy Emily! :)
        I’m 25 years old and was raised by an amazing corporate mum who loved her job immensely and we knew she loved us even more. Without mums passion for her job I definately wouldn’t be on the career track that I am now. My mother set an amazing example of perusing your dreams and the work you love. So to Sandy and Emily, I agree, and while your kids may not always recognize it now, having such an example pays dividends in the future, so please allow me to say thank you on behalf of them.
        Jenny
        Melbourne, Australia

    • Anne Staten

      Emily, First of all, I think you are a terrifically creative person. You will be a wonderful caring mom. You will figure out the balance between work and baby, give yourself time. I have two boys who are teens now and I was able to take care of them and work (musician) while they were young. Find good help, and you can be as pickie as you want! Let yourself enjoy the time you have with your baby and your job and remember some days are better than others. The early months go fast and you won’t believe how quickly he changes so, I would encourage you to take time and enjoy him because you won’t regret it. You have such a wonderful talent you will have plenty of time to design and inspire us all ! Congratulations and enjoy!! Anne

  2. Renee

    Here’s what I know: you won’t know until you’re there. When I was pregnant with my now-8-month-old little guy I thought, “man, I am so going to rock at maintaining my activities and interests after he’s born because, dude, you’re life can’t revolve around a baby!” Now I have learned that your life indeed can revolve around a baby and that is okay. In fact, your life SHOULD revolve around a baby, at least for a little while. I work full time but I am developing a business plan for a creative business that will work for now knowing that in a few years that business can develop and change as our family develops and changes. I have big dreams but I am giving myself permission to work within the framework that I created by getting married, getting pregnant, buying a house, etc. Why should the various parts of my life work against each other? There is a way for everything to work in sync even if it is challenging. I felt guilty for several months about not saying yes to everything – I was letting myself down, my family down, and turning against feminists everywhere, right? But no, you simply have to do what is right RIGHT NOW. You are hugely motivated, hugely talented, and widely respected – none of that will go away. Take care of yourself while little guy is growing, take care of yourself when he is born, and take care of yourself as he grows. That will look different at every stage and it is okay for success to look different at different times! Think about how highly coveted your time will become. Your clients will know that you are only saying yes to the most prime jobs and therefore your time just became more valuable.

    All that to say, breathe mama, and keep breathing and take each part of this journey one step at a time. You won’t know what’s up the road until you get there and but when you do arrive you will know the best way to proceed – just like now – and you’ll do it over and over again.

    • Shantel

      Renee,
      I’m a full time teacher with two girls (4 months and 2 years old). I’m getting ready to head back in the fall, and I’m so overwhelmed with so many thoughts regarding working, being a mom, and being a wife. Life will look different at every stage, but I seemed to have forgotten that. Thank you for the lovely words/encouragement that weren’t meant for me, but somehow landed on my computer screen:-).

    • Emily

      I like the ‘framework’ bit. Yes, the various parts of your life shouldn’t work against each other. Great advice. :)

  3. S.

    I am so impressed with you.
    Knowing this before baby boy comes is tremendous foresight.
    Being a mom includes a lot of sacrifice…not marter, poor me stuff…the type that prioritizes what you need to do and what you want to do.
    Baby first.
    Yours is the only blog I regularly read and the only blog I’ve ever commented on before, ever. It’s because of your craft (of course!) and also because you are an all around decent, good person.
    Becoming a decent, good mom FIRST, is the next stage in your “journey”. (Ha!)
    I roll sorely miss regular posts and continue along with my project of copying, I mean being inspired by,Lorey’s house. But, I will know you are moving in to bugger and better things- motherhood!
    You have seriously made such an impression on my design style and my person.
    Thank you.

    • S.

      Please excuse ALL the type-os above…I guess proof reading didn’t fall into the “need to do” category that caring for little ones does!

    • Emily

      Thank you VERY much. I’m working on getting help so the posts don’t get less frequent, ideally. And i love that you copy/are inspired by everything. :) Thank you Thank you

  4. Jill

    EVERYTHING.WILL.CHANGE.WHEN. THEY.PLACE.THAT.BABY.IN.YOUR.ARMS. and that’s ok. In your mind, you will know what’s right – for you and only you. It’s so awesome being a woman, cause we have so many choices and ‘seasons’ in our lives! Enjoy this next wonderful season in yours!

    BTW, love following along here.
    xo~Jill

  5. Oh Emily, Your plea for help at the end there kills me. I’m in the creative field and have struggled with juggling projects myself. There are a few things I’ve learned from the owners of the graphic design firm I’m at right now:
    1. Hire more people- it might turn into the Emily Henderson Firm, but if you DO want more projects, trusting the people you hire to do things as you would and letting them make creative decisions would help you out a lot. (It may be easier said than done.) Art Direct it.
    2. Use an online project management system! Omg, your white board is stressing me out. We use Basecamp at my work and we can organize things with calendar items, to-do lists, messages, time tracking, and other handy things.
    3. Take family leave. Seriously. Take two weeks off (at least) every year once you have baby Charlie/Oliver/Starke (eep!) where you don’t think about work at all, or only answer emails at night.
    4. Ask for help: if you have to sub-contract or hire people to do certain tasks- OR EVEN GET A PERSONAL ASSISTANT – do it.
    5. Can I mention that project management system again? :)

    You can do it! :)

    • Emily

      Woah. OK, Basecamp it is. I think i’ll always want it on a huge board in front of me, too, but that sounds VERY smart and helpful. I need more tech in my life, for sure. thank you thank you

      • I second the recommendation for Basecamp. You can use it to communicate with everybody at your work, keep track of deadlines and such, and even communicate with clients. After using it for the last two years at my workplace I now would love to use it personally! It’s amazing.

        Glad to hear your thoughts. I’m 5 weeks away from the D-day myself and both my husband and I are wondering how we’ll tackle this issue!

      • Dana O.

        And sweet jesus if you need an intern.. I’m sure there are THOUSANDS of unemployed fresh out college graduates who would KILL to put your name on them resume. (cough, myself included).

  6. Well…I can’t help at all. BUT, I am looking forward to seeing how you manage it. Obviously all this ‘flexibility’ women have nowadays to be able to work and have passions/careers etc. has a downside and it’s the post-baby mess. I’m a graphic designer-I run my own company and i’m approaching hopeful baby-dom soon *stamps foot impatiently like Sonic the Hedghog* and every time I get excited, I also get really panicky about what will happen. It doesn’t panic me enough to not want kids-but it’s just how? I feel manic now. Sometimes I get jealous of people working for a company (particularly a British company where they get some maternity leave, help back into the workplace etc.) Sure, they aren’t home all day with their child, but there is also a limit to the workday and they don’t have to consciously make any decisions about should I take on this project or not, am I sacrificing too much/too little. Anyway, the great thing happening recently is watching all the blogger/career women out in world seemingly making it happen (talking about you and Oh Joy types who blog on top of their job, not just bloggers) . And I don’t know-maybe they are living a lie and they hate their lives-which in that case ‘uh-oh’ or maybe they really are stumbling into scenarios that will work. So, I like to think you ‘keep it real’ and we’ll get a snapshot into how you’ve blended your worlds. Good luck, fingers crossed and I like to think we’ll figure it all out as I selfishly don’t want you to stop working and inspiring! Thanks, Brittany

    • Emily

      Thanks, Brittany. Don’t worry, you’ll get the real scoop … FOR SURE. I’ll hopefully only post about all this advice-y stuff once a week, but you’ll definitely get a dose of how the hell its going. :)

  7. Jess

    As the mom to 5 kids, sometimes even just sustainability is an awfully high goal. The fact that you are even thinking about this now is great. Your life will change, as will your work goals, but who knows in what way. Be open and roll with it, cause life happens and things change, but it will all work out!

    • Emily

      Congratulations. 5 kids. thats amazing. xx

  8. Sunne

    As Glennon Melton from the blog Momastery says when tasked with something daunting (a.k.a. life), “Figure out the next best thing to do and do that.” Good for you for planning, that’s already leaps ahead of many, but try not to look too far down the road. Look just around the bend and make adjustments accordingly. Many, many best wishes for your family and career!

    • Emily

      Oh, i like that. ‘Figure out the next best thing to do and do that’. That sounds much less stressful than i’ve been feeling. thank you.

  9. Amelia

    Oh god, yes. Go for sustainability. If you can have work you love, that still lets you spend time with this little man, do it.

  10. Emma

    I totally understand how you feel, however my life is slightly different. I left my previous career last June to begin my Interior Design practice, and found out that weeks into this new career, I was pregnant. And if starting a new practice wasn’t enough, I opened a home furnishings store in my town, took on 3 HUGE projects, started an event design company and unique rental company. All of this has happened in a year.

    Yes, I am a driving woman, and I hate saying no to things (especially since I am still in the beginning stages of my new career), but it is highly rewarding. I bring my daughter (Prudence Sparrow) to work with me in the store everyday, and she comes with me to visit with clients, and people have really taken to the idea of a mother-daughter (albeit a 4 month old partner) concept. It’s been truly rewarding, and I love everyday of my new life.

    It is a new life…but you will make it work. I am still trying to find balance in other areas of my life (like keeping the house maintained and clean while I’m out on jobs, starting all of this, having a relationship with my husband, and finding “me” time), but it will happen.

    Have faith in what you do, and you will know the direction you need to go. Somehow we women/mothers know where we need to be.

    Best of luck!
    Emma

  11. rachael

    You won’t know until that baby is here. You really won’t. I have a friend who works in law and she said she was only going to take 6 weeks off work when the baby was born (Canada=1 year leave of absence) and she stuck by those thoughts until the very moment the baby was born, then it turned into 3 months. Then 6 months….then she took the whole year. Being a mother is nothing like you can imagine. I was there too, once, people tell you things, and you think you’re listening….I would say you’re goals are good, but expect them not to turn out perfectly. Kind of like a birth plan, you can plan for a vaginal birth with no drugs and then end up with a c-section. Sort of out your control.
    You’ll be fine, it sounds like you have a good head on your shoulders!!

  12. Kathryn

    You’re facing a lot of change and transition and thinking about it now, proactively, is a good think. After 13 months being a working mom (I took three months off), some days I feel like I have it figured out and have “balance” and some days I’m frantic getting ready for today, tomorrow and trying to put my baby to bed!

    Your white board will still be full but different will be taking up space on it. Just remember to give yourself a break, be patient and trust that over time you’ll figure out what’s best for you and your family.

    Good luck!

    PS Basecamp is awesome!

  13. tata

    Yes, get help! I had my first baby 2 years ago and i really underestimated how difficult it was. a baby alone is a full time job. i thought i couldn’t work from home and multitask but i had no idea how difficult it was until i did it. So from now till the baby comes, simpify, simplify, simplify. not just your career but your personal life too. it’s like the little things like going to the bank to desposit checks and grabbing coffee with emotionally needy girlfriends that you will no longer have time for. simplify, simplify, simplify!

    also, does this mean we will see less and less blogs from you?!?

  14. no. it’s the new black. you know how i feel about this topic. no is my newest friend and i’m so pleased to hear that you’ve reached that stage. when charlie/starke/oliver arrives you suddenly won’t care so much about the yellow tones of a certain wallpaper – you’ll of course come back to it, but taking a moment to be a mama will be the most amazing thing you ever do. xo

    • Jac

      Just had to note here that I want a t-shirt (actually, one for every day of the week) that says “No is the new black.” Emily, can you add that to your whiteboard? ;-)

  15. kiki

    girrrrrl, you need a Design Manager. We exist. It’s a thing. The job is to keep the design agency humming along. Organizing everyones schedule, connecting with clients, managing vendors, following up with all the to-do lists and deliverables. Said person would also have a very keen eye for design and style. He/She should be able to identify and execute good design, if not necessarily a “designer”. No sending out a presentation or mechanical blindly or speaking with a client uninformed. So much more then a nanny or an assistant. It’s a creative soul, who’s *organized*. It’s a rare bird, but they are out there. Get someone in your studio that can get a handle on all those details, timelines, and budgets so you can just focus on being your wonderful creative self! srsly.

    • Allison

      also- when baby comes… It is so much EASIER to say “No,” with a smile on your face even. there may even be a thought bubble above your head that reads, “Bitch, please. As IF. and No Contest.”
      I was always a yes-woman and a pleaser before baby came. I found the ability to effortlessly say, “No” was quite liberating.
      (yay you!)

  16. Lauren

    All I can say is I feel you. I’m not in a creative field as I’m a professor, but the struggles ring true. I have a four month old boy and I’m on maternity leave now, which I’m so thankful for. But, my deadlines haven’t really stopped and journal articles need to be resubmitted and syllabi organized and and and… And I’m ON maternity leave. Saying no is hard if you love what you do as I do and you do. So, since I’ve had my baby who is brings us so much light and love I’ve had to adjust because right now I love him more and want to be with him more than my research. It’s just a fact. I’m really surprised that its true because I’m totally a career happy person, bit ive changed and i have had to adjust because he is here now and will be forever. what a joy! what a wonderful joy for my husband and I. everything does change and my priorities are different and right now sustainability is where it’s at for us. But I know when I start teaching and the demands for tenure come and smack me back into gear, we will adjust again. No advice here, just love and respect. You ARE making it work. Oh, I do have advice: hire help if you can swing it. Hiring a housekeeper made me feel weird and bourgeois at first and now I’m thrilled to have one thing off my plate.

  17. There really is a time and season for everything. So while when Charlie/Starke/Oliver (this really IS like the Bachelorette!) arrives, it might be time for you to just be with him. But I wonder if in the years to come you’ll channel Rachel Zoe and Skyler and he might become your new work buddy! So excited for your new chapter.

  18. Emily, even though you can’t do it ALL with a baby, what you CAN DO will be that much better and that much more creative. There’s nothing like some cute motivation to help you get everything done faster!! After all, playtime totally trumps wallpaper choices. :) You’ll always rock as a designer, and you’ll rock even more as a mom. Just try not to pressure yourself too much…just let it flow (and that’s coming from type-A me).
    -Kristen

  19. Joey

    You can have it all, but not in abundance.

    If you want an abundance of family togetherness, something’s gotta give. You’re super smart to be thinking about this ahead of time. But as you probably know, you won’t really know what things will be like until the baby is here and even then, it will probably end up being a lifetime of balancing. As for me, I don’t think you’ll ever regret spending more time with your kids.

  20. Kate

    The way I see it, is that this baby phase is temporary. You won’t feel the same about career and sustainability with a newborn as you will with a toddler, or more kids, or when they are in school…or even when you are an empty nester! Life is long (god willing) and you can change priorities as often as you wish! This may be the time for no. In 3, 10, 20 years it may be yes time again!

    Enjoy that sweet boy.

  21. Allison

    also- when baby comes… It is so much EASIER to say “No,” with a smile on your face even. there may even be a thought bubble above your head that reads, “Bitch, please. As IF. and No Contest.”
    I was always a yes-woman and a pleaser before baby came. I found the ability to effortlessly say, “No” was quite liberating.
    (yay you!)

  22. Sarah

    I am a working mom of two (2 years old & 5 months old, yikes!) and here’s my best advice:

    Your career need not enter “sustainability” mode indefinitely. I’ve found that the best way to “balance” a career with parenthood is to allow for plateaus and rev-up periods. There are times that your adorable baby will suck up all of your time/energy/mindspace and times that he won’t. And there are times when even though he’s sucking up a lot of your energy, you’ll want/need to focus on your work to maintain your sanity and sense of self. So it’s not all career or all motherhood or even a perfect mix of both. It’s a big leap forward on the career front and then a nice steady coast for a bit, and so on. (You know how there’s always one guy on The Bachelorette who says that his relationship got off to a slow start but then made a big leap forward on one particularly special one-on-one date? Or the guy who started off strong and then coasted for a long time in a string of group dates? It’s like that.)

    You don’t need to plan for the next five years. Or even the next year. Take it as it comes and adjust accordingly. I was a baby-absorbed mess for the first few months of motherhood, then I really had my shit together for a year (minus the days when I didn’t — thank you, flu season, sleep regressions, etc.), then I was pregnant again and a pukey disaster, and then uber-productive until I had my second. I had days where I kicked ass and days where I didn’t. But all in all, I was still very productive on both fronts.

    Let your husband be as much of a parent as he can be. There’s so much focus on “motherhood” and not nearly enough on “fatherhood,” even now with amazing, super-involved dads. Let him take the lead on some aspects of childrearing and resist the urge to micromanage how he does things. Sheryl Sandberg famously said that the most important career decision a woman can make is whom to marry and I completely agree.

    Throw money at the problem. This is what my mom friends and I jokingly advise one another but it’s TRUE. Just because you *can* do something by yourself doesn’t mean you should, if you can afford otherwise (it’s an incredible privilege, so use it). Ruthlessly prioritize and pay someone else to do stuff below #3 on your list. I am now paying someone to clean my house, cook and deliver meals, mow the lawn, and fold my laundry. But it’s so I can spend my time and limited energy on being an awesome mom and a productive worker. And it won’t last forever. When I have more to give, I will once again.

    Finally, there is no shortage of people who will offer you advice on this topic. And you’ve received some great advice on this post already. But at the end of the day, follow your own instincts and ignore the advice. :) You’ll find your way like the rest of us have!

    Best of luck on this awesome adventure.

  23. Meri

    Breath little lady, breeeaaath…Also know that we love your all your posts for their heart and candor- ramble away – we love you!

  24. lamamatogng

    Em, I think you might really enjoy this post: http://www.adesignsovast.com/2013/06/narrow-and-deep/. So important to soak up all the glorious goodness of life and love and children…but also to feel the amazing satisfaction of applying your talents (and boy do you have them). Sending you love and light and cheering away for you. xo

  25. Kristy

    You are so hilarious! I loveeeeee this post. I was a career woman, and I now stay at home with a 5 year old, a 3 year old, and one on the way in October.
    What I have learned is this. Every moment of every day, every nervous breakdown (they have happened WAY more often than I would like to admit in the last 5 years!), and every heart skipping joyful moment with that baby of yours….they are all just God’s way of making you into who you are supposed to be. Don’t try to figure it out too much, it IS unattainable. Just buckle up, trust in the Good Lord, continue to love the hell our of your husband, and know that the little boy you are about to meet has been yours forever, and he will make you into something you can’t even imagine! I really never considered that you, Emily Henderson, could be any better…but I have a feeling you will be! :) Hugs and blessings to your sweet family.
    Kristy

  26. Maggie

    Keep in mind that there will always be exciting design projects ahead of you in your career, but you’ll never get back those first precious hours, days and months when your baby wants only to snuggle on your chest and you only want him to be there. It’s a very short window in the grand scheme of your life, I’ve found (now with a 4-year-old). Having your own business allows you to say when, where and how, which is priceless. Balancing a creative business and a baby is messy, exhilirating, tiring, joyous, complicated—in essence, life! Enjoy the journey!

  27. Once baby is there, you will realize what is most important in your life. “Design” may take on a whole new meaning for you in the future. You may “design” in a completely new direction. It’s exciting to imagine how your talents and passions will play out once your whole world flips on its head!

  28. To answer your question about whether career sustainability with a young child is satisfying enough the answer is no. However, you will be so in love with the new person in your life that it won’t matter. This idea of just squeezing in a baby to your current life with little dissonance is just plain false. I am all for women working and pursuing her dreams and being a mom (if one chooses to be). However, we are made to believe that we can “have it all” and if you struggle with the juggle then you aren’t wise enough. What I have learned (the hard way and in a span of two grueling years) is that you can’t have it all, or you can have it all just not all at the same time. Don’t think that you have to keep the same job load as you had before the baby to prove that you can handle just as much as before. We know you can. Work how you are working now and you will burn out quickly and those nervous breakdowns you are trying to avoid will happen faster.
    I work in the corporate world with 90% male coworkers and have been trained to think that I must always be working for upward mobility. I have to strive for promotions, higher pay, and a corner office. I used to have this mental picture of a graph consistently projecting upward as time passes. However, the lesson I learned is that my career path isn’t meant to be that way. Instead, since I had to make the baby, recuperate, and now slap on another full-time job title, my little career graph has plateaus. I have accepted that this is okay! Sustaining for awhile is okay, say it with me. I am not worse, I am not lesser, I just have other things to do. You might feel a tinge of dissatisfaction with your sustaining career plateaus, but you will be totally satisfied in other areas of your life. I can promise you that.

  29. Hi Emily,
    The day your baby is born your life will never be the same. Sounds cliche but I wish someone had told me that ahead of time!! Your situation sounded just like my reality this spring, you could not have described it more perfectly. I was completely overwhelmed and booked up to my ears with work feeding my hyper energy, my business growing almost out of control, and never a moment to breathe or for that matter work out or sleep! My son’s father had sadly passed away a few months earlier, we were preparing for a cross country move and I finally realized… I needed to say NO, just to simply say NO and limit what I take on and be present for every moment.
    Best thing I have ever done.
    Life is short, there will always be videos to shoot, spaces to design, opportunities to grab. But the moments you with miss with your child, even the minutes sitting tired at the breakfast table rushing to the school bus will never come back. I feel like my son was just born and he just turned 12!! Best wishes to you and your family I hope you both enjoy every moment of it and don’t worry about a finish on your clients floor!!!

  30. CT Design

    Don’t forget to plan for siblings in your long-term sustainable career plan…if you think Baby #1 is going to rock your world, wait till you have #2. And #3 even more…

  31. Laurel

    Jill nailed it. It all changes when he’s in your arms. I’m sure you’ve got some of the logistics worked out and no clue about the others. Waiting to have a baby is hard; trying to picture what your life will be like and how you’ll ever have a sense of balance with anything….but they really do figure out how to be part of your world. And you figure out how to be in theirs. It takes a little time of course, but I found that being a mom puts everything into perspective. The things that are important and that you are passionate about are the things you will figure out how to make time for.

    Also, there will come a day in your early motherhood when you are totally overwhelmed and probably crying and thinking maybe, just maybe you really suck at this mom thing. Just remember that I felt that way too. And it passed.

    Xoxo,
    Laurel

  32. E E Faris

    My dear Emily, You are very wise to consider some selectivity now. Because the moments with a baby never come back. Because driving yourself towards 24/7 workload will alienate you from many, and cause you to forget who you are. You do not have to work based on volume. This decision would be wise, midcareer, even if it were not for beginning a family.
    I interviewed, at some length, four working women physicians. The level of fatigue (and I was also a mom of young children with long hours myself) was horrifying. You give up so much. Too much. You lose feeling attractive, feeling enjoyment, the sense of humor goes out the window.
    The one woman who was doing much better, mentally and emotionally, than the others was also the one with the most adversity. She had a child, one of three, who suffered a catastrophic illness and resulting disability. The reason that she did so much better was that she had selected her practice and partners with the upfront condition that she was going to have kids and would not be full time when they were young. And she was a fabulous and well respected professional ever after.
    You may think this is not applicable to the creative trades, but I think it is. Insight, creativity, and effectiveness are some of the first casualties with fatigue.
    How wise of you to go for sustainability.
    I guess the last thing I really, really want to say is that planning can be hubris. One really can’t control career trajectories. One can’t control opportunities. Give yourself a break already. If you are fully present in the lives of your husband and child, if you take care of yourself and honor your talent, then you will be prepared for what lies ahead. One of the great lessons babies give us is that one cannot be in complete control.
    I truly believe this stuff and wish so much that I had someone I could have talked to when I was at your place in the road.
    Take good care.

  33. Kate

    I’m sure that you will figure it all out when you are actually in it. Preparation is great but what really matters is how you feel when your life hits the fan.
    There is lots of great advice already in previous comments so in an effort to not be redundant I would just say that yes new little babyland is tough. But so is every year after that. When my baby was a wee screaming alien and I was having nightmares of her crying eyes turning into oily black pools and melting down her face (true story), my mom said “It never gets easier, it just gets different.” Well maybe it did get a smidge easier, but that’s about it. My baby is now 9 and I think she needs me just as much as ever. Yes it is nice that she can wipe herself but enter emotional angst to rival first trimester hormones, endless opinions and her own google calendar. So I think that sustainability is an excellent goal… but it isn’t about getting through the first year. It is about the rest of your life… Simplify everything you can now. A yes to something is a no to something else. You won’t regret saying yes to your family. Ever.

    • Laura

      So true! If it gets easier in one way, it gets harder in another. You’re no longer changing diapers but you have to meet with teachers and study for spelling tests and deal with catty girls at school. Actually, the hardest is two years old. The early days are only difficult because they’re new, but new babies sleep a lot and are blissful little bundles of love, they do not run away from you in crowded places and eat things they find in the sand. I don’t believe it’s really only hard when they’re tiny. It stays hard FOREVER, you just get better at it with practice. Plus, it really is fun!

  34. have you read “lean in” by sheryl sandberg? i’m reading it now (only a few chapters in), but it is incredible so far and so many of my female friends have recommended it to me. while i’m no where near having kids, i struggle a lot having a full time job in the business world and working freelance as a designer (and i’ve only got 2 projects!), and blogging, as well as trying to have a life squeezed somewhere in there.

    i’d say read lean in, and take it one step at a time. you’re remarkably talented – it is literally astonishing just how amazing you are at design. i have no doubt that you’ll find the right path for you as a mother and designer.

    • Lisa

      I agree…this is a fantastic book.

  35. Jenny B

    Question – a lot of people ask you and you never seem to answer, is Secrets of a Stylist (or from – I always forget) every coming back? Is that just over now? I’m sure you won’t answer this either, just thought I’d give it the old college try.

  36. the first year is magical. hard, yes, but in a way that is really lovely. your baby boy is going to probably sort most things out for you – they can’t talk but they will let you know what’s up and you will be like “really? ok.” he’ll suddenly become your first priority and you will forget what life was like before all his genius-level cooing and diaper changes. and with that you have such an amazing career and so many loyal people in your corner i think however it works out it WILL work. anticipating is the always the worst part!

  37. Ola

    Hi Emily, just read your post and I feel I’m at the same stage right now. Have 2 kids and on mat leave now. But I already fear what’s gonna happen when I come back to work next year. It’s not my dream job ( that would actually be interior decorating;) but its interesting and used to give me satisfaction. I love your blog and just wanted to say how much I learned from you and you are an inspiration for me. Is career even possible when having kids? Anyways good luck with everything! Your posts are so current!

  38. Lizzy

    Good idea, Emily. Just be sure to keep the doors open to projects to which you might be saying NO now. The first few years are so hard, but then it should get easier when they go to school, and you may need to open those doors then. From my experience with two little ones, the first few years are really hard. You want to be in at least two places at once – working, being with your kids, being with your spouse, taking time f

  39. Lizzy

    For yourself, etc. And when you are with your kids, it is impossible and hard for them if you are ignoring them to focus on something else. Good luck with it. I am also trying to maintain/sustain my career, and I want my boys to be able to admire my career. Every day is a challenge. My life feels like too much of a good thing – too much but good. You just have to be sure that it doesn’t get to be so overwhelming that it turns bad.

  40. Beth

    When that sweet boy is in your arms none of it will matter. These things have a way of working themselves out. Motherhood is the best!

  41. You soon-to-be baby boy IS your creative, sustainable (life-long) next project. And trust me you’ll love it & find endless joy in motherhood. Maybe you could write a book while you transition back into the busy life. Xo

  42. Stassja

    I’m a working mom in the corporate world expecting number two. It’s good to find some additional balance because you will have less time and you’ll have to figure out how to allocate that and taking care of your boy can’t wait an hour sometimes. However, be careful that you’re not overestimating or declining challenges before you face them. As much as you will want to hang out with your little boy, if you want to have a career too you will want to make sure it’s still exciting to you. In other words it gets harder to go to work everyday and work long hours – but if you like what you do and it fulfills you it can be the perfect balance. Not everyone is built to stay home (I’m admittedly a better mom because I work). Quality over quantity. You’ll figure it out. It’s a constant optimization problem and sometimes the balance will be off but just know the right answer is different for everyone. And there are good and bad things about whatever you choose so just embrace it as a conscious choice and stay flexible. Good luck. :)

  43. Well it may be the wine talking but I’ll just say it anyways. Can we be friends? Just kidding, I know peps think that about you all the time. “We could totally be friends!” So I’m kidding (unless you are up for it – kidding again, kinda) Anyways, being a designer/small business owner/mom of a precious baby boy is totally awesome but it’s hard. I’m sure I am not as “work” busy as you are but still busy. My little guy is 14 months old and I certainly don’t have it figured out so I’ll be reading to see how you do. Good luck and remember if you are ever in Nashville, let’s go to brunch or whatever is cool now.

  44. Karin

    Good luck! Learning how to say no is a good skill to cultivate. I felt similarly overloaded (in a good way) before my daughter was born. Two kids later, I’ve learned:

    *Don’t pretend a baby doesnt /won tchange everything, it will, it does. It did.
    *Dont drop out of work totally- but do scale back at baby’s beginning so you can slow down to a new baby pace — let your body recover, learn the baby, be healthy, rest, etc. — this pays off later
    *Never say never.
    *Everyone is lying about how long the baby sleeps at night. Babies don’t sleep.
    *line up/get lots of support when you do go back to work – for both of you– we discovered this great coparenting resource ad community for dual career families, and it transformed our outlook on what we could do and how to do it together: http://www.thirdpath.org

  45. Ha ha, this entire post reminded me of something I do all the time (and I think our brains may think alike)…the minute you convince yourself you are slowing down, saying no, and you don’t HAVE to do anything at all but take care of and enjoy your beautiful baby boy, your brain starts to relax and enjoy itself and all the less busy-ness in its life, and you’re sure you made the right decision. And then soon after you get a request for work (because you’re great). And if you enjoy your work, and if you’re charging well for it, a practical brain like ours has a dang hard time turning that away! What’s wrong with paying some bills doing something you love?? NOTHING. :) And so you think ‘oh, I can do that, totally!” And slowly the process cycles itself again. :)
    And it’s actually great!! It’s a good mechanism to keep things in check…you’re on the right track. Slow down, and at least PLAN for everything to be the worst stress of you life (it won’t be), but a planner has to plan for it. :) Then when your perfect little man is born and you get a great hold on things, you’ll know what you can handle, and it may surprise you, but cross the bridge when it comes. ;) EVERYTHING can’t be planned and predicted. You’re awesome!!!
    Oh, and one last tip, start charging waaaayyyy more. Lol. Just think, what was your time worth to you before? And what’s it going to be worth to you once all that work is now taking you away from your new little boyfriend in the house? It’s worth more, I promise you…so that also makes it easier to have the guts to charge more, you now have GREAT justification behind it, and then (not to anyone’s surprise but your own I bet) you’ll find out people will pay it…the really GREAT customers you’d want to weed out towards anyways…sorry I talk to much, but I feel your pain. :)

    • Allison

      I agree with Pam’s tip to charge more. It’s basic supply and demand- there will be less of your time and energy for awhile, so your services will be in greater demand. Your rates should increase.

      That being said, you’ve spent 10 “yes” years building your brand, and your team should continue taking projects that reflect your brand and keep up the “Emily Henderson” momentum. Think about the “Martha Stewart” or “Oprah” brands. Those women oversee (but probably don’t micro-manage) a group of talented people who enhance their brands. Give the people you trust more responsibility in the day-to-day projects, and you can contribute as you are able. (But be clear with your clients, and maybe have a second set of rates.)

      Ultimately, you’re in a unique working mom situation, and blog readers’ corporate world advice isn’t necessarily applicable. Get in contact with your peers in the design world, and ask how they’ve balanced work and family. Also, consider hiring a PR/marketing person to help you re-evaluate your business goals and transition your brand.

  46. JD

    Some thoughts . . .

    Ideas seem to gestate best in a void— when that void is filled, it is more difficult to access them. In our consumption-driven society, almost all voids are filled, blocking moments of greater clarity and creativity. – Andrea Zittel

    Or, to paraphrase the painter Agnes Martin, you need a clear mind so when something comes into it, you can see it.

    Sometimes we get wrapped up in what we want to do and forget to think about how we want to do it. There are many ways to practice interior design, be a working mom and have a happy marriage, look at the difference between Kelly Wearstler and Ruthie Sommers for example. It sounds like you have already given a lot of thought to what you want your life to be like. Control what you can and try not to worry too much about the rest.

  47. Sarah

    please just be kind to yourself. First year as a mum is the time in your life when you most need to be kind to yourself.
    Sarah

  48. Kelly

    As a mom of 3, if i’ve learned one thing it is that life is a series of phases and you can have it all, just not all at once. one of the other commenters made the point you cannot see around the curve in the road and it is SO true. Enjoy where you are in the road and take it a step at a time. and enjoy your family as you do. Have faith in yourself. you’ll o fine

  49. Cheryl

    Mother of 3, grandmother of 4, and active nana in the village of raising our youngest special needs grandson and full time teacher for 30 years, now retired. What I know is that “trimming” is an active verb and as long as I never trimmed my kids’ hair (which I did do for several years and we have horrific pictures to show my efforts), we survived in good stead. What I didn’t do enough of is make time to replenish — getaways with my husband of almost 46 years and alone-time for me, to rest and gaze at the stars, not because I’m in a stupor because of all the work but because that sky is absolutely beautiful.

  50. Laura

    Remember how much you loved/needed your parents when you were little? I remember the day I realized that I loved/needed my husband more than that. And it turns out, I love/need my kids even more than that. You can probably already start to feel it, but it’s so huge you really can’t fathom it until you do. When I had one, I told some one that I couldn’t imagine being able to love another baby this much. Wrong! I do. The point here, is that you really don’t know what you’re in for, but you’re in for something good.

    One other thing, I have a feeling that husband of yours will be an awesome resource. I know a few Dad’s who are the primary parent and are great at it. Don’t underestimate his skills.

  51. Jill

    Everyone who said “you won’t know until it happens” is correct. I finished grad school, had a baby, and tried out the stay-at-home mom thing. I was lonely and unhappy. After 7 months I got a job that I loved, and although the transition was hard, it was the best decision for me and my family. However, when quitting time rolls around, I’m out the door and home to my girl and my husband. I don’t work at night or on weekends anymore. Baby #2 is coming in August and things will shift again. Take it as it comes and see what feels right. Perfection is not possible, but there will be moments of pure joy and fulfillment on both the home and work fronts, I promise.

  52. Kellie

    I know how you feel and I don’t even have kids yet!! My husband and I are planning to start next year, so I am assessing when/if I should quit my job, etc. It’s very overwhelming and upsetting since we work so hard at our careers and then we must take a step back when the little one arrives. However, I think that once you see that baby boy’s face, NOTHING will be as important. You’re fortunate that you can still work because you have such a flexible schedule and work from home, right? I don’t think your career will suffer, in fact I think it will thrive once you become a mom. I have faith in you and completely know that you can juggle being a great mom, wife, and designer. Good luck! Have fun being pregnant!

  53. Lea

    Emily, after baby you’ll find your new “normal”. After two kids, I still have my career. But during that time I’ve also watched other coworkers without children continue to climb the corporate ladder. That’s been a little challenging for a Type-A gal, like me. But it’s my new normal and I’d rather be a kick ass mom than a kick ass career woman anyway. I may not have a fancy job title, and I may not be someone’s boss, but my new normal is so much more statifying (and a hell of a lot cuter!) than my old normal.

  54. You know that thing where you wake up in the middle of the night and all you can think about is this ONE THING that seems so important and you can’t get back to sleep because of that thought? A few nights ago, I was unable to sleep thinking about how Starke Henderson could so easily be heard as/mistaken for Star Kenderson. I’m posting here mainly for my own peace of mind, but also just in case you hadn’t thought of that. Not the advice you were looking for, but I’m not a mom, so this is all I got.

  55. Chenell Tannure

    It is all inevitable! But the secret I am going to share with you is closely guarded, so come in close…closer…closer…it’s not as hard as you think it’s going to be. A lot of it will come naturally, and the mistakes you make won’t be huge ones. Read a good baby book that agrees with your general philosophy (because that stuff will stick in your brain at the crucial moment, I promise), give yourself 6 weeks of NO WORK, then play it by ear. Work on a scaled back schedule for the first 6 months or year or so, then arrange for preschool a few days a week and ramp it back up as you feel you can/want to. Hire a nanny for a few hours a day if you think it will help, and don’t feel guilty about it. Say “YES” when someone offers to babysit, so you can have dinner with your husband sometimes, and just BREATHE. You’ll do great, because you aren’t a moron. We all worry before the baby is born, but I promise, promise the secret is true. One healthy baby is not as hard as you are scared it will be. It gets more complicated with multiples. You guys are so ahead of the curve. DON’T WORRY!!!! : ))

  56. Stacey

    You are amaze-balls! I just found you and I am so sad I haven’t known you longer. I have two children and have had the privilege to do it all: part-time, full-time work and stay-at-home Mom. All are hard and ALL are wonderful! My only advice is take care of yourself (aka yoga, running, ladies night out, lots of booze). I panicked about fitting it all in the first time I was pregnant. I forgot to find a way to fit myself in.

    Ok! So I lied! My second piece of advice is the book “On Becoming Babywise”. Both my children were sleeping 10+ hrs by 12 weeks of age due solely to this book. Babies (and Mommas) need sleep!

    You. Are. Seriously. Talented. I am so happy I found you. :)

  57. Lisa

    OBVIOUSLY you won’t do this…but I dropped out….dropped. out. of the workforce 10 years ago to raise my daughter. Big mistake. Now I am trying to get back into the workforce and it’s been tough. Just try to keep sustainability up enough that you aren’t wondering where the time, and your career went 10 years from now! My baby has grown up and I have a lot more time on my hands and am craving a few chaotic projects.

  58. Rebekah

    I loved this post and I completely relate! I have an eleven month old bambino who has totally rocked our world this past year. In fact, we joke about throwing him a first birthday party for him but making it Adults only and sending his sweet and adorable bum to Grandma’s! We will call it the “We survived the first year party!” In all honesty, the first year is hard but I think the first three months are the hardest, at least from what I can remember from that zombie-like state! I have also been blessed with the gift and curse of being a very high energy soul and in those first three months, and even now I struggle (big time!) with questions like , do I lay around and snuggle the new babe or do I finally paint the living room?! In the end, I really do believe the best thing to do is trust yourself, and keep a sense of humor about the whole thing! In those sleep deprived moments, I think it’s best to take the road of laughter over freaking out any day! I, of course, am still working on this as I consider myself a never-ending project!

  59. Erin

    Pregnancy (and the first few months post birth) trick you into thinking you need to have it all figured out. I’m not sure I would have listened had someone told me, but there is no need to figure it all out and in fact it’s a bit futile. Optimism, an adventurers spirit, a sense of humor, an equal partner, and a very awesome nanny are really the only things that are essential. Parenting will blow you away with how awesome it is–so much joy. You’ll role with it. Your career will sore. Trust yourself and have so much fun. Kids really add so much more than they take away. You’ll shock yourself by how this time next yr you have more energy, more creativity, and more perspective than you’d ever thought possible. (2 career household in San Diego. 23momth old with baby on the way. Love our jobs, kids, life).

  60. Laura

    I am from England, and here most people have at least 6 months totally off work with a baby, most I know have up to a year, and a tiny minority go back full time. The culture is so different in the US, I find it so fascinating to read all these new mums bloggers who go back to work after 6 weeks or even 4 weeks. You will never, ever get the time back with your child, and they NEED you for the first 3 years so, so, so much. You are so young and an work until you are seventy…..choose your child, you won’t regret it. You are amazing xxxxxlaura, uk

  61. Kristin

    Nurse mom here. I got myself a ‘sustainability’ job after baby girl. I thought it would be awesome. Working just enough to keep my skills up. But then the baby arrived… I ended up quitting after 4 shifts. Never saw it coming, how much I’d NEED and want to spend my time with her. Decide after he’s in your arms. :)

  62. Tigersmom

    The minute you hold your new baby boy in your arms it will all become clear. You will know what you need to do and what will work for you.
    Of course, this sucks as far as planning goes….but I found that I really didn’t care if someone didn’t/couldn’t understand my need to back out of something or say no because of wanting/needing to be with my son. Motherhood is liberating in that way. That one way.

  63. Jennifer Markowitz

    I would highly recommend reading Ann Marie Slaughter’s piece from The Atlantic- one year ago. I’ve just had my second child and this op/ed piece spoke loudly to me and made me feel like a normal mom/woman/creative – I am a promo producer in NYC. It may depress you a little, but I have a gut feeling it will actually make you feel better and certainly give you a more realistic idea of what is in store for you. You absolutely can have a baby-ies plus a career. But, no I don’t think a woman “can have it all-all of the time.”
    Good luck and I am very excited for you to enter into what will no doubt be the most wonderful time of your life!

  64. I’m really glad you shared this! I think it’s good you are preparing for this, as I think many moms go in saying “I can still do it all and have a baby!” You will be tired and you may have to cut back a bit, but I think you will be surprised how motherhood changes you. Suddenly those design decisions may not be as difficult or mind-consuming. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I still obsess about things, but it’s amazing how a lot of that can all fall away when you’re with your kids. Granted, the first year is mainly exhausting because of the lack of sleep. It’s when they start moving and yelling and getting into things that you can’t get anything done during the day. :)

    I can really relate to this post. I just started a blog and I’m constantly wondering if this was the best season to do so. With a 1 and a 3 year old, life is pretty overwhelming as it is, but I find that I truly enjoy those creative moments that much more. The balance does seem unrealistic, yet I feel like striving for it is what keeps me somewhat sane. Thanks for sharing, Emily!

  65. Lea

    Kristin has brilliant advice: “Decide after he’s in your arms.”

    Also, what’s worked for all of us may not work for you. Keep that in mind. Everyone’s family is different and unique, and pay no attention to anyone who judges your life decisions. You will learn to block out those voices early on. It’s essential to your emotional health and sruvival.

    After my first, a random stranger once yelled at me for not putting a hat on the baby. It made me really upset. If I saw that woman again today, I’d give her a piece of my mind. You’re in a fragile state when you have a newborn. You have permission to tell people to take their advice and stick in where the sun don’t shine.

    Also, be kind to yourself. You may find simple tasks like grocery shopping or even going for a walk to be challenging with baby. Please know that it’s the same way for everyone – we’ve all been there – and it’s hard. Find a group of new moms you can vent to. It will save your sanity.

  66. CM

    I have a feeling the baby will force you to step back and breathe, and when you do, you’ll see the big picture so much more clearly. Sometimes you can get so wrapped up in details that you never get a chance to evaluate where you are and think about what you really want.

    Don’t get scared that “sustainability” isn’t good enough or that this “no” phase will last forever. Treat the next few years as an experiment. Babies force you to go with the flow even if you are the most hyper Type A. Embrace it and I think you’ll end up somewhere you love.

  67. Charity S

    As a mom of 5 whos 33, still pulling for Charlie, I can just tell you that it won’t ever be perfect for you or any mother. Balance? Ha. does not exsist.My oldest son is 14 so you can probably figure out that my husband and I were to busy having sex and we missed all the after school specials and we aren’t “Scroodge Mcducking it” for sure, loved that, but if he had not come along I’m sure I would be in a ditch somewhere. He made me so much better, I’ll bet that little Mr. Henderson does the same for you, and your not that bad to begin with! I can’t wait to see how he changes you. Perfection is boring! And if there is anything that I could hope that all 5 come away with is that contentment is the key to happiness. When I just excepted what I had and made the decision to be happy It left me with so much more space to be inspired and creative. It is going to be hard but you will figure it out. Love Love Love this blog!

  68. AshleyM

    Wow. I have no advice whatsoever. We are about to start trying to get pregnant and I wonder how I will manage it all. I am keeping this blog post, because man. Your readers are awesome. I am only half way through and do not have the time to finish reading all the comments, but I imagine anytime after I get pregnant and start to question everything or the future, I will read these comments. They are so kind. You are lucky. :) Good luck.

  69. this is all great. but i have to say, you had me ‘way shorter torso.’ i love when people write or say things that i thought only I noticed!

  70. Kate

    HA! you think your ADD is bad: I was raptly reading until that cactus pic and immediately opened a new tab because it triggered an (apparent) sudden need to google what makes cacti grow quickly and why has my similar-looking one become all thin and tall?
    … okay, I’ll go back to reading now.

  71. Rebecca

    After having my first baby at 23 I went back to work after 6 months and cried every day. So after 6 weeks back I quit my job to stay home. I had 2 more kids and didn’t return to work until the youngest started Kindergarten. We had NO money – seriously. We really did live paycheck to paycheck literally. But it was the best decision we ever made for US. But I also have friends who took maternity leave and returned to careers and guess what? We all have great kids and great, well adjusted families. You can have a family and a gang buster career and you will ALL be very happy. Yes having a baby will totally change your outlook on things. You really won’t know how until it happens. Nothing can ever prepare you for this wonderful blessing – truly! I agree with those that have said pay for the help that you can afford, such as housekeeping. Absolutely!!! Yes – perhaps hire an assistant to help you with those small details you think you can let go of. (actually that could be a great contest!!) Take some time off when you have the baby to just chill with Brian and think of nothing else except how unbelievably tired your arm is from holding your baby because you just don’t want to put him down :) Things will all become clear to you, and you will do what is right for you! I am lucky enough to be enjoying this baby thing all over again as I am now a Grandma to 3 awesome grandkids: 19 months, 14 months and 9 weeks! Time marches on……. and it just keeps getting better!!!

  72. I have a son and run an (albiet small) interior design business. I found that the first year with my son was the easiest. I put him in a carrier and took him everywhere with me, though I barely worked as a designer that first year. I continue to work from home so that I can pick him up from school almost every day. It is not the easiest….and this summer when I found myself with six projects all in one month, it has been a little crazy (he is almost 7) and sometimes I am angry with myself for thinking about the faucets in that brownstone bath instead of focusing on his tales of Megabat (a superhero he has invented) All of that being said, I love what I do and I love him. He doesn’t seem any worse for wear, and I like that he talks about electricians and draws floor plans :) Families who are happy make happy kids. There is no right answer to the work/life balance, so I have given up and I focus on being happy. Sometimes that means I put my phone away, close the computer, and go swimming at the pool and sometimes that means I let the kid watch PBS while I pull things together for a presentation and he and his Dad have dinner without me.

    I think no matter how much advice you get, or what you think will work,it is still going to be an experiment. Learning to say “no” is not a bad place to start! Good luck!

  73. Andi

    Oh, Sweet Ladypants. It’s natural to want lots of advice from those who have marched/crawled/skipped through the ranks of Moomyhood. (for the record, I don’t want to hear from the ones who skipped.) And though Mommy Judges (Mudges?) aren’t as rampant as they use to be, there will always be those who think they can tell you how you should be doing it.

    Follow your instincts. Only you and Brian will know what’s best for your family. So far I’ve found that any decision I make as a mother/creative business owner comes with a side of guilt. (Dads tend to not feel this. Maybe we could learn from them?) So if that’s the case you may have to make the best decision with what you have right in that moment. And let the rest go.

    And don’t sweat the first year so much. Each phase has it’s own challenges. It goes by so very quickly. (I swear just last year they smelled like lavender baby soap. Now it’s stinky sports equipment.) You’ll probably have to adjust for each phase, but don’t forget to enjoy them along the way.

    Hopefully without any Mudges.

  74. Jac

    Work-life balance is like one of those vintage (brass, of course) weighing scales with a cute and well-behaved baby on one side and amazing projects and money on the other — sometimes you have to jiggle with/MacGyver the scales to get it exactly even and sometimes you have to allow one side to be heavier than the other for a while. There is give and take, occasional balance and more occasional imbalance, but it’s okay. It works because its brass. No, that wasn’t my point: it works because it’s flexible and you allow yourself to be okay with the shifts in weight/focus. Love that you are honestly addressing your fears here. It’s scary — all weighing scales are scary!– but so exciting, but I promise you will find your own perfect idea of “balance.”

  75. Hi Emily, long time reader first time commenter. I just wanted to say that I am in a totally different field, academia, and have the very same questions. Three years ago I had my little one and I’ve actually found that babies first year or so is actually easier to manage with your existing schedule, save the whole giving birth and nursing around the clock thing. But what gets to you is when your toddler recognizes that your head is buried in work…and you know you would love to drop everything and play, but you have a deadline and deadlines are important. So I think you are on the right track in terms of thinking about how much you can realistically put on your plate and on your family because having it all doesn’t necessarily mean doing it all or doing it all right now. Maybe if the rest of the world were aiming for sustainability too, we wouldn’t seem so odd?

  76. Charlotte

    Hey there Emily,

    I have just read a lot of great advice, wow! So without much to add, just thought I’d say that this post is evidence that you are already being a good mom: ) I have two children (3 and 10 months) and they are absolutely gifts from God. Congrats.

  77. Jolene

    As far as this post being “trite and boring”: I. DON’T. THINK. SO. When I read the title, I said to myself – oh good – finally a post on this subject – I was wondering how she was going to deal with this. And there is so much heartfelt advice here. I don’t feel like I can add much on the whole “big picture” philosophy, but wanted to mention a thing or two about the amount of time spent sitting in that nursing/feeding chair. It’s a lot. And it’s around the clock. So while you may not be able to be out and about (even going to the grocery store will become hard, not to mention taking a shower) you will have tons of thinking time. I imagine you with a notebook by your side, writing down all your great ideas that will be pouring out of your brain, which you can then have someone else implement. ha! My creative juices were out of control during the nursing phase, because it takes so MUCH time, and you’re captive in that chair. Make that time valuable and harness the idea flow in some manner. …in between adoring gazes at your little man, who you will continually wonder at the miracle that he came from you.

  78. Nathalie

    All my best wishes for your pregnancy! I have 20 ~something~ days to go, so i will be able to share my thoughts after the baby will be there. I had some similar conversation with myself on how I will be managing my art career, day job & the baby… Found this website about artist & motherhood which helped me to quiet some doubts & continue to believe it will be possible to manage it all. Take care. http://mother-musing.com/

  79. This has been a fun convo to read and I think it’s awesome that you’re asking your readers for advice. I had a roommate in college that would say, “In 20 years are you going to wish you went to bed early, or stayed up until 3 am to TP the boys apartment?” or whatever the decision to be made was at any given time (naturally I chose TPing). I think once you have baby boy it’ll be really easy to decide when you ask yourself, “In 20 years am I going to look back and wish I took this job/project or that I spent that extra time with my family.” I’m sure sometimes it will be one and sometimes it will be the other, but picturing myself in the future and looking back weirdly gives my life a lot of perspective.

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