by Jenna Kutcher
I was afraid to have a baby. I wasn’t a maternal woman, I loved work so much, I enjoyed every ounce of freedom, I wanted Drew to myself, I didn’t want to “ruin” my body and I required 10 hours of sleep a night… There were so many reasons why I worried about becoming a mom and yet this yearning came on, 5 years into marriage after we vowed we’d never have kids.
My first month of motherhood squashed so many of those fears. I was surprised by how I naturally loved her and loved Drew even more as he became a dad. I was shocked that I felt healthy and strong and admired my changed, softer body for all that it’s done. I learned that my baby didn’t take me away from my business and that my drive to work hard and make bigger impact didn’t fade away.
I want to address the women out there who aren’t sure they ever want children, who don’t feel naturally maternal, who’s “ovaries” never hurt for a baby, who are career driven, who question if they really are cut out to be a mom, or if they’ll be any good at it: you are not broken, it’s okay, you are more than capable, and your heart has the capacity of expanding in ways you never knew.
Maybe it’s because we waited three long years or we prepared for the worst but I realized those fears were taking up space that could have been filled with dreams. Being a mom is the BEST thing I’ve ever done and it’s stretched me in new ways. Motherhood is forcing me to morph into a new version of myself, one I never imagined myself becoming.
Before I share more of what this season looks like for me, I want to say that if you’re in that season of yearning for a family, if you’re unable to have children of your own, or recovering from loss, I am sorry. I have been there and while I’ve officially crossed over, I have the utmost empathy for where you are at and how you are hurting. I pray that you can find hope in our journey.
For those who have made the decision to not have children — kudos to you, it’s awesome you honor your desires and I think you’re amazing for knowing what sort of life you envision.
And lastly, for you who want to become a mom but feel fear, I know there is hope for you. While my yearning was so strong to start a family, my fear ran deep and so I want to share how motherhood has changed both me and my business.
Understanding My Legacy
It’s crazy how many years I’ve been talking about legacy and how it’s even more true for me today as a mom. I started thinking about legacy and our online world as my diary years and years ago… in fact, I remember exactly when my brain shifted from just marketing online to telling a story, making a difference and leaving a legacy. Five years ago, Drew’s best friend died tragically in a car accident on his way home from work and our world changed forever. I remember those earlier days of missing him and scrolling his Facebook for hours on end, just wanting to feel close to him, to hear his words, to imagine his laugh. It was then that I realized that the things we write, post, and share today are things that others will still be reading in the future. We’re writing our legacies with every post we publish and that matters to me.
I know this might sound funny, but I used to always think about my legacy in terms of me: what will people remember of me, what things did I say that mattered and man, when I say that out loud, I realize how selfish and self-centered that sounds. Talk about being humbled into selflessness in becoming a mom — I’m not afraid to admit that at all. While I understood legacy and believed I was writing mine, having a human to picture as I draft each post and imagining her someday reading them gives a whole new weight to the term for me. Recognizing that she can Google her mom and read about me online is both terrifying and empowering, because I keep showing up and I want Conley to see my life unfolding with each post, and to know that our lives offline were even more beautiful but no less impactful.
Along those same lines, it made me proud that I didn’t shy away from our struggle, that I’ve never apologized for not being perfect. Drew and I were talking the other day about what we hope to be as parents and I told him, “I want our kids to see us argue and apologize, to see us admit we are wrong, to see us cry and have feelings when life knocks us down, I want them to not look at us as perfect but as humans and I think that will prepare them for the world so much better than if we try to pretend like we have it all figured out.”
I’m thankful that my “online journal” includes both the highlights and the hardships. I want my children to someday read about the struggle we went through to grow our family and to see how much they were prayed for. I want them to see that mom went through seasons of highs and seasons of lows and that I didn’t shy away from sharing them all. Becoming a mom has me thinking about legacy both the one that I’ve written but the one that I will write both online and offline.
Speaking of offline journals, I started writing letters to Conley the day I found out I was pregnant. I have a Word document that’s over 30 pages single spaced and every few weeks I would write a letter to her. If you’ve struggled with loss and are having a hard time connecting with your pregnancy, I highly encourage this. Not only was it therapeutic to put it all out there but to also imagine those letters, those words reaching a child that was prayed for. Those letters are so special to me and I hope they will be to her down the road. My dream is to hand pen them someday so that she has my handwriting but right now, I’m just getting those words down anyway I can which looks like typing every few weeks to share life as it is in the moment.
I See Time in a New Way
Do you guys know that Rent song? How do you measure a year in the life? Having Conley has made me look at time in an entirely new way — in the expected ways like how much time I have in a day to work and mom and be a wife and try to shower and all of that, but also in terms of how much growth can happen in just 12 months. I honestly feel like during our three year struggle to start our family, I was just kind of holding my breath. I was waiting to live a little and burying myself in work in ways to try and forget about the fact that our family wasn’t unfolding. I wouldn’t wish that upon anyone.
Seeing the transformation month by month has been incredible. I mean, when else in your life do you grow so quickly and learn so much as you do in the first year of life. I think I never really had a ruler to hold up in my adult world of the difference a month can make and so having a baby has taught me to treasure each month and to really stop to take in the milestones and acknowledge them.
I think one of my proudest mom moments thus far is the fact that I have kept up with the monthly updates and photos and posts on my blog… Selfishly, so that I have those little reminders and Facebook memories showing me how big my girl has gotten but also because I get to share and document and bask in the growth that happened in just 30 days. Never have I as much as “paused” because a month has passed but I find myself in awe of how much can change.
I mean, how can a tiny, fully dependent human go from a little cute blob to a walking, talking, teeth growing kiddo in just a year? It’s insane to me when you think of the development that takes place in year one and that’s why it’s been a year that I’ve been working on fiercely protecting so that I can be with my baby every day.
In this season, I’m realizing there is very little margin. I feel like my time is devoted to being a mom or running my business and that the tiny margin that lives beyond those two things is where everything else lives — and I’m trying to figure that all out but one of the hardest aspects of time is when I’m trying to do all things at once. Like in the middle of the work day when I’m in flow state but Conley needs to eat and I have to pause, feed my baby, and try to be present with her but my brain is still back on work — it’s this feeling of being half in on everything which is something I feel like will be a constant battle. You know, that juggling act that everyone talks about? It’s real.
I’m still trying to figure out a flow that works and supports all the things that are required of me in my business and it hasn’t been an easy transition having all of us being at home together all day but we’re working it out and figuring out a flow that will work.
Motherhood Forced Me to Ask For Help
I’m a huge lover of outsourcing, but simply asking for help? Not my cup of tea. I’d avoid it at all costs if I could and I did for a long time, until I became a mom. I was humbled early on in my pregnancy when I was so sick I could hardly function. It taught me a valuable lesson in asking for help that carried me through maternity leave — specifically when it comes to business.
Looking back now, I can see that our journey with loss prepared me in so many ways in my business to really set myself up to be the kind of mother I want to be, which looks like a mom still pursuing her passions but also a present mom. I realized, especially after our pregnancy stayed and it was becoming more real, that in order to be the kind of mom I want to be, I have to ask for help and to fill in the gaps of my business with key players to help me execute.
This is also centered around one of the biggest fears I had about becoming a mom. I was worried that having a baby would halt my business or slow me down and steal my drive away. Before I had Coco, I wrote down every task I did in a weeks time and then I went through and circled the things that truly, only I could do, and it was THREE things — three out of a list of about 60 things I found myself doing. Here’s the thing, I still find myself doing so many things in my business because I can or because in the moment it’s easier to just do it and when I made that list I saw how many things I was doing that were things I didn’t have to do, things I could outsource or delegate or remove all together.
The three things that only I can do: Be the visionary of my business, share my voice with my actual vocal chords on this show, be the face in the photos and videos.
That’s it. THREE things. And so as I prepared to have a baby, I started hiring, outsourcing, delegating, and getting more help in all places except those three things. It helped me to see that I AM replaceable and that I have created a business that isn’t just about me. I started to see that the things I’m doing beyond those three things should be the exceptions, not the rules, and so I started to empower my team to help me execute in areas, help create new content, help take ownership on the things that were taking me away from the 3 main areas that truly only I can serve my business.
When I focus on those three things and making them my priority I am serving my business best and when I have a team that can support in the other areas, we all do better. This means outsourcing more, adding to my team in new positions, and letting my team own their processes so that I can work part-time but not get half of the results.
The Big Picture
Being a mom is a lot of things. It’s messy, but it’s worth it. I didn’t have to be afraid. I hope that this glimpse into my life gives you a little idea of what’s going on behind the screen. I hope that you feel connected to this new version of me, this version that is still becoming. I am so honored to show up and serve you with the same heart, and the same mission for impact, and the same drive. I share more in this episode about what I’ve learned since becoming a mom, so I hope you’ll press play and listen in on what this season looks like, and my wish for you if you’re feeling the same fears as I did before meeting my sweet Conley Kate.