I’ve found motherhood to be beautiful. The whole mess of it. The sheer joy I feel when Trey has a laugh attack. The waves of grief that pass from time to time from a loss of freedom I once had. Yet, really, it’s just a certain type of freedom that’s gone – from silly things, like being able to take a shower when I please, to bigger things like my old identity as a traveling, designing career-driven woman. I’ve discovered that the freedom gained is far more pure and visceral…the kind of freedom that’s found in love.
Life Before Motherhood
But, oh! How my life has changed! Last year at this time I was designing the new Knowmad website. I worked over a year on it until launch. I sourced programmers, met with SEO teams, basically took everything we had built with Knowmad over the past five years and organized it within a digital framework. Each itinerary idea representing relationships formed, food tasted, and paths explored. Lisa, Knowmad’s Media Manager and my sister, and I logged countless elbow-greased hours formatting photos and working through files in the attic of my Minneapolis house.
Jordan and I left for Chile, well, just about nine months before Trey was born. We spent a month testing out seven luxury lodges in Southern Patagonia & the Atacama Desert (real hard work). Later, we trekked to Choquequirao in Peru while I was in my first trimester of pregnancy. Then began the preparation for the little bebito about to change our lives. I took nesting to a new level and organized every nook and cranny of our house – our camping gear, my art supplies, the pantry. No box was left unlabeled and no closet left unturned! And then began the decorating! Jordan finally refused, after the eighth room, to paint anymore. So I wallpapered the nursery. He cooked and froze enough food to feed a small village. We read the books. We went to the classes. We prepared Knowmad, carving out a maternity leave for me as best we could.
Life Post Baby
Turns out the old cliche “nothing can prepare you for a baby” holds true. Your life suddenly becomes both as amazing and as difficult as it has ever been. You also gain too intimate of an understanding of why sleep deprivation is used as a torture tool.
To say the least, this spring I find myself doing quite the contrary to last. Trey was born in the wee hours of the morning on Tuesday, December, 10th to one of the coldest winters in Minnesota history. He weighed in at 8 lbs. 4 oz. and measured 22 inches long. After surviving over 50 days below zero, he’s finally been able to breathe in actual fresh air this month. To date, I’ve changed about 1,386 diapers, nursed for about 504 hours and rocked for what feels like three years. Let the dog in. Let the dog out. Bath time. Diaper change. Nap time. Nurse. Burp. Change. Dance and file. Dance and dishes. Dance and laundry. Nap. Nurse. Burp. Change. Repeat.
Now my “maternity leave” is coming to a close and the juggling act of getting in enough Knowmad hours to keep my brain happy and enough family hours to keep my soul happy has begun. I think it will always prove trying to find the perfect balance, but lately I’ve found that things have been falling into place in their own way. Or maybe I just see it that way now that my perspective has changed. I used to bolt from task to task, constantly strategizing how I could get more done, move faster and be more efficient. With a baby, you get revved up and they sense it. It’ll turn your day upside down, really. I knew I would have to slow down significantly so I made myself a rule: when I’m with Trey, I’m with Trey. No emails, texts, Facebook, Instagram, or computer face-time. Now my focus is how to do less and it’s so refreshing.
Of course, after a couple months my inbox started piling up and part of me couldn’t wait to get back to work. I had a hard time piecing together how it would happen though. I wanted Trey to nurse as long as possible, but he eats every two and half hours so that doesn’t leave much time in between. I still needed to make taking care of myself a priority as well – eating well and trying to fit in some exercise. Not to mention, Jordan and I could use a date night here and there. The problem wasn’t just a scheduling conflict either – mainly I couldn’t conceive of where on Earth I was going to find the energy for all of that!
Then came the game changer. At around three months Trey started sleeping for nine whole hours in a row and I became an actual functioning human being again. Everything became more manageable. His naps and nursing schedule became more predictable so I could fit in showers and meals without help. Now when my mom came in the afternoon (grandmas are the best!) I was actually dressed and could sneak into the office. Then the sun came out and the weather turned! We start off almost everyday now with a walk through South Minneapolis to the Knowmad office to see Papa off. That kills almost a flock of birds with one stone – exercise for me, nap for Trey, walk for Luna our dog and some quality time with the hubby to boot!
Admittedly, the days of traveling to foreign, Latin American lands seem so far, far away. But even though every day brings new challenges, I literally wouldn’t trade motherhood for the world. Every morning that our baby boy wakes us with his perfect smiles and delighted coos I’m reminded that this is the trip of a lifetime.
Un Beso, Tara
Tara is the Co-Founder, Marketing and Operations Manager at Knowmad Adventures, a company dedicated to creating unique, private and custom trips in South America. She first traveled to South America in college and is endlessly inspired by the cultures, food, colors and idiosyncrasies she discovers there. Read Tara’s biography and more about the Knowmad team.