Beyond balance (what even is balance?)
No silver bullets here
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Hi! I wrote a letter for my coach Katelyn to talk about my experience with her program Beyond Balance and how it’s impacted my life. I thought I’d share that with you here! So here goes:
I became a mom in April 2020, those early days of the pandemic when everything felt scary and uncertain.
Sometime in March, just before the world shut down, I remember my favorite barista addressing my belly as she handed me my latte: “Stay in there a little longer, just until this insanity passes, please.”
The insanity didn’t pass. We moved a car full of stuff from our apartment in Brooklyn to my parent’s house in a small New Jersey town. I had toured the NYC hospital where we planned to deliver, but instead, found myself knocking on the back door of a New Jersey hospital at 3 AM (the front door was for COVID patients only). I labored in a mask, pulling it down periodically to throw up, my knees raw on the cool hospital room floor.
I had hoped to have an unmedicated birth but found myself being wheeled to the operating room for an emergency C-section. Absolutely nothing went according to my plan except for Simone’s wild cries - our perfect (healthy!) baby girl.
Nearly three years later, motherhood hasn’t been all harrowing and dramatic. There have been first smiles and wobbly first steps, full body snuggles with lots of Peppa Pig in the background, peaceful walks along the beautiful Delaware River with my baby wrapped up against my chest, so much laughter it turns to tears.
The whole world changed.
My whole world changed.
I went back to work almost immediately after Simone was born. As a freelance writer, my job was flexible and remote, so I could keep working as the world was ending (dramatic, but it felt that way). Being a new mom felt relentlessly hard and work felt like a tether to something more familiar and manageable.
We moved to our own little house in Frenchtown, the charming town on the river, right near my parents.
I had another baby during the Omicron wave in November 2021. Julius was born in that same NJ hospital. This time, we got to use the front door.
I got COVID three weeks postpartum and had to isolate with Julius.
Simone started preschool.
My second book came out.
We built a little playhouse in the backyard.
I tried to take a walk every day.
Simone grew too big for my wrap, but Julius now fit perfectly.
I was diagnosed with postpartum depression and started taking antidepressants.
Simone said, “I love you, mommy” for the first time.
Julius took his first bite of ice cream and his whole face lit up in gleeful shock.
And yet, I felt like a hamster on a wheel, constantly behind on work, trying and failing to meet deadlines, land new clients, promote my book, and write something new. I felt like I was underperforming as a mother… wife… writer… person.
Beyond Balance was a life raft for me when my days felt unimaginably hard.
It wasn’t a silver bullet.
It was exactly what I needed.
It was solidarity with other working moms trying to juggle all the things and find some joy in the mess.
It was bite-sized tools and words of wisdom I could use when I was just trying to respond to an email, just one little email, but Simone was shouting “mommy, mommy, mommy, MOMMY.”
It was thinking about which systems and routines in my life needed some TLC and which were actually perfectly sound.
It was bringing some levity and laughs to what had felt unbearably serious.
It was streamlining and clarifying. Looking at my priorities and accepting those would be in constant flux. (And that’s a good thing!)
It was experimenting to see how new ideas would work for me.
It was laughing.
It was practicing asking for help, saying no, making decisions, and saying hell yes when my heart said hell yes!
It was creating space for those hell yeses to flourish.
It was realizing I didn’t actually need a silver bullet at all.
That sometimes my life is hard, and sometimes my life is incredible, and those things are not at odds.
Beyond Balance was one of the kindest things I've done for myself. It helped me show up in my life - as a writer, mom, wife, friend, daughter, coworker, human - in a way I am (mostly!) proud of.
It helped me feel like myself and not a frazzled hamster on a wheel.
It helped me get to know this new mom-writer-self and give her a well-deserved break - even the occasional (also well-deserved) celebration.
Not a silver bullet. Because the real, messy, nitty gritty, down and dirty, silly and serious life stuff is so much better.
(I want more days where I can feel like I did in this picture! I’m getting there, slowly but surely. Photo cred Tiffany Simone.)