The is me: Stephanie Conner

 
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I never expected to become a mom. I had friends who dreamed of becoming mothers. They started trying the moment they got married. But for me, motherhood didn’t feel like a natural part of my path. It sounded scary as hell, too. So, even when I found my soulmate and got married, motherhood still was not an inevitability.

My husband really wanted to be a dad, and he thought we could do this. But we were getting older, and we didn’t know what the chances really were of me getting pregnant. Still, we agreed to “pull the goalie” and to try for about a year. And if it didn’t work out for us, we would be OK. Our marriage would be fine. We as individuals would be fine. Parenthood was not something we thought we needed to define us.

A couple months before we intended to give up, a plus sign appeared on that white stick.

And just like that, everything changed. My body, my life, my dreams and goals. It all changed.

Yes, It Changes You

Everyone tells you that having a baby will change you. When I was pregnant, I rather resented these people. How could they possibly know what kind of mother I would be? How could they possibly know my personal priorities? How would they know what would matter to me and what wouldn’t anymore? Maybe I would still work, like a lot of moms I know. Maybe I would have time for my friends. And no, I would not start a mommy blog, thankyouverymuch.

Then, I went through what a lot of new moms do — a rediscovery of me. I had to figure out who the new me. The mom me. The me who didn’t care about anything except this little boy in her arms.

This shift that happens is a real one. It’s a personal one. And it’s hard. It’s challenging to see yourself in a new light. And it’s hard to return to work and life and pretend as though you haven’t changed. It took time to own the new me.

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But I started working less. I changed my schedule to be with my son more. When I think about the things I want to do or places I want to go, it all revolves around my son. Which national parks should he see? Which important museums and monuments should we take him to? Which experiences do I think he should have? And all I want is to be able to see what he does in his life, how he makes his way in the world.

That’s not to say that I don’t aspire for things myself. But they are different things. I focus being healthy and mastering yoga poses. I want to be successful at work, but it’s more important now than ever that I work with people who understand and respect that I’m a mom. And sometimes that means I take the day off because my son has an allergy appointment. Or because he’s sick. Or because we want to go to a movie.

Working Motherhood

I also stand in awe of some of the women I’ve worked with over the years. I had no idea then how they were doing it. I remember thinking that I barely had time for a social life, and wondering how they were raising tiny humans in their spare time. Now, I know. They were really excellent at their jobs. And because they cared so much about getting home to those little people in their lives, they worked their asses off during the day.

Oh, and the women along the way who quit to spend more time with their kids… Man, do I ever understand that now. At the time I felt like our company and our industry were losing important minds and voices. But now, I get it. I respect it. And I like knowing that we didn’t lose anything; rather, the world got happier moms and babies.

Not everyone can do what I do, and I’m fortunate to have the flexibility to make business decisions that work for me. I also have been very lucky to work with really wonderful people over the years, many of them parents themselves. We do good, strategic work that we feel good about. And then, we go home and focus on what really matters.

A Layer of Complexity

Today my son is 4. And I remain insanely in love with him. He has made my life more challenging, of course, but also so much richer and full of love.

A lot of parents have to cope with babies with heartbreaking illnesses. Our story isn’t like that. But when my son was diagnosed with a slew of food allergies when he was 10 months old, it definitely affected daily life. We had to recognize that something as simple as a cup of yogurt could potentially be fatal to him. We were going to have to watch him more closely at gatherings. We were going to have to eat and cook in new ways. We were going to have to be very prescriptive with his teachers and babysitters. We were going to have to educate his grandparents on what he could eat and not eat. We’d have to teach him how to stay safe.

Food allergies have added a layer of complexity and stress. And certainly, it has made meal times more challenging. (And hey, who doesn’t want meal times to be more challenging than they already are with kids, right?!) But I have also witnessed my son work to develop a healthy relationship with food. And I’ve seen a real maturity in him. This is a boy who recently turned down a cupcake at a birthday party, then smiled at me from across the room and flashed me a thumbs-up. He knew he couldn’t have that cupcake. He didn’t fret about it. He didn’t whine. He gets it.

So, at a time in my life when I had plenty to do and after I’d vowed I would never become a mommy blogger, I did. Writing about cooking with my son and sharing our journey has brought me joy. I’ve loved helping other parents realize they’re not alone in their allergy and mealtime stress. Spending time in the kitchen and at the table with my son has been positively joyful.

I never thought I wanted kids. I didn’t think I would ever become a mom. And while there are hard days, and while I’m confident in the skills I bring to work, the thing I am best at is the thing I love most: being Conner‘s mom.