This past weekend, my brother-in-law married my new sister-in-law. (Hooray for more sisters!) I’ve known them both for about nine years and it was just a perfect, beautiful, fun-filled weekend full of love and I couldn’t stop smiling (except when we woke up on Sunday morning and I learned I had missed the continental breakfast at the hotel). I love them, I love my family, and I love LOVE. (I’m cheesy and I cannot help it.)
Whenever I’m lucky enough to get extended time with family, I come home and feel the immediate need to detox and minimalize (whether this is an actual word is debatable, yes I actually googled it) my life even more than I already have.
It starts with unfollowing people on social media. I never plan it and it always happens. I spend a weekend with some of the people I love most in the world and who fill up my heart, and suddenly, scrolling through Instagram makes me all itchy and annoyed, like when your hair gets staticky and tickles your face in the winter.
It’s not that I don’t like the people I’m following.
It’s just that I just spent hour after hour full of pure happiness and suddenly, random posts from a guy I knew 15 years ago feel like they take up precious seconds, blocking me from more time for my friends and my family and positivity from places that make me smile. If I see random-15-years-ago-guy on the street I’ll be glad to catch up, but the partying Instagram stories every day just aren’t how I want to spend my time.
I’m getting to my point, I promise.
Sunday night as I was unpacking and unfollowing and minimalizing, I also had the sudden urge to clean out my purse. I found a pack of business cards (for writing) that I completely forgot I had – it was tucked into a smaller bag I use for essentials so it’s easier to switch purses. Of course, in the midst of my cleaning rage I got too tired to finish, leaving everything in a heap on the floor.
Monday morning I decided I HAD to get out of the house. Cue the mall. I saw that pack of cards and thought, eh, I don’t need those at the mall. I will literally talk to no one. But for some strange reason I said, well, you never know.
And I tossed ’em in.
As I was wandering around Sephora, critiquing the lists of ingredients in $100 face creams and wondering what the deal with that is (is it just good copywriting and branding?! WHAT IS IT?!), a salesperson walked up to me and asked when my baby is due. I felt completely open to conversation (thanks to having unlimited amounts of time alone on weekdays, I suppose) and we ended up having a 15-minute, honest conversation about becoming a mother, pregnancy, job searching while pregnant, and the importance of strong women who help each other.
It took me back to another conversation about job searching this weekend, in which I had flippantly said “no one wants to hire the pregnant girl.” This person’s response was “yeah, that’s understandable [that they wouldn’t want a pregnant person].”
This might be something that only a women who has been pregnant and searching for a job would understand, but it made me so angry. I still have value. I can still focus. I can still contribute. I want to work after baby arrives. I don’t want to let others’ assumptions to keep me from excelling in whatever it is I want to do, but how do I overcome that? I understand that business moves quickly, but I’m a hard-working, dedicated person – does a few weeks off in the grand scheme of things really screw a company over? Why am I being punished for growing a life and expanding my family? Why are women assumed to be the default parent? It seems like people like to tell women they can’t do things post-baby using the guise of “honesty”. Your life will change after you have this baby! You won’t have time/energy/enough help to work, to do a triathlon, to clean your house, to travel, to sleep, to do anything. (SORRY, I’M BEING NEGATIVE AGAIN SO SUDDENLY.) I know life will change, but there’s something about the tone some people use that seems so defeating.
I randomly brought this up to the woman in Sephora. She was outraged too. A kindred spirit! Her advice was to look for a woman business owner, at least for now, who understands and wants to help women instead of businesses that pigeonhole pregnant women and assume we’re not going to be a good fit because of their preconceived notions on pregnancy and it’s effects on availability, dedication, and focus (because despite it being discrimination and illegal, it still happens). She mentioned she took her grandchildren to the women’s march in NYC and we talked about raising strong women. She said “strong women have to raise stronger women” and I said “and we have to teach the men in our lives how to raise and support strong women” and I felt like it was just the most beautiful moment between two strangers in a Sephora.
I gave her a business card.
I don’t know if that means anything. I don’t know if we were meant to meet for any reason other than an empowering conversation or if we’ll connect in the future, but you never know.
This, for me, was another reminder that, however cheesy it sounds, when you open yourself and live positively, you attract more positivity, good advice, and people who want to help. I haven’t been as positive of a person lately (too much time alone to think about major life changes!), but I do have glimpses of that version of myself. Being open to this conversation and talking to this saleswoman with raw honesty instead of slowly backing away was one of them.
Since getting pregnant I’ve been pretty pensive about all things motherhood, pregnancy and, well, life in general. The more honest I am, the more candid responses I get in return, and I have no problem being honest with everyone from family to complete strangers. I’ve learned so much in doing so.
To my growing little baby girl, I promise I will do everything I can to empower and inspire you to be strong and to teach those around us to do the same for women everywhere.