I’m passionate about bringing awareness to the second decade of motherhood because, while millions of moms are experiencing it daily, no one is talking about it. That’s about to change!
Four years ago, a book started pouring out of me. I couldn’t NOT write. It consumed my every waking thought for months. I wrote while I ate, while in my car waiting to pick up carpool, from the sidelines of little league games, and in the stands at swim meets.
What bubbled up and out of me came from a place deep inside myself that I hadn’t realized I’d silenced. Out came my truths from a voice that had never spoken them aloud; had never acknowledged them as true nor my own.
Shaking My Identity
This sudden and volatile self-awareness challenged my beliefs, my values, my expectations, and my core identity as a partner, as a mother, and as a whole person. For context, it was May 2019. I was three months away from my 43rd birthday, and five months away from my 13th wedding anniversary. My children were 11-and-a-half and 10 years old.
When the hypnotic state lifted in the fall of that year, I’d typed 47 pages. The underlying theme of it was clear: I had lost myself. I’d lost sight of the woman I was before I became a mom. And it was imperative that I find her. Or better yet–reinvent her.
Sound the Alarm
“Is this a midlife crisis?” I wondered. Do other women feel this way? Are they harboring a voice that ought to be freed? What if I can help them?
My curiosity quickly transitioned from my own self-awareness to a desperate, save-the-world yearning. I needed to find a way to help them! So I donned my cape along with my elastic-waist pants, a sensible bra (the one without the wire), and my most practical shoes, and I set out to help “them.”
Who are they? They are busy moms, that’s who! I was determined to save ALL of the busy moms. I would need a megaphone, a billboard, a set of those sticks they use to direct airplanes, a whistle, some duct tape, ooh, and some purse snacks. Beyond that, I didn’t really have a plan.
Taking the Leap
Hearing my call, the universe swiftly delivered me into a scenario that would yield a budding partnership in a passion project “to help busy moms coordinate their chaos.” Our intention was to host live workshops and offer tools to help moms give themselves grace on this crazy ride called motherhood.
We’d help them organize and prioritize the brain clutter that consistently resulted in decision fatigue, overwhelm, exhaustion, and dwindling patience. We even came up with an app-based system to take all of the busy work out of it. A personal assistant in your pocket! What mom doesn’t need that? (cue the superhero music)
We launched our business on February 29, 2020 (literally Leap Day). Thirteen days later, the pandemic ensued. It took about a year for the pandemic to pull the final thread that was holding me together and land me on anxiety medication.
When I got through the guilt and shame of needing help, I added to my to-do list: “teach moms how to overcome feeling guilt and shame when they need help.” I was badly bruised, but not broken. The business would endure a major pivot.
Something’s Gotta Give
As the meds kicked in and we started to come out of the pandemic, I knew I couldn’t go back to life as I’d known it–the mad pace, being everything to everyone else in every moment, the martyr level disregard for self-care, etc. Enough was enough.
I committed to working on myself, setting boundaries, giving myself permission to abide by those boundaries, and communicating those boundaries to my spouse and kids. It felt selfish at first, but it eventually opened my eyes to the realization that when moms take care of themselves, their ability to care for everyone else increases exponentially.
Time, Wisdom, + Perspective
All that writing I mentioned at the start of this post was my authentic self breaking through the hard exterior of a life molded by the first decade of motherhood. You’re a mom, so I don’t need to tell you about the unabashed sacrifices of parenting newborns, infants, toddlers, and young children–and how said sacrifices creep in and slowly obliterate the identity of the woman who became the mom.
The first decade of motherhood is hard in a way that is difficult to put into words; it’s like a saying in another language that doesn’t have a direct English translation. I refer to it with mixed emotions as the hardest and most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.
The Undeniable Shift of the Second Decade
My unraveling (er, awakening? . . . it was both) back in 2019 occurred as I rounded the corner from the first decade of motherhood into the second decade. Curious about what this transition had in store for me, I googled, “What is the second decade of motherhood called?” and found nothing. Now, if you’ve searched the internet once or twice, you know there’s always something. I’m telling you–there was nothing.
Third-decade parents are empty nesters, first-decade parents are overwhelmed and, okay there isn’t a name for it, but there is undoubtedly a vibe. If I tell you I have two kids under three, you want to give me a hug ‘cause, ya know. If I tell you I have two kids under 16, you smile and nod, ‘cause well, it doesn’t elicit a vibe. A second-decade mom is the neglected middle child of the bunch.
So I ask you, how is it possible that EVERY mother in the history of the world who has parented a 10- to 20-year-old has gone through this phase and no one has come up with a name for it, let alone a multi-step process through it?
Hold My Kombucha
I set out to get to the bottom of this mystery. Here’s what I found–in the second decade of motherhood, a mom comes up for air long enough to look around and realize the following:
- She has indeed lost her identity.
- Her kids are gaining independence and need less constant attention.
- Her parents are aging and/or ailing and need her support like never before.
- Her body is changing and self-maintenance requires a whole new toolkit.
- She is at the peak of her career and/or considering going back into the workforce (which can be both empowering and terrifying).
- Her relationship with her partner is entering a new phase that can feel like a chapter from a choose-your-own-adventure book.
- Inklings of becoming an empty nester start sneaking into everyday thoughts and conversations . . . college, retirement, kids’ romantic relationships . . .
Does any of this resonate with you? I am passionate about exposing this phase of motherhood, building a bridge to it, creating a road map through it, and walking alongside every mom experiencing the shift.
Who’s with me? I’ll be taking a deep dive into each of these seven findings over the next several months. Follow along as I share with you the insights and resources to navigate the second decade.
A number of you are already in it or on the other side of it. What has your experience been? What shifted for you? How did you navigate it? What hurdles did you face and what got easier in the second decade?
Asking for a friend.