Motherhood My Way

Dr. Ashley D. Anderson of @drashleydanderson her husband, Derek and their boys, Atlas and Ace.

When my husband and I announced our pregnancy with Atlas, we received so much love and congratulations. It felt amazing for our tribe to band together in support of Derek and I taking this next step in building our family. It was a dream come true. Alongside those congratulatory remarks came many comments declaring that my life was over, that all that once mattered to me would be no more, and how my life would now be focused solely on my children. There were some utterances of “You don’t matter any more,” and “You’re going to have to slow all the way down.” In the midst of the transitioning body and all of the hormones and shifts that come with that, I was getting some serious anxiety about what this new role was actually going to mean to my life.

I’d like to begin by acknowledging the fact that for as long as I can remember, I’ve deeply desired to marry and have a family of my own. I longed for the opportunity to hear the pitter-patter of feet around the house and the babbles of little ones calling me, “Mommy.” I wanted it so bad that in my mid to late twenties, as a single woman, I prayed for God to remove the desire from my heart if it wasn’t for me to experience. Motherhood was one of my ultimate goals, so needless to say I was more than excited about welcoming our first child, but this talk of shutting down my life was a dark cloud hovering over me. It didn’t sit well in my spirit and I couldn’t shake it.

Dr. Ashely D. Anderson and her son, Ace.

I wanted to be a great wife and great mother, but I also had no intention of letting go of all that made me who I was. It made absolutely no sense to me why I had to do this in order to be a good mom. I knew I’d be miserable and resentful over time because I’d be denying myself the things that made me happy and were truly part of my purpose work. I couldn’t fathom it from a personal standpoint and beyond that, I knew that the person I’d become was not who my husband had fallen in love with. He fell in love with a goal-oriented, driven, and audacious woman, so why would I turn into something else?! I needed to stay in my zone of genius.

So, I rebelled, and I rebelled hard. I stayed home from my business for three months as planned, but in that time, I started a new business with a friend. I said, “yes, yes, and yes,” to more opportunities-board, commissions, meetings, and events. I’d pulled the imaginary trigger on being a “boss mom” and a role model for the type of woman I hope my sons would date and marry one day. I was determined to prove to somebody-I’m guessing now it was just myself-that I could have it all, but I’d truly made a mistake. Not only was my time beginning to be monopolized with all the things, but I was absolutely exhausted. No sleep, work, meetings, calls, family time, and it just kept going and going with no moments to breathe. I literally had my running shoes on 24/7.

Dr. Ashley D. Anderson with her boys, Atlas and Ace.

Fast-forward 20 months and now there are two little ones in the house. Atlas and Ace were dreams come true to us but the grind intensified. I’ll go ahead and say again that I was exhausted. In the span of three years, I’d gotten married, birthed and nursed two children, ran two businesses, two nonprofits, and a host of other things. It looked glorious in the world of mom bosses, but all I’d proven to myself was how worn out I could be. I found myself in a constant state of want. I wanted more sleep, more time with the family, more alone time with my husband, and more quiet time for myself. It was too much, so I began to reign myself in and I’m still reigning.

COVID has changed life for us all. I say often that God knew that all of us needed a time out; I know I did. This year has allowed me to do some serious soul-searching and evaluate the load on my plate. It’s made me prioritize and get really clear on my purpose and how to pursue it. My identity as a mother is nothing I could have ever imagined. My boys have softened my heart and nudged my spirit in the most beautiful ways. They make me desire to be better every day. They challenge my patience, sharpen my wit, and teach me the beauty of unconditional love. For so long I bought into the idea that I should be seeking some sort of balance-some perfect combination of work, play, and family time so that I could truly do all of the things all the time and do them all perfectly. What I’ve found though is that for me, the pursuit of balance is an elusive concept. It stresses me out and triggers my anxiety. I don’t think it actually exists nor is it a final destination we’ll ever actually reach.

I am committed to giving my family 100%. I am committed to working only on things that move me meaningfully toward my ultimate purpose, and giving them 100%. I am saying “no” more frequently. I am owning my own voice and committing to better and more consistent self-care. I’ve accepted that I won’t get it right in every role every day, but I try my best. I’ve created a schedule that allows me to do most things without tapping myself or family out. It’s a work in progress, and I’m sure it always will be. Motherhood has been an amazing evolution thus far and what I’ve finally accepted is that the evolution never ends. As the children grow and develop, things will change again and again. My life isn’t what it once was and I’m confident it never will be, and that’s OK. If I had to pick a word to summarize what my journey to motherhood has taught me so far, I’d simply choose, grace.

Follow Ashley on IG: @drashleyanderson and on FB: Dr. Ashley D. Anderson

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