When I approached the 3-month mark with my twins, a period of time that characterized a reasonable maternity leave, it symbolized that I should have been “ready” to go back to work. Yet I was feeling less ready than I ever had. The twins were my 3rd and 4th children so I knew the tenuous relationship with ‘readiness‘ a mother can have going back to work. This feeling was as bloated, as ‘2X’ as my twin pregnancy.
For each of my returns to work, I had a series of memories of expectations gone awry – naive thinking that proved so off base, it distanced me from reality. I expected my work clothes to magically slip right back on, the baby’s sleep schedule to suddenly lock in place, complicated email threads from prior to my leave to have been solved and tucked away into the ether, important, “mission-critical” stuff to happen from 8-6 to justify precious time away from the baby. The more these things didn’t happen, the more distance I put between me and the rest of the world. I figured I must be alone.
No one talks about these things. These details. These imperfect moments. These instances of expectations gone awry and affective forecasts miscalculated. We talk about them to ourselves, often late at night, when we feel like we and the babies are the only ones – besides robbers, ghosts and monsters awake.
In her beloved TED talk, Brenee Brown reports findings from her research that the people who feel most fulfilled are those who are comfortably vulnerable. If we could admit to these vulnerabilities – the unvarnished truths where we question and laugh at our realities, would we be more fulfilled? If we could rely on the solutions others just like us have devised to balance (juggle) our complicated relationships with work, romance, friendship, body, mind, family, parenting, could we be more engaged in each pursuit?
I’m finding I am. Summer of Sooth is a chance to try it out: to find fulfillment in our shared vulnerabilities and strength in our reliance on the advice and wisdom of our peers in these same admittedly shaky boats.
Kate Niederhoffer founded Sooth two years ago with a desperate, simple need to get advice as she navigated the turbulent waters of returning to work after the births of her third and fourth children (twins). She wasn’t just compelled by her own situation — her background in both social psychology and social media gave her a hunch this was a bigger human problem.