Figuring It Out…or Something Like It

If you and I hung around last year at this time, you might remember how excited I was to turn 30. Not because I had checked off all the proverbial boxes before the milestone age (I hadn’t), but because I assumed that people who are 30 or older have life all figured out. Mostly, I assumed once I turned 30 I’d no longer be plagued by the self-doubt and insecurities of my twenties.

Michelle Chalkey with a 30th birthday balloon
So hopeful, so naive 🙂

That was the decade of figuring things out, right? When you hit 30, you’ve arrived.

It actually looked like my assumptions were right…for a while:

  • I figured out my work life. This past year, I got a job where I haven’t once dreamed about leaving yet. It’s the perfect fit for me, and I can see myself making a career there.
  • I figured out my writing life. Once I got that job, I quit my side jobs and took that time to write my book. 365 1-hour morning writing sessions later, I have a solid book draft sitting with editors right now. I’ve never stuck with one writing project long enough to get it out of my computer, so this feels like a huge win.
  • I figured out my health. I bought a yoga membership, quit drinking, and somehow, magically, learned to live without sugar. My stress and stomach aches have been beautifully low this past year.

Gaining control over all of these things, over my life, shifted something in me. I had learned how to take care of myself, after all those years in my twenties of figuring out what didn’t work – booze, gluten, and jobs that don’t align with my values.

I was learning how to mother myself.

Consequently, for the first time in my life, at age 30, I felt ready to mother a child.

Today, as I turn 31 years old and 11 weeks pregnant, I laugh at my 30-year-old self who thought she had things figured out.

Me holding my first sonogram pictures
Beyond excited and joyful, equally mixed with I-don’t-know-what-I’m-doing

The first few weeks, I thought I was so in charge of my pregnancy. My diet was on point, eating the rainbow and limiting sugar – for sure my baby would come out bright and vibrant and craving vegetables.

Until the morning sickness hit, and what felt like a three-week hangover erased any desire for a beautifully dressed bowl of spinach or a protein-packed scrambled-egg breakfast. The last thing I want on my plate these days is a vegetable, and all that sounds good are freaking Cheerios and chicken wings, the diet my teenage self somehow survived on. Baby might just come out looking like a glazed donut him (or her) self.

I’ve struggled with this because I want to provide quality nutrients for Baby, and eating healthy has been so easy for me the past few years. (Living with a man who refuses to let non-organic oats in the house makes it fairly impossible to not eat healthy.) Why is it so hard now? Pregnancy doesn’t seem like a good time to be okay with eating frozen pizzas and french fries again.

In a pregnancy class I took at my birthing center last week, the instructor talked through this with us and said when it comes to what you’re hungry for, “Your body knows how to grow a baby. Trust your intuition.”

Greek yogurt became one of the few foods I started craving and I can enjoy and not gag over, and I haven’t eaten dairy in a good few years. Is my body telling me it needs more calcium and probiotics?

On top of the fact that I didn’t like much food anymore, I initially struggled with whether I should have coffee or not. The guidelines for pregnant women today say that 200 mg of caffeine is safe, then I heard one of my favorite authors talking about how terrible it is to subject your baby to any kind of stimulant. But I was so so tired, how would I get by without any caffeine?

I asked all my pregnant or recent-mom friends and read too many articles from Google on it.

“Welcome to Mom Guilt,” my sister-in-law told me, assuring me that one cup of coffee was no issue. “It will always be there. Being a mom and having guilt go hand in hand.”

Guilt and I were best friends in my twenties, but I thought I had left that toxic friendship behind. I thought I had Guilt all figured out.

A few days into my caffeine conundrum, my body decided it was repulsed by the smell of coffee. Coffee! My favorite thing to consume – my holy water – now makes me want to throw up.

I guess my body figured out that decision for me.

Quarantine blessing Baby Barichello due 12 28 2020

I think I have to simply enjoy the memory of my 30th year, that brief gap on the timeline of my life when I felt like I had things figured out. What I’m learning from the mommas I look up to is that motherhood is like a lifelong extension of your twenties – when you didn’t know what the hell you were doing and just tried everything. Some of it works, some of it doesn’t.

In becoming a mother, I think I have to surrender to this lustful hope of ever having things figured out again. All I can do is my best, but I can’t control what happens to my body in pregnancy, I can’t control the path my children take or whether they’ll listen to me. And I’m sure if there comes a point when I think I have things figured out something will remind me that no, sweetie, nothing is in your control.

But I can do my best. To trust my body in delivery. To trust my intuition in parenting. To trust God in protecting my children.

Isn’t that what 2020 is reminding us of anyway?

We’ll never have it figured out.

A good novel raises a question at the beginning and delays the answer as long as possible. That’s what keeps the reader hanging on.

If we have it all figured out in the beginning, what fun is the ride from there?

I’m raising my lemonade glass to all the beautiful unknowns age 31 will bring. Cheers, friends!

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  1. Michelle this is beautiful congratulations on becoming a mom and I am sure your mother is over the moon at the prospect of being a grandmother I’m excited for all of you this is one of those special moments on our journey says:

    Michelle this is beautiful congratulations on becoming a mom and I am sure your mother is over the moon at the prospect of being a grandmother I’m excited for all of you this is one of those special moments on our journey

  2. Love love this! And omg you are pregnant?!!! So happy for you and Kyle- sending hugs to both of you. I am sure your parents and John and Sharon are over the moon ❤️❤️❤️

  3. Yay, Michelle & Kyle!!! I’m so happy for you. Be happy. Be healthy. Be thankful. Enjoy the journey. . Love you!❤️

  4. I’m so excited for you guys. Becoming a mom is the most amazing thing I’ve ever experienced and words cannot describe the love you’ll have for your baby. You think you love the little bean now, just wait until those beautiful eyes look up at you and study your face and listen to your voice they’ve been listening to for 9 months. It’s overwhelming. It’s something you can’t even imagine or explain until you experience it yourself and I am so glad you are going to experience it because everyone should. Best of luck to you during your pregnancy, to you and Kyle lol and for your future. You’ll figure it out as you go 🙂 beautiful article, thanks for sharing!

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