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Perspectives: Finding Grace in #MomLife

A Pittsburgh television reporter learns to embrace the imperfection that comes with being a working mom.





 

No one in my family would call me maternal — or nurturing. I’m not delicate or dainty, and I definitely have been a “career woman” ever since I knew those words were a thing. I never really gave much thought to having kids.

Then, one day during my 33rd year of life, I woke up and my whole body was pulsating with this thought, “I want to have a baby.”

It was like a physical yearning washed over me. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I swear, my biological clock was ticking so loudly I could hear my ovaries screaming,

“Have a baby NOW!”

And so my husband and I had a baby. A beautiful boy named Henry who liked to eat, sleep, poop and do all the things really good babies do.

And even with my good baby, #MomLife was SO HARD.

I nursed full-time and pumped when I went back to work as a TV news reporter at WPXI. I pumped in the back of live trucks, in public bathrooms and in coffee shops. Sometimes, my husband brought the baby to me. I nursed him in federal court, at house fires, at crime scenes and everywhere else possible.

I had mastitis three times. For those of you who don’t lactate, mastitis is a breast infection that makes your boobs red and sore and gives you flu-like symptoms. The only way to fix it is to nurse more, which is incredibly painful because your chest already feels like you slammed it in a refrigerator door. 

Yet, through all of this, I was so desperate to prove to others, and to myself, that I could do it all. I could be the mom who nursed full-time. And lost all the baby weight. And worked extra long days. And kept getting accolades at work.

Looking back on that first year, I realize now I should have cut myself some slack, and that our culture should give way more kudos and support to working moms.

#MomLife is hard and awesome — and really hard.

Did you know that 38 percent of millennial women are the primary breadwinners for their families? And did you know that a millennial woman’s best childbearing years also are when she can gain the most traction and make the biggest salary jumps in her career?

A recent New York Times article talked about the perfect age for a woman to have a baby and still maintain “kicking ass” status in her career. When I saw the headline, I raced to read the article to see if I had positioned myself in the best possible place. Turns out, I should’ve waited two more years.

I felt deflated. And then I thought, ‘You are crazy!’ You have this sweet peanut at home who is totally amazing and who has helped you grow into more of a badass at work and in life. 

Now that I’m a mom, I have zero tolerance for bullshit, mainly because I just don’t have time. I need people to be honest, upfront and accountable — and I do the same for them.

I also don’t worry about silly work or life stuff that used to bother me. My main concern now is did I get the boogers out of my baby’s nose and did he poop today.

Having my son also taught me about grace, that overflowing, unending spiritual waterfall of goodness that God pours over us. Grace is not earned or won, it’s just there. I walk in it every day and it has opened (and softened) my heart to others who are struggling. Especially other moms. The end result of grace is gratitude and compassion, two cornerstones of my spiritual practice. 

To all the working moms worrying and second-guessing, you’re not alone. And you’re not crazy. You need to cut yourself some slack. 

Let’s all embrace the imperfection that comes with #MomLife, because perfect people are annoying anyway.  

Courtney Brennan is a four-time Emmy award-winning journalist who also was voted Best Reporter by Pittsburgh Magazine’s Best of the ‘Burgh Readers’ Poll. A proud North Hills graduate, Courtney loves Pittsburgh and convinced her Canadian husband, Mark, to settle here. They live in Lawrenceville with their 2-year-old son, Henry, in an old rowhouse they restored.

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