32 Comments

  1. I like the idea that I have the same number of hours as high achievers, but I never wanted to achieve what Beyonce has achieved…mostly because we’re in different lines of work. And I’m not sure I could handle being that much of a public figure. But we don’t have to handle what she handles, we just have to live in the same 24 hours. And maybe find inspiration in how to handle those hours. Like maybe I could watch less television. Sure, Beyonce could hire someone to watch television for her, but I still like the inspiration. I like how you point out that we can draw inspiration from someone without holding ourselves to the same standard. I think that’s important no matter who you’re looking to. As a blogger, I don’t have to be as successful as other bloggers that I look up to, but I’m happy to draw inspiration from their success.

  2. Dammit, Penny, this was beautiful.

    And thank goodness for your husband making you tell the truth and get help at the doctor’s office.

    It took me a while to realize I wasn’t, nor would I ever be Beyonce. And it took me much longer to realize it didn’t matter (who am I kidding – I’m still figuring it out). For me it was more stories of teenagers publishing books or graduating college that made me lust after this idea of uber productivity.

    In college, especially in my senior year, I had a huge class load. After switching majors halfway through college, I wanted to catch up and graduate on time. I did, too, but I also ended up in the emergency room one night with a racing heart and very nearly flunked a required class.

    Not to be super self-promoting, but my post today has many pictures of our Fluffster that I want to send your way with lots of warm and happy thoughts. ??

    • Your post was awesome today, Felicity. Thanks for the tip! Dog photos FTW always!

      And thanks for sharing your take on this. Pushing yourself too hard is really real.

    • Thank you, Fritz! I tried so many times to write this and post it, but I finally realized it couldn’t be written from the bottom, so to speak. I had to wait for myself to start to climb out before I could really make sense of everything. I’m still not sure it was worth sharing publically, but it felt so good to hit schedule yesterday when I finished the draft.

  3. Hugs to you! I appreciate your sharing this. Beyonce is great and all, but I’ve never been a big fan of that type of celebrity-worship. All we see is the polished photo ops, the airbrushed Instagram shots, and the “highlight reel” moments. That’s not just a high standard, it’s a fake one.

    • What would I do without your comments, Matt? I’ve started telling myself that there are probably days when even Beyonce doesn’t feel like Beyonce. It’s not a knock on her, but rather my realization that people’s public lives and private lives are often not mirror images of each other.

  4. Thank you. Admitting that there are issues behind the curtain is comforting, now weak. We’re all human, and that means we all struggle. (I’m pretty sure even Beyonce has her bad days.) It’s the true essence of humanity, and probably the cost of happiness. Without darkness, how can we appreciate light?

    And pregnancy is a tough period. Your body is doing something amazing, but it can leave you physically, mentally, and emotionally drained. You need support through it, and you’ll need support when the little one comes. That’s okay. Be glad your loved ones are there to give it.

    • I am so glad, Emily! I’m so fortunate to have great medical care, a wonderful husband, and two sets of amazing grandparents-to-be…plus all the other amazing people I know in real life and online. And I find that the more I honest I let myself be with them, the less alone I feel.

  5. I was having a bit of a “But I could’ve been Beyonce” moment recently. I heard through the grapevine that an acquaintance got a faculty position at Big Name University, and I immediately felt totally inadequate. I could’ve done that, and I dwelled on the laziness of my life choices for a few days. However, in making the choice that I did, I chose not to work 100 weeks for 5 years while I inched towards tenure. So I’m trying to be satisfied, but not complacent 🙂

    • I’m so glad you shared this, Little Green. I, too, felt lazy and inadequate. I’ve always been a high achiever (and in hindsight, I realize I still was achieving everything I wanted and then some), and that’s what makes it so easy to compare myself to x, y, or z and always want more. It’s definitely given me a lot to think about in terms of how I give advice to others and myself.

      And you know I think you’re kicking all sorts of butt!

  6. I love this post so much, Penny. And I love that you accepted support, from your husband and others. I think we all have moments like this. We all think we can do more, be more, fix everything, and even deny to ourselves that we are suffering. I am grateful to you for writing this. 🙂

    • I’m grateful that people read it and took the time to comment. I was considering making it private, but it seemed worth saying, too.

      I definitely could be better about accepting support. I imagine I’m going to have to learn to do that by the tenfold pretty quickly.

  7. I think it’s also important to note that Queen Bey has millions of dollars, assistants, a manager, makeup artist, personal chef, trainer, etc. Normal people have the same amount of hours, but not the same amount of resources. Don’t compare yourself to the ultra-rich and famous and just do what you can. 🙂

    • That’s such an important point! Though I’m fairly certain that no resource in the world makes morning sickness better 😉 But yes, there’s no point in comparing on that scale…or any.

  8. Yeah I’ve never understood the “Beyonce has the same 24 hours you do” because it’s like saying “President Obama has the same 24 hours you do”. It confuses me like “YOLO” does. Yes of course you only live once, unless you’re Buddhist and/or believe in reincarnation, so? Yes, everyone living on this earth has the same 24 hours, unless you’re hiding a Time Turner somewhere, so?

    There are so many levels of existence. I promise you that my 24 hours of life now seem incredible compared to 20 year old me’s who didn’t get to sleep more than 4 hours a night and worked 12-16 hours a day, but that doesn’t mean that either one of us is a “better” version than the other, objectively speaking. Same for people who have fame, fortune, and more talent on their worst day than I have on my best day. They have support and problems that I couldn’t even imagine.

    That said, I adore the business and talent powerhouse that she is and I’ll always appreciate and admire what she creates. She’s doing what she was born to do, and taking the good days with the bad, in a way that we can certainly learn from.

    I haven’t wanted to BE someone else, instead of myself, since I was 6. I’m not about to start now. Except to be the version of myself that I was before the fibro started, on bad days like today, but then I would be giving the wealth of knowledge and perspective that being limited / in constant pain teaches me. For some reason, I value that part of being who I am!

    Pregnancy is *hard* and you’re growing an actual human. Give yourself a pat on the back and some rest when you need it. <3 Hell, take some extra rest when you want it just because you can. I'm thinking back to life pre-JuggerBaby and shaking my head at how foolish I was to push, much like you were doing, and forgetting to appreciate the moments where I could sleep in another half hour.

  9. Marie

    Let me first say that I can literally count on one hand how many comments I’ve left over the years and I’ve read thousands of blog posts.

    Amazing, powerful writing in this heartfelt honest post. You are an amazing person! Keep doing you!

    • Wow, Marie. I waited for a long time to post this because I wasn’t sure it was worth saying aloud. Your comment makes me really glad I did. Thank you.

  10. Great post Penny. Let’s be honest. Life is about choices. Sure you can bust your butt 24×7, but to what end. Will the choice to make yourself unhealthy and unhappy make your life more happy over its entire term? Doubtful. Is there any other metrics that really matter in life other then your happiness and he happiness of those you love? Those answers guide to the conclusion that you should only bust your butt to the level that you enjoy today and tomorrow. That’s a different point for everyone and different people enjoy different things. Some even enjoy working full tilt 24×7.

  11. You know what? I bet even Beyonce has days where she lies down on the floor of her bathroom with a rag over her head, and goes back to bed. It’s just that there’s no media around to capture it, and it’s not something you’ll brag about on social media.

    It’s important to take care of yourself, especially while pregnant. My last pregnancy was hard. I had to get a handicapped sticker for my car because I couldn’t walk more than five minutes without being in excruciating pain. My older kids had to help me walk upstairs. My beloved grandmother died a week and a half before my son was born, and I had to spend the week before he was born helping with the wake/funeral. When my grandmother died that was the last straw, and I went to my doctor and told them they needed to take me out of work. So I went on leave early, and it was worth every penny.

    I don’t really care if some celebrity could go through everything I did, then have a baby and look fantastic two weeks later. Great for them! But I’m not them, so I’m just going to do the best that I can, take care of myself, and not sweat the rest.

    Good for you for recognizing that you don’t need to live up to impossible standards created by the media!

    • You’re probably right, Liz. We all have public and private lives, and I’m sure that’s magnified 100x for celebrities. I’m feeling better now, but I was so worried for a while about either using up my sick days or my FMLA before the birth instead of after. Of course, I see now that freaking out like that was only compounding how terrible I felt. Thanks for sharing your story. It really helps to hear!

  12. Christie

    You’re not alone, sister!

    The biggest thing that becoming a parent taught me is that there is a huge dissonance between my theoretical life and my actual life. For instance, I was an amazing theoretical pregnant person. I was a glowing earth mother whose body was just meant to be pregnant and who was so grateful for the whole experience that I never complained about any discomfort. But then as an actual pregnant person, I threw up for 40 weeks, even in the middle of the night and I became a sofa person. I laid on the sofa any time I was at home and I cried. I laid on the floor of my classroom when kids weren’t there and I cried. I threw up in the sink a lot. I ate oranges, and more oranges, and more oranges, and then I threw them up and ate more oranges. I complained all the time, even though it was hard for me to get successfully pregnant, so of course I was grateful for the experience, but all the throwing up. My god, all the throwing up.

    I was also an amazing theoretical parent (I still am, actually). My house was not full of plastic clutter. I always offered my child choices, and she never had tantrums. She slept well because I was such a great theoretical parent, and she ate all kinds of exotic foods. I never let her watch the iPad while I cried into a glass of wine in the kitchen and then told my husband I was going to the basement to do laundry and instead went to the basement to eat the chocolate I have hidden down there while wondering where I went wrong in life. As an actual parent, I may have yelled “WHY IS EVERYONE TRYING TO TEAR OUT MY SOUL PIECE BY PIECE” in the middle of the night when I am awakened to find a lost stuffed animal. And of course, there’s the secret chocolate stash.

    I am also a really great theoretical budgeter. Theoretically, I’ve never forgotten to pay my credit card balance. I never stop at Trader Joe’s on the way home and bust the grocery budget because oh my god the idea of cooking dinner for a cranky four year old and a picky husband makes me dieieie. I’ve never gone to the grocery store with my kid because the idea of playing one more game of hungry hungry hippos is going to kill me, so let’s go buy an avocado that we don’t need. As an actual budgeter… I try. I do a pretty good job. But sometimes we are sick, we are tired, we are struggling. Struggling, I tell you.

    Life was more certain and more structured when my theoretical and actual lives aligned a little better. But there is more love now. More love, and an entire load of pink laundry to do each week.

    Anyway, you are not alone. I was super depressed during pregnancy. I think for me, a lot of it was the extreme “morning” sickness (I was seriously going to CUT anyone who asked me if I’d tried eating Saltines. I was throwing up Saltines in the middle of the night!). But the thing that MAKES Beyonce is her fierceness. And surviving pregnancy, especially one with so much throwing up, and staring that theoretical/actual dissonance in the eyeballs makes you crazy fierce. So really, you kind of are Beyonce. It just looks different.

    I don’t know you in person, but I’m keeping you in my thoughts, friend.

    • This is amazing, Christie! Thank you. And yes to the classroom floor. Once, a coworker came in my room and thought I was really ill. Nope. Just wishing I could melt into the rug for a while because rugs can’t have morning sickness! Life in theory is funny, isn’t it? Thanks for the pro tip that there’s a learning curve and that the ideas I have of parenting in my mind don’t have to match reality for things to be working out OK.

  13. I hope you continue to feel better, but you know what? If you don’t that’s okay and we’re still here for you. We all have good days and bad days, good weeks and bad weeks, good decades and bad decades…
    You’re the farthest you could possibly be from failing motherhood. You’re teaching your child to be honest, to trust your loved ones and to let the helpers help.
    You’re a teacher, so you’re a helper too. How fulfilled does it make you when you truly get through to a child and can feel that you’re making a difference?
    Of course it’s hard to be on the other side, but it is a process and we all constantly change positions in this crazy dance of life.

  14. Catherine

    Oh do I feel you. Despite MANY obstacles against my mental health growing up, I’ve always been emotionally very strong (not to place a strong/weak emphasis on it) but I was not prepared for the emotions pregnancy and post partum bring. I also try and do ALL the things and have such a hard time asking/accepting help. I had a moment but not until after my daughter was born…one of the most vivid moments in my life. I wouldn’t say I was suffering from ppd but man I was a mess trying to keep it all together – myself, the baby, my marriage, our finances, our house I was trying to be the one who did everything. The glue. But I couldn’t anymore. With the baby you can’t be spread so thin because, as you’ll soon find out, they take so, SO much of your time, especially the first. You’re both learning each other and unfortunately everything else has to wait/need help to pick up slack. Our finances were a mess at the time and I was struggling to make it work. My husband finally realized I was off beyond the expected post partum/baby haze and stepped in asking what I needed. I confessed that I was failing at making everything work without feeling like I was going to explode and we say down that night until about 2am making a plan that works. And it works, 4 years later and I’m still using that system with minor tweaks. Once that weight was lifted off my shoulder it became easier to see what else I needed help with and once I realized I could chill out, ask/accept help and that my world will continue i could breath again. I was so much more prepared this pregnancy /pp in every aspect but I really feel like these emotions are ones you have to experience / work through yourself. You can’t tell a woman how to be prepared because it’s such a personal, unique experience. The one thing I love about pregnancy and childbirth is how it acts as a universal language between other women. You can bond over experiences.

    • That’s amazing that your plan works so well, Catherine. And thank you for reminding me that I’m not alone, not just with having a baby, but with having a hard time. I think part of why I was getting so upset was that I was constantly telling myself things like “everyone has babies” and “you’re not the first person to feel sick”. And those things are both so true, but it certainly didn’t make things better for me.

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