You and I had dinner last night. Okay. Well, not really. I dreamt we had dinner last night. Maybe it was the four cities I skyrocketed through on my twenty-four hour work trip. Maybe I was just tired enough, just delirious enough, just hopeful enough that I would meet you one day that my psyche produced sleep magic and Poof! There you were, sitting at my favorite spot in Austin like we hadn’t missed a beat. By the way, you think I’m hilarious. You laughed and wiped your tears and I just kept thinking that my dream-best-friend-Shonda was so beautiful. Not the kind of beautiful that’s dainty and rehearsed, but the kind that wreaks of warrior, that’s been fought for, that’s almost a palpable fragrance of grit, brass with a twinge of earned.
And maybe I manifested you because I too have needed permission. I grew up with four older brothers, not a big sister so maybe I willed you into my life to have you say this powerful line to me last night, “Lex, happiness coms from living as you need to, as you want to. As your inner voice tells you to. Happiness comes from being who you actually are instead of who you think you are supposed to be.” (btw… a little credit for my asleep Alexis memorizing a passage from a book, creating a fake best friend and telling me what I’ve always needed to hear). And just like that you got up from dinner and you didn’t just walk away. You. Literally. Danced. Away. It was actual magic. I woke up with tears in my eyes and something to say…I am 33 years old. I’m about to celebrate my one-year wedding anniversary to my best friend, Bradley. But if I have one more person ask me if I’m going to push a baby out of my vagina, I may punch a wall or their face. Depends on how quickly they move. Because here is the deal, how do people not see that, I ALREADY HAVE TWO CHILDREN and one is a freaking a newborn!!? And for the record, who has the nerve to look at a swirly eyed, sleep deprived, crusty throw-up in her hair, poop stains on her shirt mom and ask if she’s going to have another one? It’s rude. The timing is all wrong. She still has stitches down there and the trauma of pushing a human out of her body is too fresh to imagine doing it again and she’s legally intoxicated with the evaporated sleep she snorts through a straw in between breast feeding.
And to clarify, no my children will never attend school with yours. They won’t have sleepovers or awkward third grade school pictures taken by amateur photographers named Jeff. But they are just as real and just as demanding as any children out there. My older daughter’s name is I AM THAT GIRL. I was a young mom, 19 years old, a sophomore in college when she was born. At the time, a single mom, shaking off the worst heartbreak of my life, determined to give my daughter a better one. She was the first company I founded, a non-profit geared to empowering girls. My goal was to change the world; I didn’t realize that the only world that needed changing was mine. She was my second chance at life and she saved me; in fact, she quite literally, loved me back to life. Like anyone will say about their first, I remember obsessing over her every move, her every breath, just sitting there watching her heartbeat as she entered into the world.
So I may not have a “human” baby per say, but I believe there are so many ways to parent, so many ways to mother in this lifetime. I understand sleep deprivation, and sacrifice for something you love more than you love yourself. I understand that when you birth something into reality, that a part of your heart walks around, outside of you forever; and you worry about it all the time and wonder whether you’re making good decisions on its behalf and afraid that one day it won’t need you the way it used to when you cradled it in your arms. I know how much you want to protect that child and how mistakes you make haunt you as you hope you didn’t screw them up forever. I know the guilt that comes when you attempt the impossible “work/life” balance” and how easy it is to disappear and lose your identity because your love for this little creature could make the whole world disappear, swallow you up and you’d be fine with it.
I also know what it’s like to birth a second child and how your work load doubles and suddenly you’ve sent one off to school allowing others to parent them, to help shape their thoughts and mind, and how scary it is to trust them in the hands of someone that is not you. My second child’s name is ProtectHer and he is a company determined to educate young men in locker rooms across the country about the importance of respecting girls. He’s rowdier than my daughter as those with boys know. He requires more physical attention, but my goodness my daughter, though far more “self-sufficient” now, is moody as hell and gives me a heart attack about 324.8 times per week. It’s funny how they fight for my attention; how I oscillate between which one cries loudest that day and how I’m learning the importance of finding a bit of me in the midst of them.
So what. I may not be a traditional mom. And real Shonda, you own Thursday nights and have three human daughters; I on the other hand, am a mother to a global movement of 1M strong girls, existing in over 52 countries and a mom to a nationally based education program in high schools and locker rooms all over the country and my love tank is equally full. So basically, you and I are the definition of “Badassery.” and I’m just learning how to own that. No apologies. No explanations. No fairytales.
So when people ask me, “When am I going to have a baby?” I won’t shrink and cringe into thinking I’m failing at womanhood. I will first remind them that I already have two. As for whether I’m going for a third? Much less a human baby? Well, my husband and I don’t know the answer to that yet. What we do know, is that we are madly in love with our lives exactly as they are and with our new born, ProtectHer, our hands are very full. Plus, my dream-best-friend-Shonda recently gave me this really great pep talk reminding asleep me, that “there is one rule: there are no rules. And being traditional is not traditional anymore.”
I am a wife, a Founder, a CEO and a mother of two. I wouldn’t have it any other way. My life is full and beautiful and the two kids I birthed, I AM THAT GIRL and ProtectHer are kicking ass and taking names, just like their fierce momma taught them to. Oh what the world could look like real Shonda, if every woman had the courage to inhale her truth and breathe it out like the magical fire that exists inside every one of us. Thank you for awakening the beautiful, dormant, Gladiator inside of me. She just needed permission. To all the women out there who mother in different ways, who may never birth a human from your vagina, I see you.
You are not alone.
You are a Gladiator.