When I applied for my job at ParentMap, I didn’t have kids. I still don’t. Instead, I have even more neuroses about having them.
I still plan to have children — not soon, Mom and Dad! — but when the time comes, I’m bringing along a lot more baggage than I ever had before.
There are the big, existential questions, the ones I’ve had as long as I’ve thought about having kids: What will the planet look like when they’re my age? Is it even fair to bring them into the world? Will I be good at it?
But thanks to my role as an associate editor at a parenting magazine, I also now worry about screen time — a word I didn’t even know existed until I started at ParentMap — getting extremely itchy while pregnant — seriously?! — and teaching my kids empathy — I thought they came with that!
Parenting, it turns out, is a lot harder than I thought and I already thought it was pretty darn hard.
In some ways, I feel like I have a leg up. Because of ParentMap, I know I should cook a lot when I’m pregnant, never leave home without a snack and always bookmark the local activities calendar. I’ve realized that miscarriage is a heck of a lot more common than people talk about, and that infertility can happen to anyone at anytime. I’ve learned that the struggle is real and it’s not mine to carry alone.
I’ve seen that village at work. It’s the women I meet in coworking spaces throughout the Seattle area to talk about story ideas and editorial budgets. They’re juggling early dismissal and late afternoon deadlines. They’re drafting weekly newsletters when the kid’s home sick. They’re writing feature stories after parent-teacher conferences.
They’re doing all that and they’re raising kids. Good kids, too. I’ve met a few of them.
These women show me that it’s possible. It’s hard but it’s possible and, most importantly, it was worth it for them.
I still freak myself out when I think about having children. That part hasn’t gotten easier (and from what I’ve read, it never will). But working at ParentMap has taught me that lots of people do this parenting thing and many of them want to do it well. They’re the ones who write and edit ParentMap. They’re the ones who read it. They’re you.