I Am Woman, Hear Me Write

Kameron Partridge Hodgens: Time for me to join the New Mommies Club

Are you a joiner?

My grandparents' generation (The Greatest Generation) was by far the largest cohort of joiners, people who liked to become a member of a group for the "good of the order," or to make the world a better a place, or for the social connectedness and intrinsic value it adds to their lives.

Fast forward to today. My generation (Generation X) and the one just below me (the Millennials) do not share quite the same "passion for the purpose" that our parents and grandparents did. Sometimes we get a bad rap for that, but I'm here to say that I beg to differ.

From my perspective, I've always been a joiner, and I'm about to join one of the largest clubs there is, but more on that later. I believe in the power of groups. During my days at Abel Elementary School, I was a member of the Stamp Club and the School Patrol group. I enjoyed both and each gave me a sense of belonging, a purpose and, of course, peers with whom I shared the experience.

In middle and high school at Saint Stephen's, I became involved in athletics, Key Club, yearbook, student government, French Club yep, I was definitely a joiner.

The same pattern persisted for me in college and in graduate school. At Florida State, I became a member of Chi Omega sorority, an affiliation that to this day is still the source of some of my very best friends, business networks, and greatest memories of my college experience. In graduate school, I served on the graduate student leaderships Board and served in various executive committee positions during my tenure.

You get the idea.

But in six weeks, I'm about to join one of the largest, the most difficult, the most challenging and, I hope, by far the most rewarding club there is: the New Mommies Club.

I just made up that name. I'm not sure that club actually exists, but in my mind, it's very much about to be a reality in my life! I am 34 weeks' pregnant with our first child, a baby girl -- and I have to admit, of all the clubs I've joined, I am the most nervous about performing competently and successfully in this one.

Perhaps all new moms feel this way. According to my mom friends, my sentiments are "normal." But in my mind, there's nothing normal about this process -- or, maybe I should say, I know it will redefine my new normal. And sometimes I wonder if I'm ready for that.

My husband and I have only been married 3½ years, and I waited until my mid-30s to get married, with my higher education degrees and my career being self-imposed priorities before marriage and children. I do like children. I

am a developmental psychologist by training, and my husband is a clinical child psychologist. We have wonderfully supportive families and friends. We are fortunate to be surrounded by the proverbial "village" that it takes to raise a child, so one would assume that we are well-prepared.

But is there anything that really prepares you enough for becoming a parent?

I want to get this new role right. Be accommodating to our little girl without being overly hands-off, have her involved in activities but not overscheduled, let her explore her surroundings with wonder and awe but through the lens of safety, be aware and accepting of her world and her choices without being overbearing, provide a safe place and loving support without allowing my heart to crumble into a million pieces when she inevitably, inadvertently crushes it, allow her to take risk but not to her ultimate detriment. Is that getting it right? Balance feels like a good approach.

My biggest source of anxiety as I enter this new chapter is balancing my career with raising my daughter. I love my job and I have no doubt that I will fall endlessly in love with my daughter. I'm just not quite sure how to balance it all. I know I'm not the first woman to attempt this feat. I have many friends who seem to do it all effortless -- keep up with the laundry, host dinner parties, and heal boo-boos. These women are my heroes.

My greatest hope is that I am accepted into their club -- just as our baby girl is accepted, with love, into the human race. That makes us both joiners.

Dr. Kameron Partridge Hodgens, CEO of The Glasser Schoenbaum Human Services Center, can be reached at 941-365-4545 or khodgens@gs-humanservices.org.