Letter to Me Before I Became A Mom

05/10/2019 – By Felicia Guerrero Green

Dear Me,

Congratulations! You’re pregnant with your first baby! Now I know what you’re thinking.  You need to plan the next 5-10 years out, and prepare everything for everyone to get along while you’re out. And. I know you think that because, well. I’ve been there. Literally! I’m here to tell you what I (we) know now. 

First – relax.

Resist the urge to log on to your computer pull up excel and calculate the most cost-effective diaper brands. You’re best laid out plans will be foiled by the unanticipated and the unexpected.  Those things will stress you out and planning for the unexpected really becomes exhausting and…. you essentially go crazy trying to manage it all. You all will be fine. Why? You’re engineers.  You’re trained problem solvers and that skill translates into your parenting. As an example, you take an 8 hour trip with the family and your little one breaks their headphones 30 minutes into the trip.  You know what? You fix it with Band-Aids from the first aid kit you have in the glove box. Nice work. Everyone is happy. You didn’t have to stop. You didn’t have to spend more money.

So relax, enjoy the moments.  The kicks, the dreams, the blackout-pregnancy sleep, the hiccups, the beautiful hair and nails, the nesting. There will be other things that just plain out suck that you will have no control over (designated maternity parking spot the day after your labor, shitty maternity leave, pelvic joint pain, people waiting outside the bathroom to ask you about a redline on a drawing…).

Just know, when the chaos comes up, you’ll know what to do to figure it out.

Second – Things Aren’t As They Seem

People are watching – but not to judge as you might initially think. Please, blame our suspicious nature of others’ true intentions. People are watching and taking notes.  And when they see you do something they have never seen done before, they will be the first to preach it to others who are traveleing the same road as you.  Its not that they don’t think you can do it… its more they don’t think they can do it.  What am I (we) talking about, you ask? Its called projection.

pro·jec·tion – /prəˈjekSH(ə)n/  –  the unconscious transfer of one’s own desires or emotions to another person

As an example. When you’re six months pregnant, you will be told that you are a “shining star” employee.  And once you have the baby, and the family.  You won’t be the shining start anymore. It’ll bother you. You’ll hang onto that and you’ll work hard to prove that person wrong. But what we’ll figure out is that theres truth to what they told you…. Just not in the way they thought.

First, you won’t be the “shining star” junior engineer anymore.  You’ll master your skill and yeah… you take your twinkle to another domain. So. Yeah – they won’t see your light anymore, so they will think you’re not shining and as a star, you’ve burnt out.  But that couldn’t be farthest from the truth. You’re multiplying your shine in your children. You are shining your light at work and at home.  So technically, you’re lummens have multiplied. Tell them to put their sunglasses on, sit back and watch. It just in your nature to figure it out. Its, like I pointed out before, what you were trained to do, and what you’re good at. You didn’t get this far by pure luck.

One a future note, and supporting evidence to my (our) claim is that, your PhD advisor will call you a “star student” when he reviews your final Prospectus draft. 

Third – Don’t go it alone

So, yes.  A lot of your life goals, challenges, and dreams have been completed with a small support group. Your parents. Your sister. You’re husband. Your super super super close friends. All that you can count on your one hand.  Whats the best describing word for this? Isolated.

You didn’t want people to think you got any favors for merely being a young woman in engineering cirriculium.  Or have people question whether you’re an engineer because you’re a woman.  Those walls that you built up are going make things scarier through this journey of becoming a parent.   

Side note! Please don’t get me wrong.  Those walls are necessary for certain people! However, I highly recommend you start with chain-link fences.  And work your way down to something like those imaginary dog retaining barriers.  People can see you and they’re welcome to talk to you, but if they cross your boundary you’ve setup, they will get an electric shock.  They’ll eventually figure out your boundaries.  All I’m saying is 10-foot cinderblock fences aren’t necessary by default.   

With that said, make friends.  This is one of the sweetest best feelings. Your challenge will be walking the ambiguous, illusive line of identifying as a strong independent woman, while at the same time being self-aware enough to know when to ask for mental and physical help. Asking for help isn’t a weakness. You’ve never done this before! You are the only one to walk your path and there are no right or wrong decisions.  Remember, you know how to figure it out. 

Finally – You Won’t Be The Same, So Stop Trying to Keep Things From Changing

Pre-mom-us will cringe and die a little at this thought.  We’ve worked hard to get to this point. The career credibility, the academic know how, the late nights of working, the studying of vibration analysis when there was no homework, showing up before anyone got to work. All of that will not be lost.  No one can take that from you.  It can never be erased – you know it happened.

What’s going to happen is that you’re going to gain further wisdom.  This is your transition into an even better version of yourself. Things you thought that mattered cease to exist when that tiny person looks through your soul, directly at you with those steel blue eyes.  When that tiny hand with the unimaginably tiny fingernails grasps your finger for the first time, you’re changed.  Life without that person will seem like a fond memory… but only a place to vacation and not to live.  The moment they say “Mama” for the first time, and when they say “I love you, Mommy” you will never be the same. And you will be grateful for it. 

So in summary, enjoy this transition.  Sincerely experience the good and bad times.  This is what life is about. Happy Mother’s Day to us. Sincerely,
Me (You).

Felicia Guerrero Green is a full-time mechanical engineer working in an aerospace position as a test and design engineer for future technology programs.