Phase Two

Phase One.

It’s a familiar tale: Woman has a baby. Woman takes time from career/passions/interests to raise said baby. She might replace conference calls with playdates, might switch out her former double almond milk latte to-go with a cup of lukewarm Folgers. She might trade in her mini Cooper for a minivan, invest in a heavier concealer, a quality nursing bra.

She might add another baby, perhaps a few more. She will learn to wrap her offspring like origami burritos. She will puree bananas by day, search for the missing pacifier by night. She might teach her babies sign language – more, please, all done – might spend an hour or two googling sleep training methods for seven-month-olds.

And then, in the time it takes to grow an avocado tree, she’s standing in line for kindergarten registration.

Phase Two.

One of my girlfriends is smack dab in the middle of Phase Two, leading the way for the rest of us Phase Ones. Her kids are older, more independent. She can finish a sandwich. She can finish a sentence. She can paint her nails in the evening without quietly praying the baby doesn’t wake and smudge her final coat of Ruby Slippers.

She has (gasp) a bit of time to herself.

And she is only mildly terrified of it.

I have another girlfriend in Phase Two, but for a different reason. She’s spent years in a lucrative marketing career only to find herself unfulfilled and depleted, itching for a slower pace and a change of scenery.

And she, too, is only mildly terrified of it.

What do you do when you outgrow the life you fought so doggedly to love?
Or perhaps worse, it outgrows you?
What then?

My friend Sarah is queen of reinvention. She has lived more lives than the years she carries, explored seemingly every avenue of creativity made possible to her. It’s a force to watch: her continual shedding of skin, the layering of another.

Last week, she calls me. “I have something delightful I’ve been working on.”

What she shows me is this, an online school for those navigating their own Phase Two. With award-winning teachers like Deepak Chopra, Arianna Huffington and Dr. Oz, the curriculum is entirely online, entirely at-your-own pace, entirely able to be sandwiched between kindergarten drop-offs or lunch breaks or late-night nursing sessions.

Six months later, you’re a certified health and wellness coach.

My girlfriends are both enrolling: one, to become a dietitian; the other, to add desirable credentials to her essential oils business. And yet, a glance at Integrative Nutrition’s alumni boasts a slew of other possibilities upon graduation: starting an organic skincare line, founding a health food company, becoming a self defense expert and author.

Phase Three galore.

I’m nowhere near Phase Three, still not yet inching up to Phase Two. And yet, I know time to be a runaway train. Weighty, unpredictable. Impossible to slow.

My friend messages me on Voxer last week to talk about her first sample course. Her voice sounds animated, effervescent. She talks of the incredible payment plan, of how she’s already landed a part-time job as a holistic consultant once she finishes her certification. She talks of how thrilled she is to have found something flexible, something she can pursue while her kids are sharpening #2 pencils and playing dodgeball.

“You should do it with me,” she says. “If only for yourself.”

And I’m thinking about it, I am. I have a feeling I could learn a thing or two from the great Deepak.

But until then, I’ll be cheering on the rest of you as you slide right into Phase Two. (Let me know how it goes?)

Godspeed, ladies.



p.s. This essay was written for Institute for Integrative Nutrition, a genius alternative to an expensive 4-year degree. If you’re in the middle of Phase Two yourself (or if you’re in the thick of Phase One and feel like planning ahead): Enjoy 25% off your enrollment by emailing [email protected] with subject line “DFM DISCOUNT.” Here’s to a beautiful Phase Three, friends.

  • Faster than I can believe, I’m at the doorway to Phase Three. My oldest will graduate from high school in two weeks. Her brothers are right on her heels. I’m mildly terrified of what’s next for all of us.

    Some days I miss being interrupted constantly. Most days I’m thankful for all the years behind us…and excited for the future.

    Pay attention (as it seems you do:)…it goes by in a blink.
    xo Kristen

  • I’m also at the doorway to Phase Three. Terrified, excited, wishing to slow it all down a little bit.
    This was the perfect essay for me to read today. I feel more hopeful that there are lots of good bits ahead of me.

  • I’m still just inching up to phase two with 8, 5, and 1 year olds (we homeschool, so phase one will last a bit longer than most). But I’m bookmarking this for when I have some more time… What a great idea.

    In the meantime, would you mind please telling me you found Bee’s awesome blocks/bridge-track thingy?! It’s beautiful! (And I’m far less grumpy about not being able to see my floors when the toys covering them are pretty).

  • Thanks for sharing Erin!! I’ phase 2 but going phase 1 — I’m expecting a baby in August and mildly terrified to go where my time is shared with a little one, but also thrilled. right now I can mostly finish sandwiches and sentences and my daughters and I can simultaneously paint our nails together. It is scary to know that in a few months our whole lives will be turned topsy-turvy but we are so excited. Thank you for sharing your wisdom on time and the different phases. I still do enjoy your essays and wanted to let you know that!

    • Oh Reem – CONGRATULATIONS! I have a four year gap between my littles, and it’s been a beautiful blessing in “starting over.” What a gift these tiny souls are. :)

  • ok so i’m halfway through a master’s in nutrition education and was JUST starting to research health coaching certifications this weekend. so timely!

    • omg that’s wonderful! definitely let me know if you have any questions – happy to direct you to the proper folks! it’s a lovely program! :)

  • I love this! I am back in Phase 1. (note: too much free time in phase 2 leads to a return to phase 1 after nine years.) My kids are 15,13,3 and 2. I felt like I needed a “grown up job” when my (now 13 yr old) daughter went to school full time. Turns out I was miserable and couldn’t stand to not be around for my little ones. Now I am focusing on my writing and hoping for the best when I am back to Phase 2. Great way to put it! you are always such an inspiration :)

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