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.
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?
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?)
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.