By Abby Helman Kelly
It happened six weeks after we returned from our 10th anniversary trip to the Caribbean. My favorite black pants were tight. Not “I ate too many desserts” tight. Just a little bloating in the belly. You know, THAT kind of tight. My husband was certain that it was nothing, but just to be sure, I peed on a stick. It turned positive instantly. I think it even blinked on and off a little. I was horrified. My husband was mostly amused.
After hastily scheduling a Christmas Eve ultrasound appointment with the OBGYN, our shock quite literally doubled. It was twins. “How could this have happened?” I thought. “I’m 40. I’m way too organized for this. Who gives birth in August, anyway?” To make matters worse, I had our current children headed into school full-time. I was poised to tackle my fabulous new decade, go back to work, and revive my atrophied brain.
After a few (okay, a lot) of tears, and a whole lot of soul-searching, I was finally able to get past my pregnancy shock. My husband and I actually began to look forward to our unique opportunity to “do it all over again,” times two. I committed to this new vocation of “being 40 and pregnant-with-twins,” and I slammed it. I ate healthy and moderately and wore tight shirts. I gained only necessary weight, watched my legs turn blue with spider veins, and ended up going fully to term.
What followed that August birth was healthy identical twin boys, doubling our total number of offspring to four. The next five years were chock full chaos, tears, and laughter, with a whole lot of shoes piled in the mudroom.
When my babies finally started school, thinking about going back to work felt different. Having spent much of my 40’s “doing it all over again,” I felt a clear sense of satisfaction and completion with that part of my life. I felt inspired and excited to finally give back to my community in a meaningful way. But how? With a master’s degree in counseling psychology, I considered returning to my former line of work, as helping others has always been my passion. But at that point, it didn’t feel like a perfect fit for me. And, having waited 14 years to finally do this, and reading Eat, Pray, Love multiple times, it needed to feel right. I decided to follow my interest in gluten-free eating and healthy living, and launched www.glutenfreeconnecticut.com in August of 2016.
With help from an excellent business consultant (my husband), I did my due diligence, wrote a business plan, and executed it during soccer practices and guitar lessons. Whenever I had a moment, I sat at the computer, researching and writing content, and I loved it. However, after finally launching the site, work became bigger, faster, and more critical. I found myself sitting at the computer longer, and more intensely. Still, I loved it. But, to my surprise, piles of clean laundry appeared on the family room floor. Toilets were dirty. Episodes of Real Housewives remained unwatched. It occurred to me that I had never been a working mom before, and there were things yet to figure out.
And this is where I am today, figuring it out. Still loving my new job, still passionate about finding (and sampling!) new gluten-free restaurants and bakeries in Connecticut, and still loving the heck out of my patient husband and four kids. And, despite having not yet figured it out, I absolutely believe that my kids gain more from having a mom who is fulfilled, excited, and inspired in her own right, than they do from having clean underwear….but I do aim for both.
So go love and care for your families in the best way you know how, but don’t concern yourself with finding balance. Just find yourself.
Abby Helman Kelly is the founder and owner of www.glutenfreeconnecticut.com.