Paula Gilovich is The Director of Content and Production at ABC Carpet & Home. ABC has event space within their beautiful store, in the heart of NYC. It’s home to some of today’s greatest thought leaders and changemakers such as Deepak Chopra, and Paula runs the show.
I felt as though I knew Paula and her partner Carrie before we met.
Someone had sent me a copy of a story she wrote about how her and Carrie conceived their first daughter Harley. It took place in the backseat of a car in Williamsburg with the help of a friend’s sperm donation. The account was so beautiful, raw and honest… and I knew that any couple that was willing to share so much of themselves would be perfect for our Moms Who Inspire series.
During my interview with Paula, I was struck by her uncanny ability to make me feel as if I’d known her for years. We bonded over birth stories (mine and Carrie’s were oddly similar) and over new parenthood stories of sleepless nights and just trying to figure this whole thing out.
It is their honesty and openness about their pregnancy and motherhood journey that makes me so happy to share this interview with you.
We miss each other. The direction of our affection is now first, towards our little one. Although, what has been really surprising and so important to recognize is an entirely new landscape has opened up made of a brand new love for each other – it’s so deep and complex and messes with time even, this particular love – as if we’ve been able to travel to another dimension. But the truth is we are now three, no longer two and there’s a loss there. And so there’s this unexpected quality of not seeing each other as directly as we used to, even when we are in each other’s presence. Carrie is my absolute favorite, but now I have two favorites, Carrie & Harley. We’ve each individually and privately found ourselves out of our minds for this little one, and each of us is focused on her. And logistically, so much of parenting is about tag teaming, giving each other breaks, and so regardless of fatigue, we find ourselves so excited to discover each other at the end of the night when she’s finally gone down.
I think just because of how we look, the surprise is that I am not the one who gave birth to our daughter. I’m the more “feminine” one in the relationship, and in fact, Carrie’s soul is very much the soul of an old man – finicky, not easily convinced, grumpy in the morning, and horrified by young people’s lack of manners. Beyond the joke that she’s an old man, she really has a very authentic masculinity at her core. And so it’s a surprise even to people in our community that I didn’t choose to get pregnant. I’m such a mama in the world, and so it’s so surprising. I am someone who has always gone a different route though. I have designed my life against the standard story, and so this is natural and right how this all came about, how Harley came to be. Even though I didn’t give birth to my daughter, I am the one she will call mama or mom or mommy, and I can’t wait for that.
To be still and know. It took me a lifetime of frenetic struggles to get to the place where I could settle my mind, and trust the quiet, knowing voice inside. We will weave this into her world, and give her all the tools she will need for a peaceful center. And I want her to be fearless – I’m not sure how to teach that, but I’m sure we will find moments along the way. Again, I spent too many years wracked with fear and so we will take every chance to counter the idea that we are separate from one another and that we should be afraid. And not least of all, we will steep her in experiences and education for the pursuit of justice for all people – and to seek justice for those who do not currently have it. And to see injustice – not to ignore it.
Know that you are more knitted than ever before, and that you can trust that knit – you will have terrible moments, and I mean terrible, anyone who says they don’t is lying. These extra-terrible moments are because of the weight of it all – the stress of being totally responsible for another being – but those horrible moments have nothing to do with your relationship and your connection. So you have to separate them out of the equation. I think if you make it conscious what you are doing, your exact undertaking of raising up a new life and that you take stock in what difficulty you’ve brought into your life, you can then let the hard parts go and they won’t end up defining your relationship.
I’m so surprised at how dedicated a parent she is. Of course she is a fantastic human being. I wouldn’t have married her. But witnessing her in the act of parenting and how present and committed she is, and how she doesn’t let the boredom sway her—it is remarkable to watch. She knows that on the other side of boredom is heaven – you must take the boredom to get to the best moments of your life. And she lives that without any hesitation with her daughter. I had a running coach tell me that once, and it’s stuck with me forever, get right with the boredom, lean into it, because the mirage becomes real if you give into the boredom of doing the same thing over and over again. Her tolerance for boredom, and her ability to just continue to give and give to our little girl is really surprising – it’s surprising that anyone is that generous and creative. Also, she wrote four original songs for her bedtime ritual. And so every night Carrie sings to Harley, “You are so strong, so brave, and so very loved.” Can you believe that? And the tune is really lovely, a minor key. And then she ends with singing the line, “We are so happy you are here. “ How lovely is that?
Like really, like no joke, do yoga every day before the baby comes, not 3x a week, do it every day to prepare your body for this. This is real – what happens with the back. And pilates. Core strength. I’m saying this as the parent who didn’t give birth, of course. The core strength you need both emotionally and physically, whoa. And then of course, give yourself the gift of sitting. It’s hard for me sometimes, but it’s important. Sitting cleans your mind. Cleaning our mind daily is the best gift we can give ourselves, giving us a real shot at happiness, and in the tumult that is becoming a new parent, all that sitting shows up in the first moment of parenthood, in the very first moment when you hear the existential cry of your baby entering the world. All that sitting shows up in that moment as what it is holding you so you can hold her.
What’s been the biggest challenge being a mom for the two of you?
What’s one thing that people would be surprised to learn about both of you as moms?
What lesson do you most want to pass on to your daughter?
What’s the one piece of relationship advice you would give to new parents?
What do you admire most about your partner as a mom?
What’s one piece of advice you would give to your pre-mom selves?
Are you pregnant or a new mom?
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