Archive for the 'Work-life balance' Category

Milestones and Musings

The cousins Christmas portrait was a bust. Nothing a meme can't fix!

The cousins Christmas portrait was a bust. Nothing a meme can’t save, though, amiright? Totally showing this to Delilah’s first love interest, BTW. “Hey Delilah, memba when you were a drooly old man? Lol!” Click for the gif.

Fair warning: This is another one of those looong, all-over-the-place posts. It’s not too late to resume facebooking (or whatever you were doing).

And They All Went the F to Sleep … 31 Days Later

I use the term “milestone” loosely when discussing a one-month old, but last night I got decent sleep (which I consider a milestone) because Delilah slept like a champ – up only twice to eat and went down without a bunch of drama and noisemaking. But it took some planning. J stayed up till after midnight with her forcing her to stay awake so she’d be tired once they went upstairs. I don’t remember us having to work this hard to get sleep with Ollie, but I am certain I have baby amnesia because I forgot like 75 percent of what it’s like to have a newborn and am continuously like, “Really, dude?!”

Mostly, though, I’m super-duper smitten with this child. Even when she is up for a three-hour stretch in the middle of the night griping about nothing, I’m like, damn. We’re lucky. Not to mention, I know it could be worse. I don’t even wanna know about colic.

Speaking of sleep, she’s also been napping in her big girl crib in her room. That makes me happy seeing her among her forrest creature friends in the nursery. And a little sad because that means, yup, another milestone.

What else? She also hit the 10-pound mark (and 23 inches), and is hella strong holding up that noggin and flexing those stems. Hercules! Hercules! Hercules!

Here, Feel Like a Superhero for a Few Days. Then Imma Take it Away Like *Poof*! You’re Welcome. Signed, Hormones

You might recall in my previous post boasting about having super-human energy (especially for a new mom on zero sleep recovering from a c-section), plus weight loss like wut. Yeah, that is over, folks. I’m tired. Requiring my morning coffee again. Some of that weight that magically disappeared, magically returned. Not much, but enough that I’m on notice. Which also kind of sucks because I’m nursing and not supposed to be calorie counting. Oh, the paradox!

Which brings me to the fact that I was totally warned about all of this (although not by my OBGYN or all the Dr. Google’ing I’ve been doing about EVERYTHING under the natal sun). No, it was another mom who enlightened me.

So before we had Delilah, I reached out to a friend who, like me, has two kids and writes for a living. She’s a freelancer working from home and I wanted to see how she pulled it off because that’s my goal. She emailed me some amazing advice – down to earth and honest with a dose of funny, just what I needed, but I put off reading it because I got distracted by, um, being a new mom. There was one part in particular I regret not reading sooner. She warned me about the adrenaline/hormone boost you get right after birth and how even though it’s tempting, don’t’ give in. SLEEP. SLEEP, damn it! But I didn’t. And here I am. But it’s getting better.

Silver lining: that little boost came in handy when I was putting out a magazine FOUR days earlier than our normal deadline – just weeks after I was home from the hospital. If you call me supermom or wonderwoman or whatever, I promise not to be all modest about it. I summoned some gritty, primitive part of myself to make this happen, but that’s what you do when you want something bad enough. Or multiple things, in my case. And I’ll do it again. And every time I do it, it, too will get better.

I’m Sorry to Every Mom I’ve Judged for LHIP (Looking Haggard in Public)

Moms can be mean. Harsh. Judgey. Sometimes I’ll see a mom that just looks, um, beat. I think, man, just put some lipstain on or something. Comb yo hair. Lose the sweats. Put on some jeans, lady. But you know what? It’s not always that simple. Life goes on despite your desire to look and feel human.

Sometimes you have to go to the pediatrician looking like you just rolled out of bed (because you did. Because you were up half the night). Sometimes you go to family functions in a button-up flannel instead of that cute, new sweater because it’s easier to nurse with a button-up. Not that you’re doing it in front of everyone (because that’s taboo!), but still. It’s about function.

Sometimes you put off getting your hair did because there’s no time, or let’s face it, no money. It’s not that you don’t care. It’s not that you are oblivious that you have 2-inch roots. It’s not that you’ve given up. You haven’t given up, but there are greater needs and there’s a bigger picture and you know someday you will be your bad bitch self again, skinny jeans and all. Or you tell yourself that, anyway, to get through another day of sweats and spitup.

Seriously, though, being a parent is rough and we have to be easier on moms and dads. From now on, when I see a haggard mom (or look in the mirror), I’ll remember we’re doing the toughest job on the planet (no joke. Oprah knows what’s up) and we’re getting important shit done.

Time for My Guys

I know I can’t give Ollie equal time these days, but you better believe when we’re one on one, I make it count. Like last night during his bedtime, J was at band practice and Delilah was snoozing, so it was just the two of us. I loved curling up with him in his bed and, get this, reading WITH him, not to him. When did THIS happen?!

I remind him how proud I am of him. How big he is. How he’s my “sunshine” and my “best guy.” I indulge his goofy 4-year-old questions (they are endless), I applaud his sometimes hapless efforts to be independent,  but I also keep him in check if he’s pushing his luck. Because you can’t slack on the discipline as difficult as it can be to dish out to a preschooler when an infant needs you.

I thought it would be impossible to share love, attention, pride, joy, etc., between kids. I could not fathom it, right up until the day Delilah arrived. The good news is, you relish both kiddos for different reasons, at different times – sometimes together all at once. And there are moments when both are crying bloody murder and you’re just like fuckthisshit! And that passes.

You might be wondering how my relationship is going with the guy who got me into all of this trouble: J. I don’t know what to say other than, correction: Single moms, you have the toughest job on the planet. And to the people who help single moms – you are soooo awesome.

Having a partner keeps me sane at 3 a.m. when the baby is on her third hour of utter neediness and I want to sleep in the car; makes me laugh despite all the chaos and drama even though my face is too tired to smile; relieves me even if it means he has to stay up WAY late on a work night to entertain/wear out the baby; and takes Ollie pretty much everywhere with him and does his bedtime routine almost every night so I can care for the baby. In addition to all of this (and more), this past weekend, he managed to deck out the house – inside and out – with Christmas, pretty much all by himself (with Ollie’s supervision). I never think I care about Christmas decorations, but they instantly make me all fuzzy and gah when I see them. 

As for how J’s taking to fathering a baby girl, let’s just say a) he’s head over heels in love (naturally) and b) Delilah, you’re going to need ninja skillz if you ever want to hang out with boys before you’re 30. Sorry, but also, you’re welcome.

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The Past Two Weeks Like Whoa!

 

I have so much I want to cover in my “catch-up” post, but in the interest of not burying the lead, our beautiful baby girl Delilah Jane was born on November 2 (Scorpio – fearless, intuitive, strong-willed. We’re in trouble!).

She’s so sweet with a little round head, rosebud lips, big blue eyes and I’d be a liar if I said even her little old man scowls aren’t endearing.

C-Section No. 2

I knew she was coming – a schedule c-section. But unlike being induced and going through labor like I did with Ollie, the whole experience having Delilah was quick and surreal. I was wheeled into OR and within 30 minutes, Miss Delilah emerged. “We have a head” … “We have a limb” … “IT’S A GIRL!” someone shouted. I say “someone” because there’s a horde of people in the OR from the anesthesiologist to nurses to my OBGYN and the assistant surgeon (what a racket!). I was shielded from them (and my surgery) by a big curtain.

The anesthesiologist kept me distracted from the pressure and tugging going on behind the curtain with small talk about the marathons he’s run and there was some ongoing joke in the OR about a chocolate 5K or something. On the other side of me, my husband J, bless him, let me squeeze the life out of his hand. Man, I was so tired and pilled up by the time we had Ollie, I don’t remember any of that realness. Am I a huge wuss or are c-sections sort of freaky? If you or your partner had one, how did it go?

Nocturnal, Hopefully Not Eternal

This is my first week home with just Delilah. We’re doing really well. She’s a night owl, which means I’m a night owl – I’m trying to figure out how to get her to sleep for longer lengths at night and to sleep in her bassinet on her back. Right now, she loves sleeping on the Boppy and in the swing, but the goal is to get her to sleep in her bed like a big girl (snap, I have her napping on her back right now!). J reminds me that she’s still adjusting. She’s only a week and a half old after all. Did you have this problem in the first few weeks or months?

I Must Have Some Secret Energy Reserve

I worked up till my due date feeling energetic and motivated and bounced back very quickly after surgery. I feel great even though my schedule is so messed up. I don’t even seem to need my morning coffee anymore – I suppose because my morning starts and stops a lot overnight. I don’t even know where the energy is coming from. Necessity, I suppose. One thing about the second child, you are still chasing after your first. The laundry needs to get done. People need to eat. Life goes on. There isn’t a lot of down time (for now, at least).

I’m pretty sure I won’t need three years to kick my baby weight to the curb like last time, either, because so much has dropped so fast already. Don’t worry, I’m totally eating (for two again … I’m nursing). No diets, man, just a lot of up and down stairs, feeding, running around and the occasional nap. I’m even already working from home, which I intend to do as long as possible. So far, so good. I gave myself two weeks off, but I didn’t last a week without checking work email. Truth is, I love being home with my new baby and being able to “do it all.” Anyone else experience these burst of energy and motivation (or weight loss?) as soon as you were settled in back at home with baby? What’s up with that? It’s kind of awesome.

Oh, the Tears

I have to admit something not so awesome, though: Holy hormones. My emotions were very positive during my pregnancy, but I’m pretty sure they’re to blame for my dull sense of smell and taste that started after a bad cold in October. Bummer. From what I’ve read on Dr. Google, my senses should return in these postpartum weeks. Please be true!

Also, whoa, I totally got the baby blues my first week home. Tears. Tears. Tears. Tears of joy for Delilah. Tears of pride for Ollie (talk about an amazing big brother). Tears of fear for myself and my ability to “do it all.” Tears of pain from nursing (it’s not like riding a bike, it turns out). And tears from being largely overwhelmed by this huge new responsibility and life in general. I think lots of moms are embarrassed to admit they have the baby blues because they’re afraid they’ll be judged. I’m over the tears phase, but I thought it was important to mention it for all the moms out there who experienced it or might experience it in the future. It’s totally normal. Anything beyond a few sobbing episodes the week or two after the baby’s born, though, I’d talk to someone about how you feel. Postpartum depression is the extreme, longer-term version of the baby blues and can be treated. Did you have the baby blues? I don’t remember them with Ollie. I thinks sometimes we block out certain moments during life-changers, don’t you?

Nickel and Dimed

Hmm. What else? I’m budgeting. Another positive side effect of baby-having, I guess (they are expensive little buggers). Once I outlined all of our incoming and outgoing expenses, I took a hard look at myself – reviewing some of the things I spend money on that are not necessities and don’t really add to the quality of my life or my family’s life. I think about random online purchases I make. Dining out too much. Impulse buys. Going into Target without a list (lol). Going to the grocery store multiple times a week for miscellaneous stuff vs. regularly with a solid list to get us through a few weeks. We all need indulgences and should be allowed a few fun things here and there, but for now, I’m forcing myself to think before I buy. One good thing about this postpartum time is that I have a whole wardrobe at my disposal! Although, I’m totally due for winter boots. Necessity in the Midwest, so it’s a justified purchase, right? How do you budget? Tips, advice, etc. are super appreciated!

Pink!

We’ve received so much pink clothing and accessories for Delilah. The outfits are hella adorable and our little girl is lucky to have so many people around spoiling her with cute duds.

But she won’t be wearing them just because I’m afraid people will mistake her for a boy out in public. And I won’t be offended when it happens. Because it probably will. She’s a baby. She looks like a baby. Ollie was asked if he was s girl or boy just the other week when he was trick or treating. And not by some jerk kid, it was an old, well-meaning guy. Ollie answered “boy” and moved on. I don’t get hung up on gender roles and I certainly don’t want my children to become obsessed with gender identity. I am a total girlie girl at heart and adore ruffly dresses, tights, mary janes, pigtails, etc., but there is nothing more precious than a confident girl who walk tall in a pair of sneakers all busted from playing in the dirt. What are your thoughts on gender identity and children? Should I just accept the fact that she’s going to want to be a pink princess at some point? How do you raise a balanced, confident girl from the get-go? So many of us adult women are STILL working on it! I know I am.

Last but not least, peep this awesome custom, crafty greeting card my friend Nikki sent us! Check out her blog for more crafty goodness!

 

 

This Matters.

Make no mistake, when we think of “mom and baby,” chunky, pink, giggly babies with model-beautiful, doting moms is what comes up on our Google brain search, too. Time to wake up.

It’s getting more and more impossible to not post stuff on Facebook about me. Who I really am. What I really think. Because I don’t want to hurt anyone. I know how bad it hurts when someone you love expresses beliefs that are a million miles away from yours. And it’s always the issues that matter most to you. I feel more comfortable sharing here. It’s funny how a blog that is available worldwide feels safer than a Facebook page of 95 friends and family.

What matters most to me? Women’s and children’s rights. There are so many things worth fighting for in this world, but I can’t sit by the sidelines and let people – largely wealthy white men in positions of power – decide how it’s gonna be when it comes to all I truly own: my body and my child. I just can’t. And if anyone else who had the luxury of passing laws about my body and my child’s welfare did so lightly – regardless of sex, color or class – I would take issue with that person, as well.

The importance of protecting, loving, educating and reaffirming children – particularly little girls because they are so low priority – drives me. I’m obsessed with building strong, happy, healthy and confident kids – girls and boys. I mourn for the kids who are overlooked. Ignored. Uncared for. And there are many. And it’s not fair.

Taking care of people who can’t take care of themselves – children, our poor, our disabled – is really a sign of a compassionate, educated, civilized society. And boy, are we sucking. I am not proud of us in 2012.

I came across this response post that sums it up for me regarding children’s and women’s rights and human welfare at a time when they’re all in jeopardy. Don’t think for a second that women and children’s issues are not also economic issues, which is all most Americans seem worried about right now. I’m hoping it touches you the way it totally took my breath away today. It’s painful. The truth hurts. But it matters so much. *removes rose-tinted glasses*

To: http://speakfortheweak.tumblr.com
From: http://stfuconservatives.tumblr.com

“Let me tell you some things.

I used to investigate child abuse and neglect. I can tell you how to stop the vast majority of abortion in the world.

First, make knowledge and access to contraception widely available. Start teaching kids before they hit puberty. Teach them about domestic violence and coercion, and teach them not to coerce and rape. Create a strong, loving community where women and girls feel safe and supported in times of need. Because guess what? They aren’t. You know what happens to babies born under such circumstances? They get hurt, unnecessarily. They get sick, unnecessarily. They get removed from parents who love them but who are unprepared for the burden of a child. Resources? Honey, we try. There aren’t enough resources anywhere. There are waiting lists, and promises, and maybes. If the government itself can’t hook people up, what makes you think an impoverished single mom can handle it?

Abolish poverty. Do you have any idea how much childcare costs? Daycare can cost as much or more than monthly rent. They may be inadequately staffed. Getting a private nanny is a nice idea, but they don’t come cheap either. Relatives? Do they own a car? Does the bus run at the right times? Do they have jobs of their own they need to work just to keep the lights on? Are they going to stick around until you get off you convenience store shift at 4 AM? Do they have criminal histories that will make them unsuitable as caregivers when CPS pokes around? You gonna pay for that? Who’s going to pay for that?

End rape. I know your type errs on the side of blaming the woman, but I’ve seen little girls who’ve barely gotten their periods pregnant because somebody thought raping preteens was an awesome idea. You want to put a child through that? Or someone with a mental or physical inability for whom pregnancy would be frightening, painful or even life-threatening? I’ve seen nonverbal kids who had their feet sliced up by caregivers for no fucking reason at all, you think sexual abuse doesn’t happen either?

You say there’s lots of couples who want to adopt. Kiddo, what they want to adopt are healthy white babies, preferably untainted by the wombs and genetics of women with alcohol or drug dependencies. I’ve seen the kids they don’t want, who almost no one wants. You people focus only on the happy pink babies, the gigglers, the ones who grow and grow with no trouble. Those are not the kids who linger in foster care. Those are certainly not the older kids and teenagers who age out of foster care and then are thrown out in the streets, usually with an array of medical and mental health issues. Are they too old to count?

And yeah, I’ve seen the babies, little hand-sized things barely clinging to life. There’s no glory, no wonder there. There is no wonder in a pregnant woman with five dollars to her name, so deep in depression you wonder if she’ll be alive in a week. Therapy costs money. Medicine costs money. Food, clothes, electricity cost money. Government assistance is a pittance; poverty drives women and girls into situations where they are forced to rely on people who abuse them to survive. (I’ve been up in more hospitals than I can count.)

In each and every dark pit of desperation, I have never seen a pro-lifer. I ain’t never seen them babysitting, scrubbing floors, bringing over goods, handing mom $50 bucks a month or driving her to the pediatrician. I ain’t never seen them sitting up for hours with an autistic child who screams and rages so his mother can get some sleep while she rests up from working 14-hour days. I don’t see them fixing leaks in rundown houses or playing with a kid while the police prepare to interview her about her sexual abuse. They’re not paying for the funerals of babies and children who died after birth, when they truly do become independent organisms. And the crazy thing is they think they’ve already done their job, because the child was born!

Aphids give birth, girl. It’s no miracle. You want to speak for the weak? Get off your high horse and get your hands dirty helping the poor, the isolated, the ill and mentally ill women and mothers and their children who already breathe the dirty air. You are doing nothing, absolutely nothing, for children. You don’t have a flea’s comprehension of injustice. You are not doing shit for life until you get in there and fight that darkness. Until you understand that abortion is salvation in a world like ours. Does that sound too hard? Do you really think suffering post-birth is more permissible, less worthy of outrage?

‘Pro-life’ is simply a philosophy in which the only life worth saving is the one that can be saved by punishing a woman.”

Work-Family-Life Balance and Having it All (Whatever That Means)

So I’m mapping out a maternity plan for work.

Last time around, it wasn’t like this. Because I worked for a large company, I was promised a job after three months. I had a huge team in my department to take up my slack. My boss could hire a temp if things got nuts. That gave me peace of mind. I had benefits, so I could go on short-term disability and still get paid a little bit. Not 100 percent, but at least it was something. America’s maternity leave laws are embarrassing compared to other countries, but something is better than nothing. So yeah, all I had to do was sign a few documents in the HR office and I could rest knowing I could enjoy my new baby for a few months and my livelihood and income would be waiting for me on the other side.

But it was not all rosy on the other side. My vision to work from home a few days a week on a long-term basis was not in the cards after I returned. I knew this before my  leave, which is why I spent most of my maternity job hunting. The company was young, the owners were young, the workforce was young. The culture was cutthroat and ambitious. We were all replaceable. The idea of me working from home was worrisome to leadership – uncharted territory. They feared I would be the first of many people to want to work at home. Plus, could I pull it off? They didn’t consider my tenure or value my many above-and-beyond contributions or the fact that I was a new parent now facing a three-hour car, train and bus commute. So they didn’t care if I left. They would replace me and/or divvy up my tasks. Sometimes it takes a huge life change to see once and for all your employer’s true colors. I never want to work for a company that doesn’t trust me or value me or care about my quality of life. I am thankful every day I am far away from my old job even if I did take a huge pay cut to get here. Money shmoney. For real.

This time around, I’m again charting new territory. I work for a very small private company that’s never dealt with a new parent. In fact, I was the last “new parent” to work here when I began three years ago. I don’t have benefits here. No HR department to lean on. I’m the only person who does what I do here. So I’m crafting a plan that I hope won’t burden others. One that will continue to demonstrate my long-term dedication to the company. But most importantly, one that I can live with. I feel lucky every day to work for a boss with the high-quality of character that mine possesses. She trusts me, she values me, she believes in me. She’s seen me pull rabbits out of hats. She knows I take my role here seriously. I believe in the product and I can use the money. Still, I feel like I have a lot to prove given this unique opportunity to create my own work-family balance – my attempt to “have it all.”

In my universe, it’s important to do quality, challenging work that I enjoy for people I respect, bring in a little income for my family and spend quality time with my brood. That, to me, is “having it all.”

As I write this, I can’t help but be reminded of the summer issue of the Atlantic with the mom and the baby in the briefcase on the cover. The story, “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All,” is a brilliant and even encouraging piece despite its title. I highly recommend it. Parts made me angry about our hypocritical society. Parts made me super proud to be a working mom and thankful for those who paved the way so I can do both. Parts made me optimistic for working moms of the future. I cried when she talked about how people on their deathbeds regret working to much/parenting too little. So I think life’s too short not to at least attempt having it all – whatever that might mean to you.

Here’s what I want to know: How do you as a parent attempt to have it all? What does that even mean to you? Tell me about your struggles and accomplishments in finding that work-family balance. Tell me about the values of the people you work for – are they accommodating? Family oriented? Does it matter? Did your outlook on what you wanted in an employer change after something major happened in your life whether it was a move, a new baby, a spouse losing his or her job or having to take care of an aging family member? I’d like to get some more insight on this.

Photo: Phillip Toledano


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