Thursday, July 15, 2010

So, what do you do all day?

I know this blog is mostly about Sophia's development and fun pictures. This post is a little different, but still very much encompasses how Sophia is growing, learning and developing. This response was triggered by an interesting commentary I just picked up online from the Washington Post:

When I graduated college and started working, I was excited to be a part of that world. It was fun, different and exciting. I worked in advertising and for those of you Mad Men fans, it wasn't that far off: The pay was crap, but there were lots of perks to make up for the crappy pay and long hours: food, travel, expense accounts and great clients! (well, mine was at least.) Someone asked me what I thought about having children. At that point in my life, a child was the furthest thing from my mind. I suppose if I had one, I'd take my 3 months then jump right back in where I'd left off. After all, how attached could you get to someone in just 3 months?

As people in my office began having children, I was someone resentful. After all, I was at the bottom of the totem pole, so if they had to leave early to (insert appropriate "excuse") pick up the child from daycare, work from home because the child was sick, go coach a t-ball game, etc, I was stuck carrying the load. Sure. Throw it on the single 20-something who clearly had nothing better to do than wait for Traffic to tell me that the creatives hadn't finished the edits yet.

Then, some of my friends started to have children. Not many, but just enough that they were more a part of my life on a regular basis. I saw the ebb and flow in my friendships and I'm sure, had a few choice phrases about why my friend was no longer able to "keep up" with her part of the friendship. I mean, wasn't she up at 11pm feeding anyway? Why not just shoot me an email response? And if her child wasn't sleeping, well, clearly she was probably coddling the child. Just let 'em cry it out for goodness sake!

Fast forward almost 10 years and I now get it. I'm not saying that you have to have a child to understand it, but you have to have them in your life on a regular & constant basis (friend, sister, big Italian family, etc) to understand that while we're at home with our children, it is about them. Your needs come when you can get to them. I don't care if you stay home full time or if you are working part or full time while being a mom - (sorry dads, I know there are dads who are the primary caregivers and you are included in this!) it is a feat unlike anything you've ever accomplished in your life. As the woman in the article puts it: take what used to require 15 minutes to accomplish and tack on an additional 30 minutes to really make it happen.

I have a good friend who tells me she isn't ready for kids because she's still got a lot left on her list. And you know what I tell her: go for it. Tick off as many things as you can now. Not because you can't do it when you have kids, you most certainly can. But it will be different. Because if you want to fly across country to race, you can. It just requires a hell of a lot more planning (and stuff!) The days of showing up to the airport 20 minutes before the flight with a backpack and water bottle for a weekend are long gone. But if you plan it right, you can still do it.

And as for me time, it's still there. I am a firm believer that if you don't take some time for yourself, you will crumble. Emotionally, physically and psychologically. But as this column states, we are much more stingy with the "me" time. That's not to say we can't hold up our end of friendships - that's a cop out. But the definition and execution of friendships has to evolve. My outlet is exercising. I used to go out on 5-6 hour bike rides and hour long runs with a nice stretch and shower afterward. I still get out on my runs. They may not be as long, but they are just as sweet. And Dave makes sure that I get my stretching time in afterward. But I know Sophia's waiting there for her mom to focus back on her. And as for the biking, it's pretty much on the shelf for this year. I'll get out a few times for a few hours, but logistically, it's a little too much commitment. But that's ok. I'm not abandoning it. I'll be back when it makes sense. And my bike will be there.

I have every intention of incorporating as much of my "former" life into this new life with Sophia. It's how she'll learn and grow into a strong, independent woman. We've already done a cross country visit taking nothing but carry on by ourselves (no Dave!). But my best friend on the other end had everything we didn't bring - pack n play, extra clothes, stroller, etc. And next Spring, I have no doubt that Sophia will be sitting behind me on the bike as we head around town to do errands.

Everything changes and evolves. And I couldn't love it more.


  1. I can so totally relate! I used to hate when my colleagues who were parents got special treatment and I was like, I'm a brand new teacher, I should get special treatment!!! (Which, by the way, I still think brand new teachers need a lot of help so I do as much as I can for them).

    BUT... when I go back to work I'm going to be a changed person. It's not all about work anymore, and when Josh needs me I have no problem putting him first! I'll take that special treatment any time!

  2. The article (and your post!) is so great. It puts into words so many things about being a full-time mom that are SO hard to explain.....