Guilty Mommy

The thing about being a part-time working mom with part-time daycare is that sometimes I have to work when I’m home with the kiddo. This means I try to schedule calls during nap time and check emails secretly from my phone when we pull into the garage so she can’t see me and yell “phone, phone, phone,” one million times in a row. It also means I feel a lot of guilt during the time I am home with her.

The thing about being a mom in that there is so much pressure to do it right. Choose the right parenting style, teach them the right manners, figure out how to make sure they aren’t little jerks. And with Pinterest and blogs and Twitter and Facebook I’m constantly wondering how all of these women are making time to decorate insanely adorable Easter eggs with their children rather than running from one errand to the next and constantly wiping snotty noses and doing laundry and everything else it takes just to keep the ship moving.

When I’m home with Evie I want to do things like take her to the Children’s Museum, and do crafts, and run around and play outside and just generally be an awesome exemplary mom. But it turns out the Children’s Museum drives me crazy because it’s actually filled with screaming children that aren’t mine, and I suck at crafts, and it’s freezing outside. So we go to the grocery store and maybe the Starbucks drive through because mommy is addicted to cappuccinos and then make some lunch and eat it and clean it up and play with the stacking cups for ten minutes before a tantrum hits and thank god it’s naptime. And then I do my client call and she wakes up and we start all over again.

I know what I have is truly the best of both worlds and I am lucky lucky to be able to spend this time with her and have my career, and really it’s only a few days a week anyway, but it’s hard not to feel the guilt set in some days. I know if I went to a full-time job I’d have guilt too, and I know that staying home full-time isn’t right for me either. So I’m somewhere in between, trying to be okay with that. Now I have to go look up how to decorate Easter eggs before my client call.

Part Timing It

So I’ve mentioned here that I recently changed my job situation. Basically I left my full time gig – but I’m still consulting for them on the side. And I have a few other clients in the mix as well now. I started my own business is what I did. It’s called Jeni Anderson Media. :) I’ve been thinking about switching this blog to my domain over there, but not sure. We’ll see.

It’s been an adjustment – first I only had Evie in daycare one day, and now we’re back up to two. It turns out I love being home with her, but I also need some time to myself if I’m ever going to get anything done. There is unfortunately no way that I can squeeze everything I need to do in on Tuesday and Thursday, which means I’m always working when she’s napping, or at night, or when she’s tormenting the dog. The good news is it’s never too much and I’m attempting to never let it interfere with my time with her.

It’s actually perfect for me and I think it’s been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life. I was so immensely frustrated leaving her every day. And now, I don’t have to do that if I don’t want to. It isn’t just time with her either. It’s been a great decision for me professionally because it allows me to really steer my own path when it comes to my career. If I don’t want to pursue a ton of business, I don’t have to. But if I do decide to really hit it hard again one day, I know I can do that as well. I like that I’m still earning a paycheck, staying up to date on what’s going on in my field, and I still get to talk to grown ups most days. But I also get to go to the grocery store at 2:00 on a Wednesday and take my little bugger to music in the afternoon and work out at 10 a.m. I just love it.

One reason we ended up adding back another day of daycare – aside from the fact that I just needed the time – is that I really think she learns a lot there and benefits from being around the other kids. I could probably hire a nanny for a few hours every morning or something and get the things done I need to get done, but I enjoy taking her and I think she enjoys being there. She’s really bonded with one of her teachers, which is an absolute joy to watch, and she’s seriously learning from the other kids. I’m pretty sure George taught her how to crawl. And she watches Charlie eat and then she eats better when she gets home. It’s pretty cool to feel that good about leaving my kid somewhere. I know I’m lucky, because not a lot of people feel that way about their childcare centers. They have a Reggio Emilia approach, which is an Italian theory of childcare that basically allows children to direct their own learning and explore the world at their pace. It’s really great and it’s been phenomenal for our girl. Actually one reason I don’t want to leave our neighborhood is that I don’t want to take her out of this school.

The thing I miss the most about working full-time is the social aspect. Sure I can sit on Twitter all day while Evie sleeps, but it just isn’t the same as gossiping about what a d-bag old Kalon was on The Bachelorette in person. At least I can force John to watch it and we can make fun of the way that one guy said quinoa as kwin-noa together. I’m so lucky.

For once in my life, I feel really content with my career situation and I don’t think I’m going to worry about it anymore. Sometimes I wonder if I should still be climbing the corporate ladder, but I think for now, I’m doing exactly what I need to be doing. I’m a mom. I’m a consultant. I don’t always know what I’m doing on one side or the other, but then again I’ll probably never always know what I’m doing. Part timing it is definitely the way to go.

Choosing

I talked to a friend today. She told me some things I didn’t know. Things I was sorry to hear, but things I was almost relieved to hear at the same time. She told me how she’s been struggling with a little bit of postpartum depression, and how damn hard it is to be a mom. And as she was talking, I found myself nodding. Nodding and saying yes and mmm hmm and I get that and I SO get that. And I realized this sense of relief flooding over me.

No, I don’t think I have postpartum. But I think I have a case of damn this is hard and I don’t know what I’m doing. I definitely have a case of that.

Every day. And it’s nice to know someone else feels that way. No I don’t want her to struggle. I want her to get better and for things to get easier and every day I’m going to be thinking about her hoping that happens for her and doing whatever I can do to support her. But I want her to know that it’s okay that it’s hard, and I’m so glad she said it out loud. Someone needs to say it out loud.

I’m new at this. The mom thing. I’ve got nothing to go on except books and message boards and millions of strangers on the Internets and nosy women at the local sandwich shop telling me what to do. Who do I listen to?

I might never know.

In fact I’m sure I’ll never know. I’ll never know until one day, I’m looking back at all this, or I see some woman in the grocery store struggling to keep her baby from crying and get the damn frozen meals in the cart because she sure as hell doesn’t have time to cook a real meal and maybe I’ll be a little judgy. But hopefully, I’ll be like this lady, and I’ll pay for her groceries and tell her to keep on keeping on and do the best she can.

……..

I’ve been struggling with work. Going back was rough. Nearly impossible some days. There’s the obvious difficulty of being away from Evie for such a large part of the day. Then there’s pumping, which is pretty much the WORST. Side note – if you know a pumping lady, you need to go give her a cookie. She’s probably hungry. Then there’s trying to fit in exercising to lose the baby weight, and cooking healthy dinners, and getting your child on some kind of perfect sleeping schedule, oh and not to mention maintain some sort of a social life or at least pretend you still have friends, and it’s all just so stressful.

But other moms do it. Tons of them do. They do it every day and practically every single one I know makes it look so good.

But I’ve been struggling, and definitely not making it look good. I feel like I’ve pretty much been failing at both.  I’m a bad employee because I’m so sleep deprived and I just can’t focus on anything except my baby. But I’m a bad mom because I’m not home and she can’t even roll over yet and she’s getting all of these ear infections because of daycare and it’s ALL MY FAULT.

So I’ve been thinking about all of this, thinking about my life and how it’s happening NOW and I can’t just sit back and let it happen to me, and I’ve come to a decision.

I’m leaving my full-time job so I can spend more time at home.

Coming to this decision was also one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. For as long as I can remember, I have been a go-getter. A climb the ladder kind of gal, always on the move. And I have (had) a great job. I liked it and was about to get another promotion and things were going swimmingly. But Evie has changed everything, and my priorities are just different now.

I want to be with her. I want to see her more and I don’t want to race out the door to show up on time for an 8 a.m. meeting that 6 other people are LATE to. I just don’t have the patience anymore.

I still want to work, and I’ve been struggling with the thought of leaving my job, so I think we’ve come to a happy medium and I’m going to do some contract work. I’ll still get to be home with Evie more, but I can keep doing the things I’m good at and hopefully all of these things I’ve worked so hard for won’t take a nosedive.

I know I’m lucky because I GET to choose. Not a lot of people get to do that. And there is a small part of me that still feels like a little bit of a failure, like I couldn’t hack being a full-time working mama. But there’s another part that says screw it.

This is the right decision for me, and the right decision for our family.

So as of February 3, life’s going to be changing a little bit. Or a lot bit. And I still reserve the right to complain as much as I want about how hard motherhood is. But that’s okay, because I get this.

And that makes it all worth it.

Goodbye Maternity Leave

My maternity leave is ending. I am so sad. I can hardly even talk about it. But I know it’s coming and I have to figure out real life, life with job and baby. How do you people do it? Mamas, I’m talking to you. How the heck is this possible? To leave my sweet baby girl and go worry about website hits and sales numbers? Argh.

Part of me is excited really, to get back to work. I like my job and I miss the thrill of success and the agony of defeat. Okay that’s a little dramatic, but you get what I’m saying. I miss the work. I miss the people. The adults, that actually talk back to me during the day. I miss having something to think about other than nap schedules and whether we have enough diapers and did I run the dishwasher.

I have to be honest though, I am having a seriously primal reaction to leaving my baby. Like, the hormones are going crazy I might have to fight off a lion I will kill anyone that looks at her reaction. And I know it’s normal and natural and mothers are programmed to react like this, but it’s really hard to reconcile my head and my heart. This is the plight of the working mother I guess, that thing that everyone goes through. We want to work, but we want to be with baby too. And we don’t get to do both.

You don’t get to do both.

And it sucks.

So yeah, Monday is the day. I go back and leave my little girl for the whole day. And I’m supposed to act like a grown up. Guessing that’s not going to happen. So any advice on how to handle it? Aside from bringing lots of tissues?