Sometimes the good stuff comes at the end

Today was a bad day.  If I had to guess it was the combination of an overwhelming workload and PMS.  PMS on a Saturday I can handle.  An overwhelming workload on a day that my hormones aren’t all out whack from recently growing a human I can handle.  PMS on a Tuesday at 10 AM when I realize I’ve missed another deadline and look at the next three months of planning where enough work exists for four of me?  Not so good. 

It was a day that 18 months ago would have been rewarded with a cold beer and fried cheese.  And for a moment, just a moment, I found myself missing the ease of having a bad day and wallowing in it.  Coming home and soaking in a hot bath with a glass of wine and a good cry. Or bitching to a co-worker at happy hour.  Or running to the mall and buying new shoes. 

Then, I came home to this face. 

Bundled up in the car seat for the 100-yard ride from Nauni's house to ours. What? It was cold out.

And we giggled.  I clapped while she practiced rolling.  I put her down on one side of the floor and picked her up when she rolled to the other.  She ate carrots and yelled when I didn’t get them in her mouth fast enough.  We gave her a bath and I laughed as she splashed me.  I took pictures, calling her name and making funny noises to try to capture her smile. 

And when I rocked her to sleep and felt her head heavy on my shoulder and the rhythm of her breath on my neck, I found myself wondering why my day was so bad.

Finding Balance

Finding balance has been the hardest part of the four months I’ve been back to work.  Wanting to be as productive and on my game as I was pre-baby but not sacrificing my baby for my job.  I know I’m not the only mother to face this.  I’m not special or any worse off than anyone else. 

Most days I’m pretty good at recognizing that this is the life I chose.  I knew before I got pregnant that I would be a working mom.  Because I like to work.  I like getting up, getting out of the house, having adult conversation.  Don’t get me wrong, not working is not an option.  We are a two income family.  But, knowing that staying at home is not an option helps me to put things in perspective.  I am able to remind myself that part of my job as C’s mother is providing for her.  Because I work, she has a house with a yard she can run and play in (you know, after she learns to walk), she has Pampers on her butt and food on her table. 

I don’t feel like a part-time mom.  But it’s hard to know that my kid spends more time with her grandmother than me.  It’s hard to realize at 10AM on a Tuesday that I’m already so far behind that I have two hours of work awaiting me after I put C to bed.  It makes my gut twist when I see my husband look at me out of the corner of his eye when I answer an email while I’m feeding her.  I feel guilty calling my mom three weekends in a row to ask her to babysit while I try to catch up.  I hate that I probably missed the first time she rolled over and I recognize that may be one of many firsts that I miss. 

The place I question myself the most as a mother is letting my job take up so much of my time and my attention.  I’ve promised myself that when she needs me I’ll be there for her.  I’ve sworn that I will be there for her doctor appointments.  I will leave work early for sporting events.  Hell, maybe I’ll even coach her softball team (eh.. maybe not.  I’ll be the mom that brings the snacks.)  These are easy promises to make when your kid is five months old.  I’ve never had to put them into practice. 

Until last week.  When I took a few days off work.  In the middle of tight deadlines and deadlines that I had already missed by a mile (at this point are any of you wondering why I’m still employed?).  I put a request into my boss, said my kid needs to be on a better daytime schedule and I would be out for a few days doing it.  And out I was.   Now, the scheduling thing didn’t really work out because she got sick.  But I was with her father when we took her to the doctor (twice).  I comforted her when she cried, walked the hall with her at night and didn’ t think about what was happening at the office.  Even when the little red light was flashing on my phone indicating that I had emails. I ignored them when my daughter needed me.  Granted Nap War 2010 was an epic fail, but I feel a little better in knowing that I can turn off the career driven voice in my head and focus on my baby.

When I grow up

I used to spend a lot of time imagining what my life would be like when I finally had a job that I liked and was good at.  Or when I could convince Craig to marry me.  Or when I did what I always thought I was put on this earth to do and had a baby.  In these early twenty-some fantasies I was ambitious and successful, I was a hot wife that made her husband weak in the knees, or I was the soccer mom in a gas guzzling SUV with 2.5 kids in the back seat laughing and getting their sticky hands on the windows.  I was easily breezing through life complete with great friends, happy hours, traveling and shopping.  Of course there would be shopping. 

It never occurred to me that to be really good at one might mean sacrificing at least one of the other two.  At work today we had our annual awards lunch and this year, I got an award for my dedication and commitment to developing our strategic plan and new brand identity.  Part of the nomination talked about how I spent time during maternity leave writing copy, participating in conference calls and working with our agency.  As I got up to accept the award, all I could think was “Well, this won’t be part of Munchkin’s baby book.” 

I like my job, I really do.  I finally feel like I have my shit together between 8 and 5.  I see a future.  I know my resume looks good.  I know that I’m good at what I do.  I worked hard for this and I feel damn proud to have gotten here.  But…. 

You see, there’s a but.  I never wanted to be that mom that checks email on her Blackberry while she feeds the baby.  Or the wife that can’t take a day off without taking the laptop home. I can’t blame the office or the boss.  It’s not a pressure that they’ve applied.  It’s a fear that if I stop working as hard as I have for the last 18 months or so, that I will lose the momentum that I’ve gained.  It’s a fear that behind closed doors or under his or her breath a person will mutter, “well, before she had the baby…” It’s not wanting to ever be bored and unnoticed at work again. 

It’s hard squeezing everything into a 24 hour day.  It’s hard finding a way to be the successful chick at work, the wonderful wife and the patient mother.  The only thing hot about me is the hot mess that I am when I come home, a half an hour later than I wanted to with no plans for dinner.  I drip with envy over those women that have it all figured out and I beg them to send me their secrets.  Please.

Work: 451 Krista: 6

Does it make me a bad mom if for the THIRD weekend in row, I call my mom and ask her to watch my baby while I go to work on Saturday?

Folks, working is kicking my ass. Like it’s the fourth grade bully that looks at me cross eyed as I walk by with my head down hoping to avoid having my hair pulled. There are deadlines looming, there are deadlines that are passed and every time I think I’m getting close to being caught up. Yeah, I’m not.

::Head desk:: I’m whipped. And I miss my child. And I miss my husband. There needs to be two of me.  Only that wouldn’t work because one of me would need to have the time to explain the work to the other of me.  One of these days I will write a post gushing about the parts of my job I really like.  But right now, I have work that I really should be doing.

Pack my bags – I’m moving

To the state of Constant Conflict. Where a new mother, hell any mother, is pulled between wanting to be the same energetic and focused person she was before she birthed a child and the distracted and tired person she became after she had to leave that child to go earn a paycheck.

Again, I KNOW I am not the first mom to go through this and I KNOW everyone says it will get easier. My daughter is in good hands. That is not the point. The point is before I held my little girl and spent just about every moment of her first six weeks of life with her, I always rolled my eyes at the person who left meetings early to get home to their kids, or the person who never went for drinks after, or the ones who complained under their breath about having to travel out of town for work. I was NEVER going to be like that. I wouldn’t let having a child at home keep me from doing what I needed to do to advance at work. (Side note, my ambition is more about wanting to keep a roof over our heads and Nine West shoes on my feet than wanting to rule the world).

Well, I am now that person. Yesterday was my first ‘real’ day back from maternity leave and after a long day of presentation rehearsals and discussions that ended at 7:45, the rest of the marketing department, including my boss and our agency contacts, were headed to dinner. It was my weary voice that asked if dinner was required and skipped out to come home to kiss my kid before putting her to bed. I know I should have taken put in the extra time, especially after being gone for six weeks. I should have been at the table when ideas for today’s presentation were being discussed.  But every single fiber of my being told me to go home. So I did.

And I cried the whole way, because I feel guilty for leaving and guilty for feeling conflicted.  But conflicted is what I feel.  As much as I know leaving was the right decision, I couldn’t help but wonder if my boss is thinking that I’ve changed or if other members of the department feel like I’m not pulling my weight or if I was missing something.  If the next time there’s a new position in our department, will I be judged as not being serious about or dedicated to my job and will it go to someone with less responsibility at home.  And then I think that worrying about those things when my baby is six weeks old makes me a terrible mother who doesn’t understand her priorities. 

See….constant state of conflict. 

Today, I’m holding my baby

Forget writing thank you notes (its been a month, what’s another few days), going through clothes (that’s depressing anyway) or cleaning my house (like I need an excuse to avoid that)… today I am doing nothing but holding my baby, because tomorrow I am leaving her ALL DAY to go to a meeting for work.  ::sigh:: 

Yes I know my maternity leave doesn’t end until next week and I made the choice to be involved with 2010 planning while I was off and I offered to attend the non-mandatory meeting tomorrow.  Do not remind me that all along I’ve talked about how I could not be a stay at home mom, how I needed to get out of the house for ‘adult conversation’ and to feel productive and how I was pretty sure I could rock as a working mom.  Seriously, do not go there, because right now the words to the “You’re Gonna Miss This” song are running through my head and all I can think about is how much I’m going to miss tomorrow and every other day that I’m at work while she is home.  The way we cuddle in bed early in the mornings, and the way she smiles and gurgles after being fed and changed mid-morning, or the way she curls up on my chest to take an afternoon nap.  

So, tomorrow, I will go to the meeting, stop at Dunkin Donuts for a hot chocolate and put on my happy face about how it feels good to be back; but today, I am holding my baby and trying not to cry.  And seriously, the first person to say I told you so, loses blog reading rights.