Working Mom- Wednesday May 2nd

Before I was a working mom, I took it for granted that it was a very easy, functional role-  I saw moms do it on TV, I know other working moms, I just figured it’s very manageable.

I was very lucky to get 12 weeks of maternity leave.  Those really hard weeks from 3-10 I could just concentrate on learning how to parent my child.  No need for showers or matching outfits, no reason to keep track of my wallet or book of stamps.  All I had to do was figure out what Hazel wanted, and provide it for her.  The easiest way to accomplish that was to get in the mindset of a baby.  We woke and slept on the same schedule, although she was able to pee and poop with much more luxury than I.

Now I’m back at work and the demands on me have drastically changed.  Now I’m expected to wear clean clothes, pay attention and reciprocate adult conversation.  I have to return phone calls and emails and participate on conference calls without sounding like a stoner.  This wouldn’t be as challenging except Hazel and I are still not sleeping through the night.  I tend to take a crying break while pumping breast milk at work, and I try and get a frustration cry in at least once during the weekend too.  For informational purposes only, I’ve compiled a typical daily schedule.  The gaps in the schedule are when I’m working or trying to take care of the needs of the non-Hazel people in my life.  Please enjoy a day in the life of a working mom…

2:00 AM Hazel declares her hunger and asks in coos and squeaks if  I want to get in her room and feed her or what?

5:00 AM Hazel awakens and wonders what I’m doing.  She decides to have an early morning snack, then wants to either snooze or play.  The crib is not an acceptable place to do either, according to Hazel.  So we either play in the living room or catnap together in the rocking chair or my bed.

6:15 AM Alarm goes off.  Dad and I pass Hazel back and forth while we shower and find clean clothes or spray Fabreeze on dirty ones.  We call to each other “Quick! You’ve got to see what she’s doing!” so many times that we’ve shortened out personal grooming time down to the bare minimum.  Dry hair is not at all as interesting as watching Hazel bat at her pig toy.

7:15 AM Go downstairs to feed Hazel rice cereal and a little baby food.  We’re just practicing eating solids but she’s getting the hang of it and being adorable in the process.  Hazel likes to spend this time observing her Grandparents and laughing between spoonfuls of green beans and loading her hair up with fistfuls of rice cereal.  It is now obvious why most babies aren’t born with a full head of hair.  You can probably just hose the hairless ones down after a meal.

7:50 AM My awesome darling wonderful cousin/nanny picks Hazel up.  We spend a few minutes chatting and I try not to stare at the car as they drive off and whimper.

8:00 AM Get Tom and Ramona in the car and drive the hour commute to work.  Ramona gets to come to work with me, which would ease the pain of leaving Hazel except Ramona spends almost the entire day laying on the plushest carpet in the other room.  She emerges at lunch to beg for scrapes and occasionally to whine for a walk.  When I call her in to let me pet her because I’m feeling lonely, she acts suspicious.

9:00 AM Start work.

9:10 AM Wonder what I’ll have for lunch.  Focus on work to distract my stomach, which is only hungry because my brain is trying to convince it that food will make me happy.  My stomach is very dumb and believes my brain, despite my body protesting that a huge lunch will wreck the work it does at the gym.  Brain and stomach roll their eyes at body.

10:30 AM * Pump.  Look longingly at pictures and videos of my daughter.  Wonder if she even cares that we’re not together.  Conclude that she probably doesn’t but that just proves what good cares she’s getting.  Ponder the possibility that I’ll spend my whole life wanting my daughter to like me best and hope that I’m able to learn some trick to feeling ok when she doesn’t.

11:00 AM Loudly announce that I want to eat lunch.

12:00 PM Ignore reservations about emotional eating until last bite of ham & brie sandwich.  Upon taking last bite, make equally loud announcement that tomorrow I will only eat salad.

1:00 PM Work

1:30 PM Wonder if I can convince co-workers to get cupcakes with me so I don’t feel so much shame.

2:30 PM * Pump again.  Text Awesome Nanny (A.N.) while pumping for pics and updates about Hazel.  Feel sad.

3:00 PM Introduce cupcake idea.  Test co-workers’ willingness to be enablers.  Be disappointed either way.  Announce that tomorrow will only eat celery for snacks.

3:05 PM Work

5:00 PM Run out the door, leap in car, peel out of parking spot.  Commute one hour to pick up Hazel from A.N.’s house.  Drive another 30 minutes to get home.

6:30 PM Arrive home.  Snuggle Hazel briefly then feed her rice cereal and veggies or fruit for dinner.  Laugh as she squeals her demands that I spoon the food in faster.  Sigh loudly that we can’t be together more.  Watch Ramona circle like a coyote to lick Hazel’s hands and face clean of rice cereal as soon as I look away.

6:55 PM Wipe down baby, chairs, table, floor, my own hands, arms and face.  Play with Hazel for 15 minutes, until she starts yawning.

7:10 PM Start baby bath.  Follow with clean jammies, bottle, story time, kisses and bed.  Look with wistfulness as she settles down to sleep.

8:00 PM Close Hazel’s door and pass the video baby monitor back and forth as we watch her sleep.  Talk in hushed tones about how awesome she is, what chores have to be done, what bills have to be paid, what our upcoming schedules will be.  Eat dinner. Try not to feel anxious that none of the chores or bill paying we talked about last week got done.  Think for the 200th time about all the thank you notes I have to write, and wonder where my stationary is.  Decide (again) that I’m too tired to look, but will surely do it tomorrow.  Wonder if my jeans are too filthy to wear again tomorrow.

9:30 PM I go to bed (Unless I go to the gym from 8:45-9:45 PM, shower, go to bed at 10:30).  Usually I read baby advice websites or baby blogs or look at pictures of my baby until about 10.

11:00 PM Tom gives Hazel another bottle, then he comes to bed

The trouble is that when I am with my daughter, I feel like I’m doing all the care taking and little bonding or playing.  I worry that I’ll be the non-fun parent, the tired parent, the sad parent.  I know it won’t always be like this, if nothing else she won’t always go to bed so early.  But for the time being, being a working mom is very very very hard.  It’s so hard that it’s forcing me to just live one day at a time and not think about the future.  I just have to get through today, and rely on the giant heart that my children gave me to keep smiling and laughing and hiding my tears.


*I started this post last week, when I was still pumping.  I have had to stop nursing this week because Hazel was on a nursing strike and I couldn’t keep my supply up through pumping.  Sad-sack post about that to follow

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