But I don't feel like writing that post tonight. Instead, I give you a portrait of my parents, as drawn by Petunia.
|Boppa is on the left, Mimi on the right. Which is obvious, of course.|
And then I realized that the story of my day today and my upcoming week illustrates the points I was going to make, perhaps better than the carefully thought out post I was writing.
So I poured myself a beer, and here goes.
I woke up hard this morning. I usually wake up before the music that our alarm plays starts, and roll over effortlessly and turn off the alarm before it wakes Petunia (who is inevitably in our bed by morning these days) or Hubby. But last night was a rough night, with Petunia waking up about 45 minutes after I fell asleep, and wandering the halls a bit because Hubby, who was still awake, was completely unaware that she was up, thanks to the excellent headphones he uses when he plays his computer games.
I am always disoriented if I get woken up within an hour of going to sleep, but I did eventually realize what I was hearing, and go out and retrieve Petunia. We were both more awake than I would have liked at that point, and it took 15-30 minutes before we went back to sleep. During that time, Hubby came in and joined us, and rolled over and fell asleep within seconds. I do not think I get enough credit for not pummeling him awake at times like this.
But, tired or no, I still got up and went for my morning run. I am finding my relatively new routine surprisingly easy to stick to. I think that is because the reward was immediate. I had thought the reward would be better fitting clothes and a trimmer figure- and indeed, my pants are fitting better now, even if the number on the scale has barely budged. But actually, the real reward is that I get 20-30 minutes of quiet. One of the things that I find most lacking in my life is quiet time, when no one wants anything from me. My kids want something from me from the moment they wake up. I occasionally get some solid, uninterrupted quiet work time at work, but not much- that is not the nature of my job. I am a project manager, not a tech lead. I coordinate and communicate more than I sit in my office and work out technical problems. (Although I did solve a major technical problem last week, in a stroke of insight so sudden that I almost saw a light bulb turning on over my head. I felt smart for days.) Once the kids are in bed, my husband usually wants some time with me, and I with him. But at 6 a.m.- no one wants anything, as long as I manage to get out of the house before Petunia wakes up.
I came back from my run to find Petunia awake, whiny, and disturbingly warm. She has a history of running frequent, unexplained fevers, which usually require 2-3 days home from day care. Her temperature registered below 100 when we took it, and, thanks to a special arrangement we have with our day care, we decided to give tylenol and send her in. (While no one knows what is causing the fevers, the evidence indicates that they are not contagious.) We were convinced that we'd get a call after naptime, though, telling us that Petunia had a high fever and was miserable- when those calls come, we always go and get her and take her home, and then keep her there until the fever clears.
Unfortunately, all time off with Petunia was going to fall to Hubby- I have a packed week of user training with a vendor in town. Petunia has an uncanny knack of picking the least opportune times to get sick. I could have worked from home/taken time off with no problem last week. It honestly feels sometimes like it isn't so much that my work and my home life are in conflict as that they are ganging up on me.
But, amazingly, the call never came. I picked a happy Petunia up (along with Pumpkin) at our usual time. She was still a smidge warm tonight, and not showing much interest in eating, but she played happily- in addition to drawing chalk portraits of her entire family, she insisted on taking her push bike out for a walk, and then she helped Pumpkin and Hubby trim some flowers from our front garden.
|The rest of the picture is even cuter.|
Petunia and Pumpkin presenting them to me, which is sweet even though I am desperately allergic to them. I put them in my preferred child safe vase, which the observant among you will recognize as a bottle from my pumping days.
|They are truly versatile little bottles!|
Anyway, back to the morning. Petunia was clingy in the morning, and wanted "Mommy get me dressed. Mommy do hair. Mommy brush teeth. Mommy do su'sceen." She got 50% of her demands met, and I rushed out the door 10 minutes late. And then I got caught by the #&@%$! train at my freeway exit, and was about 15 minutes late to meet our vendor.
I had an intense day at work- good, but intense. As I mentioned, it was the first day of a week long training course that I had organized for a large group of employees who are getting some new software. We have several open items to discuss with the vendor, mostly relating to how other groups are using the same software. So, I had to get to work early (to help the vendor set up for the training), and then stay focused through an entire day of training, and then cram in some discussion of our other issues. And I get to do it all again tomorrow, with the addition of staying late and then going out to dinner with the vendor and a couple of other people. (DAMN! I forgot to make reservations. Luckily, we should be OK, since the place we're going should not be overrun on a Tuesday night. Still, I must remember to do that tomorrow.) I probably won't be home before my kids are in bed. That is a rare occurrence, so I don't mind that much, other than the fact that this probably also means that I'll get to bed late, and I am foolishly staying up late tonight, typing this post.
And we have a super busy week. (See- home and work are ganging up on me.) The San Diego County Fair ends next week, and we like to go once each year, and not on a weekend. So we're planning to leave work early on Wednesday and take the kids up to the fair. Then my parents arrive on Thursday, an event Pumpkin and Petunia have been asking about since they last left. They are coming into town because Friday, Pumpkin graduates from preschool. (I know, we all rolled out eyes at such things back before we had kids. But shut up. I suspect I'll cry.) Preschool graduation also requires leaving a little early, so between two early days and an entire week spent watching training, I'll probably need to do some work this weekend to catch up. Plus, we'll want to take advantage of the extra (and frankly, preferred) adults to entertain the kids and get some big chores done, like going to Ikea to get the new furniture that will allow us to set up a computer in Pumpkin's room. The computer that was part of her 5th birthday gifts back in April.
So yeah, it is a crazy week, but honestly- crazy in a good way. I love my kids and I love having my career. I wouldn't want to give either of those things up. I look at all the craziness I just typed out, and the thing that actually bothers me the most is the fact that I have to get up at 6 a.m. to get some quiet time. I don't think being a stay at home parent would fix that. Quite the opposite, actually. I don't like the worries about Petunia getting sent home from day care with a fever, or the rushing off to work when she wants me to help get her ready, but to me, those are part of the price of having the life I want, and since I see no evidence that these trade offs are doing my kids any harm, I no longer feel guilt about them. I am genuinely happy with my life.
Which is not to say that I don't wish for structural changes to our society that would make life a little easier for two career families. Take one example: I was talking to one of the other moms at our soccer lesson last week, who has two daughters roughly the same age as ours. She mentioned that when her younger daughter turns 3, she will move to the preschool at the same location as the older daughter's (public) elementary school, so they'll only have to do the dreaded separate drop offs and pick ups for a few months, not the three years we are facing. And I thought, hey why can't our school have that? I know the answer, of course. She lives in a wealthy suburban school district, and I live in the city. And my state is busy decimating all levels of public education for a variety of depressing reasons. I suspect that preschool is actually funded by fees from the parents, and they aren't done in my school district because most parents couldn't afford it. God forbid the rest of society help pay for that sort of thing. I wouldn't want to ask anyone to subsidize my choice to have children, after all. (Whenever I hear that argument I want to ask the person making it to guarantee that he- and it usually is a he- will not allow my children to subsidize his retirement, not even by funding the roads and the police in the city, and certainly not by providing any income support to buy food or medicine... but then I think, I don't want to live in that type of society, one where we'd let an old man starve just because he made obnoxious arguments in his youth, so I let it go.) Then I think about how much Petunia loves her current day care and realize that we probably wouldn't want to move her, anyway. So nevermind.
And yes, I know I am incredibly lucky to have the work and life that I have. The stars have aligned for me. And I know that some people will read this post and think "and that is exactly why I decided to stay home with the kids/cut back my hours to part time/not have kids/whatever." I think those two things explain why there is an undercurrent of angst about this whole working mom thing amongst young feminists. You can't guarantee your luck, although you can make decisions that try to increase the odds of getting lucky. And no matter how much you think you know how you'll feel once you have kids, you also know deep down that you won't actually know anything at all until you're holding your first born in your arms- and maybe not even then.
Frankly, I don't know what I will want to do as my kids get older. I hear that things get harder in some ways as the kids get older, and I can believe that. My opinion so far is that babyhood/toddlerhood is physically more demanding, both in small ways (I was struck while doing dishes tonight that I didn't have to wash any stupid little plastic parts from sippy cups, because Petunia mostly drinks from real cups now) and large ways (there was a time when getting woken once and getting back to sleep within 30 minutes would have been a very good night), but that as the kids get older, parenting gets more mentally challenging. If and when I think that I need to change how I'm running my life, I'll do that. I'd promise to come back here and tell all... but who knows if I'll still be blogging by then?
But for now, I like my life how it is. I don't pretend for a minute that life like mine is for everyone, but it is for me. I'm sorry that some people don't believe me when I say that. I also don't think that someone who chooses differently is selling out the sisterhood. It actually really annoys me when people imply that- no woman should be required to make herself unhappy just to advance the greater good. Screw that. We all deserve the chance to live the life that will make us most happy.
Which is exactly what I'm doing.
Wow, that god long and ranty. Good on you if you made it all the way through! Feel free to respond to any or all of the random things I discussed in the comments. But I'll be in that training thing all day again, and then out to dinner at night... so don't expect responses from me until later.