Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Back to the Grind

As usual, I was a little anxious about us getting back into the swing of things after a break. The alarm came mighty early on Monday morning. Zuzu did not want to get out of bed. Neither did I. It is very hard to get a three-year-old out of bed when she has sweet-squishy-sleepy-face and just wants to snuggle with you. She was tired enough that she wanted me to help her get dressed rather than doing it herself, so I shimmied her into a pair of navy leggings, a gray knit dress with silver thread running through it, and she wore her gold mary janes and a pink silicone necklace that she has been instructed to bite when frustrated (in lieu of her friends, natch).

By the time I got out of the shower, Coco was awake and fussy and still requires a hit of mama milk to get up and moving in the morning. I made coffee and slapped peanutbutter on a graham cracker, giving her part of a graham cracker to chew on (after letting the dog out because he is a food thief). I loaded up Coco, her bag of cloth diapers, my school bag with books, my water cup and my coffee, and headed out.

After two and a half weeks of unlimited mama-time, I was afraid that my little mama's girl might freak out when it was time for her to go to school, but she happily trotted over to her teacher. When I went to kiss her good-bye, she could barely be bothered with me, as her teacher was bringing her breakfast.

I was walking back out to my car when I got a text from David telling me that Zuzu's drop off went smoothly.

Perhaps we had all reached our quota of family togetherness time?

I got to work, snagged a good parking spot, and walked up to my third-floor office. I unlocked the door, unloaded my bags, hung my super cute 2016 calendar, put a few drops of essential oil in my diffuser, watered my plants, and sat down at my computer with a sigh of relief.

I love my kids more than anything.

But after two and a half weeks of nonstop togetherness, it was so awesome to be alone in my office. And it was pretty fun being back in the classroom talking to college students.

I'm teaching a J-term class that's not about literature but instead is about how to choose a major and how different majors can lead to unexpected career paths. It involves a lot of guest speakers and plenty of discussion about the purpose of college (vocational training? or creating well-rounded, ethical citizens?). Also I'm co-teaching it with a friend, so we're enjoying ourselves.

In case I start feeling guilty about how happy I am about being back at work (and away from the incessant demands of my children--I have SO MUCH respect for moms who stay home with their kids full time), I just need to remind myself that Harvard Business School's recent research shows that kids can also benefit from having a working mom.

So... me enjoying adult conversation, a captive audience listening to me talk, and peace and quiet in my tidy, sunlight office? It's really benefiting my children. We call that a win-win!

17 comments:

  1. Where did you get the necklace?? My almost 6-year-old still has anger issues and likes to bite (not people, but things) when she's mad or overwhelmed. I wonder if it might give her a sense of control to have that as an option.

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    1. Amazon! I don't know if it will help, but I figure it can't hurt, right?

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    2. So is it a baby teething necklace? (looking on Amazon right now)

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    3. This is the one I got:
      http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B017V72ISQ/ref=mp_s_a_1_7?qid=1452187685&sr=8-7&pi=AC_SX110_SY165_QL70&keywords=Chew+necklace&dpPl=1&dpID=41JrxzcWRiL&ref=plSrch

      It's long, so I shortened the cord. It has a safety-release clasp.

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    4. That's perfect! I told my daughter about it, and she's excited. Thanks!

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  2. I read this while breastfeeding Josephine and I gotta say, I will be a little bit ready to head back to work when I finally do. I have 6 more weeks of maternity leave gratefully, but this staying at home with a crazy toddler and a needy newborn is hard work. (Plus I have the summer off and am only going back to the office for 2 1/2 months).

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    1. Yes, I think for sure that having an academic schedule helps ease the working mom guilt. I'm always ready to be home during breaks, and I'm always ready to go back to work!

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  3. So jealous! But then I am glad for these years of weekday zoo trips, and the Magic House, and all of the stuff we get to do together when they aren't packed on weekends. But I am also way past ready to go back to school/work next year (ah! This year!) I'm glad the drop offs went well for everyone.

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    1. Yes, there are some huge benefits to staying home, and I'm sad to miss some of those experiences, but relieved to know my kids aren't disadvantaged by my choice. I think moms who do that stuff are so awesome. I'm just better suited to working. (But, again, an academic schedule with long breaks makes that choice easier for me.)

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  4. Studies and data from Harvard notwithstanding , it's regrettable they refer to mothers in the workplace as "working moms" stay at home moms work incredibly hard too. Women need to speak up and champion each other's choices, we're all in this together

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    1. Seriously, I think most SAHMs work harder than I do at my job! I think the wording is just an issue of simplicity (working = working outside the home). I'm never going to dispute the exhausting (but rewarding) toil of caring for kids full time.

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  5. I'm pretty sure I've said this before, somewhere in your comments, and pretty sure I'll say it again - I'm more positive every year I parent that I would've been better at this whole family thing if I'd chosen to work. This week seems to feel that it's purpose is to re-emphasize that idea to me... via my crackpot kiddos and, oh yeah! We got a puppy... :-/

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    1. After the baby threw a wash cloth in the toilet and Zuzu screamed at me that I was a mean mommy for not letting her have a second Popsicle, I had to take a personal time out upstairs. And I had been at work all day! Parenting is the hardest job.

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    2. And OMG a puppy. So lovable! So much work!

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  6. I loved the work schedule I had during the first 3-4 years of each of my girl's lives. I worked four days a week and had Fridays off. It was really the best of both worlds. I was still plugged in professionally, I made 80% of my pay and had full benefits, and the weekends felt long and luxurious. Plus, on Fridays we always got out and did fun things, which was nice not having to fight the weekend crowds.

    Because my girls are six years apart, I had completely separate early childhood periods with each of them - so I rarely had a Friday home alone with both of them - only on the rare school day off. And those were like special treats.

    Now that they are both busy with school, I find that I still crave more days off from work - but really, I just want the freedom part of it. (Alone time!) I will say that I've gotten much better at carving out time for myself - I don't feel as starved for that like I did even two years ago. We're very 50/50 in our household with the kids, and if anything, my husband pushes me out the door more to do my own thing. Still, there are days at work when I think the real "dream job" is the SAHM or D of school aged children! I'm not sure what I would do with that sort of free time, but it sure would be fun to figure it out!

    If there is one thing I'm most grateful for from my childhood / experiences with my parents, it's that both of my parents worked full time, both shared all household duties equally, and someone was always home when we walked in the door in the afternoon. I remember receiving a scholarship when I went into architecture that was awarded to "a female in a non-traditional field" and thinking that seemed strange because there was never any doubt in my family that my sister and I could pursue any study or passion of our own.

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    1. The past couple of summers, I kept the girls in daycare two days a week to save our spots for fall and so they wouldn't have an abrupt transition that would stress us all out (or mostly me). Those days when I'd drop them off and have a few hours to myself--SO great!

      What I gathered from the HBS article was that the biggest impact on children's lives is seeing more equitable distribution of household duties and the general expectation that girls can (and should) pursue whatever career they like. The truth is that as much as I (sometimes) would love to stay home full time for more than a semester with my babies, what I DON'T want to do is be the person primarily in charge of cooking, cleaning, and shopping for our household. And it seems to be that those duties almost always fall to the SAH parent. A 50/50 split works way better for me and my dislike for domestic chores.

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    2. Agreed. You articulate the very thing that I don't think I've ever quite put my finger on. As long as the weekdays sometimes are - and they are long and busy - I can't ever remember a point in our fifteen year marriage or twelve + years of child rearing where I've felt like it was expected of me to do the majority of the work related to the upkeep of the house or watching the girls or shuttling girls or running errands. We divide and conquer, and it does feel like a very equal partnership.

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