My “How does she do it all?” Confessions

25 Aug

I thought August would be a breakout month for me, with several planned interviews and posts that got stalled and postponed because the rest of my life got in the way. Ironically, I recently guest posted at my friend Erin’s blog, Such Small Steps, about work, marriage, and family balance. Please read my post and the rest of Erin’s interview series on this topic, including her own answers to her questions. Erin’s life always sounds so full of fun, friends, and style, to me, that I seriously feel like she’s the one “doing it all” and I’m just trudging along.

Tina Fey wrote in the New Yorker that asking how a woman “balances it all” is the most insulting question you can pose. I don’t really know what she’s talking about here, other than the idea that doing it all is a myth anyway. It exhorts some kind of pressure on the woman who’s supposedly doing it all, who, like me, feels like she’s trudging along. But the feedback I got from that post was great, especially from people who wonder how they can add a baby to their already packed lives. It’s a totally fair question: how are you living this awesome life? I know that a lot of what I’m jealous of are carefully edited photos and stories told with a certain nuance. But I really want to know anyway.

So here’s what I’ve been walking around with since that interview, my confessions, the secrets to my keeping it together:

Yoga pants or yoga shorts. Every day.
Expensive organic antibiotic-free chicken nuggets are the food I feel guilty to send to daycare with my daughter, in lieu of homemade grilled chicken and a side of quinoa. (She gets that somedays, too, to give you perspective.) I didn’t write about that. I have guilt.
There really is a lot of wasted energy around here lately, things that are not nourishing me. I need to slough those off.
I also need to relax more. I’m tired. I’m really worn out right now.
I feel like it’s sometimes harder to live my life with the values that I have, that I’m making it harder on myself than it should be. (See above nugget-related insanity.) (Seriously, though, these are really good nuggets.)

But right now is a very intense time in all aspects. My husband is a traveling fiend right now, leaving the country once each month on top of his usual travel. My kid is eighteen months old. This morning we had three tantrums involving a purple bowl, a purse, and her shoes. I rocked those tantrums, thankyouverymuch, because I was patient, named the feelings for her, and dealt with them in exactly the way I hope to, and let her keep her autonomy at the same time. My work is really hard right now and I can picture all that I want to do, but no matter what, it’s a huge challenge. I worry. I know I said I don’t worry as much now that I am a mom, but I’m worried I won’t be able to keep it all together this fall, especially since I can see the challenges ahead.

All of this? It’s really hard.

And that’s always understood when we talk about how we do it all, right? Because I understand it better after this whole exercise, writing and reading the posts about balance. It’s weird… my mom worked at least two jobs my entire childhood on top of being a mother and wife. I don’t remember anyone once asking her how she did it, or saying she should have a spa day to make up for a tough week. I love to hear just how you’re all keeping it together.

Moxie Advice for My Daughter (Part 1)

2 Aug

I’m really fond of Prudent Advice for my Baby Daughter and want to start a list about having Moxie for my daughter.

Have an interesting (true) answer for when you are asked “what you do,” and it doesn’t have to be about your job. Hot air ballooning, Thai cooking, training rescue dogs. It doesn’t matter what your title is at work, make it more interesting-sounding for parties. I like “Book Maven,” but maybe you’ll be a Siren or a Technician of the Future.

Remember your privileges when you react to the work others do. Be respectful.

Dress with style. Be appropriate. I’m your mom, after all.

Don’t burn bridges. Count to five when you are upset. Whatever it takes.

But also, don’t be afraid to have feelings, and don’t let someone tell you you’re emotional because you’re female. It’s human. Show your passion.

You are already everything you need to be.

There’s a difference between impressing and influencing.

Multi-tasking means nothing gets done well.

Always seek the next level of education.

Go home when the day is done. Be home, 100%. If you welcome your work into your home, you have to be passionate about it.

Be the one who likes to just get things done so we can all go home. (And if you have talent for this, seek office and fix the government.)

Seek work in places where you thrive: at this age, that would be the park.

There’s a difference between nice and pleasant. Be pleasant. You will draw more friends.