I decided to start blogging again. Very two thousand and three of me, I know. And if you’re reading this now it means that for one day at least I’ve found a way – the focus – to write on the train. New Jersey Transit, where I spend three or more hours a day, Monday through Friday, sitting, schlepping. Waiting impatiently to either get to my office in Manhattan or my home in suburban NJ.
I aspire to be a positive person and to see “problems” as opportunities. But I have a very strong Larry David streak in me. I get hung up on the inane, exasperating, slow witted behaviors of strangers and kvetch about it. Riding the train everyday, one can’t escape the banality of her own existence. We like to think we’re special, but we’re all just coming and going, in both the macro and micro sense.
Part of why I am blogging again is simply to get my brain working again. It’s been a bit dead over the past two years as I’ve been busy making a massive life overhaul. Before all of this, I used to read, I used to write, I used to challenge my own intellect. For all my complaining about having no time I can certainly spend less of my attention on stupid social media and endlessly checking my work email. I can read real books and thought pieces instead of crappy Buzzfeed listicles. And occasionally, I can write!
“ Forget all rules, forget all restrictions, as to taste, as to what ought to be said, write for the pleasure of it…” – William Carlos Williams
Three years ago at this time I lived with my dog and cat in the East Village, went to Yoga 4 times a week and was an inveterate New Yorker. If you told me that by age 40, I’d be a married, Mom to three, home-owning suburban commuter I’d ask you what you were smoking (and could I perhaps have some of that?). But, here I am, living my dream alongside my perfect partner, raising a family that I cherish. #ThisIs40
A big part of how I’ve historically defined myself is that “I always do my best.” As a kid it was in school and sports. As an early adult it was career and self. Now that I’m also a wife and Mom, I have even more to do my best at. A big part of it is pride. I’m a Leo after all. I’m competitive, and my parents raised me to be tough, resilient and resourceful. As far as “leaning in” and all that theoretical discussion of working motherhood…I find aspects I can relate to, but I don’t think about it too much because I don’t have the time. My focus is on the day ahead and how the hell will everything get done without anyone or anything important getting hurt, forgotten, or overlooked. First do no harm. One thing I’m learning is not to dwell on or feel guilty about minor incidents and impediments. Onward! The health and welfare of my family takes precedence over all. Don’t sweat the petty stuff and don’t pet the sweaty stuff!
If you want to know what it’s really like the first six weeks after you have a baby, watch the indie flick Kelly & Cal. Bottom line: it’s hard. To anyone who thinks you get to laze about … you are insane. It is far more difficult than working a job, that’s for sure.
Baby M turns 8 weeks this Thursday which means it’s almost been two months. I am fortunate enough to extend my leave until the end of the year thanks to my willingness and ability to forego pay for a month and my employer’s willingness to keep my job for me beyond what they are required to do by federal law. I cannot fathom going back sooner … I am JUST starting to feel like a human being again.
Thankfully, things are starting to get a little easier and more fun. My house arrest is over … am able to get out and do things from time to time. Sure there is a lot of scheduling and timing involved due to breastfeeding, and it feels like I’ll never go to Yoga or have a mani/pedi or massage ever again … but I know that’s not the case.
And I know how lucky I am to have time away from work to spend with my child and get her life started out right. It’s an unusual feeling to not be working. I have been employed without interruption for the past 15 years since finishing grad school, save the occasional vacation. The most I have taken off consecutively before this was two weeks, and that was when my Dad died.
Yes, I wear that as a badge of honor, despite professing to be on the “Americans work too much and don’t know how to live” bandwagon. I guess I’m conflicted. I’m proud of all I’ve accomplished and all I am able to do outside of the domestic realm. At the same time I am enjoying being around my baby, husband and kids all day. I get tremendous satisfaction from creating familial and household harmony, for being present with them for the day-to-day. And in my heart and gut I know staying home for now is the right thing to do. I am literally providing orientation to LIFE for my child … in the grand scheme four months is infinitesimal. And the hamster wheel continues to turn just fine without me.