My friend, fellow new mom and hilarious blogger April wrote a Facebook status recently that really stuck with me:
I don’t think I’ve stopped working since I stopped working.
Obviously – my primary gig these days is taking care of the Little one. However, mat leave has opened up a new window of opportunity to do things I wasn’t able to do while working full time. Look at it like this: when days flow in and out of themselves so seamlessly that you can’t really define where one ends and where the other begins, being up at 4:30am to write a blog post or two doesn’t really phase you.
Since being off work, I’ve been able to dive into my passions in a new way. Writing, planning events, doing fun social media projects – it’s been great having outlets that add to my many layers as a multifaceted woman. On one hand, my mind says “Go! Go! Go!” – pushing me to make the most of this time and take advantage of the opportunities that present themselves. On the other, I wonder if I’m doing too much, if I’m trying too hard, if I’m trying to unnecessarily prove something to somebody/myself…and sometimes I think I am.
Integrating the wee one with work has been interesting, and I can honestly say I’m making it all up as I go. I recently had a coffee meeting with an editor, and thought nothing of bringing LM with me. I really had no choice – I had a small window of time to fit this meeting into my day, and had no one to watch her during it. The best I could do was time it out: I fed her at the right time so that breastmilk + soothing car ride = a solid afternoon nap, leaving me to focus on the meeting while she slept. It wasn’t until my mom called to check on us and asked incredulously “You’re bringing the baby…to a meeting?” that I gave myself a side-eye. Luckily, my original plan succeeded and the meeting went really well – but I did wonder what the editor thought of me rolling up to Starbucks, stroller in tow. Was it seen as unprofessional, or as the marker of a forward-thinking multitasker? I got to be part of a really cool project, so either way, it worked out.
Other experiences haven’t been so great. People can be judgy: “You left your baby at home to host an event?!” or “You brought your baby WHERE?!” – making you feel damned if you do, damned if you don’t when it comes to balancing baby and business. The exhilaration of working on a project can shift in an instant – turning you into a sobbing, overwhelmed mess who wonders why you even bother to do anything other than change diapers and feed babies. Then, ever so faintly in the background, the constant ticking of the clock timing your return to the workforce (or whatever you plan to do once mat leave is over) is heard. Bills have to be paid. Babies have to be nurtured. Passions have to be chased. Life has to be lived. I’m determined to do it all, but I’m still figuring out what that looks like.
I have to acknowledge the presence of my HomieLuva – a partner who is fully supportive of my aspirations and amazingly hands-on with our daughter. The days where we’re able to expertly balance everything between the two of us are amazing, but that’s not every day. Since he’s at work, the majority of my time is spent navigating Skype calls and writing deadlines and emails and doing everything else that needs to be done to take care of LM and myself. This is the new normal.
Am I doing too much, going too fast? Should I take a break and ease into my passion work later, or is this just the pace that I’ll be rolling with from now on? I have no clear answer at this juncture. All I know is I’m getting a taste of the entrepreneurial mommy life that I used to eye from afar, and I’m still trying to perfect the recipe.
Wish me luck.