Work has been kicking my butt, friends, so blogging has taken a backseat to completing budgeting spreadsheets, reviewing documents, deploying teams, handling management issues, and so on. I used to be able to stay late at work anytime I wanted to catch up and didn't have plans. I did this far too often but I loved it. I'd make tea, turn on my desk lamp, connect my iPod to my computer, order myself a burrito and just knock things off my list one by one. Evening is often my best time, and I could really crank things out with no one around and no interruptions. I'd leave with Inbox Zero! Ah, memories. I haven't seen an inbox with no messages in months. I have been struggling with feeling behind since I returned to work full-time a few weeks ago. What I wouldn't give for a couple of late nights in the office to just catch up once and for all. Part of me says that and means it, but then the rest of me replies, What wouldn't I give? I wouldn't give anything. Work has to be finite. I have to leave. It's no longer an option to pull late nights in the office. I always have plans now. But the workload has gotten bigger, if anything, so to ensure that I can leave at some point, my days are now exhaustingly productive. I go go go when I am there, so much so that I forget to eat, forget to pee. Worst of all is that I forget to pump. I have to actually set reminders because otherwise I get lost in conference calls and whatever else and then I have no milk to bring home to my kid for the next day. When the day is done, I still feel like I could put in another six or seven hours! But at 5, or 5:30, or sometimes 6, I turn into a pumpkin and have to leave no matter what. That's a huge adjustment.
I try to be in before 9. I try. This is not always possible. For example one morning this week Thora told me I couldn't leave yet by announcing loudly that she was ravenous and in desperate need of milk just before I walked out the door. But I try. This way I can leave by 5, by which I of course mean 5:30, which sometimes means 6. It is very important to me that I leave on time so as to be home for Thora's bedtime, for a number of reasons. One is to give Johnny a break since by then he's been at it since 8 am by himself, and two is that bathing a baby is a two-person job (at least it is now since she can't sit up by herself yet) but the main reason is that I want to be there. I want to be there for every possible second. I adore my child more than I could ever express with words and as much as I love my job and am grateful to have the career of my dreams, nothing in the world is more important to me than this kid and my husband, and I hate to miss even a minute. This is what I miss:
How can I stand to be away from that? And if I leave work late, even a half hour late, like I did yesterday, I might get to spend the evening with Johnny, but I miss the chance to take part in bedtime, and to see my baby altogether. Then I really, really miss her.
I am at work at least 4 full days a week. I try to work one day - or the equivalent - from home. I used to be exceptionally productive when I worked from home more often but now I am too easily distracted by giggles, burps, dirty diapers, and requests for breastmilk. I clock many of my at-home hours late at night after Thora is asleep. This is fine with Johnny since he has a brand new Wii, and it frees me up during the day for pediatrician appointments and the many other obligations new parents have that I refuse to miss out on.
This week, two of the baby obligations were new. We took Thora to a Gymboree class and to a parent-baby yoga class. Gymboree, as it turns out, is not just an expensive clothing store for little kids. It is a play group for, by and large, very over-privileged children and their bored mothers or paid nannies. Apologies to the two mothers I know who attend Gymboree with their babies and recommended it to me. I wish I had gone to the Upper West Side or to Tribeca with you. Trust me, the two of you ain't seen nothing like the moms I met at the Upper East Side location, which I picked only because I can walk there from work and go to this silly thing with my baby on the lunch hour I normally do not take.
Picture if you will a circle of babies lying on a rainbow colored parachute. Cute, right? That part was. The "class" was 45 minutes of interactive play, use of noisy musical instruments, colorful toys, and singing. ("If you liked it then you shoulda put a bib on it" to Beyonce, and "Whoa-oh! Lyin' on my tummy!" to Bon Jovi. I swear to God, people. I am dead serious.) The "teacher" was a young woman with an incredible voice (I could imagine that she is an aspiring Broadway actress, entertaining other people's babies to pay the rent) who asked all the grownups how we were spending the holiday weekend. "At the Hamptons?" she asked repeatedly. I thought she was kidding. But when people started saying yes, I realized just how out of place I was. Worse, Johnny was with me and being the only male in the room he must have felt three times as out of place. They told us both parents could be there, but we were the only couple. Not only were we the only couple. We were very, very different from everyone else in every way, and that was with me wearing long sleeves so no one could see my tattoos. I want to make an additional comment about the fact that every single stroller in the place was a Bugaboo but I won't since we have one too. I will say that since we wore her no one knew that we too are members of the Bugaboo club and it pathetically occurred to me that if we had brought her in her stroller these cookie cutter mommies might actually have been nicer to us. As it was, no one talked to us except for a very nice woman from Louisiana whose baby was wearing a dress with crayfish all over it. She clearly felt as out of place as we did amongst these ladies. Johnny refused to go back but he very nicely offered to bring her there so I could come on my lunch hour and do the class while he sits at Starbucks for 45 minutes without a baby. The thought of having to go back alone turned my stomach. And yet, I signed up for a month of these ridiculous twice a week "classes" because I felt Thora really liked it. She was one of the last babies to grab a ball in this one exercise, so I panicked momentarily, but she did very well at tummy time and she followed the sounds and colors with her eyes and her whole body. She could barely take her eyes off the "teacher" and she liked the toys and the songs. The little clown make her giggle hysterically and when we did the parachute game where we passed it around over the babies' heads she was totally transfixed by all the colors. So as critical as I am, I did learn a lot. I will swallow my pride and hobnob with Manhattan's annoying upper class (or at least bored mommies who like to think they are Manhattan's upper class) just because I love my kid.
Parent-baby yoga was different. That was on the Upper West Side - much more my element than the UES - and there were only four of us parents, all moms. That time I was prepared: I had the stroller with my mei tai tucked into the storage bag underneath for later. But wouldn't you know it, I was the only one with a stroller at all, Bugaboo or otherwise. Every other baby was worn! I wanted to scream "Wait! I normally wear her too, I promise I do! I have my mei tai right here!" But I realized that no one cared but me. The mothers still seemed very privileged but less obnoxiously so and I felt no more out of place than I did at prenatal yoga or anywhere else I go where people are not tattooed or in all black or working with animals. The class was an hour and a half and it was essentially regular yoga with a lot of modifications so you could hold your baby in your lap or in your arms or on your legs as you did the poses. I did my Warrior 2 with Thora lying on my mat between my legs looking up at me. She lay in front of me as I did my downward dogs so I could kiss her belly as I came into plank and then cobra. I did ab exercises for the first time since she was born with her balanced on my legs like a flying baby. In triangle pose I tickled her belly with the hand that was down by my foot. And the instructor kept encouraging this. "Reach over and visit your small person!" she'd call out cheerfully. It was really cute and Thora was not bored and I was definitely doing something good for my body. There were three other babies there, two of whom were crawling all over. At points throughout the class babies got cranky or hungry so two of us nursed and another fed her baby a bottle. The instructor was totally unfazed. She helped out as she taught, picking up babies and redirecting them and making sure they didn't get into anything while the mommies bent into pretzels, or letting us know how we could try to keep up with the stretches even while nursing. I was feeling on the fence about mommy-baby yoga before I went, but I will definitely go back.
And to end with a smile, here's a video. In the last few weeks, Thora has discovered her voice. She uses it all the time! She shrieks and gurgles and cries and talks day and night. She wakes up laughing and singing, and has twice this week refused to sleep because she is too busy talking to herself. This video was taken late last Sunday night after we'd been trying to get her to sleep for hours. I figure all things considered, this is a good problem to have!