Thursday, September 11, 2008

My Space

I want to write about how this week of adjustments is going for the three of us, but first I feel a need to talk about my goals and guidelines for this blog. I started Lag Liv in November of 2006 to chronicle my journey as a hopefully pregnant law student. It quickly turned into more than just observations and became a diary, sounding board, and eventually a lifeline throughout Landon's rocky first year of life. Writing these posts is an important and almost essential part of my day. When something is bothering me I find myself automatically thinking in paragraph form, ordering my thoughts and planning out how I'll address the issue here, and somewhere in that cycle of writing, deleting, and writing some more, I often find peace. It's not so much the comments, though I love them, it's the process of rationalizing through the irrational and getting to the bottom of my feelings that makes my world clearer by the time I press Publish. I try not to think much about how many people read it or what the people who know me in real life might think of what I've said. It's my space to write about everything from the superficial to the deep and difficult.

The occasional soul-baring requires honesty. I don't mind being honest. Nothing in life is black and white and as much as I'm sure I want to work, that doesn't mean I don't think about the alternative. I want to be able to admit my doubts without having to defend my continued status as a working mom. I want to be able to write about a late night at the office or a project that is time-consuming but thrilling without having to reiterate my love for my son. I teared up as I left daycare this morning, Landon had sobbed when I set him down, and walking out the door was so hard. I thought about how I wanted to write about that and then I thought about a comment on an earlier post about working where the person told me the reassurance I wanted shouldn't come from a blog and added that "This is a lifelong decsion, everything he will become rests on it. Choose wisely." At the time I wasn't looking for reassurance, I was just talking about my thoughts before starting my job. I'm not really looking for reassurance now either, I still know this is the right choice for us, I just want to be honest about the fact that it's hard. Every day is not perfect. I may love my job (and I do) and Landon may be happy at daycare (and I have the video footage to prove it), but I spent 20 minutes in traffic this morning wondering whether I was doing the right thing. I'm probably going to wonder that frequently and I want to be able to talk about it.

And I'm going to. And I'm going to delete any overly negative or cruel comment about it. This is my forum and despite what some people think the Constitution guarantees them, there is no freedom of speech here (this has become my pet peeve since attending law school, the Bill of Rights protects you from the government, not individuals). It's not even so much for myself, but because there are other working moms who come here and I'd like to have an online space that avoids some of the nastiness that abounds in most working mother websites. I've been blessed with a wonderful community of readers and I welcome your comments, both those that agree and passionately disagree with what I've written, I'm just certain there's a way to phrase anything with a bit of respect.

And now with all that said, I have to admit that today was really hard. Dropping off Landon as a baby was easy for me. I loved his snuggly self, but truly, he was happy to snuggle with anyone and I know Maya held him for much of the day. He slept the vast majority of the time he was with her and even though on some level he knew I was mom, it wasn't like he was watching the door for my return. Now he is a real, mini person with emotions and attachments and he actively misses me when I'm not there. He started crying as soon as we walked in the building today. I stayed in the room for a little bit and he started smiling as he pointed out all his new toys (pointing is his new favorite thing, he does it with such conviction, even though most of the time he's not pointing at anything in particular). I could tell he was comfortable there and he smiled at his teacher several times. I set him down at the table for his breakfast and he screamed. The teacher picked him up and I asked if it was better for me to stay or leave, and she said to leave but stop and wave goodbye at the window. I thought that would make things worse, but he calmed down some and then I hugged the wall and peaked back in the room 15 seconds later to find him sitting in his mini chair at the mini table awaiting his biscuit with a look of excited expectation on his face.

So I guess what I'm saying is that I love my son, love him like I can't explain or fully comprehend. But I also want to work and enjoy my time in my office. I'm proud of my job, proud that I'm providing for my family, and proud that JP can follow his own dreams because he knows the mortgage will be paid. Today Landon's teacher report said: "Landon is doing awesome in our class - very smiley! He is a lunchtime pro - always ready to eat! He loves to push around the cars outside and shares very well with classmates. He is adjusting perfectly." We're all adjusting. Some days are going to go better than others, and I look forward to sharing the ups and downs of our journey with you all.

31 comments:

  1. This post made me tear up a little bit. Just like you find personal benefits from writing your blog, I know a lot of us who read it benefit too... I can at least speak for myself when I say that I wouldn't read it every day if I didn't relate to you and your life. To have someone who speaks honestly about these really important issues without judging or preaching is invaluable. I can't really imagine people I don't even know making me feel bad for who I am or what I do, but you should know that we admire you for being a great wife, mother and lawyer ... and honestly putting the real you out there without apology!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you for your honesty and I utterly support your decision to delete the negative comments. This is your space, you decide who plays in your sandbox.

    Re the drop-offs, It's really common for kids who have been happily playing all day suddenly cry at a pick up, because they remember Mommy's been away.

    And mostly they are absolutely fine after a few minutes. It's like "sadness, she's going" and then oooh a car. (Have cars replaced toes in Landon's estimation?)

    I cannot say how much I enjoy your writing, and all round reflective observations. Thank you for sharing,ups and downs, I really appreciate your honesty.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I thought it was interesting how you found it easier to leave him when he was younger. Right now the thought of leaving my little baby with someone is super terrifying and in my head I keep thinking it will be easier when he's older.

    It seems like whatever choices you make for your family are made with thought, care and love. Who is to say that your family's needs won't change in the future but until that change becomes apparent to you- you should be confident in your decision! Landon is in a safe and learning environment while you are at work and he's lucky to have a mom who can provide for him on so many levels like you do!

    ReplyDelete
  4. repeat after me, there is nothing wrong with working, there is nothing wrong with working. There is also nothing wrong with staying home, or working PT, as I do. It is a very personal choice. And it is a choice that is constantly being reevaluated. And that's ok, too. It's ok to change your mind, or have doubts, that's life.

    It's also great that you a have a choice to make, because lots of women work because they have to.

    I will tell you it gets easier. My son is three now and he loves his preschool so much, I barely get a bye mom!

    Feel free to email me. As a lawyer mom who has been there, done that.

    ReplyDelete
  5. As a working mother of two, I 100% understand where you are coming from as I am often having to justify why I work, and how I can leave my children. It is nice to read about someone else who feels strongly about it. But, also understands it isn't easy.

    Trust me, drop offs only get easier & easier. Before you know it, he will be waving good-bye to you as he turns to play with his new friends.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Oh, what a nice post.....

    I distinctly remember last fall, when I would drop off my 2 year old at his little preschool for just 2 mornings a week. And he would cry, oh my, he would CRY. And I could have easily scooped him up and headed back out the door because I am a SAHM.

    But I did not scoop him up. I knew that school would be good for him. And every afternoon when I picked him up, he would be very excited to see me but he would then cry AGAIN, because he did not want to LEAVE. *sigh*

    The other memory I distinctly remember is the polite-ish, squinty-eyed questioning of why we were sending Arun to school 2 days a week, if I was already staying home. I distinctly remember being slightly defensive about this.

    Every family's situation has different tones, different needs and different decisions. I am glad that you are happy with yours, because it is YOUR family and that is all that matters. :-)

    Or, in short, screw the haters! I guess I could have just typed that and been done with it, eh?

    ReplyDelete
  7. I rarely comment but I also enjoy your blog for its honesty. Yesterday, I refused to add a day to a business trip, as my boss had requested, because I didn't want to to be away from my 16 month old that long. It's a juggling act.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Drop off is sometimes hard. Period.

    I understand completely.

    ReplyDelete
  9. That was my biggest pet peeve since starting law school as well! It's somewhat disturbing that people really don't understand the Constitution.

    I don't have children yet, and I am just starting my first job at a firm as well. As my husband and I struggle with our decisions and plan out our life, it is really great to be able to read your blog and find a completely honest point of view. It is very difficult to find an opinion so honest about the good and the bad, and it really provides so much insight to those of us who are thinking about these choices in the future. Your doubts (even though you know you've made the right decision) are what make you a real person instead of some robot. So, while I know you're not blogging for me, please know that your honesty and candor really does help others out.

    ReplyDelete
  10. As another working mom (my husband's also in school and we've kind of gotten used to eating and shelter and all those other luxuries), I completely understand the pulls in both directions. I love, love, LOVE spending time with my daughter, who's 8 months old. I also really enjoy my job. I constantly go back and forth over what's best for her, what's best for our situation. For now, I have no choice. But, in another year, my husband will have his doctorate, and working WILL be a choice. As I explained to him the other day, I don't deal with too much guilt now, as I know it's something I have to do to provide for my family. But, if in another year, I decide to continue working, I fear the guilt will hit. Because, I won't HAVE to. I was fortunate enough to have a SAHM, and I always felt that was what I would be in an ideal world. But now, I don't know. I fear I'll miss too much if I continue working. I fear I'll never get my foot back in the door if I quit. I fear I'll never be the supermom that I strive to be if I continue working. I fear that, as a huge extrovert, I'll become miserable and depressed if I'm isolated at home with my daughter all day. It's back and forth, a constant pull....

    So yeah, you're not alone.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Wow, people are so judgmental. If working is what makes you happy, then that's what makes you a better mother for Landon. Period. Some people would rather you stay home and be miserable and Landon would surely pick up on that.

    I worked (mostly from home) during the year between when my first and second were born and it was HARD. I had the kind of demanding job that made me have to drop everything at a moment's notice. It was hard to balance that and take care of the baby so when the second was born, we made a decision for me to stay home with both kids until they were in school. That is just what works for us, but it's not what's best for everyone.

    I miss working a lot, and I NEVER judge those people who work and balance a family. I know you from reading your blog but I don't pretend to really know you. Some strangers on the internet need to keep their opinions to themselves. You do whatever works best for your family and do with without the guilt of those "holier than thou" people.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Every decision we make as mothers has the potential to be sad, hard, and rethought a million times. I am feeling that right now about having a second child and that is irrevocably three weeks away! It's good you recognize that there a great days when everything seems to affirm your decision, and then there are other days when your baby scrapes his knee and you're not there and those days really really suck. I am sure that stay-at-home moms have just as many ups and downs. It's really a shame that we can't all be more supportive of one another.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Bengali Chick9/12/08, 11:36 AM

    Dude -- I feel like other mothers are the most critical judgmental people (not all of course!).

    You NEVER have to justify yourself. You love your family and your career. Some days are rougher than others I imagine. This is your work-life balance and no one else's.

    This is your blog. Your space. And no one should be talking smack. They should go suck on their own foul judgement.

    ReplyDelete
  14. My favorite thing about your blog is your honesty. (And yes, I'm counting that in the list that includes such things as Landon Pictures.)

    There will always be commenters who like to assume things, give assvice, and just plain be negative or closed-minded. Screw 'em. Simple as that. (Well, easier said than done!)

    Also, neat insight on the Bill of Rights. I never thought about that aspect of "freedome of speech," but you're so right.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I hope you keep writing about it. Mom-101 has a term for these judging moms..."Sanctimommy's"...why are women so hard on each other.?! We are all trying to do the best we can. And we all make our own decisions and do what's best for us and our families (and not everyone even HAS a choice!!)...what's the point in trying to make someone else feel bad for theirs...maybe we'd disagree with THAT commenters choices, but we wouldn't persecute her for them. Ugh. Glad you are enjoying your new job...I bet drop-off will get easier as time goes by...you will all adjust. Take care!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Of course it's going to be hard sometimes. If you wrote it was always easy, I'd think you were either dim or in denial.

    Keep in mind you're not just making choices for right now. Establishing your career now gives your family the freedom to make other choices down the road.

    Children don't just need their parents when they're toddlers. Landon (and his future siblings) will go through rough periods as schoolkids or rebellions as teenagers. He'll need you then, maybe even more than he needs you now. Working now gives you goodwill at your firm so you can go part-time when you've got another baby and Landon needs extra attention. Putting JP through school now means he'll be able to support the family alone someday if you want to take a year off to spend intense time with a troubled teenager.

    Don't forget your long-term plans because this morning was hard. In a way, you're saving for the future--putting in time now so you can be available as your kids need you over the course of their lives.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Good for you for deleting the negative comments. There is nothing wrong with working; unfortunately staying home is a luxury not all of us can afford, and in a lot of cases, women want to work, too. You're very lucky to have a hubby where you have a true partnership--he worked while you went to school, and now vice-versa. He's more than willing to get up with Landon or stay home with him while you go out. This kind of partnership and marriage is good for Landon to see; it means later in life he will also look positively on someone who wants to have her own career and share a family with him.
    That's not to say, of course, that children of SAHMs won't have that benefit...your marriage is actually what's defining this more than your work arrangement. You having a career is just the icing on the very yummy, very equal cake.

    ReplyDelete
  18. LL- It sounds like you are doing a great job, but I know one book that has really helped me put all of this balancing in perspective is the Feminine Mistake- a book that examines how remaining in the work place is important for yourself and your family.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Good for you, LL. Being a mom is hard, period, no matter what "flavor" of mom you are. It just doesn't seem right that some people can't see that and instead feel the need to judge others for not doing it the way THEY feel it should be done, but it happens. I think you've chosen the right way to deal with the negativity. It is, after all, YOUR blog, not the sounding board for any trolls that happen by.

    I so hear you on the drop-offs. Some are easy, some are hard. But you know Landon's enjoying himself when you're not there, so don't let the drop-off/pick-up tears get to you too much.

    (and--I wish my daycare had webcams! I do drop-in visits every so often, and my son totally loves it there, so I'm not concerned--it would just be a cool thing to have. Am jealous!)

    ReplyDelete
  20. I don't understand why some women are so hard on other mothers. I would never want anyone to tell me what I should do, so why would I dare to do the same to someone else. You know your child, your situation, and yourself better than anyone else. You need to be in a situation that allows you to be the best parent possible. It sounds like you've found it, and you have my support.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Please keep writing here with such honestly.
    You know what it's always hard. It gets easier in some ways but harder in others. My girls are 6 and 8 and while their daily care of feeding, etc. doesn't take as much time and energy as it once did, their emotional needs keep getting bigger.
    I beat myself up a lot about my choices as a mom, but I am ultimately at peace about being a working mom. I think I worry more about what other moms, teachers, family members, etc think than shat my own kids think. I've always worked, it's part of their reality and they don't question it. That's not to say it isn't hard, because it is. Being a mom and a full time employee both require more time than I have to give either one. Not even to mention time for myself and my marriage. Anyway, not sure what the point is here, beyond that you're not alone. Keep sharing. I think working moms are at a disadvantage when it comes to making connections with other moms in the same boat. We're not available to go to coffee while the kids are at school or hanging around after school at the park. But online we can check in with each other during breaks at the office. I think the internet is the new "front porch" of our era. Keep writing and hang in there. You're not alone.
    Sorry for the rambling. Good luck with it all.

    ReplyDelete
  22. LL- you are doing a great job as a new mom. I worked when mine were little (and that was over 20 yrs ago when it was not so acceptable!). I did miss them during the day but I felt like I was a better mom because I was also able to go to work and use my brain (and my advanced degree)then come home and turn all my attention to them. Landon is the cutest most well adjusted kid I've seen. And don't worry about the crying in daycare. They all go through "stages" where some days daycare is ok and then the next day they just want to cling and cry. Sorta like us going to work - some days you really want to get there and the next you just want to stay in bed and call in sick!It's wonderful that you can watch him during the day. Keep up the good work and ignore the negative comments - they are not worth your time!

    ReplyDelete
  23. Every time you write about this, I wind up commenting! I'm not a mom and not thinking about becoming a mom anytime soon, but this is very sore subject between me, my family and my friends who have had children.

    One day, I'm going to have children and I fully intend to work full time. My mother worked full time and I have never doubted that I was her number one priority. I grew up knowing that my mother believed her work was important and she was able to pass on so many lessons to me that she learned through developing her own career. There are examples of good and bad mothers on both sides of the argument.

    I think that you and so many of the other commenters have made the point. The best mom is a mom who is following her heart and finding ways to make her own dreams come true while providing responsibly for her children. (Wow, I feel like I just had a "power to the people" moment.)

    ReplyDelete
  24. I love your honestsy! As a daycare provider, I see how hard it is for parents to leave their children and go to work every day. And like you said, he is there waiting for you at the end of the day, excited to see you and ready to go home and chill out with his mom. Enjoy those times, and don't worry too much about him while he's there.

    ReplyDelete
  25. LL, I appreciate your perspective so much. I'm not quite sure why, but it really, really helped me to read this post. I'm an unexpected stay-at-home mom (meaning I never planned to be one, that's just where the road led) and just this week I've finally resolved that it's just not worth it for me. There are occasional bright moments, but I'm generally just unhappy being home. And yet, when I think of going back to work - which, since I'm 8 months pregnant, isn't going to happen right away unless my husband gets laid off this fall - I'm so torn! How could I leave her??

    I think that's why I appreciated this post so much: because you recognized what I'm feeling, which is that leaving is *hard*, but also what I'm coming to realize, which is that it's sometimes the right thing to do. Thanks, LL. :)

    ReplyDelete
  26. I love this blog. I love knowing that I'm not the only working mom who goes through all of these conflicting emotions yet still knows she's doing what's right for her family!

    ReplyDelete
  27. Also - "everything he will become" rests on your decision to send him to daycare or not?? Uhhh. No, I don't think so. For children who are already lucky enough to be well-loved and cared for by loving, stable parents, I think we place way too much store in the idea that our individual parenting decisions totally shape our child's personality and future path. I don't see the evidence of that at ALL, and who needs such ridiculous pressure?

    ReplyDelete
  28. Other than the fact that you have like a million times more readers than I do, I totally understand where you're coming from. I've only received two nasty comments the whole time I've been blogging, and I immediately deleted them.

    Even as a single mom, I get some criticism about "deciding" to be a working mom. This cracks me up because, seriously, what option do I have? It just goes to show that no matter what you choose, someone will have something negative to say about it.

    All I can say is that I admire you for doing what you do, and I think you're setting an incredible example for your son. This world needs more men who were raised by women like you.

    ReplyDelete
  29. The freedom of speech argument as an excuse to be hateful always bugs me too (not least because in Canada freedom of speech isn't even protected in all situations.) But I digress - I always find it interesting how vitriolic the work versus sahm debate becomes; people take it so personally, which is weird. And if it's so important to so many Americans, why aren't there better mat/parental leave options? Not everyone uses their mat leave, but at least then people have more options.

    ReplyDelete
  30. It's interesting to see your perspective as a new attorney. I began working in corporate/real estate 3 years ago now. I hope you keep loving it! I got bored and am now making plans to get an MBA. I'll never regret the law degree though-it gave me the discipline and analytical mind that makes studying for my MBA so much easier on me.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Of course you do. This is a hard thing. Women put more guilt on ourselves and each other... Trust that Landon will be okay and so will you. It's okay to be sad but it's also great to love your job and embrace all that hard work. And ITA, delete the nastiness. I do! :) Thanks for being so honest.

    ReplyDelete