Saturday, September 29, 2007

Reflections on the First Week

Today ends the first week of a lifetime of balancing work and family, and I can only hope that the future is full of weeks as good as this one. The mornings, drop-offs, and pick-ups all went smoothly and Landon was a "very good boy" for Maya during the day. Despite many warnings to the contrary, I'm okay with the fact that Landon and I are separated during the day. After a few too many conversations with people telling me that "it was okay to be sad," I wanted to respond "I know that, but you need to be okay with the fact that I'm not." It was almost as though they needed me to admit I was sad to fit into their idea of what a good mother should be, and that made me sad.

I'm excited when I go pick Landon up, and there's a smile on both our faces when he's in my arms again, but I don't actively miss him during the day. I can focus on my classes (all of which I really like this quarter), my friends, and my work because I know he's in Maya's warm and competent hands, and then I can go home and focus on him. The first day I brought him home I was happy, and almost relieved, to find how much I enjoyed him. I felt guilty while I was staying home because I spent so much time just wishing he would go to sleep. I resented the nagging feeling that I wasn't doing enough to stimulate his brain and promote language development (or whatever the parenting magazines say you're supposed to be doing). We weren't singing enough, reading enough, or interacting enough- it was worse than the pressure of law school hanging over my head before exams. There were days I'd get in bed and want to do the day over so that I would play with him more, but the next day would come and I'd go right back to wanting him to sleep so that I could accomplish things like brushing my teeth and eating breakfast. I hated that I was wishing away his babyhood- especially since everyone tells you how fast it goes and how much you should enjoy it.

I now know for certain what I had always predicted: I need a family and a career. So many people told me "just wait until you have a baby, you might change your mind." I understand why they said that, but I don't think that having a baby fundamentally changes who you are. It can certainly cause you to adjust your priorities and modify career plans, but the things you've wanted and worked for your whole life don't just stop mattering.

So things are good. There will be days when it's not good, but right now JP is happy, I'm happy, and Landon is happy. This is the right balance for us right now.


  1. Hell yeah girl! I loved this post. There's no way you should know yourself and you are being true to yourself. You're going to be a badass lawyer and mom:)

  2. I get the same sorts of comments, like, "Don't you just miss her SO MUCH when you're away?" and I have to answer, Whenever I'm away from her, it means Matthew or GT or a dear neighbor is watching her, and I know she's fine. And I know I'll enjoy seeing her all the more for having that break.

    I refuse to feel guilty -- the idea that I was transmuted into some dependent doormat who forgot my first 34 years of independence, just because I popped her out of my uterus? That's crazy talk. I'd hate for that to be my legacy, even if Eden does grow up eating take-out. She'll at least be eating take-out with parents who love every moment they spend with her!

  3. Woohoo!!!! So glad to hear the week went well!

  4. I could have written this myself.

    It's such a weird idea that if mothers and babies aren't together 24 hours a day, they'll both suffer some sort of trauma.

  5. CM (and LL),

    As an expecting mother, I know we won't face trauma if we're seperated, but I just worry about who I'll leave my baby with. If I lived close to my mom, I wouldn't have a problem. But I worry about how much trust I can put in a stranger. Maybe that's where this idea originated from?

  6. Anon: I don't consider Maya a stranger. A stranger would be someone I randomly pulled off the street and handed my baby to. I contacted our student-parent listserve and got recommendations, met with each one, called their past and current clients, and ultimately went with the one I felt most comfortable with. I know we're lucky to have found ours, but there are lots of good providers out there. If you're not sure where to start looking, there are resources on the internet and in books with ideas to help you find a nanny or daycare. Because Maya has had the same family daycare for 23 years I knew she wouldn't do anything seriously wrong and because Landon seems happy and relaxed she holds him, I know I can trust her with my child. I think he'd let me know if he didn't like her.

    And as far as where the idea originated from- I don't think it's the daycare thing. Women have been putting their children in the care of others forever. But it's certainly a part of the expected guilt today.

  7. Great post!

    There are women who actually can't stand to be away from their children at all, I happen to know a few. They don't trust anyone else to take care of their child, and on the rare occasion they actually get a sitter, they fret about the child the whole time and can't enjoy themselves.

    Yeah, not me.

  8. Also, I think it's great for babies and children to get comfortable being with a wide range of people. The "socialization" is great (ofcourse when the people are those you trust). :)