Category Archives: Home life

Mommy Wars to the extreme

In Germany, the Mommy Wars are taking a turn for the worst.

Regretting motherhood’ debate rages in Germany

When the societal pressure to keep up a ridiculous standard of motherhood, in large part defined by men who are biologically incapable of having children, becomes the norm, something just isn’t right.

The notion that children’s well-being depends on their mothers and not on the society around them or their fathers, is deeply entrenched in Germany and creates real obstacles to women’s careers. … A mother who returns to the office without taking maternity leave for a year — or often three — opens herself up to being branded a “Rabenmutter” (raven mother) — women who dump their kids in childcare so they can pursue their personal goals.

Women regretting having children because they feel they can’t do it the way they see fit? It’s a sad day.

 

The “real” vacation

We are about midway through our family trip – it’s like every family road trip you’ve seen on TV and in the movies. Wild kids, exasperated adults, “Are we there yet?” when we’ve been driving for 30 minutes and have 3 hours left to go, crazy hot days tempered by swimming and more swimming in pools and at the lake, the too-many car stops along the way to look at and snap photos of the too-many uninteresting things just to get out of the stifling car where we are all getting on each other’s nerves, and cousins annoying each other and being best of friends in turns, while the adults yell pointlessly at them to settle down or don’t do that in between sips of beer or cocktails.

And it’s fantastic.

Lake Michigan sunset

Patience when on the road with inexperienced travelers

I travel for business. I have my TSA pre-check, my second set of toiletries that I just throw into a bag and go, my favored car service to and from the airport, etc. It is a beautiful thing, being prepared and having this travel thing down to a science.

And tomorrow, I will be traveling with a husband who only travels occasionally for vacation, and a 3-year-old. I’m already feeling my impatience pulsing through my veins, and we’re not even packed yet!

I’m trying to internalize the fact that a business trip is fundamentally different than a family trip, even the getting-there and coming-back parts.

No: priding myself on how closely in time I can make it to the gate before actual boarding occurs.
Yes: leaving enough time for the toddler to walk slowly and explore all the parts of the airport she will inevitably like to see.

No: throwing some travel-friendly stuff into a bag, and voila! Done.
Yes: thinking about kid gear, and helping my husband remember some things that infrequent travelers might be prone to forget.

No: zipping through the priority security lane.
Yes: going through the regular lane as a family.

That last one is a heartbreaker, but it’s important to my husband. I get it.

Patience, patience, patience!

Embarking on a digital cleanse, and what it did for my life

Like many, I love my digital tools. I haven’t purchase a physical book in a very long time, and my e-reader and smartphone are my constant companions.

I read right before bed. It helps me get my mind away from the day’s stress. Naturally, I read from my bright Kindle. People advised that the bright digital light was not good for settling the brain and in fact, resulted in the opposite. I said, “That’s fine, but I actually don’t have a problem falling asleep when I read off my Kindle at night. I regularly fall asleep within 10-15 minutes, easy!”

After reading enough articles on the topic, and after suffering from terrible sleep for other unrelated reasons (hello, toddler!), I decided to take some of the advice of many experts in the field and put my digital tools away for a weekend, to see what happened. Here is what I did on my “digital cleanse”:

  1. Put all devices away after 8pm.
  2. No internet surfing or playing on apps or streaming videos at all.
  3. Check email once per day (!!) and send/receive only necessary calls and texts.

And holy hell… What. A. Huge. Difference.

Turns out, everything else being equal, I actually fall asleep almost immediately without opening up my Kindle. I have a Fitbit which I wear on my non-dominant wrist at night, so it captures my sleep patterns – when I’m awake, when I’m restless, when I’m asleep – so I can compare my digital cleanse time period with my pre-digital cleanse time period. Not only do I fall asleep faster, I am less restless during the course of the night.

This didn’t happen slowly over time. The effect was immediate, the very night I tried it for the first time.

Another observation during my weekend cleanse was how things played out before bedtime. Once the kiddo is down for the night, I usually get online, watch some streaming videos of my favorite shows… I figure, I’ve got another few hours before it’s time for me to go to sleep.

During the digital cleanse phase, I would pull out a “regular” book (my husband, a self-proclaimed Luddite, had a nice fiction book for me to read since I had no actual books to my name), and within 10 minutes of reading it, I was getting drowsy. It’s not because the book was boring (it wasn’t) but it was because my body so obviously needed to sleep earlier, and I was artificially forcing myself awake for hours every single night!

After my cleanse weekend, I went back to status quo Monday-Thursday the following week. It was an unmitigated disaster. My average sleep went from 7 hours and 45 minutes to just over 6 hours. Believe me, I felt it! I said, “Screw this!!!” and went back to my digital void after 8pm every night. Since then, my average nightly sleep has been 7 hours and 22 minutes. Every day this week, I’ve woken up before my alarm went off.

And did I mention I’ve been kicking ass at work as a result? Turns out being more efficient and effective during normal business hours means I don’t have to check email and write later at night. I can just totally unplug.

I’ve been eating better.

I’m less moody.

I’m … happier. All because of an extra 1-2 hours of sleep a night. Who knew?

Coming into the light

I went through a dark time a few months ago where I felt like my kid needed 50% of me, my husband needed another 50%, my job needed its 50%, my other family and friends needed 50%… so I was either doing fantastically at a few aspects of my life and failing miserably at everything else, or I was failing at everything at once.

Also, notice how there was not a percentage of demands made for myself. Every day, I made choices to sacrifice my own sleep, emotional and mental well-being, diet, exercise – forget about fun and relaxation, ha! – for someone or something else. I went days and days without a chunk of time for myself – or, if I did have a moment to myself, it was clouded with guilt and indecision.

And people from different aspects of my life were not kind. I was told how I was failing and in what ways. People disappeared from my life instead of hanging in there. More importantly, I got no offers of help. Maybe it’s because I tried to shield people from how hard it was for me.

These conditions resulted in occasional emotional blow-outs to my loved ones or having to take mental health days from work with no notice to my colleagues because I. Just. Can’t. Take. It. Anymore!

Then, something happened. I started to communicate what I needed. (I’ll be honest, I did not often do it in the most eloquent of ways – yelling and breakdowns and tears don’t often fall into the category of optimal communication in my opinion, but if I’m at least stating my needs through it all, I say: whatever works.)

I’ve read that one should push through the inconvenience, the discomfort, the conflict of communicating your needs (should I say, especially women?) in order to realize balance in life, but I couldn’t, I just couldn’t… until I had no choice to do so because the alternative – the status quo – hit such a level of unacceptable that there was nothing else to do.

Was it inconvenient, uncomfortable, and conflict-generating? HELL YEAH IT WAS. And on the other side, I have the support of a loving husband, a happily dancing-tantrumming-singing-tantrumming-laughing child, more respect in the work place and among clients, and sleep.

Y’all, I said I’m getting some sleeeeeep.

Who knows how long it will last? Life will throw another curve at me, boy do I know it, but I will relish what I can for now. And if I need something from you, you’ll hear about it.

 

Forget about having it all. I would rather not have to DO it all.

Oh yeah, I have a blog. All of those good intentions to create a thoughtful space for executive moms juggling various aspects of life was put on the back burner in favor of keeping some measure of SANITY.

The past year has been hell, I’ll be honest. And not for any particular reason. On paper (read: Facebook), everything is fine. We celebrate birthdays, we see friends and family, we work, we even go on vacation. And you know what? It’s sucking the very life out of me.

Here’s the breakdown for me of what the time requirements FEEL like in a given week – maybe it looks familiar to anyone else out there?

  • Child = 30%
  • Husband = 20%
  • Work = 40%
  • Friends and extended family = 10%
  • Chores, errands = 20%
  • Sleep = 5%

You don’t have to be an executive to figure out that adding up to 100% is a complete figment of the imagination. Things haven’t felt manageable within the context of a 100% ceiling in a long time.

Instead, I have been working tirelessly to impossibly squeeze a 9 inch pie into a single, wee cupcake liner. As a result, two things have happened:

  1. The feeling of failure is my constant companion. Either I am not excelling in any area because I’m spread so goddamn thin, or I’m excelling in one area at the horrible expense of another.
  2. My sense of self is completely eclipsed by my sense of duty and responsibility to all other parties. (Ah! Maybe some of you noticed that “Me” didn’t make the bulleted list above.)

I felt like a drawing slowing being erased. My identity as a PERSON with my own interests, needs, wants, and experiences was being totally wiped out.

So I did something about it. I started taking steps to take care of myself. Here are some things I did in the last 4 months or so:

  • Became a member of a spa near my work
  • Joined a weight loss program
  • Bought art supplies for painting
  • Invested in individual therapy sessions

And you know what? I wish I could say that things have been going well. But the reality is, they haven’t at all. As a result of trying to focus on me, my marriage has suffered greatly, my child sometimes feels neglected and acts out (and I don’t feel as close to her), my numbers at work aren’t as great at last year, the art supplies are sitting there collecting dust, my therapy sessions have gone sideways because maybe the therapist is not a great match for me, and the weight loss program has been only nominally successful but significantly burdensome.

It’s not all bad. I have had a massage or two at the spa. And I have lost some weight. And I went to a couple of totally unsatisfactory, one-time painting “classes” where I produced pieces that I was going to trash if not for my friend insisting she could find someone else who would take them.

Is this progress? Is this being successful? Is this acceptable?

From here, we can pivot to discussing getting support to change and make a real and lasting difference in the life of working women and working moms – support from spouses, friends or extended family or the community, more flexible work environments, and dealing with the sometimes latent, but nevertheless lingering sexism that EXPECTS women to do it all, or that it’s just the woman’s problem to figure out and manage.

… But that’s another post.

 

Vacation that isn’t a vacation.

My husband went to LA for a week to visit family and old friends. He’s managed a major recent move for the family, has watched our little girl day in and day out with few breaks – he needed a vacation away!

So I decided to take a staycation – I took the same week off of work to care of our little one and relax. What a delightful prospect!

But: OH MY GOD. YOU STAY AT HOME PARENTS ARE OUT OF YOUR MINDS.

How do you do it?? I barely catch my breath running around after the little one during “down” time (ha!), and then it’s time to do something else. I don’t feel I can ever catch up. And the house was totally ignored. How does my husband manage to keep our daughter clean, fed, well-rested, and engaged (well, ok, maybe a little lax on the clean), AND also keep the house as immaculate as he does?

I think our plants are on their last legs from lack of water.

Our backyard is brownish rather than greenish.

The trash and recycling trucks come by once a week, but they will have two week’s worth the next time because I forgot to put the bins out.

Dusting? Ha!

Vacuuming? Hahaha!

Dishes? BWAAAAHAHA!

I was so stir crazy and lonely at the house earlier in the week that my daughter and I ended up doing wonderful day trips later in the week, but it was still a tremendous effort – the planning and packing, the mini tantrums while we were out, the fatigue – oh, the fatigue!

And SAHP do it all the time.

It’s Monday. I had a client meeting so early that I had to leave the house at 6:15 AM. And I was bright eyed and excited to go to WORK! Hooray for work!!