Category Archives: Kiddos

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.

 

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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

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.

 

It gets easier, right?

I’m the newest parent at the company. I have coworkers with kids in their twenties, in the teens, even preteens, but no one has babies. Just me.

After coming off a tough night with my 13 month old (TWO HOURS of “I’m so sleepy but I can’t fall asleep and NO DON’T LEAVE ME YOU MUST HOLD ME but now I have the giggles oh wait I decided I’m cranky and I’d rather just cry and fuss…”) I came into the office in the morning with a much-needed coffee, and not just a little bleary-eyed.

We were gathering in the conference room, and I looked around and joked, “It gets easier, right? Tell me it gets easier,” fully expecting people to commiserate with me at this stage and confirm that it does, in fact, get much easier and more delightful.

But the other parents just looked at me, not saying a word, as though they didn’t want to dare voice to a pathetic new parent THE ACTUAL TRUTH. They were saved by the proverbial bell when the client came on the conference line, and I was left to my coffee, my sleep deprivation, and my joke-that-wasn’t-a-joke hanging in the stale conference room air.

I’m just going to assume they didn’t hear me and if they did, they would have reacted the way I expected. I would never recommend denial in client relations, but for parenting, hey! Denial *is* a parenting style.

Weaning an infant in executive fashion: My nursing BHAG

Ten to fifteen years ago, the Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) was all the rage in executive circles. The way for people to buy into your vision was to have one giant phenomenally zany there’s-no-way-we-can goal and believe you could get there. And chances are, you would. I started to apply BHAGs to my professional and personal life.

My baby girl was breastfed exclusively for 3 months, received breast milk from me or a bottle until she was about 4.5 months old, had some formula supplements beginning around that time, and will continue to have a mix until she’s around 9 months (maybe longer!). Then she will be on formula exclusively until she can have cow’s milk at a year old.

This was not my original plan. In fact, as time passed, my plan kept changing into something bigger and more ambitious. At first, I thought, “It would be great if I could nurse her at all; very few of my family members nursed their babies, so I don’t really have a good support network in that way. But I will do my best.”

When breastfeeding her became well established, my goal changed. I then thought, “It would be awesome to get to 6 months!” Providing breast milk after I went to work was my new challenge.

When I worked out a way to pump reliably when I went back to work, my goal changed again. I thought, “Wow, I can build up a stash. I’ll try to nurse morning and night, but even after I dry up or my daughter decides she doesn’t want to nurse anymore, I’ll still be able to give her breast milk in a bottle from the freezer stash.”

These truly were BHAGs for me, an executive with no family experience in nursing their babies (it was the 1970s, what can you do?) who has a very demanding job with travel requirements and high stress, high profile, high impact, and high risk management duties.

For *ME* to nurse a baby longer than *SIX MONTHS* while working full time?! Seven months ago, I wouldn’t have said, “Wow that’s extremely ambitious, but I will try to make it happen!” Instead, I would have just said, “No. I don’t even know what that looks like. How can I possibly?”

Baby girl is 8 months old, and we’re right on track. In fact, if anything, she’s the one who is telling me she’s more interested in the world around her than nursing. A little independent thing, she is.

Next up: early toilet training. This one is made for a BHAG approach.

Decisions, decisions: Should I stay or should I go?

We have decided to cancel a babymoon trip because of other circumstances that can’t really be helped. (Our dear kitty cat has been sick, and we don’t really want to leave her in others’ hands for too long while we’re gone.)

My husband expressed regret, and understandably so. He noted that it was an opportunity for us to clear our heads before we have to really dive into preparing for the birth of this baby. But for myself, honestly, having a babymoon at 7 months pregnant is a bit rough. The discomfort of being so big is starting to be a daily reality.

So I suggested that the trip be less of a cancellation and more of a postponement, to sometime in the next year after the baby comes. We can take the baby, or not. He asked, “But would we really want to take a vacation without the baby?” and I responded, “I don’t know, but it might be good for us to do so, regardless.”

* * * * *

Kids will be a priority, no doubt. But how far of a back seat would our marriage take, or how far of a back seat should the job take? What is walking that fine line going to look like for my husband, for me?

I have NO IDEA. And few people do, right? Am I going to be a blubbering idiot, guilt-ridden and with serious separation anxiety once I have to go back to work? Or will I be so desperate to get back into the swing of things at work and leave the stress and uncertainty of Baby to someone who can handle it better than I can? (shrug) Don’t know.

But regardless of how our hearts react, there is balance to achieve with our rational sides as well. We may not want to leave the baby at home, even with someone we trust implicitly, but perhaps we should take some time away for ourselves, even in the first year. Kids benefit from their parents’ healthy and loving relationship. I may not want to work away from the baby, but who knows? Maybe I’ll be setting a good example for her. Maybe I’ll be closer to achieving true flexibility between work and home life as an executive that my mom struggled more to accomplish in the 70s and 80s.