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The Things You Miss

July 30, 2012

We officially have a roller-over:

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Yay, Lila!  Ryan texted me this picture on Wednesday morning, and since then, she’s really mastered the art of rolling over—from back to belly, that is.  Strangely, she can’t master belly to back—I say strangely because apparently that’s the first roll-over move of almost all babies. 

She just *has* to be different.  🙂

And since Thursday, I’ve seen her roll over countless times—although each time is still a little thrilling.  One of the things that I’m enjoying more and more is seeing the way Lila changes every day.  I know it’s a cliche, and I know that ALL parents say this about their children at EVERY new stage—but I can’t believe how much she’s changed and grown in just under four months!

She doesn’t *seem* that different to me…but then I look at pictures from her first week of life in April:

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…and MAN does she look tiny!! Every day now, she’s growing—laughing, smiling:

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…and working harder and harder to be on the move.  When she rolls over, she doesn’t just lay there—she attempts to crawl.  At not even four months old. 

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again—I’m not quite sure where she gets that energy from.  But Ryan and I are happy to watch her kick and roll and squirm and move as we drink our beers and watch Mad Men episodes on the couch.

Okay, okay—we do occasionally try to move our bodies.  And in fact, I was at the gym when I got the text from Ryan announcing, “SHE ROLLED OVER!!!!”  And I hope the person next to me didn’t notice the little bit of crying that I did, right there on the treadmill.

Overdramatic?

Maybe.  Yes. 

But I’m already looking into the future at all of the big moments we have coming up—first steps…first words…first tantrums.  And right alongside my excitement at Lila crossing off milestone after milestone is my deep-seated fear that I’ll miss them. 

I’m going back to work in a month.  Did I tell you that?

I’ll be teaching four classes this fall semester—three composition classes, and a creative writing class as well. 

And while I’m very excited to be teaching full-time again (I only taught one class per semester last year), and while it’s overwhelmingly gratifying to me that I finally (FINALLY) have a “real” job (ie, one that offers benefits and insurance and a paycheck of more than $1500 dollars per class—devil, thy name is adjunct teaching)—a part of me is very, very sad.

Make no mistake—I’m choosing to go back to work.  If I wanted to stay home with Lila, I could.  I say that not to brag about the financial state of our family, but because I think it’s important to put it out there that, just as many moms choose to stay home with the kids, some moms do choose to work—not for the money, but simply because they like working. 

I don’t see going back to work this fall as a death sentence, or something that I’m dreading.  If anything, a large part of me is very excited.  God knows I love my child, and I’ve *loved* spending so much time with her this summer, but truthfully—I don’t know if I have what it takes to be a SAHM.  We have a nanny that we love, my schedule is very open and will still allow me to spend much of my time with Lila (I’ll be teaching on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings until noon, and Monday nights—pretty sweet!), and, truth be told—I’m looking forward to the adult interaction.  I have nothing but mad respect for SAH parents, moms and dads both, because I think it might drive me a little nuts.

Even so.

When I got that text from Ryan, my first thought was, “What else am I going to miss?” 

I guess this is what people mean when they say that, after all these years, women still can’t have it all.  I don’t know—that article kind of irked me, because really– does anyone have it all?  Dads work too, and miss out on special moments.  People who choose not to have kids don’t have it all—and people that choose to have kids miss out on a lot too.  Who has it all?  Can I have their number?  Is it Justin Timberlake?

Anyway.  I don’t have an answer for myself, or a neat little conclusion to end on.  This is just something that has been weighing heavily on my mind as the beginning of the semester inches closer and closer. 

But I’d love to hear from you—if you’re a mom (or dad!), did you work?  Did you stay at home?  Do you like the choice you made?

18 Comments leave one →
  1. July 30, 2012 1:04 pm

    Good point – no one can have it all. My sister definitely wanted to get back to work. Not saying she didn’t love her kids, but she knew staying home with them wasn’t for her. I think everyone is probably different when it comes to that.

  2. July 30, 2012 1:05 pm

    I don’t have any advice to offer since I am not a parent but whenever I get scared about how my life will change or how I will fit it all in (work, mothering, working out, etc…) I just tell myself I WILL ADJUST. That always comforts me. Sometimes things look impossibly hard or sad but I always know I will adjust.

    With all that said, both of my parents were full time workers. They had to be (financially) and I think as a child it taught me a lot subconsiously. I learned that hard work is valued. That you do what you have to do in order to make things work. I always had one parent at every sporting event or extracirrular activity that I had going on and that showed me teamwork. I also was one of those weird kids that loved (and I mean lovvvvvved) daycare. So that helped. 😉

  3. July 30, 2012 1:10 pm

    Interesting point and, even though I’m not a parent, I can understand. My sisters struggled with going back to work and one is currently part time and the other is debating still on going part time – it’s a tough decision for women today!

  4. July 30, 2012 1:12 pm

    ah! Congrats big girl! So exciting! I work half time and teach at the gym and wouldn’t have it any other way. I think everyone needs a little adult time (in some form)- even if that means just lots of mommy group time!

  5. July 30, 2012 1:25 pm

    Wow, such a big moment!! I’m not a parent… but my academic research is all about work and family stress and health… so I’m sort of obsessed with this topic. I think you’re right to acknowledge that having it “all” is perhaps an unrealistic expectation. We can only make the best choices we can at the time. And it sounds like, for you, working will be fulfilling and rewarding. Heck, it might actually make you a happier mom (though, of course, everyone is different)!

  6. July 30, 2012 3:12 pm

    She is beautiful! That black and white picture in the bath should be blown up and framed–it’s such a great photo!

  7. July 30, 2012 3:51 pm

    ok, first of all the shots of her at 1 week vs now are CRAZY! i do that all the time with Wes’s pictures, but for some reason it’s nuts to see Lila’s. i’m weird, i know.

    as for me, i decided to stay home – it just made sense financially and as far as the goals that i have for my own career/life. basically with the cost of any kind of child-care/insurance i would be going to work (at a job that i didn’t like mind you) to have someone else raise our baby. so we bit the bullet and now i’m at home. it’s fantastic – i absolutely love it – but it’s definitely hard. there’s a lot of self-induced expectations that i have about taking care of Wes, the dogs, keeping the house clean, making healthy meals, working out and still working from home (during naps and when he’s in bed) about 30 hours a week. i wouldn’t change a thing about it though, and it does make me happy that i’ll get to be here while Wes is growing and learning and doing!

  8. July 30, 2012 4:36 pm

    My mom worked from home part-time (she’s a writer) and even though she loved being a SAHM and would never admit this out-loud, I know a part of her wished that she focused on her career a bit more. I think it’s a hard choice for any mom to make, but it sounds like you made the right one for you….and luckily, if you decide it’s not working after a while, you can always reevaluate. Photos are so cute!!

  9. July 30, 2012 5:46 pm

    Oh Lila, don’t grow up too fast!!!

    Truthfully, we were both planning on working full time when we had Jay. Staying at home was never on the table for us. However, Tony’s company downsized right before Jay was born. Luckily, at the time, I made more money so it wasn’t so much a financial scare, but more of an oh shit things like this can happen when you have kids and real responsibility! So, Tony stayed home with Jay. It worked. I missed a lot of things, but these are things you just have to deal with. Yeah, there are firsts, but then they do it over and over again…you just enjoy and share every moment you can. I lost 2 pregnancies between Jay and Max and since I bled through my pregnancy with Max and was on bed rest for a large portion of that pregnancy, I stayed home and Tony went to work back outside the house. So, we both ended up having time home with each boy. I don’t think there is anything wrong with wanting to work while Lila is little. My career has completely changed since I left originally. It hasn’t been easy to start back up, but we have made it work. I think as long as you enjoy every moment you can together as a family then you are doing a great thing!

  10. July 30, 2012 6:16 pm

    When Skylar was small, I didn’t work to earn money outside of the home – I worked my butt off in the home, for free 🙂 When she was little, I was so exhausted that there would have been no way I could have worked if I had wanted to – she never slept! Happy for you that you are choosing to go back and that you have the choice (and the outlet) and are doing what works for you!

  11. July 30, 2012 8:11 pm

    No input on staying at home or working, but had to say I was irked by that article for the same reasons as you — seriously, who has it all? I don’t have kids and I don’t want them, but shoot, there are a million things I’d like to do and just choose not to because there are only 24 hours in a day, and I choose to have a job and spend time with my husband and work out and sleep in my 24 hours. But I’m missing out on all kinds of other things — traveling, running more hours, keeping our house in perfect condition, cooking gourmet meals, staying in touch regularly with old friends, etc. The article made it seem like that was some problem unique to moms and it just got under my skin.

  12. July 31, 2012 12:27 am

    I stay at home with Audrey but I didn’t really have a choice- with Brian in the military I couldn’t stay at my (dream) job. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss it. A lot. I feel lucky that I get to spend my days with A but at the same time, I miss that part of myself. Ultimately I would love to move back home and work again- we shall see 🙂

  13. July 31, 2012 2:49 am

    I’m glad you have the opportunity to work and still spend so much time with Lila. One of the perks of teaching, right? You know I’m also fortunate to work part-time from home, and I appreciate that time when I’m able to use my brain for things other than mommy tasks and baby babble. I think you’ll be happy with your decision!

    Also. I’ve had that issues of The Atlantic on my nightstand for at least two weeks. I think it’s about time I finally read it, right?

  14. Lee permalink
    July 31, 2012 6:43 pm

    I have thought about all of this a lot, as you know. And I’m still struggling with it. My full time teaching job started when Esmee was one. In some ways, I think it’s almost easier to be away from them in the early years–though conventional wisdom tends to say the opposite. For me, it was when she started to be more a “person” that I felt I might miss more and felt the pull strongest. Don’t get me wrong, you will be crying over your stacks of papers, no doubt, at times. And at others, you WILL eat up that stimulation and reminder that you exist beyond this little creature you love to love.

    I think there are harder and easier years. 3 seems to be a tough year for girls. But now, as Esmee turns 4 and I’ve learned more about what to expect in the next few years, I can see that it will be easier, that she can do more on her own and that this will only increase–and so work and child will feel less at odds. So, I guess I’m saying, I think it will be incredibly tough and also incredibly rewarding. And that sentence works for either choice. I actually think part time is ideal in some ways, especially once they’re older, so you can be there when they get home, help with homework without being as exhausted, etc.–if you’re into that–and also feel like you have an identity outside the home. But there is incredibly reward in work and that paycheck. And that’s nothing to take lightly either. So I’m happy for you to have this chance to take on that job, because I know you’ll kick its ass. I wish for you it had come a year later. But, as everyone is saying, everyone’s different. You might like doing it at this stage more than you might have imagined.

    I didn’t read that whole Atlantic article–who has the time! : ) From what I did read I thought it was interesting that the author’s moment of crisis came when her son was a teenager. My stepmother, who worked full time (though NOT 9-5 or 7-7, an incredibly significant difference, as the article also points out) said to me once: “I don’t know why people take time off from work when they’re kids are little. It’s when they’re teenagers that they really need you around.” And that thought has stayed with me and encouraged me in moments of wondering if I should be working as much as I have, in an office, that is. (Yes, it’s all work.) It’s a good and useful comment, I feel. Even if you decide to return to part time when Lila is 5 and learning to read, for example, you will have done something you wanted to do. And by then, you might feel you’ve got the balance down and will keep at it. So I say you’re doing the right thing. You have to try and see, and then you have to ride out a storm or two when you’re really going to want to quit.

    It’s very fortunate that you can choose, but I also understand the quandary of that. The real blessing is the flexible schedule and summers off. Let that buoy you in tough times, oh, and that paycheck. It’s a great feeling. Don’t knock it! And do try it. You can always walk away. Commit year by year, or whatever you’re contract allows. Each year will feel different.

    And finally, prep, prep, prep, grade, grade, grade. The more you can keep on top of the teaching stuff, the more present and less stressed you will feel when you do have time with her. I think of you as organized. So this is probably not an issue. But it’s what I’ve found. Hope this super long comment helps! C’est tout cherie! For now…

  15. August 1, 2012 1:22 am

    I got nothing on advice for staying home vs working, but I think it’s great that you’ll have Tuesdays and Thursdays free and that you love your nanny! I’m a civil engineer and my field is heavily male dominated… I’m not sure what I’ll do whenever I eventually have kids, but I really can’t see putting my whole career (that I’ve worked so hard on) on too long of a pause. I don’t know… but there’s no “right” answer and you just do the best you can whatever that means, she will still turn out great 🙂

  16. August 1, 2012 11:37 am

    I couldn’t stay at home – after 6 months of trying to be the mom I thought I should be. Not one more second. And going back to work was the happiest decision I’ve ever made! I’ve missed a lot, no doubt, but i’m around for a lot too.

    It’s too bad we can’t have it all…all the time. But I think you have a great schedule!

  17. August 3, 2012 6:07 pm

    I work. I chose and still choose to work every day. I could also stay at home if I wished to do so. We’d work it out, and it would be fine if I did financially. I do not have what it takes to be a SAHM. I need the interaction and the adventure that my job turns into every single day when I walk into school. I have to have it in my life and I need a little bit of time away. I love my children and they mean the world to me, but I also love my work! If I wasn’t able to teach, I would go nuts! 🙂

    I think that everyone makes choices that are best for them and that you sound like you’ve made a great one for you! Your schedule sounds amazing! You’ll do great! And those smiles that you see when you walk in the door after work are absolutely amazing! 😉

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