Have you ever asked Google this question? The answers are not inspiring.
(Bea’s unimpressed teenager face)
My personal deadline for finding a job (well, a job that pays in actual dollars) keeps moving further into the future, but I know I can’t push it back any further than September. We are a two-income household, and having me at home full-time is not financially sustainable. Turning my entire salary over to a daycare is not financially (or emotionally!) sustainable, either, so I have some problem-solving to do.
I love hanging out all day with my little partner-in-crime. By “hanging out,” I mean frantically pulling her away from electrical cables and stray peanuts, chasing her around the apartment on all-fours, doing errands with an extra 15 pounds (thank goodness that’s all it is!) strapped to my chest, etc. Although I feel brain-dead at the end of most days, I can’t imagine turning all these moments over to someone else. I was with Beatrice when she first smiled, giggled, rolled, crawled, stood, cruised along the furniture. She is hilarious and mischievous, and I can’t help but gobble up her little cheeks every time she comes near me. We definitely have fun, but we do not ever relax!
On the other hand, I am a social worker. I am accustomed to interacting with a variety of people all day long in English and Spanish, and I worry that I am forgetting how to do it! I wish I could find a job that would allow me to visit new families all over Gloucester with Beatrice in tow. Alas, that job does not exist.
I have gotten myself into an interesting predicament. If you had asked me in college what I’d be doing in 10 years, getting married and raising babies would have been nowhere on that list. I chose a career that I thought would be fulfilling rather than one that I thought would allow me the flexibility to stay home with a baby. I followed my passion and pursued two masters degrees so I could enjoy going to work every day. Now, however, that passion (infant and parent development!) has become my daily life. When your passion becomes your career and then your personal reality, how do you ever get time off? How can I create space to have interests that are separate from my all-consuming identity as a mama?
So, in additional to “nannying” my little charge alllllll the time (though, Erik is awesome at taking over when he is home) and halfheartedly attempting to keep the house and food in order (though, Erik ends up with a bunch of this work on his plate, too), I’ve got some side projects/goals in the works.
(1) Blog once per week. I like to write. I like to organize photos. I like babies and food. The blog helps me combine it all.
(2) Make organic cosmetics, i.e. diaper cream, as needed. I think I have made a total profit of about $10 since I started selling my Baby Butternut Balm. That is equal to 1.63 burritos, people. I have enjoyed every bite.
(3) Join the Cape Ann Time Bank. The Time Bank concept is awesome. I record the amount of time I put into delivering a service in the community, and I can later redeem that time from someone else for something I need. Right now, I am editing a fascinating memoir for another Time Bank member. A few weeks ago, I traded packing peanuts for a piece of the most delicious cake I have ever tasted in my life. I know my way around a cake, and I don’t take that statement lightly.
(4) Become an official volunteer breastfeeding counselor. I am a CLC already, but I don’t feel comfortable charging people for lactation support. I want to stay up-to-date on the latest science, and I want to work with people who know more than I do about lactation troubleshooting so that I can keep learning. Every mother who wants to breastfeed is entitled to the counseling necessary to make it happen. So, I am in the process of applying to be a volunteer breastfeeding counselor for the local chapter of the the Nursing Mothers’ Council. Volunteering with NMC will give me access to ongoing training and mentoring while allowing me to work with new moms facing breastfeeding challenges while Beatrice is with me. The best of all worlds.
(My superstar baby along for the ride during a 9-hour CLC continuing education conference)
I may not quite have enough hours available for all of the above, but I am excited about carving out space for my interests that does not come at the expense of time with Beatrice. If only these projects could pay the rent. Sigh …
Speaking of doing things for myself, I wanted to mention some clothing items that have kept me feeling comfortable as a new mom … and some that I imagine would change my life if I could afford them. You might have seen a sneak peak of this list earlier in the week when it accidentally auto-published. Oops.
Technically, I fit into my pre-pregnancy clothes pretty quickly after giving birth; however, my overall shape changed significantly even though the scale did not. In addition, my tolerance for clothing discomfort (never high to begin with) has plummeted, and Beatrice continues to need nonstop easy access to her food. If you see me in real life, you have seen me in these clothes. I wear them every day. (And please don’t forget about the Bravado + Undercover Mama combo; without it, I would be nothing.)
Mossimo Supply Co. Long Sleeved Tee from Target. I own two of these shirts. They are flattering, comfortable, and breastfeeding-friendly.
Women’s Maine Isle Henley Tee from L.L. Bean. I own two of these shirts as well. Like the long-sleeved tee above, they are flattering, comfortable, and breastfeeding-friendly.
Maternity Sleeveless Dress from Target. I own three of these dresses in different colors, and I bought them all after Beatrice was born. They were the absolutely perfect outfit during my first few months postpartum, and I wholeheartedly recommend them to all the mothers of summer babies out there. Real clothes were not an option. These dresses got me through a rough time. And, since they are from last year, they are on super sale online right now!
1701 5-Pocket Ponte Skinny Pants from Amazon. I own two pairs of these pants. They are my budget answer to Athleta’s leggings-of-my-dreams below. I wouldn’t do yoga in them, and they feel pretty cheaply constructed, but they are made of comfortable stretchy material, they are not see-through, and they have back pockets. I’ve been wearing these pants almost daily for a couple months, and they haven’t ripped yet.
Perfect Fit Pants, Original Denim from L.L. Bean. I do not own these pants, and they sure look frumpy in this photo. However, I saw them in action in the L.L. Bean catalog that arrived last week and started drooling. They are comfortable sweatpants that look like jeans. I can’t imagine a more dreamy concept.
Metro High Waisted Leggings from Athleta. I do not own these leggings, but I am pretty sure they are the holy grail of postpartum pants. My friend Lindsay has them, and she looks great every time she wears them. These are durable, opaque, flattering multipurpose leggings with back pockets. They look like pants and not like tights. The material does not become translucent if you bend your knee. You can wear them for yoga, for a walk, for a date, and probably for a fancy party and will look amazing no matter what.
So, that’s how I am being me and the clothes I am wearing (or wish I were wearing) in the process. I am not a fashionista by any stretch of the imagination, but I do try to look presentable once in a while.