I did not expect this.

Those baby books are crap. Each and every one of them. They don't prepare you at all and I want to know who I can sue.

Yes, they tell you about burping techniques and diaper rash prevention and the thirty-two patented breastfeeding holds, but they don't even come close to preparing you for the real issues that parents face. Issues like working so late every night that you come home when your baby has already been in bed two hours, then wanting to kiss her but knowing you will wake her up and then you'll get yelled at.

Issues like waking your baby up but not having the time to lie in bed with her to get her back to sleep because you still have more work to do.

Issues like leaving her in the hands of the most committed and loving stay-at-home dad in the world but still feeling neglectful for not being there yourself.

Issues like admitting you can't do it all, which means by definition that something gets left in the dust-- your relationship, your child, your work or yourself.

Issues like packing for a two-and-a-half week business trip to LA when you haven't even unpacked from the last one.

Issues like knowing you will have six whole days before your baby joins you on your trip, and that means six days of the first tooth popping through the gum. Six days of the bald head becoming ever so slightly less bald. Six days of missing "cat" and "ha" and "aieeeeeeyiyiyiyi"--and God forbid "dog" which seems to be in the works. Six days of not even having the possibility of kissing her goodnight late at night if you wanted to, even though you wouldn't because it will wake her up and then you'll get yelled at.

Issues like calling your issues "issues" in order to avoid acknowledging that what they really are, are problems. Big, fat, guilt-inducing, sucky ass, no-book-said-anything-about-this problems.

Issues/problems like not even wanting to vent about your issues/problems because it's not like you're the first working mom to ever go through this in history, ya know.

That is what to expect the first year.


Blogger Christina said...

Oh, I so understand what you're going through. You're right, there are no books out there to describe these kinds of things.

While you may not be the first working mom to ever go through this, it doesn't mean it doesn't warrant a vent. It's still your first time going through it, and it's something many of us have to work through.

I've always found it strange that there are so many support groups out there for SAHMs, but very few for working moms. I'm in no way saying that SAHMs don't need the support, but I think working moms need it just as much. Guess we're too busy and tired to attend.

3/24/06, 9:03 AM  
Blogger noncommon said...

I feel your pain. Sometimes being a mom hurts. Especially when you believe that you're dropping the ball. You're not. I don't remember my boys first words, or when they got their first tooth, or how I even potty trained them. Neither do they! But they remember the more recent things and so do I - together! That's why baby calendars are so great! You write the stuff down and you can go back later and look at it together. Feel better mama. You have a conscious! That's the makings of a good kid! And that's ultimately all that matters.

3/24/06, 9:15 AM  
Blogger J said...

Ugh. Sorry m101...you'll get through this, though. And someone SHOULD write a book about it, but then, working mom's wouldn't have time to read it, would we? And there are no solutions that I have been able to find, other than quit your job, but since I didn't do that, I'm in the boat with you. Sigh.

btw, my daughter is almost 10 now, and we lived through that time...it was HARD though. If she gets seperation anxiety, it will get worse. Ugh again. Just know, if she does get it, that even kids with SAHM get it, and it's NOT your fault. :)

3/24/06, 9:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree. The books? Crap.

I totally cried the other night because my huz put Q to bed and I didn't get a chance to kiss her little head goodnight - and after doing it by myself for 20 months, you'd think I would be happy for the break- and I was - but I still wanted to kiss her little noggin.

You offer a unique perspective and an honest view of what it's like to be the "working" parent (in a one-wohm family) - maybe it's because you don't hear the working dads talk about it (I imagine there's a part of that in there for them too) - but I appreciate you allowing me (us) to experience your challenges as they happen.

3/24/06, 9:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that is my biggest complaint- no one tells you the pregnancy and motherhood is not easy. Everyone makes you think that it is just so great when actually it is very stressful. I think we (women) should be more honest with each other because it feels really bad when you have the not-so-great feelings.

Sorry for the rant.

3/24/06, 9:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am also a working mom, and missed sweet little moments like the ones you mentioned. It really does hurt. Everyone tried to make me feel better by saying that even though I missed a 'first' of something, I will get to see or hear it a million more times:)

Hope that helps. Hugs!

3/24/06, 9:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You and my wife need to get together for a cup of coffee and some commisseration. We're both working parents but I tend to spend more time with the baby. It's becoming an issue. And yeah, you're right. The 2,000 baby books that we read didn't even touch on this issue (but, then again, they never mentioned anything about pooping on the delivery table either, you know?)

Have a great weekend. Travel safely!

3/24/06, 9:59 AM  
Blogger Carolyn S. said...

I worked two full-time jobs for the first year of Ava's life and completely empathize with this post. The one brightside is that as a working mom, you treasure each and every second you get to spend with your little one since they are so few and far between.

For me at least, this relates to my post about the repercussions of feminism. I'd love it if we were given the option to work part-time and spend the rest of our day with our little princesses.

3/24/06, 10:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think about this kind of thing a lot -- and you are right, there are not a lot of parenting books dedicated to the topic. I know for me I never feel like I get to spend enough quality time with the kids. Mimi's bedtime gets later and later because I sit with her for a while after stories and I just can't get enough of hearing her chatter.

I don't have a good solution, of course. Just know you are not alone. And that you have a whole community of other moms (and dads) to talk to if you do need to vent and find others that can relate.

3/24/06, 10:07 AM  
Blogger Catherine said...

I applaud you for unequivocally spelling out the issues neglectfully left out of "What to Expect the First Year." More than once, I've sat down at my computer, exasperated and depressed, ready to blog about the woes of being a working mother, but I could never get through it without flooding my desk with salty tears. So thank you for venting it for me (and doing it MUCH better, at that).

3/24/06, 10:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

awww hugz, I can only imagine how hard it is for you. Bonus is your husband is a stay at home Dad, that rocks! You are trying and that makes all the difference in the world...

3/24/06, 10:10 AM  
Blogger Chicky Chicky Baby said...

That sucks and I'm not even going to pretend to know what you're going through. I know this is cold comfort, but just remember that your daughter is growing up with a strong Mommy with a career she loves (right?) and a Daddy at home. She's a lucky, lucky little girl.

That's part of being a parent... our lives are harder to make their lives better. Isn't that a kick in the ass?! Funny how they never write that in the books.

*Big Squeeze*

3/24/06, 10:21 AM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

And the 'What to Expect' books get flak for being too alarmist... HA.

The books, I think, actually make the massive mind-f*** that is new motherhood/parenthood worse... because they gloss over/ignore the most stupefying parts. Yeah, they ignore the condition of the working mom (of which I know only a little, as I only have to leave Baby for the three hours that I lecture each week), advising only on the methods and politics of pumping. But they pretty much ignore the real condition and circumstances of any mom (sleep when the baby sleeps? Are they serious?), and - my biggest peeve -do everyone a serious disservice by asserting that there are really only three emotional states after childbirth: bliss, baby blues, or PPD. I didn't land all the way into PPD, but my emotional experience was a hell of a lot more complicated than bliss or mild blues, and it still is, and I expect that it will remain that way, and I expect that the same is true for most moms. All of which is to say, WTF is up with those books? (and the mags, which is a whole other comment/post) And, why do we keep going back to them? (I have my theories about both of those questions, but that is also a whole other post, or two...)

3/24/06, 11:29 AM  
Blogger Kristi said...

That sucks, I'm sure. It is funny the different tale I would tell, after being a stay at home mom of four. Though I LOVE my kids, the thought of being away for a few days without them is enticing. Now, you are on your first and I would never have said that after my first child, because you are right, you don't want to miss those precious moments. You want to see how they do all they do for the first time. I'm sorry you are so frustrated, but I'm sure daddy being there for those moments is a small comfort.

3/24/06, 11:30 AM  
Blogger the stefanie formerly known as stefanierj said...

Agh, that sucks. It's enough to make one buy the damn powerball ticket (which I recently heard referred to as "the redneck retirement plan," LOL) and hope for the best.

But until that happens, keep on keeping on. Brian over at http://milesetc.blogspot.com has a couple good posts about GTWDs, which I think you'd like and appreciate (of course, you've probably read them, as Miles Etc is on your blogroll. Duh.) I for one can say that having worked (outside the home, that is) part-time last term and not at all this term, it's not necessarily easier to do one or the other...it's just that your 'issues' are different.

Good luck, hon. I'll be thinking of ya.

3/24/06, 11:42 AM  
Blogger tracey clark said...

And here's what to expect in the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th years, etc. more of the same. There's a whole new set of issues all wrapped up in different packages lurking around every corner. the books don't tell you that either. although it does get easier (don't jump off that bridge just yet) there are new hurdles to navigate. motherhood's a doosie, ain't it?
through it all, our kids are gonna be fine. It's us I worry about.

have you read "Mothershock"? I think Andi Buchanan nailed it.

3/24/06, 12:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're a fantastic writer. Have you ever thought about your OWN book? I bet you'd make a killin'. I don't even have kids and I'd buy a copy. :)

Just a suggestion.

(That you should totally consider.)

3/24/06, 12:45 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

The books definitely don't mention this stuff. Having been in your situation (my huz was SAHD for a year), having done the two-career thing with full-time daycare, and now working from home, I can say that having my husband at home while I worked was BY FAR the hardest of these three situations. It does get better though. I remember feeling like a huge weight had been lifted from me after our oldest son turned one.

3/24/06, 12:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't have an answer for you. My husband tells me he feels the same way (but nowhere near as eloquently as you). You've totally touched a nerve, guilt knows no boundaries when you become a parent.

You should consider chase's suggestion.

3/24/06, 1:11 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

You are all amazing. Let me just say that one more time: You all are amazing.

Every one of you is so remarkably insightful that I can't respond to each of you adequately; any one of your comments could be a whole post unto itself.

If I ever do do a book I'm thanking you all in the acknowlegments. Okay, back to my meetings.

3/24/06, 2:14 PM  
Blogger MrsFortune said...

YOU need to write the real book, Chica! You're so great. That guilt is a bitch and half though, isn't it? Yah.

3/24/06, 2:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My hubby and I put both of our girls in day care at four months old. And the guilt still gets me. And those books never help with the guilt. You can discuss your issues all you want. We will listen. Glad your husband is so good with her though.

3/24/06, 2:48 PM  
Blogger Sam, Problem-Child-Bride said...

I really think that you should seriously consider Chase's suggestion too. There isn't a well-written book that I can think of about balancing the mother and work thing. And you're a terrific writer.

But think on this. I stay at home with my kids and when I was reading your Los Angeles post I was thinking of how some days I would kill to go to work and be allowed to use my brain, to produce an actual something, ANYTHING at the end of the day. To be out there, being a part of the world.

Motherhood is a work-in-progress and some days I'm convinced I'm flunking out really badly, and this is, like, IMPORTANT and stuff and Oh God, I think I'm cracking up. So staying at home is not immune from its own frustrations and the guilt-trips for those days you'd rather go and talk to grown-ups, even for an hour, than deal with one more argument over crayons. I don't mean to complain; most days are great, most days the girls are great. I have been very, very lucky in my life and I know it. But I'd be lying if I said I didn't feel frustrated at times and worried about trying to find a satisfying job when they go to school, after 6+ years out of the work-place.

I don't know what the answer is. But I don't know any mother who wouldn't change her situation, at least a bit, and I know mothers in all sorts of situations.

I was looking at a picture of my granny last night though, who raised 7 children alone after my grandpa died. No job, just enormous amounts of laundry and no machines to do it with. All food made from scratch, all children immaculately turned out at all times. I don't know how women did it back then without going crazy. The truth is though that many of them did really go crazy. I guess we're all lucky nowadays, although it seems hard to appreciate that somedays.

Think about the book thing though.

Great post. It touched something in so many of the mothers who read you.

3/24/06, 3:18 PM  
Blogger GIRL'S GONE CHILD said...

This is why the book NEEDS to be written. I have yet to meet a book that didn't make me cringe with dumb chills.

3/24/06, 3:27 PM  
Blogger Mel said...

Wow, everybody who got here before me said everything I would have said.
I went to work again really soon after my kids were born; 8 months with the firstborn and 3 months with her younger sister. I missed a lot of things that I felt were musts, but I also got to be there for the finished product, after the dress rehearsal and they were ready to take their act on the road, so to speak. So I felt guilty, yes, and I felt that I wasn't prioritizing correctly, yes, but I also knew that the end result was that I was providing for the family, and making a safe place for them to grow and develop, even though I missed it on the first go. It it worth it, even if it is hard.

3/24/06, 3:55 PM  
Blogger puppytoes said...

just wait 'til year 2... and beyond. sigh

still...it's worth it. no. seriously, it's worth it. really. reallyreally worth it. you'll see...

(for instance...all those 16 hour days i spent in a post-production room helped our finances enough to pay for the therapy they needed and boarding schools they attended as they got older. so, y'know... all those hours at work? totally worth it!)

: )

3/24/06, 4:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

in all honesty, i do think it's wise to hold on to that piece of yourself that's outside of the "mother realm" --working is not all bad (unless, of course, you hate your job, in which case, i guess working sucks!) but if you love what you do, you shouldn't have to give that up just because you have a child. kids are nothing if not adaptable. you love your daughter...you give her quality time when you can, and as long as she knows she holds the biggest piece of your heart? nothing else matters.

no one will ever judge you as harshly as you judge yourself. you're doing what you need to do right now... i think you should give yourself permission to be okay with that! : )

3/24/06, 4:17 PM  
Blogger Mama Kelly said...

I;m sorry that youll have to be away from you rlittle one for 6 days --- which I know will feel like an eternity

3/24/06, 4:29 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

They should hand this out to new mothers as they exit the Hospital.

Cause you can not plan for this. I have been a working Mom for almost eight years, and I find new ways to screw the pooch every week.

Ergo: Doing the Best you can.

And the firsts? Not as important as the Always. And Thalia will always have her mama's love.

3/24/06, 6:34 PM  
Blogger ms blue said...

You better write that book before Dr. Phil beats you to it. I'll buy your copy.

There are so many of us who need help with the removal of guilt while finding balance between being a mom and work. It's such a catch 22.

Quality moments can go a lot farther than quantity time. Having happy parents makes for well-adjusted children.

3/24/06, 6:46 PM  
Blogger j.sterling said...

the end.

3/24/06, 7:52 PM  
Blogger scarbie doll said...

Yeah guilt sucks. But your baby is loved. And what the books don't really tell you is that's your only job: love. You seem to be kicking ass at that.

Oh, and maybe "try not to kill the new living thing in the apartment." But seriously, the main thing the books don't tell you, because if they did they wouldn't sell many books, is that everything's gonna be a'ight. Hang in there.

3/24/06, 10:10 PM  
Blogger Emily said...

I really don't have anything brillant or important to comment....I just had the overwhelming urge to offer cyber hugs....so...


3/25/06, 12:02 AM  
Blogger IzzyMom said...

I can really only imagine how you feel. I haven't been there but I know it must be hard. I honestly believe women feel these things much more than men do; maybe because we carry for them for 10 months. I don't know. I wish I had some magic words or suggestions to make you feel better. All I can come up with is video. Tell Nate to record Thalia constantly so maybe you can feel like you're catching some of what happens when you're not there. {{{{{{hugs for Liz}}}}}}

3/25/06, 2:05 AM  
Blogger Sandra said...

I read waaaaaaay too much when my son was born and it just made me feel worse. Guilty. Incompetant. When I went back to work those wholier-than-thou books didn't come close to understanding the feelings I had or address any of the "issues" that I actually needed the help with. I threw them all out one day that I was feeling the way you are. A ritual burning might have been more fun in retrospect, but I tossed every single one and feel much better.

3/25/06, 8:44 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

you are so right about those books--and anything with the mommy/beautiful toddler wearing a straw hat in a rocker on the cover. well.... it's just GOT to go.

hey lady, let's write a frickin' book! (only half joking). there's a big gap out there.

3/25/06, 11:02 AM  
Blogger Bridgermama said...

I have sworn off those damn books. I hope the six days away goes as fast as possible. Even if they drag she will still love ya tons when you get home.

3/25/06, 1:48 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

you do what you gotta do. and try not to feel guilty about it. every baby is different and so is every mother. we are all doing our best.

big hugs from over here.

3/25/06, 5:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No one can tell you how not to feel, so go ahead and feel guilty. It won't make you feel any better than if you felt worthy, I guarantee it. That's just the way it is with being a caring, sensitive person: you get to feel. The alternative? Not so pleasant.

3/25/06, 7:41 PM  
Blogger Susanne said...

What you're really needing (in the way of books) is a book for fathers. Because the "parenting" books really are "SAHM" books. And of course you miss her.

But rest assured, every single one of us is feeling guilty. Which is draining even more energy. Just do what you're doing and love her. It's enough.

3/27/06, 4:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a bit late arriving, but I just wanted to say how much I relate to what you're saying.

Particularly the following bits:

"admitting you can't do it all, which means by definition that something gets left in the dust"

I'm trying to juggle a career in IT, a career as a novelist, and motherhood. But for me it's not the first year that was the problem. I was sooooo spoilt in the first year. I had a full time place at a good nursery (I forget the American term for this), a supportive partner and parents who regularly took my child for a weekend. Now my child has started school, which finishes at 3pm every day. Yes, I could find more paid childcare to fill the gap, but I want to be there at the end of his day. Which means working stupid hours to try and fit around it... and I'm at the end of my tether. I should really take time off sick, but my bosses already think I'm lightweight and useless because I prioritise my child above my job... and as for writing novels... don't make me laugh.

"it's not like you're the first working mom to ever go through this in history, ya know."

Yeah. Exactly. I can't think of objective reasons to complain about my life. It looks like I have it all. Many mothers have it worse than me. My problems are not new. I should just shut up whingeing.

But of course, although I say that to myself, I would never say it to you. Or anyone else. Because it's bollocks. And unkind. And bollocks. If only I could be the calm and sympathetic friend to myself that I can to others! Or rather, that I would be to others if I had any time to maintain friendships...

Some people say that mothers should stay at home and if they don't they're morally cuplable. Some say stay-at-home mums are vacuous creatures with no brain or ambition. Some governments offer incentives and help for mothers to work longer and longer hours. I say bollocks to it all.

Most mothers need to spend a reasonable time with their children, as do kids with their mums. And most human beings need rest and relaxation, and parenthood is HARD WORK. Two jobs are not better than one. But most of us need to have separate identities, goals and achievements outside of the (admittedly important) business of rearing the next generation.

Personally I've come to the conclusion that the middle way is the best. Part time work. I don't mind admitting that I pale at the thought of spending all day, every day, with my son. But I can't cope with fourteen-hour days, either.

The best lesson I ever learnt, and which I continually struggle to implement, is: Be kind to yourself. Stop beating yourself over the head with unreasonable targets. And let go. Don't work the unpaid overtime. Don't do the ironing. Sod the toilet. The germs are underwater. They'll stay there another day.

Drop your standards. Stick to what really matters. Give yourself a break. Then sob and rant and rave about it all, because it's crap and it's difficult and just because you're not the only one doesn't mean it isn't FUCKING HARD.

As for the book, I was planning to write it myself. But what with the minor problem of finding time to write about having no spare time to write... I'll let you do it. ;o)

3/29/06, 2:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ugh, I hear you. I'm leaving next week for a four-day business trip to LA myself. Fortunately, even though I work full-time, it's the first time I have been separated overnight from my 20-month old son. 9-10 hours of separation a day is enough. Unfortunately, I am completely emotionally unprepared for this trip. Sigh.

3/29/06, 6:16 PM  
Blogger kittenpie said...

Of course something has to give. My house, for example, is a freaking dive. I get panicky just thinking of visitors. But I'd rather be at the park than parking my girl to keep her out of my way while I clean. And I work two evenings a week, so I relate to hating to miss bedtime. I love her up but good the other nights, inhaling her sweet hair and kissing her soft cheeks so I can live on that for the late nights. And I take her to daycare later on the days I start late, so I try to take my time where I can get it.

4/1/06, 9:15 PM  

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