I’m Baaack!

Photo courtesy of MorgueFile.com.

Photo courtesy of MorgueFile.com.

Well guess who climbed out from under a rock…or should I say a mountain of work and life changing events.

I have wanted to start blogging again for a while, but it was hard to figure out where to begin. I stopped blogging when I got pregnant with my second child and my work demands became much more intense. I was too tired to do anything after work except take care of a two-year-old and grow a baby in my belly.  Then I gave birth to my baby boy, J.J., and I had to go back to my demanding job way too soon after he was born. So with a toddler, a newborn, and a job as a lawyer, I simply had no time or energy to write…or to continue with my unfinished and never-ending house renovations. *sigh* Continue reading

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Is Vacation Worth This?

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I took two vacation days off of work to celebrate the Fourth of July weekend and I am hoping to take a week off over Labor Day. That will be it for my summer vacation. Even taking that limited time off is rough with all of the work that I have pending. It makes me feel guilty going away. Also, the amount of work that I have to do just so I can leave is overwhelming and knowing the disaster that inevitably awaits me upon my return makes a vacation seem not even worth it. It’s somewhat depressing that I feel guilty taking time away because I DESERVE IT and it’s a major reason why I sometimes wish that I was not a lawyer.

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I’ve Just Been Busy Hanging Curtains and Getting Further Behind

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This is me the first time that I saw the disaster that would become my home.

If my life had a title, it would be Unfinished Projects. I have always been a perfectionist and someone who makes sure tasks are completed well in advance of their deadlines. As my daughter heads into her second year, I just can’t keep up with it all. This has been a huge stressor for me. I am a full-time attorney who spends at least an hour-and-a-half commuting each day. I have an investment business that I manage with my husband on the side. I am restoring a 150 year-old house. Throw a rambunctious toddler into the mix and I can’t get it all done anymore.

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Should You Leave Your Job While Pregnant?

Image courtesy of stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

One of my friends is interviewing for a new job.  She is extremely unhappy in her current situation due to new management and I can’t blame her for wanting to leave.  She has interviewed with several companies and she has received a job offer.  She feels genuine excitement about the possibility of leaving her current toxic situation and joining a company where she can grow as a professional and move ahead in her career.  It seems like a no-brainer to take the job, but she has a major reservation that prevents her from accepting this new job offer. She is in her thirties, so she plans on starting her family in the very near future.

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So That’s What My Parents Meant About Responsibility

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Image courtesy of Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I remember having an argument with my father when I was sixteen years old.  I can’t recall what started the argument (probably me complaining about the unfairness and difficulty of my privileged, middle-class, teenage life), but I distinctly remember my father becoming annoyed by something I said. 

In response to whatever naïve, idiotic comment I had just made, my father told me that I had no idea what it was like to be an adult, trying to support a family.  I sat at the dinner table, rolling my eyes at him, as he stood by the sink, frowning at me.  He said, “You don’t realize how easy you have it. Someday you will have bills to pay, taxes to worry about, and a family to support. You think you have it hard now, but you have no idea what life is really like.”

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Baby, That’s Just Gross!

I am a very particular, neat person.  I don’t like when my stuff is dirty.  I don’t like when my stuff is messy.  I don’t like when my stuff is not the perfect way that I want and expect it to be.  I think I have a mild case of OCD that I have learned to deal with over the years.  It is one of my many personality flaws.  As my child has grown, I am really struggling with this particular personality flaw of mine.  A grimy, germy toddler running around is very difficult for someone like me. When my daughter was a newborn, my house, my things, her things, pretty much everything had to be neat, clean, and 100% sanitized.  How things have changed in the last eighteen months.

I now tolerate many disgusting things.  The key word here is “tolerate.”  I don’t like the mess that is my house, person, or life and I wish that I could be more “put-together,” but until I win the lottery jackpot and I’m able to hire a personal assistant, maid, and chef, I am going to have to deal with just getting by (mess and all).

So here are the ten most disgusting things that I have learned to tolerate since having a child:

1.    Spit up/food on me/her.  Babies spit up a lot and it gets on whatever person happens to be holding her.  As babies grow, they become messy little eaters.  Unless you want to change her clothes and your clothes eight times a day (which means even more laundry), you learn to live with crusty spit up or peanut butter on your suit.  Wipe it off and move on with your day.

2.    Snot/boogers on me/her.  My shirt has become my daughter’s tissue.  She always has snot on her face, so every time she hugs me or I pick her up, I get snot on my shoulder.  It has gotten to the point where I just use my sleeve to wipe snot off of her face.  I figure that my shirt is already covered in mucus, so what difference a little bit more?

3.    Poop/pee on me/her.  I remove my daughter’s diaper and that’s when she decides to pee.  When I remove her diaper after a poop explosion, she kicks her foot in it.  Diapers leak all over car seats, cribs, chairs, or the floor.  I initially gagged and ran to the bathroom to wash everything.  Now I just grab a disinfectant wipe and wipe it all down.

4.    My daughter puts stuff on the floor into her mouth.  I used to wash every utensil, pacifier, or toy that my daughter threw on the floor.  After watching her take clumps of dog hair and shove them into her mouth, I figure that she really doesn’t care that her spoon fell on the floor and neither should I.

5.    My daughter’s saliva gets in my mouth.  I used to get grossed out when I watched other moms put their child’s utensils in their mouths after their kid ate off of it.  Now I do it myself.

6.    My daughter shares food with the dogs.  I tried to keep the dogs out of the kitchen once the baby was born.  They are smart and quickly realized who would give them table food.  Since my daughter is constantly handing them food from her plate, I can’t keep them away.  She gives them a bite and then she takes a bite.  They lick food off of her hands and then she puts her hands in her mouth.  It’s just gross, but there is nothing I can do about it.  Once again, she doesn’t care that it’s gross, so neither should I.

7.    My daughter plays on the dog bed.  My dogs are foul.  They eat cat poop out of the litter box and they roll in deer poop.  Then they come back to their bed in the living room.  My daughter also likes to hang out on this nasty bed. I bought her two different types of chairs, but she still prefers rolling around on the dog bed with the dogs.

8.    Animal hair on everything.  I have two dogs and two cats.  There are also three humans running around the house.  There is hair everywhere on everything.

9.    Daycare germs.  My daughter started daycare when she was twelve weeks old.  When she came home that first day, I wiped her down.  That was a pointless waste of my time.  She got sick within the first two weeks.  I caught her cold a few days later.  Then I caught her next cold, her flu, her stomach bug, and the next three colds after that.  I was sick from October through April.  The good news is that my daughter and I have built up immunities to daycare germs, and this year, neither of us are sick…yet.

10.    A house that is not as clean/disinfected as I would like it to be.  With all the traffic in my house, it gets nasty really fast. I have four shedding, barfing, peeing, garbage eating animals, one destructive toddler, and one messy husband.  I vacuum daily.  I do at least a load of laundry every day.  I wash dishes daily.  I try to wipe down my bathrooms, dust, clean the litter, and mop the floor when I get a spare minute on the weekend.    I told myself that the house is clean, but then I made the mistake of looking closely at the caulk on my shower door seam and noticed that it had developed an active mold culture.  This is something that I would expect in a college frat house, not my home.  I grabbed the bleach, killed that mold, and went back to telling myself that my house is clean.

  • Sigh. I continue to lower my expectations.

Is Anyone Surprised That Working Moms Are More Stressed Than Dads?

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Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

New research shows what I already know from experience: family matters cause more stress for working moms than for working dads.  According to Business News Daily:

In a study to be presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association, researchers discovered that contemplating family issues during the workday takes a greater toll on working mothers than fathers in the form of increased stress and negative emotions.

This research is not surprising to me or any other working mother that I know. As a working mom, I juggle a full-time job as a lawyer and a second full-time job as the manager of my home. Inevitably, both spheres spillover into the other, which exponentially increases my stress.  For example, today I tried (unsuccessfully) to finish a motion before the end of the day (while worrying about my daughter’s eczema, how I’m going to get her to her upcoming doctor appointment, daycare closure issues next week, and her new biting habit) and then I came home and had to feed and bathe the baby in the one hour I got to spend with her before her bedtime (while thinking about the seven legal briefs I have due in the next month). My husband walked in the door, humming to himself, and asked, “Why do you look so tense?  Why can’t you ever relax?”  Honestly, sometimes I want to cut him.  How is he not stressed after coming home from work?  How does an entire evening of completing tasks around the house not compound that stress level?  What is wrong with me that I can’t just chill out like he can?  I want answers!

The study noted:

Overall, researchers found that working mothers experience about 29 hours of mental labor — the thoughts and concerns that can impair performance — each week, compared with just 24 hours a week for working fathers. Of that time, they each spent 30 percent thinking about family matters.

Wow, this means that working mothers spend over four hours a day on concerns that can impair their performance.  Personally, with how full my day is, I don’t need to be wasting over four hours on performance impairing thoughts.  After accounting for sleep, that means that I am impairing my own success with this “mental labor” for approximately 1/4 of my waking time. No wonder nothing seems to get done.

I find it interesting that both moms and dads spend similar amounts of time thinking about domestic matters; however, the study noted that men deal with the stress of these thoughts better.

Study author, Shira Offer, an assistant professor at Bar-Ilan University in Israel, feels that mothers are the ones judged and held accountable for family matters which makes this type of “mental labor” a negative and stressful experience. Add to that societal expectations pushing mothers to assume the role of household managers who disproportionately address the unpleasant aspects of family care and it’s a wonder that working moms are able to keep it all together. Talk about serious pressure.

The study also found that fathers are better able to leave their work concerns at work and to draw boundaries between work and home. Offer presented several reasons for this: 1) Dads can afford to leave work at work because moms assume the major responsibilities over the household and childcare and 2) Moms feel that they don’t devote enough time to their jobs and have to “catch up,” making them preoccupied with job-related issues outside of work.

These findings strike a chord with me because one of the most common reasons for contention in my home involves me bringing my work stress home. It takes time away from my child and my husband, making me feel guilty. My husband gets upset because he can’t understand why I can’t leave work at work, but choose to bring it home where it affects everyone.  Then I get mad because I feel like I am doing everything and I never get a break, even once I arrive home.  This affects everyone in my house.

This study suggests that dads must take a greater role in family care to make the “mental labor” less stressful for working moms and to ease the double burden that women experience while trying to succeed at work and at home.

I don’t see this situation changing drastically, at least for me.  Why would my husband want to take on more responsibilities when he already does so much and he knows that I will take care of things like the cleaning and the bills?  I certainly am not going to stop taking care of my domestic responsibilities because my household would fall apart.  I’m simply not willing to allow that to happen.  Also, honestly, even if I stopped doing many of these domestic chores, I don’t think my husband would care much.  It doesn’t bother him when the dog hair dustbunnies pile up on the floor, and dirty laundry piles up in the hampers, and cat poop piles up in the litter boxes, and dishes pile up in the sink.  These things bother me (I wish they didn’t), so I take care of them.  

I wish I could figure out a way to both lessen my domestic workload and keep my work at work. Maybe I’ll win the lottery and be able to afford a personal assistant.  That would probably help relieve stress a lot.  Until that happens, I guess I’m just going to be handling my “mental labor” less effectively than my husband.

Home Life Stresses Working Moms More Than Dads (Business News Daily)

Can I Make the Time to Write?

Writing used to be my release. I had fun writing. Then I entered the practice of law and writing became my job…technical, tedious, legalese-filled writing, every single day. Although I believe that my legal work makes a difference, my legal writing is not the type of stuff that people want to read for fun.

After having my daughter (which has been the awesomest experience ever), I returned to work full time. My personal life and professional life have clashed ever since. As someone who used to put all of her time into her career, it has been a difficult transition trying to split my time between my work and my family, while keeping each separate from one another. Both get some of my time, but neither gets enough for my liking. Even after being back to work for a year, I still struggle with it every day. Most days I feel like I am just getting by, but some days I feel like an absolute failure. I don’t have enough time for my family, my career, or my house. I don’t have any time for myself. I am so tired all of the time that when I walk past a storefront window, I don’t even recognize myself anymore. “Yikes, it’s a zombie…oh wait, that’s me. Ugh, I went out looking like this? Really?”

Which is why I’m here, writing this blog. I am going to make a conscious effort to put aside some time for me, even if it is only a couple of minutes a week. I want to write for fun again and focus on things that I find interesting. Selfish, I know, but too bad, it’s my blog.

I’m muddling through as a full time lawyer and a full time mother/wife, while also running a business and renovating a Victorian house. It is tough not having time to do everything, but I’m making it all work.

I gotta go.  My daughter just knocked the floor lamp over on the dog.