I’m starting to get ready to go back to work. I’ve been applying for jobs and last week I had 2 phone interviews. While prepping for the first one I experienced a wave of hot white rage washing over me. I had not had time to shower that morning while trying to get everyone successfully out the door. Gabe had not picked up his toys from the morning, there was still half eaten breakfast to be put away that was still sitting on the kitchen table. Kamel had taken his sweet time in the bathroom while I was still in yesterdays nursing tank and was wrangling an obstinate toddler to, “C’mon Gabe, we need to change your diaper. One… Two……….” When Kamel and Gabe finally left for the day I surveyed my mess of a domain and recounted my plan of attack for the first phone interview I’ve had in over a year.
First up, ignore that I was in maternity yoga pants and a dirty nursing tank.
Second, plan to nurse Fae an hour before the interview.
Third, plan to strap her into the lillebaby where she would be guaranteed to fall asleep so that I could…
Fourth, stand in the corner of the room where we get the most reliable* cell service.
But, as I was pacing the floor with a PISSED Fae who was having none of being strapped into the lillebaby, I began to bubble up with frustrated indignation.
How many men are home trying to apply for jobs and stage interviews while juggling childcare? Did Kamel ever have to consider the feeding schedule of his infant as he considered how to ace the first stage of getting a job? I wonder who has to start off an interview with, “oh and I apologize for the baby sounds, I have my infant home with me,” men? or women?
At work I try to not wear my mom hat. I don’t want to be seen as a MOM, I want to be seen as Professional Lauren. Lauren Who Is Competent and Awesome. Talented Lauren. Funny Lauren. And especially in an interview of ALL PLACES I do not want them having in their minds: MOM. I want them to be thinking: Experienced and an Asset to Our Team.
I enjoy my time away from my kids. It makes me a better parent when I am home. It makes me awesome. At work I am not the one blaming lateness on a sick child, or making excuses for my frazzled appearance with the fact that I had to switch shirts three time due to spit up. It may be true, but I don’t talk about that at work. As much as I would appreciate a more family friendly work mentality, the choice to not wear a loud and proud mom hat at work is not out of fear, it’s because I need to have a space where I am not mentally or physically attached to my kids. I need a space where I am viewed as Lauren.
The truth of the matter is: women do most of the child rearing, women are most often the primary care giver. In many, many households it is the woman who takes a career hit to handle sick days and doctor appointments and the inconveniences of parenthood. That’s not even talking about the career hit of actually birthing a tiny human, but that’s like… a monumental post that has no resolution in the foreseeable future. Weee!
I try very hard to maintain equality in my house. I have no interest in being a stay at home mom. I do not want to be the primary care giver. I want a partnership in all house things. I, unfortunately, have to remind Kamel fairly often that he is not “helping me” with the kids or the chores or whatever. I am not Parent 1 and he is backup Parent 2, I am not Home Caretaker 1 and he is back up Home Caretaker 2. We are Parents and we Share a House. Done and done. But things don’t always shake out that way in the real world of my life.
I would like to think that we take turns. And for the most part this is actually very true. Sometimes Kamel is peacing out of work in order to run the kid(s) to the doctor or working from home to deal with a sick one. Sometimes it’s me. Sometimes he has on his housemaid mental uniform and is moving the couch to vacuum and mopping the kitchen floors, sometimes I’m baby wearing and doing 3 loads of laundry.
Currently, though, things are not even. And the argument could be made that it’s because I’m not working. But – fuck that, fuck it so hard I don’t even want to talk to the person who is saying that right now. I had a fucking baby. And at 6 weeks postpartum I started frantically applying for work, while also being the primary caregiver of that baby. While also being the primary food producer of that baby. While also, because somehow it became some annoying default, being the primary house MAID for this goddamn house. Laundry and breakfast dishes and restocking diapers and wipes and picking up toys and shoes and napkins-a-plenty. And this explains my white hot rage while I was transitioning into PROFESSIONAL LAUREN while living in the world of exhausted, sore, and unwashed MOM LAUREN.
And what happened with that phone interview, anyways, you may be asking…
I nursed on time as previously discussed, I lillebaby-ed, but Fae would not stand for that shit. She would not stand for it at all.
So 10 minutes until interview time, with a crying baby, I took her out and held her with one armed and bounced and she quieted. But how sustainable is holding a baby with one arm? Until said arm falls off? Not so very sustainable.
Fae refused to fall asleep.
I apologized initially for any baby sqwacks, explaining I was home with an infant.
Within 15 minutes I was completely covered in sweat, spit up had splashed on my leg, but I had no time and not enough hands to remedy it. Fae started to fuss again. I tried to switch arms, but that just pissed her off even more. While trying to stay as composed as possible on the phone, I managed to put my interview on HOLD for a second while I shoved a boob into Fae’s mouth so she would STFU.
Overall the interview was a total cluster fuck.
Total emergency nursing moments: 2
Total dropped calls: 1
Total spit ups: 4
Total time of interview: ONE HOUR.
Total moments of sleeping baby during the interview: 0
Total beers consumed post interview: 758475. No, really: 1
Total jobs torpedoed: probably 1.
Towards the end of the interview the lady actually asked me: So…. is that….. YOUR baby? YES, YES IT IS.
Did she think that I would decide to babysit while also trying to convince people to hire me for work??
Professionalism, I have it. Allegedly.
*Still not super reliable.