Thursday

1.) My day started off at 5am, cuddling Fae.

2.) Everyone was showered and dressed by 6:30, when we had to wake up Gabriel.

3.) Why do toddlers become a screaming pile of irrational bullshit right before you need to leave the house?

4.) Why do they look at you 5 minutes later after you’ve wrestled everyone into the car and are sweating like, “why are you pulling out your hair, mama? Want a yogurt snack?”

5.) We bought a treadmill and it arrived today. In a box.

6.) The delivery man did not knock or ring my doorbell. He left it out front and snuck away.

7.) I cannot lift the box to bring it inside. Kamel has a hernia, he cannot lift the box either. Thankfully, this means that thieves probably can’t lift the box. Otherwise, why would they need a treadmill? This feels like some kind of ironic torture.

8.) Yesterday at bedtime Gabe said his ear hurt, which is pretty random since we were just looking at the moon.

9.) Maybe the reason my child is a mess is because he has a secret ear infection. He also has a cold. This could be a real possibility, making me mother of the year for the 3rd year in a row.

10.) On top of the fact that I am drowning in work, I now need to take my kid to the doctor (and my other kid bc she can’t drive) during rush hour. It’s going to be great!

Things, July

This month is kicking my butt. I have no extra time and no extra money. I am late on getting Fae’s birthday video (coming soon) and showing you some photos from her baptism (coming soon). I had to skip a podcast week because we just couldn’t find the time to record and I have no more banked episodes (fail). I am drowning. Again. Even more. Next week is worse. Doctor appointments and dentist appointments and more more more.

There are some good things though. I have seen my best friends almost every weekend, and during the week for nearly a month now, and it will be this way well into September. Wedding events for Claire, Fae’s birthday, brunches, babysitting, drinks on rooftops, shopping excursions, and on and on. This is a big reason why I moved home. I am so happy to be living in the same place as my people.

I’m annoyed at my body. Not to the point where I can’t get dressed, I just don’t have time for that bullshit to be honest. But, I’m mad that I workout regularly, indulge rarely, and yet still… the postpartum stomach pooch, the thickness in the middle that is making clothes shopping so hard, the stubborn lbs that won’t come off. I’m just so frustrated. And I know that yes, I could restrict my diet further, I could be hungrier, I could. But fuuuuck, I just don’t want to more than I am. I really don’t. And part of me is totally ok with that. And the other part of me like… it’s been a year. Why can’t I shake these last 5 lbs? And even if I did, I’m sure I would still have this skin bulk right in my middle that makes dress shopping so frustrating, that makes muffin top pants so so so annoyingly real, that makes my workouts seem pointless. ERGH.

I have next week’s podcast all planned out, but I would very much like some topic suggestions. If you have a question, that is awesome! Email me at birlpodcast@gmail.com or betterinrealife@gmail.com, but even if you don’t have a question and just want to hear Kamel and I debate/discuss something, let me know in comments. My inspiration well is running a tad bit dry with all of the life stuff swirling around us.

Fae is transitioning out of the baby room and is headed into the “waddler” room. Like she’s no longer a real baby anymore or something. Not a fan of this thought process. Will she always seems so so little to me? Is that how youngest children work? Because the oldest is also little, but the littler one is SUPER little. Is that what they mean when they say, “You’ll always be my baby”? I wonder what her first word will be. It might be “ow” to be honest…

I want THINX underpants!!! I just haven’t gotten my shit together enough to spend $30 a pair on them!! This is me yelling at myself about it!! After having Gabriel nothing really changed with my period, even though I had heard that having babies can make your period heavier. But after having Fae – I leak through super tampons like they aren’t even there. (TMI, sorry, I warned you too late.) I end up wearing an annoying horrible pad for at least 3-4 days because at any given moment I can just spring a damn leak. So instead I want period underpants! But $30! A pair! My underpant plight is constant and ongoing. There is no justice.

Everyone is going on vacations. I see it all over the internet. I am not. I desperately wish I was. That is all.

I have been at home and not in an office since May of 2015. Isn’t that weird? I have always worked. And I mean, I am working, full time, but I’m just here, on my coach. Maybe it would feel less like I’m just sitting around in my underwear if I was sitting around in my underwear at a desk, in an office. But for now I am on my couch, being professional as shit, without a bra on, feeling waves of impostor syndrome wash over me. And not going on any vacations.

Look In The Attic

A few weeks ago I had the worst week. It was a bad week. No one died, but it was pretty shitty anyway. As all terrible weeks do, this one started with hope.

A house. A weird shaped, tall house. Next to a park, in an affordable area. It was cute. Had a den off the kitchen and three bedrooms upstairs. It had no backyard, but a patio and a deck. I imagined summers of sidewalk chalk and potted plants and Chardonnay. I knew we could and would get this house. We had room in the budget to blow everyone else out of the water, much like all the people who have just recently purchased homes have done to us. This was it, we were almost. Nearly 90 days from the beginning of this journey I saw the finish line.

I have found that one of the biggest differences between being a kid and being an adult is denial. When you’re a kid you don’t know all the crap stuff that could happen to you and it makes you fearless. The fearlessness is good, it creates risk takers which in turn creates opportunities. Except for the kids who film themselves jumping off roofs. I can’t help those people. But as an adult! As an adult, we know too much. We’ve peeked under too many rocks, we’ve heard too many stories, we’ve seen things. We have stuff to lose now. We feel the weight of our mortality.

But if adults all acted on that knowledge, the world would stop. It’s too scary, too risky, nothing is guaranteed! The unknowns are the worst, because they offer infinite possibilities. We all know the bad things that could befall us: We could get cancer, we cold die and leave our children without a parent, we could suffer a financial downfall, lose our jobs, drown in debt, things could not work out as planned. It’s rare that they do, but we make the plans anyway.

The only way to survive as adults is to live with a certain amount of chronic denial. We know the bad stuff is there, but we only take a glimpse, and then we shove it back up in the attic. We slide it back under the rock. We pretend we didn’t see it at all. We say those things happen to OTHER people, not to us. We tell ourselves they are just exaggerations and we move forward.

The only thing standing between us and that house was paying $250 and having a pre-inspection. As long as nothing was wonky with the title (has happened to us) and there weren’t any risky or very expensive fixes (has also happened to us) we would be good to go. The construction was relatively new – 1992 I think? – so I wasn’t overly worried. The appointment we had was at a weird time, so I went alone and Kamel went to pick up kids and battle rush hour traffic.

Everything was going well. A few windows that needed to be replaced, a screen door (no matter, I wanted to put in french doors anyhow!), a hot water tank that needed to be replaced, brand new hickory floors, solid roof, solid siding, check check check check.

The only thing left was to check the attic, where all the bad and scary things live. Except not really, you just want to make sure there is enough insulation and there isn’t any leaks or mold or what have you. We have yet to run into any of these issues. Those things happen to other people.

Everything was humming along until the inspector said: Bats.

Ha. Ha. I said. Jokes, I said.

No, really, he said. Bats. Four to six in that corner, another half dozen in the other corner. A colony.

So as I choked down tears and kept it together, I knew immediately: Bye house. Because you don’t inherit pests. Especially pests that are left to their own devices for over a month while you wait for the house to close. But, I worked the problem anyway. So, let me tell you what I know about bats.

A small colony is 10-20 bats. They expand like koi and their colonies will grow depending on the size of the space.

They are protected and cannot be killed or trapped.

That means they need to be shooed away and then the spaces where they can get in need to be sealed.

The spaces don’t need to be any bigger than the size of a quarter.

It can be a process, as bats really like their homes.

Removing them could cost up to $1,000, not counting the insullation that will need to be replaced at $2/foot and the repair work on the roof and sides of the house to prevent them from getting in. If you accidentally trap a bat in your attic they will burrow into your walls trying to escape. They are very smart and crafty.

I also learned that there is no way I will buy a house that has tenants in the attic.

This may seem small, because this is not my house, and in so many ways thank god for that. But I really wanted it to be my house. I really wanted it to be done and we are not done. That part was an, “Are you KIDDING me?” moment. That was on Tuesday.

On Wednesday morning Kamel texted me that he was feeling like he might be laid off.

“But don’t worry, Lauren. We’re going to be alright.”

Let me tell you right now, that is not a text you send without some follow up. That is not a text you send and then wander into a meeting. That is not a text you send without some CONTEXT.

So I sat for 40 minutes checking my phone and reacting to spikes in my anxiety by thinking of other things, but knowing that bad things happen, that bats can be in the goddamn attic, that people lose their jobs, that the homes you spend years saving for and millions of hours looking for get put on hold sometimes because life happens. To other people, but not to me. Surely, NOT to me. With two kids, in this apartment with no air, this place has NO AIR, and a kitchen that is no longer big enough to even store all the food our kids EAT every week. Not to us.

But then when Kamel called me after 40 minutes and he said that yes, he had been laid off, I could not stop the tears. Because the roof had been ripped off and we were standing in that dark attic, bats and all.

What are we going to do?

I still don’t really know.

In that moment my brain fast forwarded to all the things we needed to figure out. First, email the real estate agents and put a hold on our search. Second… second?

Do we start talking about moving somewhere cheaper? Do we start strategizing pulling the kids out of daycare? What can we afford on just my income plus unemployment? How fast can Kamel turn this around?

Kamel applied for almost 40 jobs in that first week. And we were lucky because he had warning, they gave him a headsup to start looking even before his pay ran out. For that I am so grateful.

In the mean time, many of the things I know are there but choose to ignore are knocking on my door. “Hello? Lauren? We need to talk.”

I’m still telling them that no one is home. I need time to figure it out. When do we have to start moving on these changes? How much time do I have until the bats aren’t just in a house we didn’t buy, but are right here with me?

2015 is Done.

I don’t do resolutions but I do like to look ahead and make some goals for myself. What can I accomplish next year? What did I do in the year that trails behind me? What are we here for? What are we doing? What have we done? Etc etc.

At the end of 2014 I made some goals.

I wanted to be more involved in charity work.

I wanted to make a dent and/or finish a book I had started.

And I wanted to have my baby.

The entire year I felt a nagging guilt over not being more involved in charity work. But I did do more/give more than I had in previous years. Time, tiny human responsibilities, and finances limited my ability. This is just something I really want to do and will always be a priority for my life. It’s just the unfortunate truth that sometimes other things come before my ability to give to others. Ugh, that just sounds so gross saying out loud.

I did for sure make a dent in a book I was writing. I did not finish it, though I had no excuse not to. I have, though, decided to reorganize it. (Did you hear that Margaret! Stop reading the draft you have! I have no goals for it!) I foresee this being an evolving process. One that doesn’t get much traction until after Fae turns 1. That’s just how having tiny humans works. The first year is a shit show, the rest of life struggles to keep up.

Oh, but I did have that baby. So, gold stars for me!

2016… it has a nice ring to it. When I think about the year in my mind I get little sparks of excitement. THE FUTURE IS HERE. What’s going to happen? What are we going to do? What surprises will pounce on us? Will they be good surprises? Or will they sit on our faces until we cry for mercy? Who knows! The future is a mystery…

What do I want to accomplish? What do you want to accomplish? What are you going to conquer in 2016? Hearing the aspirations of others is inspiring, so please do share in comments.

My three goals:

1.) Buy a freaking house.

2.) Create a successful (meaning good, by my standards) podcast.

3.) Be consistent with Weekend-ing again.

Other minor goals that I’ll say are “honorable mentions” are…

1.) Get into a career situation that is more permanent than where I’m at currently.

2.) Get our photo books printed!! For fucksake!

3.) Get back into shape.

I really feel like this year is the year of Taking Care of Business. It’s going to be one of those rip-roaring years where we all look back this time next year and think, “holy shit… all of that in just one year?” Yup. All of it in just one year. We got this. It’s going to be insane.

The Hustle

Where did I go? What have I done? WHAT IS HAPPENING?

Last week I had so many posts bubbling in my head. SO MANY. I even wrote half of one! But my real life hustle is taking up all of my time.

First a quick update: Things around here are moving fast fast slow fast fast slow. Right now I am in the fast fast. My search for a full time, normal person job fizzled, and as the holidays approach I am toning down my job search at the moment. Thankfully because of contacts in the professional writing world I have been piling on the freelance work. Piling on so much, actually, that we are able to pay for Fae to go to daycare after Kamel is off paternity leave. I can’t really control the job market, or who gets hired if it isn’t me, and I certainly can’t control how long this process takes, but I can control my hustle. And if my hustle means working from home all day and again after the kids go to bed and during stolen hours on the weekends? Then hustle I will. Because we have some major financial goals and without me those things can’t happen.

Like buying a house. Which is most likely put on the back burner for another year, unfortunately. But we’re getting there… we’re getting there. That’s the slow part. Fast fast hustle, slow life goals. As is life I guess.

So while I’m on my computer my writing brain is 99.9% focused on writing for dollar signs. It has been leaving me with less and LESS time to write for no dollar signs, even when that writing fills me up. It’s only been a few weeks of this hustle so I’m still finding my balance.

But in general I feel so awesome! And mentally kick ass! And smart! And on it! And handling my shit like a BOSS.

Because when things don’t work out like you imagined, strut down the paths that are open to you. Make it work. Make it more than work. Hustle and thrive. Fast fast slow.

Job Hunt Part 2: Even With A Small Child At Home?

On Sunday, while we were running errands in hell BabiesRUs I got a call back from a job I had applied for on a tech job listing site. The editor was calling to set up an interview for that day (Sunday, reminding you: Sunday) or on Monday. Because I am not one to turn my nose at an opportunity, regardless of how sketch it was to be getting called on the weekend, I returned the editor’s call and set up a formal interview for an hour later.

Initially it was the usual “tell me about your background” type of conversation, but then she asked me to tell her about myself – stuff that wasn’t on my resume. I started giving her more of my background, how I had graduated from grad school and then pieced together my writing career at the height of the recession, blahblah, but she stopped me and said, “No, I mean stuff that isn’t on your resume.”

Ugh.

So, flustered, I said I had two kids, that we had moved up to Seattle a year and a half a go when my husband got a job at Microsoft…. and she chatted amicably with me about the west coast and having kids, her only child was now 22, etc etc.

Things got weird again when she suddenly said they would like to offer me a trial job. A trial job? I said. Like a contract? I asked.

Well no, not like a contract, she said. This would be 2 articles a day for 2 weeks to make sure I would be a good fit, that I could keep up with the work… especially with having a small child at home.

With having a small child at home, would I, professional me, with a masters degree and 5 years of this particular experience under my belt, not to mention the bajillion other jobs I’ve held down, even during grad school, even during undergrad, even while also TAing….. be able to complete my work?

I let the comment slide, but stuck it in my back pocket just in case, because my next question was: And what would the rate be for this?

Oh, this would not be paid. Two weeks of part time work, getting 20ish articles out of me, for freebies.

No thanks, I said, that would not be acceptable. She gave me her email address (which I pretended to copy down) just in case I changed my mind, and that was that.

Even with a small child at home, even with the cost of 2 daycares looming, even with our house savings completely halted while I am scrambling for work and taking phone interviews covered in spit up…. Even with all of that, I know I’m worth more than that and I’ll wait for it.

The Guilt and Shame Spiral

I’ve been struggling with a lot of guilt about being home and not trying to work up until my due date.

Even though it would have been a huge struggle.

Even though there were days, even in the third trimester, (many days) I didn’t want to leave the couch because I felt like I had the flu.

Even though I have my family’s support and we are lucky to be able to generally afford this time off.

Except the decision has ripple effects. It means Gabe gets home later, and is gone from the house way more (like 11 hours on the bad days) because of traffic, because Kamel is busy at work and sometimes can’t leave when he should, because you need 3 people in the car to use the carpool lanes and I’m not there. It means during the months we would normally be strapped financially because of payroll timing and bill timing, we are EXTRA STRAPPED because there is none of my income to assist. It means putting off things like haircuts and having long budget talks into the night to figure out how we can pay for all the things we need to pay for and get to the next pay period without incurring more debt. It means no saving for a house.

And I struggle with this because I feel like it is my fault. It’s my fault my kid is gone too much, and it’s my fault that we are having to have the big talks about the things we cannot actually do even when we said we would because we can’t afford them, and the talks about the things we need to put off buying for the baby – the things we would like but don’t need. My fault. If only I were working.

Except my situation sucked. It was not supportive. I would have had to take major pay cuts to go to all of these doctor appointments.

Except I am doing something – I’m pregnant and it is really hard. Not for everyone, but for me. I hurt and I feel awful, even right now, even right this second I feel so gross. And when I talked to friends of mine who also have kids (Hi Jo!) they reminded me: if women had a better support system, if men had babies, if women’s health was actually valued in this insane patriarchy bullshit society then I probably wouldn’t feel so guilty. I probably wouldn’t have reason to, first of all, but it also wouldn’t be so ingrained in me that I should be “pulling my weight” and “doing it all” and setting aside my health to “contribute to society.”

As Jo said last week to me: You are not making your family’s life harder, you’re making your family.

And as much as I do want to get back to work, this is important life shit happening right now. Important! And I don’t want to feel bad about taking care of me for a short period of time in my life. The rest of my life will be working and child wrangling and partnering and all the things. Right now it’s about taking a few months and letting myself be sick at home, pushing myself to go on walks and stay active, taking the time to rest when I need it, and then eventually having time home with an infant without a looming deadline of 6 weeks hanging over my head.

And these things are luxuries currently. LUXURIES. When I type them out they seem like “well of course” things. “Well of course a largely pregnant woman would want to stay home,” “Well of course parents need time home with their new babies, and women need time to recover and heal and breast feed and and and and…” But I feel guilty and like a massive burden at times because … this small amount of time in a person’s whole productive life is seen as too much. And that’s wrong.

So, I’m working on not feeling guilty, on not feeling like I’m making life harder on everyone else. I’m working on saying, “This is how it should be.” Because it should be. Regardless of economic status, regardless of familial support. We should be taking care of each other better especially in regards to some of the most basic life experiences, the most basic life challenges. I don’t want to see more rhetoric putting mothers on some ridiculous pedestal, I want to see legislature that supports women’s health holistically without guilt or shame.

The Inevitable Woes

I was supposed to write about writing today – well it was supposed to happen yesterday, but I was tired and… life so anyways – I was supposed to write about my writing season, but instead I’m writing about this.

I feel so dumb even admitting this.

I am really having a hard time turning 30. And I’m not even turning 30 until April!! Which means I’m not even half way through my 29th year! Gah, Dupuis, get a freaking grip.

But there it is. I’m having a hard time with it. I don’t want to get older. I want to stay a young grown up forever. I want to have all the time in the world. I don’t want to admit that some ships have sailed.

I am sprouting greys and I will not be dying them. I just don’t feel like handling that kind of up-keep. So I will go slowly slowly grey and whatever, I don’t care about the color so much but fuck, the texture. All wiry an sticking out in fucked up directions, WHAT IS THAT? WHY? Ugh.

I feel wrinkly and like my skin is dry and papery. This is maybe kind of harsh considering, but I am seeing the beginning signs of aging and it is not all misty reminiscence.

Also it’s my dad’s 59th birthday today. So that adds to this post’s ridiculousness. Because hello…. if anyone is old, it’s probably him (except not, he looks 40 and probably always will). Happy Birthday Dad!

But then there is this other thing where I can’t stop making lists in my head of all the other jobs I could have chosen, and what is wrong with me? Why didn’t I choose THOSE? Why didn’t someone tell me I could have been a voice actor or a zoo keeper or a photographer or a librarian? I mean I almost went to grad school for BOOK PUBLISHING, and we all know how that worked out. Good thing I picked writing instead. HA. HA. HA… hurumph.

Mostly I feel like I am kind of a mild, mediocre, failure at my current situation, my current job trajectory. And yeah, I’m about to start a new decade, and I’m feeling stalled out whereas the grass is always greener on other people’s lawns, that they own, in front of their house and stuff (or at least maybe like a townhome?), and people are movin’ on up while I am sort of crossing my fingers week to week that this place still finds use for me and my job doesn’t become obsolete and/or taken over by robots.

And did you know that I am writing a book? A book that will take me 10349302745834 years to finish. I’ll be dead and the book will still be but a few sad pages on a computer somewhere that no one can even access because tech has moved so far forward they use computers as coasters. I’ve been working on this book for a month now and do you know what my goal is this week? To get to double digit pages. Why is this the sad state of my creative life? Because I wrote a bunch and then I deleted it and started over. Which is a legit creative strategy if you want to get almost nowhere – almost because it’s a better nowhere than the previous version of nowhere 1.0 since the reboot.

You know when I was 23 I told my advisor that I wanted to have my first (my first, as if there would be many many more) book published by the time I was 30. She said, “you totally can. absolutely” and I was genuinely surprised she saw that much possibility in me. Unbeknownst to her I had just sort of pulled that nice round number out of my butt. Far enough away to give me time, but legitimate enough to make it reasonable. I remember exactly where I was when I said it, I remember exactly what I was wearing and the tea I was drinking and the notebook I was writing in as if it had happened last weekend because that is exactly how it feels. And now I am 29. Have been for a minute or two. What of it?

I guess I didn’t also think I’d have a kid or be married or have as many interesting/strange jobs under my belt or have as many interesting/strange adventures. I guess that stuff is what happened. I just didn’t expect the greys or the amount of unrelenting chin hairs, my slowly failing eyes, and my intense longing for a backyard with a kiddy pool and a barbecue to come along with it. Or you know, how nothing professional happened like I thought it would.

Ugh 29. You’re the worst.

The Space Between Rest and Race

So the year is half over. I really can’t believe June is done. JUNE IS DONE? The longest day of the year has come and gone? What? How did that happen? Wasn’t everyone JUST complaining about snow? Where am I? Who are you again? 

Anyways, so the year is half gone. Poof. And I’ve been thinking about the goals I’ve set for myself for this year and I really couldn’t remember what they were. So yesterday I went back and read through the post where I talked about that.

Past me is sometimes so smart! Do you ever feel that? Past me is super smart. Thank you past me for knowing exactly what I needed, thank you thank you thank you for setting me on a path where I can kind of figure some stuff out, have room to grow, have the room to have some fun, to do some work, to buckle down, etc. Way to go past me, high-five.

I am constantly feeling torn between pushing myself to do more and needing to take a break. I think that is the conflict of LIFE, but it is also a very common conflict with creating. When do I take a minute to wander and think and feel? When do I tell myself to suck it up and push harder, write more, burn the candle at both ends?

Right now I am in a frenzied space. I want to say yes to all of the things, I want to chase every opportunity. With writing I feel like it is so undervalued that with every offer there is a threat of it being the really important one and also the hope of it being the really important one. So I write and I chase and I hope that something gets picked up and spread around and then more eyeballs see my name and maybe seek out more of my work and it’s all very grass-roots up in here. It’s all very scrappy.

But it’s also incredibly exhausting and I would be fooling myself if I didn’t acknowledge the need for breaks sometimes. I’m really looking forward to this 3 day weekend. I need a little reset. I need a little wander and walk and think and quiet.

How has your 1/2 the year been? How are things going for you? If you’re in the US what are you doing for this beloved long weekend? Tell me where you’re at. I need a little grounding.

Leaned So Far In I’m Falling Over

I’ve been asked by a few people to talk about an update on the Year of Writing project I signed up for. I started to write this post about that, but then it perhaps turned into something else.

I am nothing if not ambitious. I’ll give myself that much. And right now even I am exceptionally short on time and sleep.

Trying to have a full professional life (which for me means working beyond the 9-5), a full social life, married life, family life, be an attentive mother, make dinner most nights, and so on… is fucking HARD.

I talked many moons ago about “having it all,” and how I thought YES, it is possible! Because “Having it all” is not a cookie cutter statement, bu now I am not so sure. I want to be all the things.

  • I want to work out regularly.
  • Have creative writing time to myself.
  • Have freelance writing time to myself.
  • Have blog writing time to myself.
  • Have other creative activity time (photos, painting, reading).
  • Be a professional power house at work.
  • Have more than 1 child.
  • Be an amazing, giving wife.
  • Make my own salsa/bread/jam/cheese/etc.
  • Plan parties and baptisms.
  • Occasionally keep up with a show I love on TV.
  • Occasionally see a movie.
  • Sleep like a normal person.
  • Play.
  • Give myself the freedom to occasionally do nothing.

That list could be a mile long. Truly. I’m trying to be someone right now, I’m trying to create something outside myself and inside myself. I’m trying to build my life, my career, my family. All of the scaffolding is going up at once, then the walls, and roof. There are babies to be made and money to be saved and meetings to prepare for and many, many, many things to write.

And I’m starting to feel a little bit like Pride and Prejudice up in here. How can we be an accomplished artist, piano player, and no 6 languages fluently? When would we ever live our lives?

The thing I can’t really figure out is whether or not this is a woman’s issue manifesting in my own lady-parts life, or if it is just me and my ambitions. Kamel is an amazing partner. And if I wanted to squirrel myself away every single evening, close the door, be alone, and write, he would support me. He would handle the baby and give me the time. We are excellent partners in our life. Sometimes we don’t feel like stepping up and being the adult, but in the end we’re both awake at 345 Wednesday morning, trying to coax a Gabriel back to sleep after a nightmare. We tag team diapers and hosing the kid down, we give each other the space to have our own interests and not let the business of life swallow either one of us whole.

So I am not the victim of an absent partner. I choose to be present in the evenings with my family until the baby goes to bed. Gabe is already in daycare 9 hours a day. He spends more awake time with other people than with me. So, yes, even though there are evenings where I would so much rather be alone to my thoughts, I spend the 2 hours I get after we get home with him. It’s my job. I’m his mom. This is the gig.

But Kamel has way less hats to wear, balls to juggle, shoes to fill. Way less. His job is his interest and passion (one of them), like mine. He has side interests, like I do. But his world is pretty straightforward: Video games, work, Family. We talked about this yesterday while I was thinking this post out loud. He doesn’t feel pulled in nearly as many directions as I do. Why?

Having a child didn’t affect him professionally nearly as much as it did for me, that’s true. He joined a secret dad club at work, a club full of knowing nods when you have to run out early to pick up your sick kid, of understanding email responses when you tell your boss you have to work from home today, the employer who tells you to “head home early, man… you have to get out of here and relieve your wife,” when I’ve been on vomit patrol all day. It’s partially his industry. Video games has the perk of being pretty relaxed. But, even when I was pregnant and super sick, I wasn’t met with much sympathy, and you’d think the one actually carrying the burden of making a human would get a shred of  sympathy, a little bend here and there of the rules. I still had to come into work and take a sick day, no work from home flexibility for me, no real flexibility whatsoever.

But ok, we’re kind of past that. New job, no pregnancy, no breast feeding. Is it expectations? On myself from myself? I don’t think my drive is so outlandish. I’m still trying to establish myself, still trying to pull myself out of uncertain employment, still climbing the ladder, still building my empire one stone at a time.

The thing is I just can’t do it all, even when I need to. Some things have to fall away. I have to pick and choose.

Am I writing? Yes. I write a lot. I write here, I write at work. Am I writing creatively at this moment? I’m not. Since starting work I have had a hard time figuring out a balance. There just aren’t enough hours in the day. Even with this crazy late sunset, I’ve gotta sleep sometime. Tomorrow is just as jam packed as yesterday.

So, with writing – this year is about the year of ideas. It’s about filling my thought box as full as possible. A year ago I had no ideas at all, and that really scared me. So I’m not expecting completed drafts or even submitting to anywhere, I just want a big list of things to write about, maybe some prompts that are half started. I want to be able to sit down and dive in once I do get some time to myself. It may not be for 5 years, but I’m hoping a few windows open up between no and then.

In the mean time, how do you do it? How does anyone? My life is incredibly full and successful, as lives go, but I’m not going to pretend it’s not a complete ass kicking. Fitting in a work out? Better get up at 5am to do so. Sneaking in dates with your husband at lunch because that relationship is most important. Writing or reading at night, sometimes on rare occasions watching a show or having an adult evening. Falling asleep at 10. When there is a baby literally knocking on the bedroom door calling, “Mama! MAMA!” How can you possibly get anything done?