Often, when I would tell people that Baby X started day care, I would get the pitying "Oooohhh" with that look. The one, the one that says, "Oh, you can't stay home with your baby 24/7, you poor poor dear". Well, maybe not often, but I did have a couple of uncomfortable encounters.
Except, that I could, and I don't want to. Well, I could definitely work part-time, I don't know if we could live on S's salary alone. But, if I go part time then I'm losing out on promotion potential and totally screwing myself on retirement. I like to feel like I'm making a difference, that I could be a role model for young women. In the engineering world, approximately 20-23% of the engineering students in college are women. In the workforce, the number drops to 11% practicing. I like being part of the 11%. I like managing projects. I like the challenge of risk analysis, as mind boggling as it may be. There's also this driving force, that I've spent way too much time getting the education required to have this career, that if I quit, I'd be throwing it all away before I've really gotten started. Isn't that weird? I graduated with my bachelor's degree in 1997, and I'm just now feeling like I'm getting a solid foothold on my career. Yikes. I'll chalk that up to the fact that I job-hopped quite a bit, and finally have landed somewhere where I can see long term.
Yet, there are not enough hours in the days to stay on top of everything when both of us work full-time. It doesn't help that I can be lazy and procrastinate.* Although, if I wasn't bruising my brain for several hours a day at work, perhaps I would have more energy. After all, I did a bang-up job of playing stay at home mom during my maternity leave last year. I stayed on top of laundry, kept the house clean, and cooked dinner most of the nights. I did not interact with other adults a whole lot, but I did get out for lunch every now and then. Baby X was easy to bring to restaurants so we had the weekends to go out to dinner. Most importantly, I was over the moon about finally becoming a mother, and was totally fine being a isolated for a short time. That lasted about two months and the third month I started getting antsy to get back to work. Now that Baby X is walking, tall enough to reach the top of all our tables in the house, and generally wields havoc on the house, I don't think I could handle it. Every now and then I look forward to Monday when I can sit down in my cube with my coffee and I don't have to look around to see if his darling little hands are going for the dog again, or throwing books all over the floor.**
Social media, while great for connecting, has been quite the brain drain and somewhat detrimental to any kind of balance. I've finally semi-banished F-B from my repertoire as it tends to drag up all my insecurities making everything worse. I update sporadically, and usually only check on my friends who are out of town. It's kind of difficult feeling like I'm missing something, but in general I find that when I do check it, I haven't missed a whole lot. I don't Tweet. I think I have an account, and I tried to follow some people, but it's overwhelming unless you keep up with it every single day. I sure am not keeping up with my Reader these days either. Sorry. I'm at least trying to read blogs once a week and catch up, but the time constraints are affecting my commenting abilities. I'm still reading, I promise!
Ideally (in bizarro-world), S would work part-time and take on some of the household responsibilities that I hold at the moment, while I continue to work full-time. In general, we have an equitable/sharing gender roles type of relationship. He doesn't expect me to cook and clean everything on top of working and we try to split it up. He still does the bulk of house repair since I just don't have the experience (or drive), and I do the bulk of scheduling and shopping for things like groceries, or chasing down baby gear deals on crai.gslist ($40 Macl.aren quest stroller! So worth the 40 minute drive!) Despite the relative equality, I still feel like I'm the one carrying most of the mental burden having to do with planning everything. I don't think I like it all the time.
Overall, I think we have balance. I don't have a job that's so demanding that I can't leave in the middle of the day if I have to. I also don't have a job that demands overtime, although it does happen every now and then to meet a deadline, or when I'm on travel. I do have a job that requires travel, and that can be pretty stressful, but that's just how it is. Not all the dams can be located in Colorado! Luckily, S has a job where they work only on local projects, so he doesn't travel, or if he does, it's just to another part of the state and he might have to stay one night. We're still able to get some exercise in, and we're able to have date nights every now and then thanks to grandparents who live nearby. So, really, I don't think I have anything to complain about. Except that, I still feel like I'm behind on everything, every day and I'll never catch up. Oh, and I feel pretty guilty that I play with Baby X for about an hour after picking him up from day care, and then it's feed him dinner and put him to bed. But, then Sunday night rolls around and I can't wait for him to go to bed because he's been running us ragged all weekend. Is that balanced?
*I'm supposed to be writing a paper for a conference right now. Yes, on the 4th of July, because I have to write the paper on my own time. Anyhoo, I'm blogging about work-life balance. Ironic?
**In Bringing Up Bebe, there is an anecdote about how her 10 month old daughter is taking books out of the bookcase and throwing them on the floor. Her friend (who is French) gets down on the floor with her daughter, explains that we don't throw books on the floor and teaches the daughter how to put them back. The daughter listens. I would like to have that daughter sometimes. My 13-month old boy could care less. I'll get him to put two or three books away, and then he's back to yanking them all off the shelf.