Pardon the peanut butter on my pants 

As I wiped peanut butter off my slacks with a wet paper towel in the women’s restroom this morning, a younger female colleague walked in. Initially I was kind of embarrassed and tried to cover up what was happening from this innocent person still safely cocooned from the madness of parenthood.

But, ever-phobic of awkward silences, I played it cool for about 1.5 seconds before blurting out an enthusiastic version of, “My daughter wiped her peanut-butter hands all over me while I was washing yogurt out of her hair, and I thought I got it all, but guess not!”

And this gal 10 years my junior gave me a compliment more meaningful that she ever could have planned.

“I can’t believe you’re a mom before you come in here, that’s just so impressive that you do all that. I can’t even imagine. You’re awesome.”

I’ve been given all kinds of advice as a woman in the corporate workplace, some spot-on, other pieces wildly offensive. The ones that really irk me though are the pieces that seem to detach motherhood from a woman’s career – rather than letting the two intermingle.

“Don’t ever tell anyone when you’re thinking about getting pregnant, people will write you off.”

“When you come back from maternity leave, you can’t cry or show that you’re emotional, it sends the wrong signal.”

I understand this advice, I really do. And I recognize that it’s always been well intended, offered up from those who’ve traveled this road before me. But it supports the outdated idea that work-life balance is easy…”I shall work now without a thought of my family for nine hours, and completely transition to home life as the clock strives 5!”

There’s no perfect balance in any one person’s situation, but I wish there was a greater focus on work-life integration – how to support employees at work so they also feel supported at home. It’s not realistic to compartmentalize our lives in ways that stifle important parts of it.

If you’re showered and wearing matching shoes when you come back from maternity leave, you are a champion human being. And if you can balance your family commitments and still show up ready to kill it at work each day, you deserve every possible type of recognition. Not just kudos for wearing a lot of hats, but support and flexibility when you need it to keep all the planes in the air.

That funny little interaction this morning was such a refreshing pat on the back that it’s ok for more traces of one side of life to bleed over onto the others, even if it ruins your outfit.

Lila at 18 Months: Outside! No! More!

I posed the following question to Lila this weekend, “Sweetheart, do you feel like you live in a foreign country for giants?”

Because seriously.

This tiny human babbles to us in a language we’re just beginning to be able to comprehend, and navigates a world where she can’t reach, see or maneuver the things she wants on a daily basis.

This age is so fun and so hard. Fun because we are really starting to communicate. You answer no (and occasionally, yes) to questions and express consistent demands. “More!” “Outside!” You have so many more words than even a few weeks ago (outside, owl, sock, open, apple, elbow (or Elmo, hard to say) and so many awesome animal impersonations.

You are content to spend hours outside in the backyard and on walks, and love your slide and playhouse. You like to watch and mimic what mom and dad do, which is a great help in yard work. You do not like to go to bed.

We know when you are happy, angry, tired or scared (verses early infancy when there were fewer distinct emotions). When you hear loud trucks or motorcycles, which previously were ignored, you now start repeating, “No, no, no, no” and run to use to be held. Confession: I do not mind this one bit.

A new favorite pastime is climbing into your plastic laundry hamper so we can push you around the house in it like a racecar. You are also fascinated with buckles of any kind. You can buckle yourself into your highchair and swing and it is a painstakingly slow process that we DARE NOT interrupt. You wave at airplanes and tell strangers “hi” and “buh-bye” everywhere we go. You love to climb and are remarkably strong, I often can’t get things out of your grip without a proper distraction.

You went through a dramatic food throwing stage for a few weeks that seems to be passing, but you have definitely moved past the garbage disposal stage of eating. Now you are still into most foods, but too busy to sit and eat. You prefer to grab a bite, run around, come back for more and repeat.

You love school but drop off is still a dramatic event most days where I hear you screaming my entire walk out. I’m told it’s your age, and that it’s normal, and that it passes 30 seconds after I leave, but it’s the worst part of my day to leave you screaming. The best part of day, that has me speeding the whole drive home, is walking in to get you. As soon as you see me you shriek and smile and run over laughing. Best. Thing. Ever.

I feel like we are friends, you and me. That may be a silly thing to say about a toddler who can’t really verbalize much yet, but it seems completely fitting. I am in constant awe of you and of our connection in a pinch-myself-is-this-real kind of daze. I constantly ponder the miracle of your creation and how truly remarkable you are. How fully you embrace parts of your dad and me, but also how parts of you are innately unique.

It’s weird how fast and how slow time goes at different moments, but ever since you were born I’m so much more aware of time. Of days starting and ending, the culmination of a month, the significance of a year. I think that’s an entirely new perspective gained as a parent. No matter how fast or slow it goes, it’s amazing to spend it with you.

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From baby to toddler

At 17 months I’m tempted to start saying, “she’s a year and a half,” verses “17 months.” I’m not quite ready to commit to years though — too soon.

Your vocabulary is growing and your emphasis on certain words is pure enthusiasm. 
“SHOE!” 

“NO!”

“HIIIIII!”

You’ve certainly mastered shaking your head when something isn’t to your liking, and sitting or laying down and throwing a fit when we take away something you still wanted or attempt to corral you in a direction other than your desired one.

You are fascinated with the outdoors and love exploring in our backyard and walking around outside. Picking up rocks, putting them back. Pulling leaves off plants and handing them to us. Marching triumphantly to the mailbox.

You’re incredibly agile and strong, often catching yourself before you fall in precarious situations, and somehow landing on your feet at the bottom of the slide. You love to climb things and sit in chairs, and play in your kitchen.

You give hugs and kisses upon request and wave hi and bye. You are an excellent night sleeper but aren’t a big fan of long daytime naps. 

You are so genuinely happy and inquisitive. Animated and chatty. You are pure mischief at times and it’s hard to reprimand you without laughing, even when you pull my hair or throw carefully chopped organic food on the floor by the handful.

What a joy it is to parent you. There’s no other way to describe it. 

I feel guilty quite often that I’m not with you during the day while I’m at work, especially when you have a tough day or don’t feel well. I imagine no matter what a mother chooses, the guilt will always lurk like a quiet shadow. My hope is you will look back on these choices as us always doing our best for you. That we always tried to achieve the intangible balance parents seek. 
Lila we love you. We are so blessed by the way you’ve elevated life to new meaning.  
  
  
  
   

  

Lean with it, roll with it.

We had Lila’s 15-month check up on Monday. Having missed and rescheduled it three times, there was NO WAY I was going to be late. We arrived 10 minutes early and I spent the next 15 minutes coaxing my child not to lick the waiting room doors and chairs. I dont care that it’s the well child room, pediatrician’s offices are the very reason hand sanitizer exists.

We finally got called back to a room, and it was an unusually long wait to see the doctor. We tried playing, and twirling around, and eating puffs, and reading…and then there was nothing that was going to appease this bored child any longer. Being a superstar mom I’d forgotten extra diapers, and even the most patient child would have gone batshit at this point of being confined and forbidden to lick strange surfaces while wearing a wet diaper.

So I started getting restless, and she picked up on it and started crying. And work was calling and texting and I’m like, please can you people let me be just a mom, and nothing else, for five minutes? Because that’s the rub in the motherhood/career thing. We’re needed in both, but each side has visibility into only its own stuff, so the overlap leaves us feeling a bit crazed.

Anyway, we kept waiting and waiting and at this point I’m sweating through my blazer and my hair is frizzing and ALL THE FRUSTRATIONS were happening.

But then I stopped to think about how absurd it was that I was upset over this. No one was going to die if I wasn’t at my meeting that morning. And a doctor running late, who had chosen to spend more time with another patient, is only doing her job. And seriously how many thousands of mommas around the world were praying at that very moment for what I was complaining about. How many would give anything, and are giving up everything, to find a safe country to live in with access to great healthcare. I felt like a really big jerk for finding anything to complain about in this situation.

I told my cortisol levels to take a chill pill and I took Lila on a walk around the office and then 20 minutes later we were on our way, blessed with a perfect health report.

Perspective tends to flee when we’re stressed, but if we can step our of our drama and our own heads to look at what’s really going on, it’s so much easier to just roll with it.

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Lila at 15 months 

Dear Lila,

You are 15 months old and an energetic bundle of joy. You run – everywhere – and are constantly on the move. Busy as can be and interested in everything.

You are starting to use words: dah (dog), mama, dada, woo (woof), uh oh and whoa, and we are amazed at how much you understand and how well you follow directions. You can point to your eyes, nose, ears, head, tummy and feet, and will clap or blow kisses if we ask. Waving is still touch and go based on mood, but high fives all around.


You are very strong with impressive balance and physical coordination. You will climb up steps and hills without pause and go down over curbs with ease. You have enjoyed visiting parks and the children’s museum and went to your first pumpkin patch/petting zoo last month.


You love to bring us books and turn the pages for us, and sit yourself down in our laps for stories before bed. Often while we read one book to you, you insist on holding another on your own, and flipping the pages independently. You still enjoy stroller walks and shopping cart rides.

You just cut your first molar which was your 9th tooth, and are about to outgrow size 3 shoes.

You love running to your classroom at school and greet me with an enormous smile and shrieks of joy each day which is the best feeling in the world.

You are quiet and observant of strangers but warm up to them quickly. You adore our dogs and the act of climbing onto anything from the couch to the fireplace. You love food and still have yet to refuse anything we offer you.

There are so many feelings associated with parenthood, some that I anticipated and others that were more surprising. But what awes me the most is the love and pride I feel as your mom. There is no way to describe it other than my heart might burst at any moment. 

You are a joyful, giggly baby who amazes us in so many ways. I love how perfectly you complete our family and embody the best parts of your dad and me. You are the most wonderful thing in this life.

“My entire life is unfinished business.”

I have these thoughts, these big, evolving and powerful thoughts. They’re etched into my brain and daily life and it’s hard not to process most everything through the lens of them. I don’t write about them though because they’re complicated. They mean too much. And I don’t know everything – all the facts and history and studies – and I fear that to misphrase any part of this would be a disservice. Fortunately, though, others are paving the way.

I’m talking about the way work culture in America fails to flex to the needs of caregivers.

When I read this interview with Anne-Marie Slaughter last week, it felt like someone had extracted sentences from my brain and put them on paper. Like I had been spied on.

I hope that you read it. My favorite excerpts are below:

“What’s really going on here is we are discriminating against people who have to care for others, which is a role that society needs people to play. Right now we’re focusing on the problem that, if you’re at the top and take time out to take care of others, you’re knocked off your leadership track. But much more important is that, if you are a woman in the middle class or a low-income woman and you take even a day or two off to care for others, you could lose your job. You get docked pay. You don’t have access to affordable day care.”

“If you talk to a woman between 30 and 50 who is taking care of kids and holding down a job, she will say, “My entire life is unfinished business. I never get to finish anything. I never feel like I’m ever doing anything all the way.””

“We should get rid of “stay-at-home mom” and “stay-at-home dad.” I find that to be very offensive. It says that the place you’re supposed to be is the workplace. If you’re at home, you need an adjective.

We should also talk about “working fathers” as well as “working mothers,” right? We constantly say a woman has two jobs: She’s working and she’s a mother. But we don’t say that about men. We need to make clear that they have a dual identity the same way women have a dual identity.

And let’s get rid of the word “help.” Let’s stop saying, “My husband helps”—because that is really saying, “It is my job to run the household, but he helps me do it.” No, no, no, no, no.”

“What I want to see is: How do we work flexibly enough so that people who have children or parents or spouses, or who want to care for themselves, have time? It’s not about how many hours you’re in the office. It’s about getting the work done on time with the quality that is demanded of you. And then if you take advantage of flexibility policies, you shouldn’t be stigmatized for it. Some companies have all these really progressive policies, but, the minute you use them, you’re not a player. Somebody just told me they were taken out of the bonus pool the minute they started working part time. That’s ridiculous.”

A Day in the Life

When the little one is sick and momma has to work. And make it all work, somehow.

This was one of those days where you either choose to feel guilty about everything, and pick it all apart until it feels like a failure. OR…you can cherish it, because it sorta kinda went ok and you survived.

All day, during every meltdown, every thrown sippy cup and all the drool and crumbs down my shirt, I was amazed at how this was MY life to live, and my love to give.

Special thanks to Shakeology and the internet for helping me survive.