Sunday, August 18, 2013

Stroller racing and a marathon comeback

The gorgeous August weather continues and I've been feeling full of energy for running.  Thursday night was my turn to push the stroller in a local 5k and was fun to see how fast I could run with a stroller after all these months of training with the stroller.  I was pretty happy to run 21:39 (7:00 pace) but the highlight of the evening was my husband, our daughter and I all getting to dance together to some fun songs at the post race party before heading home for bed time.
Last weekend I felt so good on my 12 mile run with my friend training for NYC marathon that I began considering training for a full again.  I've been using training time and the possibility of having more kids as a barrier to doing a full, but I'm feeling better than ever and really enjoying long runs, plus a challenge and goal especially once I head back to work could be good for me, so after a 15 miler at 8:30 pace yesterday I registered for an October marathon.  I'm a little scared but that's just what I need!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Leaning In vs. Opting Out

With three weeks left before I make my return to work after eight months at home with my daughter, everywhere I turn there is another article or discussion about women Leaning In vs. Opting Out of the workforce!
Sheryl Sandberg's Ted Talk-Summary of Lean In
Atlantic Monthly-Why Women Still Can't Have it All
NY Times-The Opt Out Generation Wants Back In
Hulafrog-Mom's at Work Survey
Atlantic Monthly-Keeping A Family Together is Hard Whether You Opt Out or Not
The conversation is endless on the topic of women, work, and family.....

After reading every book and article on the topic I can get my hands on, I feel confident that I am doing the right thing to give going back to work a shot.  I have the good fortune and blessing of working for a company that has allowed me to take an unpaid childcare leave of absence following my six weeks of paid maternity as well as a husband supportive of me staying home with our daughter for these months to focus on bonding, nursing and enjoying these precious months with her.
In these eight short months, I have gone through many phases on this amazing personal journey of motherhood.  At first when my daughter arrived I had no idea how I would ever be able to be ready to go back to work, after 6 weeks I was in survival mode and cringed at the idea that some mom's do have to go back to work at 6 weeks, by 12 weeks I thought it would be possible if financially necessary to go back to work but by no means did I feel ready, by 6 months I felt that I could handle some work in addition to my mom responsibilities but knowing I only had a couple months left at home I dove into learning about baby food and enjoying amazing summer weather and now by 7.5 months I look forward to returning to my previous work world (some time out of the house) and seeing how well I can balance it with my new mom world.
Don't get me wrong, EVERY moment with my daughter is precious but in this time at home I've already begun to experience many of the conundrums discussed in the articles for stay at home moms.  For example, along with taking care of your child/children comes the responsibility of taking care of the never ending household chores.  What was a 50/50 sharing of the chores when both people were working becomes mostly the stay at home mom's responsibility.  I've learned what I do enjoy (buying and cooking healthy meals at home) and what I do not (I can't wait to hire out cleaning toilets and dusting).  One article summarized the sentiment well:
"Carrie started to feel that the unstated bargain the couple had struck — her husband earning the money, Carrie keeping their home — was problematic. She had no issue doing full-time child care; that was a labor of love. But housekeeping? That was another matter. She resented that the couple’s mutual mess was now seen as her concern.  “I had the sense of being in an unequal marriage,” she told me. “If I had any angst about being an overeducated stay-at-home mom, it was not about raising the kids, but it was about sweeping.”" 
But it goes beyond chores, there is the need for financial security.  Currently I have nearly equal earning potential as my husband (similar college degree and position at work where we met) and we don't like to think about these possibilities but if my husband gets laid off, hurt, sick or the unthinkable if our marriage ends, do I want to be left without the ability to support my family?  That is what makes the choice to Opt Out so serious and difficult to make even though on a day to day basis if we pinched pennies we could probably "get by" without me working.
In the end, the majority of moms seem to want a balance between family and work, not a super demanding 80 hour a week job at the same time as raising young children, but rather an interesting job that uses their educated brains to keep their foot in the door, make some income and lets not forget interaction with other adults  (65% would ideally like part time work while only 25% have it according to the Hulafrog Mom survey), because the children will grow up and create their own lives someday (hopefully) and its important to keep cultivating career skills to be ready for that phase of life.  The big question is do those jobs with the desired flexibility yet career growth potential really exist?
My husband is encouraging of me trying the working mom "thing" out.  I am going back to work 4 days a week to start and see how the balance feels, my biggest fear is that I don't get to see the happy moments of my daughter's day or miss teaching her important life lessons.  But with Mommy Daughter Fridays, breakfast together in the mornings, dinner in the evenings, weekends, and family vacations, I hope that we share plenty of quality time together and that she grows and learns from her interactions with other children at Daycare as well.  We will assess how we feel and adjust, there is definitely not an easy solution or answer and I will always treasure these amazing months at home to be dedicated entirely to my daughter, literally stopping to smell the roses and learn a lot about myself.