Change happens for us all every day. We do not always realize how much change hits us on a day-to-day basis, often because of how we handle the change. At some level we all have a bit of dislike to change. Some individuals are more flexible than others, some are more set in their ways or routines, and yet others relish the freedom and excitement of having things constantly changing in life.
Whatever level of tolerance we have for change, we often do not have a choice of if it happens to us. Whether that means changes at work, at home, with our family, there is change that happens by choice and change that we would rather not come close to with a ten foot pole. These past few weeks for me have been emotional to one extent (thank you hormones) and a little nerve-racking on another level. I know I am not the first woman to have a baby, and I know (because everyone tells you) that my life is about to change in numerous ways. Some of those changes will be amazing, and some will knock me on my ass.
I have to say that what has been hardest (besides my body no longer being mine, the endless peeing, and little to no sleep because of the endless peeing) has been being a professional woman with a team. When you read about others that go on maternity leave, they talk about the baby side of it, but what they do not really talk often about is what it is like for the working mom. I have been working since I was 9 years old. I had a paper route, and babysat kids in the neighborhood. This means that I have been working non-stop for the last 28 years. The most time I have taken off (other than a period when I was laid off), is the two weeks I took for my wedding/honeymoon. I have never not worked for a longer period than that.
Now, judge me all you want, as I think some mothers might — when I say it is going to be hard for me to be away from work. There are some pretty involved and intense projects happening in the coming months and, while I have the most amazing team, it does not make it easy for me to be away from it all. I have poured my heart into the work and my team, and having a child does not necessarily change my dedication to my work. Sure, some of my priorities will change when I meet Mini Conk, but I also want to raise a son that not only understands the importance of hard work, but also sees that I have an identity that is different from just being a mom.
Folks rarely talk about how hard it is for a working mom, instead I see more judgement that my place as a mom is at home with my son. Why should I have to choose, and why should I be judged for how I want to live my life? As more and more women have leadership positions at companies, not only do the rights for women having children need to change, so does the behavior for how we treat women that work and want to do both.
Usually when Chris and I have the time to go out on a date, I am not at a loss for words. The last time we went out for dinner, just the two of us, was before New Years and we were annoyed by the guests sitting next to us. Since then our dates have been over weekend brunch, which is often our weekly date. Either way we always have lots to talk about, and there is never a lull of communication between us. So when I read this idea in the book: “The Art of Asking: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help” by Amanda Palmer I thought I wonder if I could pull this off?
“One night in a candlelit restaurant in San Francisco, shortly after we got married, I asked Neil if we could just write each other notes during the whole meal. In real time, like texting, but with pens and paper. The waiter thought we were slightly strange, but by the end of the meal we’d shared a degree of intimate information that we probably wouldn’t have if we’d just been sitting there chatting. And we could illustrate our points with pie charts and cartoons. And we really enjoyed our food, because we weren’t literally talking through it. The couple next to us asked what we were doing, and when we told them, they ordered a pad of paper and two pens from the waiter.” Page 39
Interesting isn’t it? What if we were quiet and poised, and did not go on and on in our verbal communication, but rather made the date a written experience? As someone who writes and documents the world, and tracks life moments in a calendar, I can see how interesting it would be to look back many months later and see what communication we had during our date. It also makes me think that there would possibly be less miscommunication since it is all done in written form. Maybe we need to communicate more often in writing? Like the lost art of letter writing.
I would like to try it. I am sure those that are dining nearby might think that there is something odd about our interaction. I can remember when we were on our honeymoon many years ago and most of the other couples that were on their honeymoon would sit together and not talk or interact (so very strange to me). Based on that I am always aware of watching other couples in a restaurant to find out if they talk, or if they just sit there and eat and stare at each other.
Chris will you try writing notes on a date with me?
Jump back in time to ten years ago. I am in an airport, preparing to board a plane. I do not remember which airport, but I know it was on the way back from my honeymoon. That tells you a bit of my age and state of mind. Legal to drive, legal to drink, relaxed, happy.
Chris goes up to the ticket counter to see if we can somehow get seats together in the emergency exit row. Due to his height, he always tries to secure emergency exit seats. He was not at all prepared for the comment that came next from the attendant at the check-in counter, who looks at me as I sit waiting with our luggage.
“Sir, your companion must be 16 years or older to sit in the exit row.” Shock. Confusion shows across Chris’ face. “My companion is my wife.” He points over to me. “She is definitely over 16 years old.” (And, no, I was not his child bride). At the time I was wearing a hooded sweatshirt, and a blue Patagonia winter cap. I have no idea why I was so overdressed, after all it was June. For some reason my outfit must have made the attendant think I was young. Chris comes back to where I was sitting, and has this grin on his face. I say to him, “Well, did you get your exit row seats just like you wanted?” He says back to me, “Yes, but the guy thought you were 16. I had to tell him that you were my wife, and that you were definitely old enough to handle an emergency exit.” Wow.
Yet, that same comment seems to follow me through life. Folks are shocked when they find out how old I really am. Or, they are shocked when they find out how many years of experience I had in the professional world. I suppose I should be grateful, because one day it might feel like the compliment of a lifetime.
“You must be 16 years or older to sit in the exit row.” Ha.