Don't We Working Moms Have it All?

Leo's 16th month


I'm lying on the bed with my laptop, up to my ears in deadlines, watching a video of Leo eating Oatios. First, he flops onto his tummy on the couch with his snack cup. Then, he kicks the couch a few times in preparation. Next, he removes an O from the cup and places it on the couch. He regards it briefly before diving for it like a water bird. Then he repeats the procedure. Is this, maybe, boring?

It's heart-wrenching to me. I just want to watch my boy snack on a sunny afternoon forever.

I went back to work today, this time for three months of 9-5 office life. We've pieced together a jigsaw puzzle of childcare (thanks Mom and Dad!) and today Leo and Aaron left before me. I washed the dishes, tried to wear something nicer than a jean skirt, then gave up, and left for Midtown with a spring in my step.

I feel truly ready for this gig. Leo's old enough to manage with childcare all day, he's weaned so I'm not distracted by the breast pump anymore, and in general I feel able to focus and do adult work. Maybe it's because Leo stopped nursing—pretty much just lost interest—that my body feels like my own, and with it, my mind, and, in some ways, my life. I feel like I can think about myself again, and pursue outside interests.

I got ready for work by cooking a bunch too. A high school friend of mine who lives overseas came for dinner last weekend, and to celebrate the holiday weekend, we grilled steaks and served them with grain salad (I added corn, used chives in place of scallions, subtracted the bell pepper and green beans), green salad, and ratatouille. I made mountains of everything, so we could take grain salad for our lunches and freeze ratatouille for later meals (it's great with fish, chicken, meat, polenta, rice, eggs…).

I also prepared some meals for Leo in containers, including tortellini with some of the green beans and summer squash from the ratatouille. He’s into edamame this week, so I steamed a bunch. And he still loves steamed kohlrabi, though at heart he’s a dairy and pasta boy.

Our diet is going well. We're shocked by how many opportunities come up where we would ordinarily have bought ourselves a treat—a tasty street snack, a cold, sugary drink, lunch out because we ran out of ideas…and now we resist. We're only sort of kidding when I lie on the couch after dinner saying I'm hungry and Aaron says “oh, sweety, would you like an ice cube?” Sort of, but then I sit there and slurp away at some ice for "dessert."

I'm right on track. Sticking to my diet. Settling in at work, with a stocked fridge at home, a childcare plan, a supportive husband, and more physical and mental energy than I've had in a long time. And at the end of Day One, I'm lying here watching the Leo snack cup video, thinking about how much I'm going to miss. I know, we can’t have it all. But I may need to drown my sorrows in a tall glass of seltzer.

Late Summer Ratatouille