I am reading both Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on love and live from Dear Sugar and the Freud Jung Letters at the same time. They are remarkably similar, or at least they compliment one another in a strange way. In one of her letters she responds to a young lady who thought she would have written more by the time she was in her late twenties. Ms. Strayed ends her piece with this, “So write, Elissa Bassist. Not like a girl. Not like a boy. Write like a motherfucker.”
I have written a lot about work life balance on this blog and probably will write about it more in future posts. It is an important issue. Some days in my life it feels like the only important issue. I have also alluded to how life was not easy before the baby came either. I will expand on that here.
There is a solid argument to be made that it is harder to be a single twenty something with a proper full-time office job than a fully employed mom (with a partner). Granted there might be exceptions, for instance if your child were sick a lot or had lots of allergies or if you were a twenty something who didn’t drink or go out. But for me at least it was harder to work an office job full-time in my twenties than it is for me now.
I am pretty sure that there was a period of two years in my twenties where I started drinking at 6:00 pm and went to bed at 3:00 am three or four nights a week. There were men and heartaches to keep track of, art openings to attend, concerts that started at 10:00 pm on Tuesday nights. Carson care to comment? All of this and I still needed to be at work in the morning.
For a while I worked at a law firm in Seattle and had to be at work at 8:30 am. An attorney I would sometimes hang out with would start dinner by ordering cocktails AND a bottle of wine. We always drank it all, but there I was 8:30 every morning showered, hung over and ready to work.
The night before I met the future father of my child/ren I was out for a friends birthday party, made an ill advised drive down the peninsula at 2:00 am to a man’s bed I was never going to be truly welcomed in. The next morning I was out at a house in Marin working on a remodel. That night it was said friends 30th birthday party so despite being bone tired I pulled myself together and attended. Being single and looking for a partner is hard work. I was exhausted but, who knew who I might meet? For me it paid off on this particular night. After years of parties, dates and failed attempts I met my to be husband around 10:00 pm and I dropped him off at his house at 3:00am only to wake up to be at work shortly after the sun came up.
Being a mom with a baby and a full time job is a horse of a different color entirely. It is exhausting as all hell. It is a lot of work to juggle the nannies, the food for the baby, the house and be at my office by 9:00 am five days a week. When one of us is sick it is a monumental effort to keep everything running, but something I had never considered is the motivation of being a provider and the deterrent of having to take the baby to the park (see, the park: why I should like it and why I don’t). These are both things that get me out the door in the morning after a long night with a crying baby.
However the one place that parents win over serious partiers in their twenties is the emotional exhaustion. Here there is no comparison. Being a parent wins every time. You are both legally responsible for and more in love with a person than you have ever been in your life and yet because you are now in our late thirties you know that you live in an uncertain world with no guarantees.
Still although I argue that singles in their twenties have a good argument for how their life is more difficult than mine, the baby is a trump card on excuses. For instance in this scenario: Your single friend calls you at 9:00 pm on a Saturday night. Hi, what is that? You want me to meet you at the bar downstairs from my apartment? You already bought me a beer you say? It is sitting on the bar? Pilsner Urqel? Hmmm, yeah, no I am already in my pajamas and I have a_BABY.
Well actually 16th and Hoff. Two girls on my way home. Fresh out of college, upstate NY or Vermont. One girl had her pants rolled up and her calves were not shaved. They were standing outside a building where there was a two bedroom apartment for rent. Nothing about her screamed “crack addict” except for that she wasn’t wearing shoes. No shes at 16th and Hoff St. Where the hell did she think she was (probably on her college campus in rural New Hampshire)? I am surprised both the mom in me and the three fourths of a G&T I had “accidentally” ingested earlier didn’t throw the words to the front of my mouth: do you own shoes? Do you know what happens on this street? Puke, all manner of shit, broken glass? If you can afford shoes and you didn’t sell them for a hit of crack, then by all means wear them. Little girl you are in the big city now! I probably didn’t say anything because I didn’t know how to calmly say: Hey, are you from around here? Yeah, so um I am and this is probably the kind of street you are going to want to wear shoes on, it is pretty gross most of the time, just thought I would let you know. I am sure her mom wishes I had found those words.
The problem with being angry is that it just isn’t a lot of fun. It isn’t fun in my personal life. I would prefer that everyone just get along and that my afternoon not be ruined by feeling angry about the amount of childcare I do, or housework or cooking. Time is so short on the weekend I don’t want to spend it angry, but when I do get upset about those things where does the anger go when I am rushing to get past it in order to have fun? This week I have been thinking a lot about Egypt, coming as close as I come to praying for the people killed in the massacre and their loved ones. I wonder in a way if I do the same thing with international tragedies that I do with my own domestic problems. Do I just try to get past the heartbreak and the horror in order to go back to having fun? Does my rushing past it in both incidents merely show an intolerance for discomfort and not being in control?