I know its pretty much a given that when you are single mom that money will be tight. Living in the most expensive city in the U.S. doesn’t help and I pay an amount for daycare what most people pay for their mortgage. I have a decent-ish salary (especially for a nonprofit) but things have been touch and go since I went back to work. One big stress is that I have been expecting to have to get rid of my car. (In CA you have to have a smog test for emissions every two years and if your car doesn’t pass you can’t renew your registration). I’ve had a check engine light on in my car on and off for over a year and was told that my catalytic converter (the thing that reduces pollution) was dead and would never pass the smog test. But, a few days ago I took my car in for the test and it passed! Then I found out I am getting $9K back on my taxes! I am so so relieved! Here is a cute picture to celebrate:
Things are definitely progressing. On the second night Arya fell asleep with no crying after 20 minutes of me rubbing and patting her back. Unfortunately, she woke up at midnight and I noticed she had a fever so I had to pick her up to give her tylenol. I put her back to sleep with a bottle and put her back in the crib. She woke up two more times (once i’m pretty sure was due to an earthquake that I didn’t notice) but she put herself back to sleep pretty quickly both times. She was fine in the morning so I’m thinking the fever was due to some teething.
Last night I patted/rubbed her for ten minutes but left the room after she seemed to be getting more riled up from me being there. I let her cry for ten minutes, went in to comfort her for five minutes, and then she cried for ten more minutes. When I went back in the room she almost immediately fell asleep and she slept through the night until 6:30!
I’m thinking this quick success is due to her already being a good sleeper but I won’t count my chickens before they are hatched. I will say it feels great to be getting a more normal night of sleep again!
I’m also completely amazed at how much she seems to be developing these days. She is crawling everywhere and is talking almost constantly with more and more complex sounds. Yesterday she started clapping and today she figured out how to push herself back up to a sitting position from her tummy. She still has little interest in pulling herself up and walking (which is fine by me).
Arya was a bit of a mess when I picked her up from daycare. They said she had been cranky and tired all day and felt a bit warm. They were thinking she was either getting sick or teething.
She was in pretty good spirits for the walk home,babbling and laughing at me. When I got home I remembered I had to move my car (street sweeping) so I had to load her up in her cars eat, move the car, and walk home from the lot (the joys of single parenthood). She was also in a pretty decent mood through this debacle. When we got home I wolfed down some food while giving her one of those food pouch things. Then I got her in pjs/sleepsack and took her temperature. It was slightly elevated at 99.8 but I decided she seemed OK and forged on with my sleep training plan.
I rocked her with a bottle until she was sleepy and put her in her crib. She immediately flipped to her belly and started babbling. I rubbed her back/tummy/head and she would put her head down for a few seconds and pop up. I rolled her onto her side a few times (her preferred sleep position) but she wasn’t having it.
Then the crying started. I continued the rubs and soothing shush’s and told her I loved her. I felt like a monster but trudged on. After an hour, I laid on my bed next to her crib and told her I was still there. Then I went back every 5-10 minutes for rubs and pats. The screaming didn’t stop. When we hit hour two, I was starting to doubt my plan but she did show some tiny signs of slowing down. About thirty minutes later, she rolled onto her side and fell asleep.
I watched a bit of TV, ate some celebratory ice cream, and went to bed early expecting a bunch of wake-ups. But, she slept through the night as wasn’t up until after 6! I’m not sure if she was just so exhausted from screaming (or if my plan is working) but we will see tonight!
Almost everyone I see asks me how I feel being back to work and I’m finding it hard to answer. I’m so so proud I’m making this work and it seems do-able. And if I’m being honest, Arya being such a chill and easy baby is probably 95% of why this feels so manageable. She still mostly sleeps through the night so I’m getting about 7 hours of sleep a night, she goes to bed around 7-7:30 so I have a few hours at night to myself, she is perfectly content hanging out with most people, and she is able to entertain herself for decent stretches of time. And yes, I am fully aware of how lucky I am and I tell Arya every day how grateful I am for her.
But I have a constant fear of money hanging over me. We are just barely squeaking by. We are completely living check to check and we would be completely screwed if I were to ever lose my job (or our rent controlled apartment). Not only is this terrifying but it also makes me so angry. I’m an attorney and I make almost six figures. And while this pales in comparison to what many of my classmates (who chose much more lucrative legal careers) it shouldn’t be this hard..right? So fuck capitalism and can we please get universal free childcare, healthcare, and education already?
On a very unrelated note, I had the weirdest interaction with Arya’s daycare yesterday. When I dropped her off she was wearing a onesie and baby leg warmers. The outfit looked a lot like this:
One of the teachers was like: “look at you today!” I assumed she thought the outfit was cute. Later, when I picked Arya up the same teacher was like: “today we called her sexy girl!.” Um what? I didn’t ask her to elaborate and just responded “oh haha.” I’m thinking she thought the legwarmers looked like women’s thigh high stockings or something. It was so weird and a bit gross and I know this wouldn’t have happened if she was a boy. Can you please not sexualize my six month old?
Despite the weirdness, I decided not to say anything. I have been super, duper happy with how they are taking care of Arya and she is so happy when I drop her off and pick her up. I have to pick and choose my battles and this just isn’t worth it. But WTF?
This is the start of my fourth week of work. It’s been surprisingly nice being back and having a routine with Arya. I know it sounds awful but I thought I would miss her more than I do. Not to say I don’t miss her, but its been great to have some balance. I also love how I’m actually excited when I pick her up from daycare when her smile seriously melts me.
But this post isn’t about Arya, its about work. On one hand, its so refreshing to use my brain for more abstract things and to be working on issues related to social justice (especially during this dumpster fire period in my county’s history). But, I’m also feeling like I need to “prove myself” and my “worth” to my organization. To be clear, no one has said anything to me to to suggest this is the case (actually they have all been super sweet and welcoming). But, I was pretty checked out when I went on maternity leave. As I’ve discussed on this blog, I had an absolutely awful pregnancy. I was sick the entire time. This made it really hard to work and keep on top of everything. I’ll be the first to admit that my work suffered. I had a review with our executive director before I left on leave. While it was mainly positive he did mention that I need to pay better attention to detail and be more meticulous about what I put out. I completely owned it because it was true. I vowed to up my game when I came back and I was serious.
I’ve made a huge effort to be really efficient and on top of things since i’ve returned. I’ve taken a lot of initiative to jump right back in and I feel good where things are at. At my first meeting back with my boss she asked how things were going. I mentioned how much “more on my game” I feel now and I admitted that I was having a hard time with the pregnancy sickness and lack of energy. She seemed happy I mentioned the elephant in the room and we continued our conversation. I think she has a hard time having difficult conversations with me because we were friends before she became my supervisor and we hang out socially outside of work, But I just wanted her to know that I’m committed to doing a good job.
Also, they are letting me work a modified schedule because Arya’s daycare is only open 8:30 to 5:30 so i can only be physically in the office 9:30-4:30. I’ve been super focused while in the office and have worked straight through (not taking a lunch) so I can be as productive as possible. I’ve also been putting in (some) hours on nights/weekends to make up for the time i’m out of the office. I’m honestly feeling like I’m pulling my weight and it feels great.
So on Friday I asked my boss if she would be amenable to me working from home once a week. This isn’t unheard of-many people in my office do this. Almost all of our work can be done remotely. I explained that with the additional time I would gain not commuting (because daycare is like 2 blocks away) I could work more (i would gain about an additional 1.5 hours). I expected her to be cool with my request but she wasn’t as enthusiastic as I expected. She basically said she wanted to think on it and ask our executive director. She expressed concern about me being out of the office more (which was definitely valid). And then she asked me how I was making up my missing hours. I told her I was doing nights and weekends here and there. Then the conversation ended and I left feeling very uneasy.
Now that I’m writing this, I’m thinking maybe I asked for too much. Maybe I should have waited a few months into this transition back to ask for this? I can seriously see both sides of this issue so i’m on so pins and needles until I get a final decision. In the meantime I’m trying to not get too spun out on this. I did a bunch of hours this weekend (thank god Arya is amazing at entertaining herself). But I can’t help but feel a bit judged.
A few days ago my doctor ordered me to take a bunch of blood glucose tests because I have PCOS which can cause insulim intolerance. I had to drink this nasty sugary drink and have my blood drawn a few times in the two hours afterwards.
My HMO automatically emails me test results-usually with no explanation but the result and what a “normal range” would be. Well I got the results via email and they didn’t look good. Just in the beginning of the “not normal” range. I was at work so I shot a quick email to the doctor on the way to another Federal Court mediation.
During a lull in the mediation (which is pretty much the entire time) I got a response back from one of the NP’s. She said they had diagnosed me with diabetes. Who the hell gives someone a diagnosis of a disease via email??? I had to pretend not to be totally freaking out while frantically googling everything about diabetes on my phone.
I responded asking for more information and she replied quickly saying she had misread my results and that I’m at risk for developing diabetes but that I don’t actually have it. What?? I was very relived but also super pissed at this little oversight.
She did put me on a medication and suggested that I cut down on carbs which are my only joy these days.. arghhh
Despite my sweet but very conservative mother’s best efforts, I don’t think women at any age (especially those of us in our 30’s and 40’s) should have a prescribed set of milestones and events that mark us being “adults” and getting our shit together like marriage, kids, etc. Hell, I’ve been struggling against the patriarchy my whole life. I hate admitting this (especially my 20 year old, bell hooks reading, women’s studies majoring self) but I still had some of these expectations for myself. Namely, I pictured myself having kid(s) with a long term partner (preferably bearded, chubby, and a radical feminist). And then my marriage fell apart and I found myself divorced at 38 (a divorcee hehe).
About a year after I split with my ex-husband I went on a frantic search for a new partner and it was…rough, including a date with a guy who divulged the following things in the first 10 minutes of our date: 1) that his friends had murdered someone 2) that he could build a flamethrower if he “needed to.” 3) that he is extremely “militant” about martial arts. He was also missing an eye and had misspelled finger tattoos.
One of the other reasons I don’t think I found my new life partner on Ok Cupid is that i wasn’t actually looking for a life partner, I was looking for a sperm donor because I was scared that my eggs in my ovaries would implode if I didn’t get them fertilized NOW. After a ton of therapy and Zoloft I came to the conclusion that I would be a kick-ass single mom. My decision was significantly helped along by a friend (who I will refer to as my fertility sugar mama) who was in a position to give me some money to pay for it. I mean this is one of the few options women have that men don’t so I should take advantage of it, right?
This wasn’t by any means an easy decision to come to. I’ve actually found myself mourning the loss of my hypothetical kid’s hypothetical father. But when I pulled the trigger and made my first doctor’s appointment I actually felt a sense of calm. Not that I am not scared to death of the idea of bringing a new human into the world, but I feel like I finally have some control of what my future might look like AND no more internet dating (for now). So here I am taking the plunge..