It is at times such as these that I am grateful that my daughter isn’t old enough to know what’s going on in our world. As a native Virginian and lover of Charlottesville (my brother graduated from UVA and I attended UVA’s Summer Enrichment Program for several years), I have no words. If I had to put into words what happened, I think they’d go something like this, from my somewhat limited understanding:
A bunch of folks decided to protest the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee, a Confederate war hero, in a rally called Unite the Right; however, a bunch of additional white folks who don’t like people who are different from them (different religion, color of skin, etc.), whose hearts are full of hate, whose minds are totally closed, who now have a platform for voicing their cruel demands, have taken off their hoods and are raising their voices, signs and weapons in an effort to hurt, and yes, kill innocent people. People got hurt. People died. An angry, racist twenty-year-old drove a car into a crowd of innocent people and a young woman died.
It took our president two full days to condemn these people and their murderous intent. They are being called lots of things: white nationalists, white supremacists, neo-Nazis. I call them subhuman, which ironically, would really upset them.
Here is a brief list of everything I’ve done instead of write since June 10, if one assumes that writing time is generally Monday – Friday after 8:30pm, when my daughter goes to bed or anytime on Saturdays and Sundays.
- Obsess about my job and my shortcomings at my job. Panic, worry, sweat, generally.
- Scroll mindlessly through Facebook and Instagram, though Instagram actually brings me some degree of joy (hello, minimalist interiors and Corgis!) and Facebook is downright toxic
- Prepare for our show at Gotham Comedy Club on June 27, including open mics (and travel to/from, honing the set, tweaking the spreadsheet)
- Wash my daughter’s bottles, wipe down her highchair, general let’s-get-ready-for-the-next-day prep
- Watch television
- Do laundry (mind you, I could’ve been writing while doing laundry).
- Drink wine (again, I could’ve been writing)
In addition to writing, here are some other things I haven’t been doing:
- Drinking enough water
- Calling my friends/family
- Working out
- Maintaining confidence in myself and my abilities, generally
- Figuring out if there’s a way to do an interfaith baptism/naming ceremony for my daughter
- Eating fewer processed foods and consuming a healthier diet
- Scheduling/planning my daughter’s 1st birthday party
If I’m going to call out my lackings, I need to celebrate my victories, too:
- Did well at a show in front of friends, family and a LOT of coworkers, including my entire team (yes, both of my bosses). Made enough dough to pay everyone involved, including myself.
- In terms of self-care, finally sought out two pairs of new jeans that fit my mom body well. (Yes, jeans that one feels good in = big victory. Huge.)
- Took a bunch of stuff to Salvation Army. Yay purging!
- Took a personal day during which I handled #2 and #3. It’s worth noting I also took a 45-minute walk that day and longed for more personal days.
- Joined a few fun Facebook groups where I met likeminded folks and feel a bit less isolated. (Yes, Facebook can be toxic in some respects and healthy in others).
- Received some really difficult feedback at work and have taken action to resolve and move forward in a healthy way.
- On nights when I’m alone with my daughter (Tuesdays and Thursdays when my hubs takes a class), I keep my phone out of reach, unless I’m taking a picture of Peanut.
I don’t know what happened. I was on a pretty decent trajectory. Working out, eating right, sleeping, going into work with some degree of confidence and then…
I’m guessing it’s a combination of things but the headline is a work deadline for a quarterly project that kicks my ass every single time I try to execute it and while I work at it, all of my daily responsibilities get the short end of the stick, if they get any stick at all.
All of the sudden, the following things occur:
- I’m barely working out four times a week.
- I’m short with my husband.
- I forget to call my dad or I forget to call him after he leaves a message or it takes me 24 hours to return a phone call.
- Since I’ve “been back,” (as comics put it), I haven’t a new joke that truly works, though Steve and I are getting up about three times a week each, which is a vast improvement.
- I feel awful at work. Awful about myself, my work, my competence, my productivity. I’ve been meaning to have a conversation with one of my bosses for weeks and I’ve been a real pansy about it. I’ve gone from working 50-60 hours a week to barely 40 but my workload is the same. My job, even after ten years, feels less than secure. I’m sure that I’m a real joy to be around as well.
A month or so after Layla was born, Steve said –
“I feel like being a parent has made me a better person. Don’t you?”
” I do.”
And I do believe that. I’m calmer, friendlier and more human, as a coworker put it. The calmer part might be due to fatigue, if we’re being honest. I’m generally more forgiving, less hypersensitive (though still plenty sensitive, as folks who know me well will agree). The desire to be a better human being is there. I want to set a good example for Layla. I want her to know how to be a decent person. She needs to know to say good morning to people, to look them in the eye and ask them how they’re doing. Please and thank you and I beg your pardon and I’m sorry. To chew with her mouth closed. To not burp out loud. To care about others and their health and well-being. To make a living that gives her enough to be self-sufficient and to give back. To love. To hope. To care. I think about how I hope she’ll treat people and then I look at my behavior and try to gauge how I’m doing, where I’m lacking.
Layla sees everything.
Maybe I’ve just had a shitty week or two and in a few days, this deadline and this crap feeling will pass. I want to be the best version of myself that I can. For her. For my family. For everyone.
It’s been a great month. I don’t think that I realized it was great until I typed it but there it is.
- I’ve been working out roughly five times a week for about a month now. It’s never six. It’s sometimes four. I shoot for six. Many days, I woke up at 5:00am to make it happen. Other times, I went to the gym at 9:00pm, after my daughter had been asleep for a bit. I discovered a beautiful walking path near my apartment, filled with art installations. I’ve been doing Kayla Itsines Sweat app. It kicks my ass and yes, one does indeed sweat. I didn’t know my shoulders could sweat. They do now. I’m very close to my pre-baby weight but more importantly, my pre-baby skinny jeans fit a heck of a lot of better, as do many of my other pieces. I started a countdown on my phone towards the annual shore trip with my in-laws. It’s a little over two months, in late July. I can’t avoid wearing a bathing suit. I have to get in the water with my kid. I know, I know. “You know how to get a bikini body? Put on a bikini.” That’s adorable and doesn’t remotely work for me. This momma pooch has got to go.
- I’ve gotten to work on time, with make-up fully applied. I’ve learned to wear my daughter in a carrier while I apply my make-up. I tell her what I’m doing and that I hope that if she ever decides to wear cosmetics, that it’s many, many years from now. I tell her that she is beautiful.
- I’m taking a course, Design a Simple Life, with the folks from No Sidebar. It cost ten bucks and so far it’s worth every penny. An email a day with a gentle challenge, e.g. telling yourself “I’m enough” ten times a day, audibly and a bit of reading material makes for a very soothing early morning message.
- I’m preparing for a show at Gotham Comedy Club on Tuesday, June 26. I have a feeling many folks from my office will be in attendance. It’s a great line-up and should be a lot of fun and I have a LOT of work to do. But it’s nice to be back in the flow of stand-up. March was a great month, April was dead but May/June is right nice thus far.
- I celebrated my first Mother’s Day! My sweet husband and daughter let me sleep in, gave me a glorious breakfast, cards and gifts including seriously beautiful flowers. I got a blow-out, a manicure, an eyebrow threading and had a show at the Irish Arts Center that night. It was such a great day. Thank you, Steve and Layla! I love you!
This post about morning routines on Huffington Post via Becoming Minimalist really inspired me. When I think of the unpredictability of my mornings, however, I think my pre-bedtime routine is what really needs some fine tuning.
My current pre-bedtime hours:
6:30pm – get home from work, have some kind of dinner* with my hubs and Layla
*I used to cook a little, or at least do meal prep (have chopped vegetables and greens in a salad ready to go with a roto chicken and some dressing) but I have failed in recent days It doesn’t help that even when I’m cooking my near-daily scrambled eggs, the burners and/or the frying pans now smoke. We’ve cleaned the burners and I’ve turned down the heat and yet, I have to turn on the fan to make 3-minute eggs. I’m at a loss. And don’t even get me started on the oven! Ah, the joy of renting!
Layla usually has a bottle and some sort of baby-friendly finger food like avocado, sweet potato, banana, organic unsweetened peanut butter, etc. How much makes it into her mouth? Who can say?
We usually have some sort of take-out or delivery. I dream of cooking or having meals prepped again. I’d love to try any of the boxed make-it-yourself dinner options like Plated or Hello Fresh or whatever is popular now. It just hasn’t happened yet.
If one of us is performing that night, doing an open mic or a show, we make adjustments as needed.
8/8:15pm – 8:30pm – Layla’s bedtime routine: brush teeth, books, final diaper/kiss bed. Ideally, I’ve laid out an outfit for her the following day.
8:30pm – so begins what I call “the push to a 10:00pm bedtime for the adults.”
Bare minimum: I clean Layla’s bottles and do a quick tidying up of whatever needs tidying, get ready for bed, 10 minutes of Instagram.
Our home is not spotless but most of the time, it’s okay. I’d say it’s generally 15 minutes away from being ready for a visit from my dad, 30-45 minutes away from a visit from my mother-in-law. You get it.
10:00pm – Lights out, God willing.
Nice to do: Bare minimum + lay out outfits for Layla and me, including foundation garments, accessories, contact lenses and have makeup prepped in order of application on my bathroom counter.
What happened this Monday, holy crap: Bare minimum + laid out all of my gym necessities and my outfit for the day. This preparation allowed me to get to the gym at 5:00am, do the Legs workout on the Sweat with Kayla app and be home and showered by 6:15am, at which point Layla woke up. I was also able to make a full breakfast, put make-up on and still get Layla to daycare around 8:00am. I am still blown away that I was able to accomplish all of this and I hope to do it again! Can you imagine if I did this routine daily? Me neither!
It was a rough week, all things considered. I started vomiting upon arriving home Monday night. I could only stomach (ha!) two hours of work on Tuesday before coming home to sleep all day. Because of the vomiting, my pill-taking was off and I now have brutal cramps with an early period and just finished a burger and cheese fries. A combination of bad days and hormones have had me tearing up in the ladies room at work.
I hope to repeat Monday morning tomorrow but Layla fell asleep at 7:00pm so we may all have a very early morning indeed.
On Thursday, I did my first show since Layla was born. First show since April 30, as a matter of fact. It was at the Sidewalk Cafe in Alphabet City. I’ve done a fair number of mics and I’m booked for a few paid fundraisers in March but I was pretty damn nervous.
I feel like a completely different person. This is who I am now.
But part of me still remembers this girl. Yes, I recognize that one can’t forever look as though one is going to one’s bachelorette party at Hunkomania.
The same sweaty awkward neuroses are all there but beyond that, there are still elements I simply don’t recognize. My body is normalish, new potbelly and larger thighs aside. I have something resembling definition in my arms and waist. I feel, at once, that I do and do not belong. I had a baby in July and turned 40 in September and yet, I’m on a show with a late 20s/early 30s woman who’s auditioning for MTV’s Girl Code. Unless you’re already fairly established, stand-up is not for the 40something new mom. But it’s what I know and it’s what I love. When I go to work, I suddenly have a LOT more in common with most of my coworkers and it’s awfully nice. I don’t feel entirely like the socially inept girl (“Katherine does comedy? No way. But she’s so QUIET!” has generally been the reaction) who ended up in private equity with an English major, a minor in Theater, and a concentration in Creative Writing.
I’m trying to juggle my job and my home life, primarily, and then trying to fold in working out and doing stand-up into that already jammed day.
An older coworker has had a serious of health issues in the last year, culminating in a recent fall. She called me from a rehab facility, sobbing.
“Maybe I should say ‘ screw stand-up’ and just work out instead,” I told my husband.
“Hon, there are the healthiest people in the world and they have one accident or something happens and they end up injured or worse.”
“But I’m an old mom. Maybe I should do it for Layla. Look at your parents.”
“My mom had some of her kids in her twenties, hon.”
My in-laws are not quite 70 and in remarkable shape. My mother-in-law hasn’t had a carb in at least thirty years. I’d kill for her flat stomach and tiny legs. My father-in-law runs every day. They travel the world for weeks at a time.
Could I even do that, though? Would working out be enough of an outlet? Could I find enough fulfillment in my job and my health that… that would be enough? One could argue that that’s plenty! One should be so lucky to have a job that pays well and to have their health! Plenty of people are perfectly happy, or at least content, I would think, to go to work and come home. Could I be one of those people? Have I ever been one of those people? I don’t mean to sound judgmental. I’m envious, truly.
My ten-minute set on Thursday was fine. It wasn’t spectacular. There were definitely a few duds but I did get some nice laughs and I got my sea legs back. I feel a bit more prepared to make some decent money in March, though I find myself thinking “if I didn’t have those shows in March, I could just stop doing this.”
It’s just fear. And fear can be awfully convincing.
I’ve wanted to write the perfect post. About how my birth plan went to absolute shit. About being induced without warning and having a C section at the final hour. About how supremely terrified I was on our first night home with our daughter. About how truly awful those first eight weeks were. About how my life has forever changed.
But perfect is a ridiculous concept these days. I’d settle for mediocre. I feel quite mediocre. I’m still 15 pounds away from where I want to be, with the bulk of my muscle tone, after almost three years of lifting weights, gone. My maternity clothes are too big but my regular clothes are, well, it’s a 50/50 shot if they’ll fit or not. Suffice it to say, my regular clothes are working quite hard. I went back to work last week after twelve weeks of maternity leave. I used to work 50-60 hour weeks, often working on weekends. Those days are long gone. I have to cram as much focused, productive, streamlined work into the usual 9 – 5:30pm work day. I haven’t even gotten to the gym yet – and will I be able to rationalize an hour and a half in the middle of the day when I’m leaving comparatively early to what I used to do? I think I’m doing extremely good work in those hours – but the volume is substantially decreased.
And comedy. I’ve been on stage twice since I’ve had my daughter. How will I fold stand-up back into my life? I have ideas. A handful of shitty premises. It’s a start.
I’m forgetful and even when reminded, it’s often as though I’m hearing the information at hand for the first time, like a constant blackout drunk. Friends text me and check on me. I’m not sure I always ask how they are doing.
Here’s what’s not mediocre. Not even a little bit.
That angry baby up there? She’s also this goofy, precious, beautiful wonder who farts all the time.
I love her so much that it hurts. All of her firsts. I cried the first time she truly giggled (in response to me singing, in my godawful singing voice, the Doors’ “Hello, I Love You.”) These days, she sleeps through the night and wakes up smiling. And my husband? My kind, loving, thoughtful, silly husband is a great dad. He’s a natural. I watch him with our daughter and it’s almost as though he was always a dad waiting to happen. People say that Layla is special. Calm, laid-back, happy – and that that’s because of us. Our days are chaotic and short and far too quick. But life is good. Life is great. And decidedly not mediocre.
There are women who desperately want to get pregnant, grow a tiny human inside of them, and raise that new person to the best of their ability… and cannot. There are women who have had multiple miscarriages and may never have a viable pregnancy. There are women who always assumed they’d have a loving partner and have several biological children with said partner and the clock ran out.
My heart goes out to them.
My miscarriage last August was a profound heartbreak, second only to losing my mom suddenly when I was 14. I was extremely lucky to a) get pregnant at all, b) get pregnant so quickly, c) get pregnant again so quickly, and d) be expecting my baby girl less than a year later, in just about two weeks.
All that said, I hate being pregnant.
I was never one of those women who thought pregnant women were “cute” or “beautiful” or “earth goddesssy.” I always felt sorry for them. The waddle. The distorted body. The shitty clothes. The sweating.
And now, as a pregnant woman, I really hate it.
I hated it in the first trimester when I was so tired I couldn’t see straight, when I had full-on conversations with my husband that I’d never remember and went stumbling into work half asleep and, of course, given the miscarriage, couldn’t tell anyone what I was going through. It was similar to when I had mono in college but instead of college, I was working in an office for 9-10 hours each day. I didn’t entirely hate the second trimester, when I got fantastic clothes (which, of course, no longer fit), I was still performing, and didn’t look like a fat fuck yet. And I hate it so much more now – my freshly fat face, my swollen feet, my painful, now-ringless hands, averaging 3.5 hours of sleep a night, the baby’s kicks which are no longer cute but quite painful and sometimes frightening, the stares from strangers, the judgment from strangers (“You’re having a boy.” No, I’m not. “If you say so.”), dropping every single thing I pick up, taking the subway and watching men make eye contact with me and then close their eyes in a fake nap to avoid giving up their seats, the random bouts of crying for no reason, the constant doctor appointments, and my brother reminding me of how old I will be by the time my kid is in high school.
I desperately miss the following:
Good old missionary sex. Any kind of penetrative sex, really. (Oh really? You were able to have sex to induce labor and your baby floated out of your freshly orgasmed nethers? How nice for you!)
Orgasms. They just feel too weird now and not entirely pleasant.
My flat stomach.
My perfectly inny belly button.
Successful hair removal using nothing but a Gillette razor and foam.
Wine. Beer. Champagne. Margaritas. Bloody Marys. Mojitos. Jameson.
My arm muscles. They’re apparently still there, just under a layer of blubber.
Hating sweets. For real. Desserts never did it for me. Now. Ugh. They’ve certainly contributed to my 40+ pound weight gain.
Being able to see my vagina.
My clothes. My favorite Pearl Jam t-shirt. My favorite AYR jeans.
My shoes – oh, how I’d kill to wear my cute, comfy Banana Republic wedge sandals right now to offset my fatness.
Performing. Yes, some stand-up comics do perform up until their due date and even after their due date has passed. My last show was April 30 because if I, in my third trimester, had to sit through yet another open mic with some 23-year-old boys talking about rape, Tinder, weed, and porn, I would likely be arrested for attempted murder of said 23-year-olds.
And! Let’s not forget that I’m two weeks shy of my due date when every woman in Manhattan under the age of 35 has ceased wearing actual clothing because, you know, summer.
If you tell someone with kids any one of these things, you will receive one of the responses below. FYI – not ONE of these has made me like pregnancy or made any of the horrors of pregnancy any easier. Why ask me how I’m feeling if you’re just going to try to make me feel better with such nonsense? A better, kinder response would be “Yep, third trimester sucks a big dick. I remember it well. I’m sorry. I have cheese fries in my purse. Let me give them to you.”
I recognize that these folks mean well and are vocalizing these nice things from a place of experience while I am simultaneously convinced that actually having a baby wipes away all the nasty memories of pregnancy.
- “You’re going to be such a great mom!” (Fuck you – on what are you basing this? That I’m a nice person who you seem to think has nurturing tendencies? You clearly have forgotten that I’m socially awkward and more than capable of screwing up a tiny person. Also, how is this comment remotely relevant to pregnancy? You can be a fantastic mom without ever getting pregnant.)
- “She’ll be worth it”. (Fuck you, too – she’s not here yet and sleepless nights and fatness and hormones are and apparently, two out of those three things will continue after she’s here so your comment is pointless as well).
- “It’ll all be over soon and will be a distant memory.” (see #2).
- “You’ll be thin again once you start breastfeeding.” (Assuming I can breastfeed! Not every woman can. I’ve always loved my breasts and breastfeeding will inevitably destroy my once-perky C plus/D minuses. You do know that there are support groups for women who breastfeed, right? That’s how potentially shitty it is to attempt to feed and bond with your baby.)
- “Once you have her, you’ll want three more!” (Fuck you the hardest. This is usually in response to me saying “oh, hell no” when some idiot asks “Do you think you’ll have another baby?” which is the most inane question one can ask a pregnant woman on the cusp of having her first baby. I’m turning 40 fucking years old in September, I live in the most expensive city in the country and I work 50 hours a week. How many babies do you want me to have, you asshole?)
I’m really tired. I woke up at 3:30am. I can’t get back to sleep. My hands, feet, hips, legs, back and neck hurt. The sun will be up soon. Where’s the peanut butter?