I Am the Accountant

Here I was, thrashing around in my midlife crisis, when a recruiter came a knocking. As braggy as it sounds, I get contacted with a degree of regularity by recruiters. Normally I say no. Because I was stewing in my own angsty juices, I decided to talk to this one. It’s a small start-up in the city, building an app for something I personally find interesting.

At first, I was all “Whatever…” but then I talked with the founder. You guys. YOU GUYS. I love this company. And I love this job. I would be employee #6 and get to build my team from the ground up. When I went in for the in-person last week, I talked with the founder for almost two hours and realized that every job I’ve had in my wayward career has made me the perfect candidate for this job.

But damn it… It’s a start up. Which comes with a lot of instability, terrible health insurance, long hours. Over the weekend, I have debated the pros and cons of my situation replete with the tiny angel and tiny devil duking it out on my shoulders. It dawned on me sometime yesterday (as I was weeping in a grocery store parking lot stuffing my face with brownies, btw) that I probably can’t take it even if I was offered the job.

Here are all the reasons why this is probably a waste of my time:

  1. Insurance at most start-ups looks like this: Tylenol, an ice pack, and a coupla band-aids. Mr. O and I are socializing the idea of Chick Part Deux, which means we’d need actual grown up insurance that covers infertility treatments. Though I haven’t seen the plan, I seriously doubt it covers this– certainly not as generously as mine currently does.
  2. New job would likely not have maternity leave. Thank you, America, for treating new mothers like shit. Birth that baby, then get back on the factory floor! #rantover
  3. Should said attempt at baby-making not work out, I would like to be in a place where I could lick my wounds for a little bit. I’m not sure the 24/7 nature of a start-up would be conducive.
  4. This new job would probably not help me with a relocation effort. After a particularly insightful comment from labmonkey2, I realized I should try moving to some place that makes me less hostile. Right now I’m working for a known company in a high growth unit, which is part of the reason recruiters contact me all the time. Coming from an unknown company that may or may not get off the ground… not as attractive.
  5. Depending on the way the position evolves, it may not actually be the direction I want my career to go in. Long story, but I’m in the middle of a pivot right now and this would keep me firmly planted in the area where I already have expertise.
  6. This will not be the last cool start-up ever. Though this specific job may not be open again, opportunities like this are not infrequent in my field. It’s totally possible I could have another shot like this one, if not with this company.

My current sitch isn’t bad– I go to work at 9, run at lunch, eat a salad from the company cafe, answer some emails, then I’m home by 5:30 to spend time with my gorgeous kid. I’m not weeping at my desk everyday, I’m just kinda bored. Boring, I’ve found, is sometimes necessary. I needed it for a few years, what with my mom’s health and my own shitastic fertility treatments. But now that I’m sorta waking up from that period of emotional trauma, I’m realizing the day in and out isn’t too exciting. It explains why I’ve been a little out to sea with this job lately. Yawn.

And yet… This is not the direction I thought my career would go in. Indeed, this isn’t exactly how I thought my life would end up. I am a responsible adult, damnit. In my heart of hearts, I had always assumed Mr. O would be the adult and get a stable job as an accountant or something, leaving me free to be risky and irresponsible. (Woohoo!) Through an odd turn of events, I am the accountant (metaphorically speaking, that is.) Being the breadwinner was never on my bucket list.

As I was moping around this weekend, I realized that this will be the first decision I’ve made not to do something I want to do. If it weren’t for Mr. O, Chick, the twinkle of Chick #2, I would be jumping in with both feet. I don’t mean to imply that I wish they weren’t there. More that it was a strange realization that I have to be responsible, even if it goes against my own personal wishes. My choices have an impact on my family now in a way they never did before.

I can’t decided if this is depressing or just the truth.

Is it just me, or did Arthur Miller write a play about this? Death of an Accountant? Was that a thing?

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This is How I Midlife Crisis

I’ve been… funky lately.

I don’t know how to explain it exactly. It all started a few months ago when I was approached by a recruiter for an AMAZING company– likely one you’ve heard of and very likely use everyday. They are huge in the space I work in. If it had been two years ago, I would have peed my pants. As it was, I was like… meh.

I went through the motions and did a few interviews, but after the second one it was pretty clear that I was not the droid they were looking for. No big deal.

But it bothered me. Because “meh” isn’t my usual response to anything. And this overall meh-ness seems to have stuck with my like a little grey cloud for the past several months. It’s not raining. But it sure as shit isn’t sunshine either.

I can’t figure it out. Since I can’t figure out what it is, I can certainly tell you what it is not.

  1. Chick. Yes, he is a handful, but I adore him– even when he pulls baby dramatics. Parenting a tiny human is hard, but on the balance I’ve found a groove that works.
  2. My job. I really love my job. I love my team. 
  3. My running. I’ve been able to get that back into my life which is amazing. It’s not like it used to be- I now squeeze it in during lunch or between meetings. But my practice is back and that means everything.
  4. My family. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but they have largely been okay. Yes, my dad has his moments, but we seem to be riding out the rough patches nicely. Any drama doesn’t involve me and is often happening hundreds of miles away.

Here are some contenders for what it might be.

  1. My home. I rent a two bedroom apartment. It works… for now. But since Chick was born, I am having a downright primal urge to “settle down.” The trouble is I don’t want to settle down where I am.  I don’t see a future here… my city is changing a lot. It’s no where for middle class people to live. Conversely, the ‘burbs are so expensive, not to mention devoid of any kind of diversity. Think lots of wealthy white people with advanced degrees. Oy.
  2. Mr. O’s family. Mr. O comes from a fairly large family, so there are family-events almost every weekend. We are obliged to go, are peppered with comments about our baby/parenting/plans to have more, and I go home to complain for the next two hours about how intrusive and weird everyone is. There is more– indeed, I could write a post on this very subject. But in summary, both Mr. O and I are interested in getting far, far away.
  3. The Northeast. I’m actually having a hard time coming to terms with this one. See I grew up in the South, but never felt at home there. I went up North for college, and felt almost instantly lighter. But now… I’m tired of the winters. I’m tired of all the people almost literally piled on top of one another. I’m tired of the strange hyper-competitiveness over “success” and want everyone to just go away.  
  4. My job. Yes, I know… I love my job. I’m also thinking I may have gone as far as I can here. I’m still waiting on an official promotion, but once I get that… What next? Also through some complete accident, I work in tech. It’s tough being a woman working in the tech industry, even when you’re not explicitly in engineering. It’s very young, white, and male… and lo! I do not identify as any of those things. They just aren’t my tribe– my people are teachers, writers, non-profit fundraisers… Tech, however, pays me a livable wage, and I am the breadwinner.

I am, by nature, a problem solver. I see the problem, and for the first time EVER I have no obvious solution. And so I embrace the thrash, hoping that one of these days my path forward becomes clear. Sorta like a magic 8 ball.

Bottles are for Suckers

About a week ago, Mr. O picked Chick up from daycare and they mentioned that he hardly took any bottle at all. At first they thought he is just going off breast milk. A weird idea to me, but one I welcomed since… well, I’m so over pumping. Nursing is fine, but this ‘round the clock business while I’m at work is cramping my style.

So we upped the formula and thought that would be the beginning of the end. It was, alright… the end of my SANITY.

You see, Chick hasn’t gone off breast milk. Au contraire, mon ami- Chick still loves boob time. What he has turned his back on is bottles. He will drink at most 6 oz over the course of the day from a bottle. Attempts to get him to drink more are futile unless he goes right to the source, i.e. me.

(Before you ask, yes I have tried to introduce sippy cups. #epicfail)

After some back and forth with Chick’s doctor, we’ve determined the best path forward is to make sure he is eating more solids, and more high calorie foods. So rather than preparing one lunch and two snacks for him every day, I’m making three god damn meals for him to take to daycare. This does not include breakfast and dinner which are served at home.

I’m making this little despot angel 5 meals a day. 5 MEALS!

I spent 4 hours chopping, steaming, mushing, and freezing food yesterday. Not only that, the added pressure of varying flavor combinations and textures. Butternut squash, apples and farro, butternut squash, golden beets and brown rice, golden beets, zucchini and pasta, zucchini and pear, sweet potatoes and black beans, avocado, black beans and quinoa… LENTILS! Lentils and pear and farro, lentils, apple and quinoa, lentils and sweet mother of pearl…

After hours in the kitchen making his meals for the week and then making our dinner for the night, I sat down with Mr. O and Chick. My one concession to this whole thing is that when Chick is at home, he is eating whatever we are (or some version thereof.) Last night, Mr. O and I were eating pork loin, lentil salad, and sauteed fiddleheads. Chick was eating some of the lentils, pork, and freshly prepped pears.

Chick hated it. All of it.

Now, maybe it was the hours of standing and cooking in the kitchen, which is exhausting under any circumstances. Maybe it was the indignity of having spent all that time making food only to have Chick reject it. After caving and giving him some stupid Happy Baby Organics packet usually reserved for emergencies, I asked Mr. O to take him for 10 minutes. I went to my bedroom and cried.

I have not been this frustrated since Chick was 2 months old, ironically also around food. It was the final nursing of the evening and Chick was still hungry. Mr. O was taking a bit longer than Chick would have liked heating up the bottle, and he just sat in my arms crying. So I cried. We both cried. It felt desperate, but also glorious in a weird way. There is something really liberating about admitting to misery.

It isn’t all bad, of course. While I was in the midst of my cooking marathon, Chick hung out in the kitchen with me playing with books, eating scraps, and banging on the floor with a pastry brush. I loved watching his face light up when he turned to the pages in his book, or when his faced turned after eating a raw piece of zucchini. But after this weekend, I’m going to seriously consider supplementing his lunch box with some store bought options… I’d rather spend my weekends with my baby than making food for him.

Mother’s Day, Served Cold and Rainy

I feel like I should tell you all about my first mother’s day as a mother. It was, however, fairly uneventful.

Last year, it was an absolutely train wreck with much crying in public. I remember it was a beautiful spring day with flowers in bloom and trees being… trees. I feel betrayed by the weather, because in my heart it didn’t feel like spring. I was missing my mom, conflicted about pregnancy, and unsure how I was going to do any of this without her.

This year, the weather again thumbed its nose at my internal emotions. Because this year, I was feeling okay. And this year, it was cold, rainy, and generally miserable.

There is a mother’s day tradition in my neighborhood– Lilac Sunday. The arboretum near by opens its gates to moms, dads, kids, and food trucks, and gives tours of the lilac collection which is usually in full bloom by this point. There is usually sunshine. There are usually people picnicking.

This year, it was a rainy mess, but we trudged on anyway. I mean, after spending a week in the rain with a 10 month old in Amsterdam, how much different could it be spending an afternoon in the rain with a 10 month old in my hometown?

Truthfully, not that different. Again Chick decided that strollers were for chumps and insisted on being carried. (You’d think I would learn…) This meant that one of us had to carry Chick, and the other one had to walk behind carrying an umbrella to make sure the Supreme Leader stayed dry. I felt like a Victorian manservant. (Note: That might be the title of my parenting memoir, were I to write one.)

After that, we came home. Chick and Mr. O napped. I went to the grocery store and made Chick’s dinners for the week. I won’t lie, there is a part of me that is extremely annoyed that those roles were not reversed. Then again, I got a few hours of quiet which was also a nice gift.

So there it was. Nothing too special, but then again I don’t think I wanted much more. What I struggle with is why. Is it because I don’t generally get amped about holidays? Is it because mother’s day represents one huge-festering sore, one part infertility and one part mom grief?

I do not cringe when I see pregnant women anymore. This is a fairly recent development- I would say that in the last few months I have had practically no twinges when friends or colleagues announce pregnancies. It feels like progress, something like acceptance of the emotional turmoil of last few years.

I now cringe when I see women with their mothers. I also cringe when I see women who would have been my mom’s age. Or who have her hair, which was once thick and black but gracefully turned salt-and-pepper gray.

This whole dead mom thing… that still aches. On mother’s day, and everyday.

POST: 32 Steps on the Rocky and Rewarding Path to Motherhood

Okay, so… Normally, I hate these kinds of list because they are trite and usually don’t speak to me at all. I’ve found motherhood to be much more complicated than I thought. I gave it a try because it comes from one of my favorite podcasts, On Being.

And I was validating in my decision to spend 5 minutes of my life reading a blog post because it was generally really nice. Especially the end…

“Become a mother in none of these ways, because it is both the most universal and most idiosyncratic of experiences. Make your own list. Hunt for your own perfect metaphor. Just risk love.”

32 Steps on the Rocky and Rewarding Path of Motherhood and Self-Discovery

10 minutes and counting

I have 10 minutes until my next meeting, which is the perfect time to shoot off a post. Right? Amiright?

I have been wanting to write a post for ages, because well… I’ve been thinking. What brought on this thinking, you ask? The bizarre decision to take a 10 month old to Amsterdam.

Yes, I did that. And the flight was fine. The trip, however, was disastrous.

Perhaps it was a magical combination of teething, a serious case of Mama-Fever, and a new place, but Chick was fairly miserable and would only be happy if he was physically on me at ALL TIMES. It also happened to be unseasonably cold and rainy. So I was cold and caring for a fussy baby for 6 days which is how the sucking of this vacation began. Then there was that time my breast pump broke on a national holiday. That was fuuuun.

But since I have only 10 minutes, I’ll cut to the chase.

It sounds a little ungrateful to say that one’s vacation in Amsterdam sucked because I decided to bring a 10 month old. But there it is. Mr. O and I have traveled a fair amount, many times in Europe and elsewhere. You know what? We’re excellent travelers. Our baby just threw a wrench in the works which made the trip exponentially less fun. No more dinners in little bistros. No more wine while watching the sunset.

This next bit I can’t believe I’m going to share publicly. But this is my goddamn anonymous blog, and I’ll do what I want to. On this trip, I did think “Dear god, what have I done?” in regards to my hard-won baby. For reals. I could see, for the first time, what I had given up– aforementioned meals in bistros and wine at sunset. And I gave that up in favor of a 20 pound clingy, crying weirdo.

Yes, yes… I know. Someday that 20 pound clingy, crying weirdo will grow up and things won’t be so “hard.” But I’m no fool. It will still be hard, just in new and exciting ways I can’t predict.

And my 10 minutes is up, so I’ll leave you with this…

For the first time since Chick was born, I’ve found myself looking back longingly at the life I used to have.

For the first time ever as a committed and adventurous traveler, I wish I had stayed home.