Friday, May 06, 2011

Working girl

I started at my new job last month. It’s been three weeks and it’s been going really great. The work is stimulating and challenging in all the good ways-- lots of awesome data to dig into and incredible projects to work on—and the people have been amazingly nice. I even get my own office (with TWO windows no less!) so that’s been sweet. I can almost unreservedly say that I look forward to going to work.

It occurred to me a while ago that I’ve never had a regular 9 to 5 job. Between being a teacher and then a grad student, my days, nights, and weekends constantly bled into each other, whether it’s grading, prepping, reading, analyzing, or writing. But now, because of the secure data I work with that’s stored on the office server, I literally have no choice but to leave work behind when I walk out at 5.30, which has been really nice. So these days, I get to spend nights after Sophie goes to bed catching up on chores, prepping meals (more on that later), guilt-free (relatively) TV, and right now, helping Jude proof-read his dissertation draft chapters.

But there’s the trade-off of course, mostly the flexibility of time. It’s not like I can take a break from grading and go get a haircut, or schedule a dental appointment in the middle of the day, or have a leisurely breakfast with Jude. From the moment we get up in the morning, it’s a pretty mad rush to get everyone ready so that we can drop Sophie off at daycare, and then Jude at school, and then be at my desk before 9.00.

It also means I've had to give my my Thursdays with Sophie. I know it's just one day, and I still have the mornings (no matter how brief), evenings, and weekends with her. But Thursdays have been our special day together for so long that I was a little wistful that first Thursday away from her. Jude takes her these days and I think it's been nice for her to have her Dada all to herself for a whole day. I'm not sure how cognizant Sophie is that her daily routine has shifted somewhat. We used to be able to take our time getting ready in the morning even if it means dropping her off at daycare late-- reading an extra book, rolling around in bed a little longer, singing one more silly song-- or picking her up early because it's a nice day out and then spend the afternoon at the park. These days, we're out of the house by 8 and she doesn't get picked up till 5.30. Thankfully, she loves being at daycare-- loves her friends and her teachers-- and is doing so much good growing that I don't feel as much guilt as I thought I would for keeping her there so many hours a day.

And then there's the working parent conundrum of meals and chores. Between Jude and I, I think we do pretty well in terms of keeping the house clean and neat. Sometimes it takes a while for the laundry to get folded (and let's not even talk about ironing), but hey, as long as it's clean.... Cooking has been a little trickier. Gone are the days of experimentation where I can spend a couple of hours in the kitchen sauteeing, simmering, or stewing. These days, it's whatever I can whip up in 20 minutes like a quick pasta or a steamed/roasted one-dish meal that I prepped the night before. I also try to make large pots of soups over the weekends (miso, chicken and veggies, minestrone, etc) and the leftovers keep really well. Which is also why our freezer has been my new best friend... Of course, we've been eating out or ordering in quite a bit more lately but that's mainly for Jude and I- because of her allergies, Sophie still almost exclusively gets homemade food, even if it means her sometimes getting four different permutations of rice porridge in a week (not that she's complaining...)

It's been an interesting 3 weeks juggling parenthood with a full-time job, and I have newfound respect for people who've been doing this successfully for years. I want to think it's forcing me to be more conscious and protective about how I spend my time- at work, with Jude, with Sophie, even with myself. It does feel a little overwhelming at times, but also strangely rewarding when things fall in place exactly like you want them to (Everyone out of the house before 8! With matching clothes and socks/shoes! No phone calls from daycare! No work crises! Dinner meets daily carbohydrate, protein, and fibre requirements! DVR works so I can watch Modern Family after Sophie goes to bed!).

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