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I’m on a beautiful beach. I’m walking in the sand, feeling the ocean water as it taps against my feet. In the distance, I hear a faint cry. As I continue walking, it starts to get louder. I try to ignore it, but the more I walk, the louder the voice becomes until – Wam! I’m awake. It was all a dream. There is no beach, no sand, no salty ocean water. But there is a crying baby. His name is Oliver, and he’s only a few yards away waiting impatiently for me to get this day started.
With my tropical getaway a distant memory, I’m off to the races. After changing Oliver, feeding him, and releasing him from the bondages of crib life, it’s finally time to focus on myself. This usually entails a shower/dress/makeup self-care routine that I’ve managed to get down to 15 minutes flat while Oliver watches cartoons. As I’m washing my hair, I have a fleeting thought that the TV is rotting his brain and robbing him of his ability to become a Nobel Prize winning scientist. I decide he will probably be just as happy becoming a dog walker and keep it moving.
Before kids, I probably would’ve lingered in my living room, watching the morning news while I sipping on a nice, warm cup of coffee. Now, I’m lucky if I’m able to get out the door with even half of a cup of coffee running through my system. But don’t feel sorry for me. I’ll make up for it throughout the day.
I’m incredibly fortunate to have an excellent nanny who watches over Oliver while I go off to work. Knowing that he’s being well taken care of at home helps me to brave the Manhattan commute with one less worry on the brain. When I finally make it into my office, I hunker down for a full day of meetings, projects, and deadlines. My nanny will send me pictures of Oliver throughout the day, which makes me feel less guilty about being away from him. He’s always smiling and laughing in the pictures, and I’m reminded that I’m actually doing a good thing for him by working outside the home.
Before kids, I probably would’ve made after work plans with friends or my husband to go out to dinner or meet up for happy hour drinks. Now, I’m lucky if I get to see the inside of a bar once a quarter. But, don’t feel sorry for me. I’ll make up for it when I get home.
Once I’m home, it’s time to start the second shift. This usually starts with preparing dinner for Oliver. Thankfully, this kid eats anything and everything, so I never have to think too much about what to feed him. Of course, now that he’s a toddler, feeding him has become a real adventure. He likes to hold utensils, but not actually use them. He also enjoys testing his limits. For example, he’s recently taken to testing how far he can throw this pasta across the room. Finally, my husband comes home and helps me with bath time, while I prepare our dinner.
Before kids, I probably would’ve tested out new recipes and cooked multi-course meals. Now, I make whatever can be cooked in 30 minutes or less, makes enough to leave plenty of leftovers, and has some degree of nutritional value. But don’t feel sorry for me. Dinners today always come with a serving or two of wine.
It’s finally the end of the day. I use my last remaining hours to pick up all of Oliver’s toys and clean up pasta from the walls. I pack up my lunch and prep Oliver’s meals for tomorrow. I pick out my work outfit and pack up my gym clothes in the hopes that I’ll be able to squeeze in a quick work out. I remember that I forgot to buy groceries, so I make a mental note to pick up milk on the way home tomorrow. Then I remember that I forgot to do about 15 other things, so I make some more mental notes, and sit down to watch an episode of bad reality TV.
Before kids, I probably would’ve stayed up late watching my favorite TV shows or reading a really good book. Now, I’m lucky if I can keep my eyes open past 10:30 p.m. But don’t feel sorry for me. I absolutely love my life, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
Natalia Marulanda is a former practicing attorney who currently works on women's initiatives at a law firm New York City. She also runs The Girl Power Code, a blog dedicated to empowering women in the workplace and in their daily lives.
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