In September I started a new job, working as a senior writer at TreeHugger. It has been a big change. I’ve gone from tapping out a post each day, working slowly and methodically at my leisure, to spending six hours in front of the computer, churning out as many articles as I can, brainstorming ideas, and squeezing every ounce of creativity out of my head until I feel mentally drained by 3 p.m., the official end to my workday.
The hardest part initially was handing over my baby to a nanny every morning. I am in the fortunate position of being able to keep him at home, which means I see him periodically throughout the day (whenever I need a coffee refill and descend from my cozy office nest in the third-floor attic) and at lunch, but for the most part, our contact has shrunk to a fraction of what it once was.
At first this made me feel horribly guilty, to the point where I’d cry in bed at night and my husband Jason would worriedly assure me the baby wouldn’t suffer permanent damage. But then, oddly enough, the guilt inverted itself. It’s still there, but now I feel guilty for looking forward to handing him off to our wonderful nanny, whom he adores. Some days I feel like an awful mother… for not really wanting to be a mother as much as I want to be a writer.
I love my new job. I love escaping the endless chaos and monotony of full-time parenting, walking away from the piles of dirty breakfast dishes that I didn’t get to, ignoring the full diaper pail and laundry hampers, even telling the school that I am unable to volunteer for field trips. I can ignore the baby waking up too early from a nap; I change two diapers a day instead of ten; I don’t have to chase him around the house with a snot cloth.
One great source of inspiration has been Sheryl Sandberg’s excellent book, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead (Alfred Knopf, 2013). Sandberg is the COO of Facebook and one of the world’s most successful and powerful businesswomen. Her book is fabulous. It has motivated me to push through the mixed emotions during this major change to our family’s comfortable rhythm, to hand over more housework and child-raising duties to Jason (although, to be fair, he already did a lot), and to think deeply about where I want to go career-wise, and how to get there. I think everyone should read this book.
To be brutally honest, I don’t think I ever really liked being a full-time parent. It has always irked me that I couldn’t share breadwinning and parenting evenly with my husband, due to my choice of profession.
Some days I feel like an awful mother… for not really wanting to be a mother as much as I want to be a writer.
Now, circumstances have changed, and it feels so good to escape into an adult world of intellectual debate, of exciting (though often depressing) news stories, of interesting innovations. I have to pinch myself daily that I am paid to think about these things and write about them, over and over again – anything that fits into the site’s green living mandate and might be of interest to TreeHugger’s millions of readers.
It’s a pretty fabulous place to be, and I’m terribly proud of the fact that it all started here, on this little blog. So thank you, readers, for making it possible through your ongoing support. And, of course, Jason, for doing all those leftover dishes and loads of laundry!