When did my escape become another chore?

In the first months of this year, I found myself covering a lot of evening events for work, doing a little travel, and struggling to work doctor’s appointments and tests (because of the pregnancy) into already full-to-bursting days.

How I’ve been feeling lately

Because of all this, I got out of the habit of going to Monday night rehearsals for the local community band I’ve played in these past few years, wanting to make sure I spent as many evenings with Lily as I could. 

“No big deal,” I thought. “I’ll start going to rehearsals again when things get back to normal.”

When my evening schedule lightened, the band was in final preparations for two concerts, so that didn’t really seem like the right time to go back, either. I thus continued with my hiatus, telling myself that I’d simply give myself a couple of more weeks off.

Finally, a couple of weeks ago, I had a light reviewing week, and the band’s concerts had just happened.

Yet when the moment arrived for me to leave our house for rehearsal, I didn’t go.

I felt kind of guilty, and more than a bit lame, questioning why I could no longer work up the gumption to go to what had previously been an important regular escape for me.

For I’ve played trombone since I was 11, and in many ways, this ridiculous little hobby has been a boon to me. So many of my longtime friends, as well as my husband, came into my life as a direct result of my playing this bulky, awkward instrument. Plus, I’ve always enjoyed playing in groups and making music, even if it’s at a less-than-professional level.

I’d played in the local community band for a year or two before getting pregnant with Lily, attending rehearsals and playing concerts until shortly before her arrival. (I wondered then, as I do while pregnant again now, what the trombone sounds like from the inside of my body. It must be bizarre – but really, what wouldn’t be bizarre while packed into someone’s stomach?)

As I remember it, I returned to the band at about the time my maternity leave ended. In that moment, I often felt harried and overwhelmed by my new motherhood, and the adjustment back to work presented its own challenges. So playing in the band was a small gesture toward turning back toward the familiar, and the person I’d always thought of myself as being.

For those two hours every Monday night, this worked almost exactly as I had hoped. Joe had encouraged me to claim that time for myself, and I slowly began to feel like myself again – or, at least, like something other than a constantly exhausted milk machine. Which was progress. Continue reading

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Right on, 5 year old feminist!

I love this clip – and not in a a clucking, “aw, isn’t she cute” kind of way.

No, I love this video because I have great hopes for this girl’s future. Billions of cultural products – from ads to movies to music – will inevitably cross this girl’s path in the coming years, and just about all of them will try to “instruct” her regarding the crowning role that a man/partner/love will play in her life and her happiness. But if this girl is starting out with her eyes on the prize, so to speak – which is to say, establishing financial independence, and putting herself first – than hopefully, she stands a fighting chance at keeping such messages in check.

Indeed, from a wholly practical, financial standpoint, it just makes sense for young women to focus first on a career that they might find both fulfilling and fiscally sustaining. Because as we all know, love doesn’t always work out; and to this day, too many women are stuck in lives they don’t necessarily want because of their economic circumstances.

Finally, I’ll confess to having deeply personal ties to this video as well. Though I wasn’t 5 when I started saying such things, I did, at a pretty young age, repeatedly state that I would never marry or have kids, and that I just wanted to find a job I felt passionate about. Admittedly, the former things were said partly as a defense mechanism – I was afraid that no one would ever find me attractive in any way, so my answer to this was to act as romantic love was of no importance to me – but I did honestly have a desperate desire to be successful and do something I loved, too.

As it happened, I was fortunate enough to snag both a career and a partner that I loved beyond reason as I grew older. It wasn’t an easy path through early adulthood, of course, but I’m grateful to my younger self for having the right priorities from the get-go – certainly a benefit of growing up in the “Feminism Now!” ’70s. (There had to be some benefit – how many times can I look at the floppy-collared shirts and feathered hair we all sported back in the day without shuddering anew?)

Hand-wringing, of course, followed this video going viral, and some argued that this girl was merely parroting what she’d heard, and that she might be shutting herself off from love and other possibilities. Nonsense. As I noted above, I said similar things and found my own circuitous path to a career and my marriage; and even if she is parroting what she’s heard, as far as I can tell, only good can come from the central message she’s voicing: focus on yourself, ladies, and let the other stuff come as it may.

Run, Mommy, run! Exercising (and drawing stares) through pregnancy

Maintaining my regular running regimen – which ideally involves going on 2.5 to 4 mile runs a few times a week – since having Lily has been challenging enough; but since becoming pregnant, it’s become damn near impossible. (Shoving a bunch of doctor’s appointments and tests and screenings into already-overstuffed days? Please.) But I’m trying my best.

It was much easier the first time around, of course. While pregnant with Lily, I “ran” quite regularly until 10 days before my due date, adapting as my belly grew so that by the end, I alternated stretches of slow jogging with walking. 

And during that first running-while-pregnant experience, the responses of those around me varied widely. There was the woman who stood in her yard and drily asked me, “Are you trying to induce yourself?”

And there were naturally lots of double-takes and stares at the gym when I ran on the treadmill. (I got the distinct impression that the employees were secretly terrified that I’d spontaneously give birth during their shift.)

But then, there was also the woman who, while I stretched with Joe after a gym workout one evening, approached to say that she and her husband were thinking about having a child; but because she’d previously been quite heavy in the past, she was nervous about putting a lot of weight back on during and after pregnancy. Continue reading