You may have noticed, in the six or so years since I started this blog, that I write very little about my job.
In fact, for many years, I didn’t write about it at all. I worked for a big, very prestigious, very conservative, white-shoe law firm in Manhattan, and I decided early on that the best policy for balancing my work life with my blog was to keep them completely separate. If you met me in person during those years, I would happily have told you that I was a lawyer — but on the internet, I barely mentioned it at all.
But, as you guys know, about a year ago I quit working at a big law firm and started my own practice here in Houston. And with that change, I’ve slowly, tentatively, become more comfortable sharing little bits about my life as a lawyer with you guys.
So I’ll start by saying: building a new business is a wild ride. Really, really hard, but also incredibly rewarding and exciting. It’s like moving from a leisurely drive to a roller coaster, if that makes any sense. For the past year, building my law practice has been the focus of nearly every waking minute. It’s the biggest professional challenge that I’ve ever taken on, and not a single day passes without me analyzing how I’m doing and how I could be doing better. There are days when it feels like too much, when I miss the steady salary and support staff that my big firm job provided. And there are days when it feels like the best thing I’ve ever done, when I am so damn proud of myself for taking on this challenge and making it work.
But for the last few months, there’s been a new thought that pops up every single day.
Balancing work and the baby.
Being a working mom.
I had this idea that starting my own practice would make it easier to have a baby, and in a lot of ways, I was right. Obviously, I have deadlines and meetings, but for the most part, I can manage my own schedule, and that’s no small thing. Even when I’m very busy at work, I can still spend a good portion of the day with our son, and I’m so incredibly grateful for that: it’s a luxury that many (most) working moms don’t have.
And yet — the fundamental problem is that I want to do both.
I want to take care of our baby boy.
And I also want to give 100% to my job.
What I need is 48 hours every day, to spend time with our amazing, wonderful baby, and to be able to build a business with focus and care.
What I have, instead, is what most moms have: a balancing act that never ends; concerns that I would love to give more in both areas.
And yet… it’s been almost five months now, and I’m doing it. There are tough days and easy ones, but nothing has slipped through the cracks. I am so excited for the time I spend with our baby boy, but also so excited for the professional successes that I’m building toward.
And there was the moment that I captured in the photograph above. When Bear was not quite 3 months old, I had an oral argument for one of my cases in New York. And after a lot of debate, I decided to bring him with me for the trip.
A few minutes before I went into the courthouse, my mom snapped this photo. And since then, I’ve loved looking back at it — it’s a reminder that even when the balancing is hard, that I am doing it. That I have not had to give up my job for being a mom (or vice versa), and that, sometimes, every once in a while, it feels like it’s working pretty well.
A long time ago, the idea of being a working mom seemed to me a little bit impossible. Would I be able to work once our child arrived? Would I “pick” my job over this tiny life that I had worked so hard to create?
But it’s not impossible. It’s being done every day, in households everywhere, and just like me, moms are making it happen. Despite the fact that it’s hard, despite the fact that the odds are stacked against us, we are balancing professional demands and family and figuring out how to make it work. And with every generation that does it, it gets a little easier for the next one.
So from now on, here’s what I’m going to do.
Rather than hide my job on this blog, I’m going to embrace it.
I’m a working mom.
I’ve attended eight straight seasons over the past four years, and it’s become a big part of my life — the planning, the anticipating, and then attending (and recovering from…) the shows each season.
But this season? I’m staying home.
On one hand, I’m bummed. I love Fashion Week and I miss being there so much.
On the other hand… I’ve had to face the fact that my life is a little (a lot) different right now than it was a year ago, and this season, the idea of packing up a four-month-old and heading to New York just seemed…
Truthfully, that’s the best word for it — the idea that I would attend NYFW this season was one of those decisions that I made when I was pregnant and thinking about the idea of a baby, and not the actual, living, breathing, crying, screaming, non-sleeping, messy little real baby who showed up a few months later. I imagined myself strolling up to the tents in heels, a sweet little newborn cradled in my arms.
(Yes, you read that right: In my imagination, not only was he coming to New York with me, but he was actually attending fashion shows in my arms. Oh my god, you guys.)
Basically, I thought that I was Victoria Beckham.
And it turns out that no, without a staff of nannies and drivers and someone to hold your bag and phone and burp cloths… heading to Lincoln Center with a four-month-old is sort of out of the question.
I had still planned to go until a few weeks ago, when I was sitting in Bear’s room, putting him to bed, and I realized that the reality probably wouldn’t look the way that I imagined it.
Instead, I realized that I was most likely going to miss half my shows because the baby would (1) spit up on every outfit I’d packed, (2) insist on breastfeeding until twenty minutes after each show was scheduled to start, or (3) GET SICK because full-grown adults with healthy immune systems get sick during Fashion Week every year (myself included, without fail)!
And with that, I came to the realization that, just for this season, I was better off staying home.
Fashion Week will be there for me next season. But right now?
We are better off staying home.
I’m planning to be back in February, and truthfully, I like February Fashion Week best of all — it’s a little smaller and less of a “scene,” a little less competitive and a little more fun. I’ll miss the shows, and I’ll miss seeing all of my my many friends, but there is no question that this was the right choice for us, right now.
So I’ll be livestreaming the shows this year, and poring over Instagram as the models make their ways down the runways. Because that breathless anticipation, that moment as the lights go dim, just before the music starts?
You can feel that no matter where you’re watching from.
I’ve been thinking about this post for a while, but I wanted to wait until Bear was solidly out of the newborn arena before putting pen to paper (er… fingers to keys?) on this one. I read a lot of “What stuff do you need to buy before the baby arrives?” lists while I was pregnant, and here’s the thing about those lists…
They tend to be written by stores. Stores that want you to buy a whole lot of baby stuff.
When really… a newborn doesn’t need very much. Fancy bedding? Not really. Toys? Nope. A wide-ranging wardrobe in newborn sizes? Please, no. He will outgrow them faster than you can blink.
In fact, totally honestly, you could probably raise a happy, healthy newborn without much more than a box of diapers, some wipes, and a swaddle blanket or two.
But, since sometimes you want more than just the bare minimum of essentials, here the products I couldn’t live without for the last four months:
#1: A Swing
See that picture above? That is Bear awake in the swing. That never happens. The swing is basically Ambien for babies — it knocks them out. When we got home from the hospital, Bear pretty much cried for like, 18 hours straight… and then we put him in the swing. Instant three-hour nap (I kid you not).
They’re a little pricy, but worth every penny. If you put one single item on your registry, it should be this. Our is this one from Fisher Price, although we actually borrowed it from a friend whose baby had outgrown it. A total lifesaver!
#2: A Carrier
For about five minutes, you can lug your baby around by putting him in the car seat and carrying that — but as he gets bigger, you quickly realize that Baby + Carseat = 1 Zillion Pounds of weight that you are carrying around anytime you want to do anything.
Strollers are great, but ours is two pieces, takes up the entire trunk of my car, and has to be re-assembled each time we want to transport it anywhere. A carrier requires none of these things, so for quick errands, it’s the way to go.
Our carrier is the Stokke My Carrier Cool, which I love (especially in Texas summers)! It can be worn three ways — baby facing in, baby facing out, and as a backpack. Bear didn’t love the “baby facing in” way, because he liked to look out at the world all the time — but now that he’s old enough to have him facing out, he loves it. If you have a baby who prefers to just snuggle and sleep (rather than looking at everything, everywhere, all the time, like mine!), this would work great from Day One.
#3: A Swaddle Sleepsack
Does it seem like every product on this list is geared towards getting your baby to sleep? Yes? That’s because any moment they sleep in those early days is the best thing to ever happen. They are happier, you are happier, and there’s less crying from both baby and mom.
Swaddle blankets are great, and in the hospital, the nurses will swaddle your baby and it will seem so easy. And then you get home, and realize that your baby can break out of a blanket swaddle in four seconds flat, and then he is awake and crying and it takes an hour to get him back to sleep.
What you need is a swaddle made with Velcro. That’s what these are. Little baby straightjackets.
And they are amazing.
#4: Swaddle Blankets
I know, I know. I just said that blankets don’t work for swaddles. And they don’t.
But they work for everything else. I used these blankets to clean up spit up, to keep the baby warm, to create some shade when we were out in the stroller (as pictured above!), to give him something for his little hands to hold onto, and pretty much anything else I could think of.
The best ones are by Aden and Anais — we had eight. I will probably still buy more. You can literally never have too many.
And to top it off, they are beautiful. Organic cotton, pretty delicate little patterns, and durable enough to stand up to all the bodily fluids a baby can create. Again, worth every penny and I love them to death.
#5: Bluetooth Speakers
And… here’s my random one. See, having a baby requires lots of sitting still, which is fine, except… it gets a little boring. Bear took hours to nurse himself to sleep at night, and there were days when I’d spend literally six or seven hours breastfeeding him.
I was too exhausted and sleep-deprived to read books or even watch TV most of the time, but I could still listen to music.
So that’s what I did. We’d sit in his room, sometimes just us, sometimes with the dogs, sometimes with Chad, and I’d listen to Bob Dylan or Neil Young or Crosby Stills and Nash — these soft little folk songs that I’ve always loved, that would make Bear drift off gently to sleep. I was so tired — so incredibly tired — but those moments? They were very, very happy moments.
So those are my top five! I have to give a few honorable mentions too: (1) the Total Baby app, which I used to keep track of his feeding and diapers for those first brutal few weeks; (2) Gas Relief Drops, which Bear still takes multiple times a day — they were a lifesaver for a baby that had terrible gas pains and saved us from so many tears; and (3) baby Tylenol, which you should buy for the night when you will eventually need it (because it is no fun to need it and not have it, even for a few minutes).