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ASK RENE: BABY BLUES

Dear Rene:

I certainly hope you can help because I have nowhere else to turn. My problem is that I’m not exactly thrilled with my experience as a mother. I’m an attorney and spend long hours at the office working out complicated deals. When I come home at night it’s all I can do to put a meal together before I fall asleep

The problem is that my 22-month old daughter. Sarah wants me to play with her and many nights I’m simply too exhausted. But the thing that worries me now is that I am beginning to resent her simple demands and wonder whether I made a mistake having her.

I don’t want to shortchange my daughter because she did not ask for this but I’m just not sure what to do. Help!

Anonymous in Atlanta.


Dear Rene:

I certainly hope you can help because I have nowhere else to turn. My problem is that I’m not exactly thrilled with my experience as a mother. I’m an attorney and spend long hours at the office working out complicated deals. When I come home at night it’s all I can do to put a meal together before I fall asleep

The problem is that my 22-month old daughter. Sarah wants me to play with her and many nights I’m simply too exhausted. But the thing that worries me now is that I am beginning to resent her simple demands and wonder whether I made a mistake having her.

I don’t want to shortchange my daughter because she did not ask for this but I’m just not sure what to do. Help!

Anonymous in Atlanta.

Dear Anonymous:

At the risk of sounding like a cliché, as a working mother, I really do feel your pain.  I know what it’s like to give so much outside of the home that you have an empty tank when you get back there. But in the end, that is of no help to anyone, particularly the people who matter most. The answer could be as simple as reevaluating then revamping your priorities. The fact that you are worn out by the time you get home is exactly what is coloring your world this awful shade of fatigue and chaos.  So here are a few practical suggestions that might help.

*YOU NEED ADEQUATE HELP AT WORK: Between work and home, you have a lot of balls you are struggling to keep in the air. An extra pair of hands in the form of a crack assistant would help immensely. I have had a few assistants in my career and I can tell you a great one will help you do your job better; a barely decent one will make you a nervous wreck.  You need someone who can work with you and anticipate your needs instead of phoning it in.  If you don’t have a great assistant, get one.

*YOU NEED ADEQUATE HELP AT HOME: If you have in-home childcare make sure they’re stimulating your daughter during the day and not just plopping Sarah in front of the TV. I’m not saying you want her exhausted by the time you get home but she should be winding down after a full day. Regarding mealtime, what I do (well, Buff actually since I don’t cook) is we plan and cook everything on the weekend and make meals from that all week. A grilled chicken breast, some cut up lettuce, tomato and baked croutons and VOILA, you have a healthy and fairly easy dinner. We are also not above eating frozen entrees or my personal favorite, breakfast for dinner! You don’t do it every night but the point is as long as your daughter is adequately fed and full, what’s the harm?

*TAKE THE PRESSURE OFF: This goes for work and home. No more worrying about whether you are a good mother because you don’t do what your neighbor does (you know Good Enough Mother HATES competitive parenting!) or what your mother-in-law says you should be doing.  No more driving yourself crazy with artificial deadlines (and all deadlines are artificial) or piling on more work because “you can take it”. You’re going to have to learn to delegate some responsibility. Of course that means you may have to give up some control as well, but so be it.

*GIVE YOURSELF TIME TO DECOMPRESS WHEN YOU GET HOME: I think this is a big one. You need time to transition from work-mode where it’s go, go, GO to the home-mode where it’s decidedly more laidback. If it means keeping the babysitter on for another 30 minutes or going home and changing clothes before picking your child up from daycare or taking just 10 minutes of deep breathing in the car before you open that door, do it! You will be better equipped to handle home demands and be more centered and in the moment if you give yourself just a few minutes.

*REMEMBER, IT’S QUALITY NOT QUANTITY: This is a hard thing to understand sometimes but your daughter will not remember the hours you spent with her more than she will remember HOW that time was spent. For example, if you are with her physically (with Blackberry in hand) but not there mentally or emotionally, she will look back on your time together and remember that she had to compete with your work for attention.

It’s okay to tell everyone you work with that from the time you get home in the evening until you put your daughter to bed, you are out of pocket. Deals can wait (deadlines are artificial, remember?). So when you are with Sarah BE with her. Read to her at night or let her “read” to you (they love that!). Learn to make the most of your weekends, not by cramming them so full of activities but just relaxing together.

One more thing, 22-month-olds have seemingly boundless energy and require a lot from their parents. It will not be like that forever, as Sarah will soon be doing more things on her own. But until that time, if you adopt some of these tactics, I think you’ll find motherhood, though still tough at times, won’t seem so overwhelming.

Good luck mommy!

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