Aspen Princess: Making sure the brain works makes for a better mom and journalist
In breaking news this week, I’m happy to announce that my brain still works.
I wasn’t so sure it was possible, but I recently took on a pretty big assignment that was way out of my comfort zone. I can’t really talk about it until after it’s published, but let’s just say it involves real journalism and has nothing to do with taking care of a toddler.
Just in case you thought I was a babbling, self-indulgent, navel-gazing idiot, that part is true, but I actually do have some credentials. I happen to have a degree in journalism from the University of Colorado at Boulder School of Journalism and Mass Communication. It’s actually considered a bachelor of science, which I always thought was funny because then I have to tell people I have “a B.S. in journalism.”
I never did go on to get an advanced degree, although I’ve been close. I did get accepted to a professional writing masters program at the University of Southern California, which would have sent me on an entirely different career path, likely in screenwriting and television, which I would have loved and probably been very good at.
I would have ended up living in Los Angeles, probably Santa Monica or Venice Beach, or maybe one of the South Beach cities, Hermosa or Manhattan. I would have for sure made a lot more money as a writer working in television than scrapping together the chump change that I get for whatever assignments I can scrounge for print magazines. The rest comes from soul-sucking commercial copy writing, mostly for real estate companies (love you guys! Thanks for donating to the Margo Mortgage Fund!). It pays the bills, but it’s not exactly what I dreamed about when I was younger.
If I’d ended up in L.A. as a rich television writer, I probably would never have met a good guy or gotten married. When l lived in Southern California, men treated me kind of like a puppy, cute and fun to cuddle with for a minute or two before leaving the house for the rest of the day while I lay restlessly, wishing I could be let out to pee. I’d be single and pushing 50 and even though I’d have an expensive wardrobe, beautifully furnished apartment, leased Porsche convertible, and the best medical aesthetician around, whatever money I had leftover would be spent on therapy.
I never did go to grad school because I just couldn’t manage to justify the cost of tuition to study writing when I was already getting paid to write. Plus, Aspen has had my heart since I was 8 years old, and I always knew I was destined to live here.
I guess I have my own show, in a way, with this column, which I get paid tens of dollars for. As Ryan likes to say, we are lifestyle rich. And as I lay in bed each night to the chorus of snores that surround me, nestled between the best man I’ve ever known and the best dog I’ve ever known with our little blonde baby in the next room, I could not be happier.
That said, it’s fair to admit my career has been seriously lacking since the babe was born.
I’ve been trying to stay engaged, to remain driven and sharp. But when you have a small creature in your house who wakes you up at least once in the middle of the night and wakes up at dawn and then takes whatever energy you have leftover throughout the day, it’s tough to manage to care about your career, at least not until your checking account goes into overdraft, again.
So when I got this assignment, I knew I had to take it, even though it was way out of my comfort zone, even though it was going to take more time than I knew I had.
That’s probably why I resisted the urge to quit what seemed like an impossible assignment. It just felt too hard. I thought, “What am I thinking, trying to take this on when I have a 2-year-old to take care of? I don’t think I can do this.”
I rehearsed my excuses in my head, my reasons for pulling the plug.
Then a familiar voice popped up in my head, the voice that says, “if something scares you, do it,” and “the hard thing is usually the right thing,” and “god damnit girl, if you ever needed something, this is it.”
Plus, my dad gave me a pretty good lecture about the article being important and that it needed to be written and that I should not give up. Standard dad stuff.
I called in the cavalry. Ryan’s parents hopped on a plane as soon as they could. They get the in-laws of the decade award. They came in for a week, took care of the baby full time, and managed to squeeze in a remodel of our rental apartment. I don’t know what I ever did to deserve them, but I am forever grateful to them for always being there for us.
Because of them, I pushed through and I have to say, it’s the best thing I’ve done in a long while. The brain really is like any other muscle. Once you start exercising it, it gets stronger. Your stamina gets better. For the past two weeks I’ve been working nonstop, full days and some nights. It feels so good, I can’t even begin to tell you.
And for all the struggle us moms have with trying to balance it all, I can say in all honesty that when I take care of myself, and do things that are fulfilling to me, I am a much better mother.
To all the working moms out there, I salute you. Thanks for the inspiration.
Now that her mind is in such good shape, The Princess needs to exercise her actual body and stop eating pretzels. Email your love firstname.lastname@example.org.
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