Princess: Lean in, or bend over? Tales of a working mom
The Aspen Princess
So the other day I drive up to Aspen to meet with one of my clients. She’s nice enough to invite me over to her house for lunch because I’ll have the baby with me.
I had originally planned to hire a nanny two days a week so I could go back to work when I was ready. But I think I’ve got this. I can so totally work and take care of the Babes at the same time. I can bend over or lean in or whatever the hell that feminist lady Shirley Sandman says you’re supposed to do.
Sure, it’s a little hectic trying to get things done in the two hours I have between naps and feedings. Yes, it can be a little challenging when the Babes wakes up when I’m in the middle of a phone interview for a story I’m working on. It might be true that taking care of a 3-month-old baby does require quite a bit of time, but it just forces me to be more organized and efficient.
I am a modern, professional woman who decided to have a baby in her mid-40s, so it’s totally understandable that the bags under my eyes sag halfway down my cheeks. Hey, I’m still strong enough to hike up the Arbaney Kittle Trail with the Babes smashed against my chest in one of those baby-carrier things. So what if it has made my back so tight I’ve developed a slight limp and am in a moderate amount of pain? That’s what Advil is for. Plus, it’s essential to exercise every day to stay fit and energized.
When I arrive, Laurie looks effortlessly chic in a pair of short shorts, ankle boots, blousey top and floppy hat, like she’d just breezed in from a weekend at Coachella. I tell her she looks super-thin, and she informs me she just finished a plant-based cleanse and is feeling amazing, her cheeks aglow, eyebrows tweezed into a perfect arch, hair long and flowing down her back. I try not to hate her.
It’s a lot warmer than I expected, and I’m horribly overdressed in jeans and a loose, long-sleeve wrap thing that I have to wear to hide my belly. I guess the reason they call them skinny jeans is because if you’re not skinny then your fat sort of oozes out them like something being squeezed out of a tube. Ditto that for my boobs, which have grown at least a cup size but not in a good way. They spill out from my now too-small bra and are about as perky as Laurie’s Persian cat, who was perched on the couch, eyeballing me suspiciously.
At least the Babes is sleeping peacefully in his car seat looking adorable, his long eyelashes casting a shadow over his fat little cheeks. Laurie serves us bowls of shredded green vegetables with a tablespoon of homemade dressing made out of the three ingredients that are left after you eliminate gluten, sugar and processed foods from your diet.
I gobble my bowl of roughage a little too eagerly because I am starving and also because that’s what you do when the baby is sleeping — you eat as quickly as you can while you have the chance. Normally I’m alone when I do this, so I don’t notice that I’m grunting and slurping and have dressing smeared across my upper lip.
Just when I think things are going pretty smoothly, the baby wakes up and starts crying. As soon as I’m done feeding him, he spits up with enough force to startle the cat. So even though I’ve been dealing with this every day for almost four months now, I can’t help but panic a little. I wipe his face clean as quickly and effectively as I can, the regurgitated milk forming into a nice layer of crust on my skin.
Just when I think I have things under control, he takes a particularly foul-smelling dump, so I decide to change him outside on the patio in the bright sunlight. I change him as quickly as I can, hoping he can’t get sunburned in less than 60 seconds. I’m so stressed I can literally feel the zit on my chin growing. Now that my estrogen levels have dropped, the skin on my face is like a popped balloon, eyelids sagged and droopy like a Labrador retriever’s.
As if being neurotic about my weight wasn’t enough, now I have to contend with aging overnight. Having a kid in your mid-40s is not something that can be fixed with a little Botox. Dude, I already tried that. All it did was create this weird dent above my left eye that can’t be fixed, at least not according to the needle-wielding aesthetician with flawless skin. I mean, who gets more wrinkles from Botox?
“It’s OK,” Laurie says as I try to apologize for all the chaos. “It’s fine.”
“He’s always a little fussy this time of day,” I say, and I realize I’m doing that thing I swore I would never do, making excuses for why my child is less than perfect. It used to drive me crazy when my friends did that.
“Oh, he never does this,” they would say, as if I were there to evaluate their performance.
But now I get it.
As soon as we get into the car, the Babes falls into a peaceful sleep. I’m totally exhausted and wondering if we got anything accomplished, a feeling that I’m having a lot these days.
But as soon as we get home and I’m able to scoop him up and fold his little warm body into my chest and feel his soft little cheek against mine, his breath on my face like dew on a morning flower, I know I’m getting the job done. I guess this is what people mean when they talk about a labor of love.
The Princess seriously needs some eye cream. Email your love to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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