Written February 16th, 2009
I thoroughly enjoyed the week in Tahoe with co-workers (and therefore, lots of family). The last time I had visited headquarters, I was a relatively new mom and not yet totally secure in that area of my life. I felt kind of awkward having to excuse myself from a conversation to change a diaper, or having Mackenzie (even happily) squeal while people were trying to work. Consequently, I spent very little time at the office and went home a little frustrated at the whole experience.
This time was completely different. I was a mom first, and a good employee/co-worker as well. I know that I’ll be a mom long after I stop working for SmugMug, but that doesn’t take away from the contributions I make to the company right now.
Mackenzie and SmugMug are both part of my life at the moment, and I’ve finally learned to embrace the overlap.
I spent my pregnancy with Mackenzie balancing a laptop on my belly, and I spent her first several months snuggling her while I typed emails. She’d wake up in the middle of the night and I’d still be up, working away. Now, I feed her while scribbling away on a notepad and I chase her around the house playing while I’m on mute on conference calls.
She is so much a part of my work that it was almost like a weight off my shoulders to have everyone at SmugMug finally meet her.
I now realize that early on, I subconsciously considered her a liability at work. I tried to downplay my responsibilities in taking care of her, worried that people would think I wasn’t working as hard at SmugMug. All of THEM (my co-workers) worked full-time without Mackenzie as a distraction, so surely I was at a disadvantage and I couldn’t possibly pull my weight. As a result, I frequently over-compensated and took too much on my plate at work and sent my life out of balance. I’d fight my way back to the middle again, trying not to doubt my ability to handle both areas of my life with any kind of success. Although I spent the first year of Mackenzie’s life really enjoying her and enjoying work, it took me that long to realize something that should of have been obvious:
Mackenzie IS a distraction for me. A welcome one. She is truly an asset. She brings me joy, fulfillment, laughter, and another creative outlet that keeps every day exciting and fresh. She saves me from burn-out at work, and motivates me to do my best at everything I do in my life.
The trip to California gave me the confidence and clarity I needed to make a change.
Mackenzie is getting to an age where she needs me. She needs me to play with her and teach her things about belly buttons, and blocks, and the joy of squishing orange sections in one’s hands. She needs to hear me talk about the things around us and about how much I love spending time with her. She needs to watch me do exciting stuff, like loading the dishwasher, dusting, and filing papers. Gone are the days where she was content (and well-off) just focusing on rolling over, or learning to walk, or mastering grabbing toys. Back then, I’d give her plenty of snuggles, make sure she was well-fed, clean and doing something she enjoyed and then I’d just sit back and watch her figure stuff out while I worked at SmugMug. Now, she likes nothing better than to imitate me brushing my teeth, washing my hands, cleaning up crumbs, or reading a book.
As it turns out, sitting and typing at a computer is not something she has much patience for anymore, and I was finding that I was shorter on patience with her when I tried to work while she was awake. For the first time since she was born, I felt like she was getting the short end of the stick because of my work and I didn’t feel good about it.
I had continued working when she was born because I enjoyed it, it helped us stay out of debt (as much as possible), and because I could do it and still be the best mom I could be to Mackenzie. I didn’t know how long it would last, but I told myself when it crossed the line and prevented me from giving Mackenzie the love and care I wanted to give her, I would stop.
With Mackenize getting older, the working situation started toeing the line and so I changed the game plan.
Now, when Mackenzie is awake, work is on hold. Unless it’s taking a phone call or participating on a conference call, I spend my time cooking, cleaning, exercising, reading, helping friends out, and playing with my girl. The second she goes down for a nap, I give SmugMug all I have. Ditto for her second nap. Evenings are a bit more flexible, because if Scott is home, he might take her so I can work and then he and I might spend time together without work after M goes down for the night. She takes about 5 hours of naps a day, and she sleeps 4-6 hours longer at night than I do so it leaves enough time for me to stay full-time at SmugMug. She enjoys watching and “helping” all day while I multi-task with household responsibilities, and I love not juggling so many things at once. It means I have to manage my time better than before, but I’m much more at peace with this situation.
Now, I feel like a “busy” mom when she’s awake, but not so much like a “working” mom, and while the distinction may be lost on many, it makes a world of difference to me.