Balance Is a Crock, Sleep Is for the Weak

Balance Is a Crock, Sleep Is for the Weak: An Indispensable Guide to Surviving Working Motherhood by Amy Eschliman and Leigh Oshirak
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Anything that could possibly help working parents is a good thing. This book may not really make life easier, but it gives ideas and provides a sense of solidarity that can be pretty important. (Of course the best supports for parents are policy-level things, like national maternity and paternity leave, which this book acknowledges.) I appreciate and agree with a lot of the advice here, especially about taking time for yourself and avoiding guilt. Some of the specific tips about how to get help and how to get away with slacking are good too. The tone is similar to The Girlfriend’s Guide to Pregnancy, which I did not like, especially because of its body-shaming. The jokes and anecdotes are amusing, and it’s mostly pretty fun to read. There are charts to organize some of the information and allow easy comparisons.
I wasn’t thrilled with the way the authors wrote off the idea of getting more help from their husbands. Their expectations for their men are too low, in my opinion. Some of the stories they told about their clueless husbands were horrific. The advice they gave for dealing with these unequal marriages was good, except for a few comments that implied using sex as currency within a marriage. That doesn’t seem very healthy to me.
My pet peeve for books in this genre: why is a mani/pedi always the first example of something a woman should do to pamper herself? I think I’ve had 3 manicures and one pedicure in my life. While I did enjoy the massage part of the pedicure, the cutting-cuticle part of the manicure was painful. Polish makes my fingertips feel heavy and smothered even if it looks cute. I could never keep my hands still long enough to allow polish to dry. And then it starts chipping off the next day. Not the way I’d spend my precious me-time and me-money. Of course, that’s just my personal opinion. But generally, when magazines and books like this one talk about how you can slack on certain kinds of self-maintenance, but not others, they don’t always draw the line in the same place, and not where I’d draw it myself. They go on about being non-judgemental about parenting choices and cultivating an easy, effortless personal style, while tsk-tsking at the idea of leaving the house with your hair wet from a shower. If you’ve done that regularly (just to Kroger, I promise) how is that supposed to make you feel? My advice to advice-givers: realize how widely standards vary and think of multiple examples of self-care that do not involve nail salons.
And how is working motherhood going for me so far?
1) I’ve discovered that my relationship with my pump determines a large portion of my mood for the day. If nothing comes out and I’m engorged and uncomfortable, I’m very grumpy indeed.
2) Weekday evenings fly by. I’m home with the baby around 4, he feeds and naps, dinner is at 6, bedtime routine starts at 7, and then I get an hour to an hour and a half to myself before I crash.
3) So far, I haven’t cooked on any weekday night. Instead, I make a crockpot Sunday night that will give us two or three dinners, and David cooks the remaining evenings. I’d praise him for this, but he’s just contributing his fair share.
4) Times I’ve had to change in the morning after baby spit up all over my outfit: Twice in two weeks.
5) Nursing in bed saves sleep. The amount of sleep saved increases with the number of night feedings. When a husband does the diaper changing and bringing baby to bed and back to crib, it can be almost enough to make a mom feel human again.
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