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When I decided to become a mother, I
developed an elaborate scheme for transitioning to my dream life, which
included a four-month paid maternity leave; a book deal that would give me a
$100,000 advance, enough to quit my full-time job; and a
nanny to help with the child while I wrote said book.
I knew I could "have it all," because the
Women's Liberation Movement told me so. I watched
wistfully as TV moms Clair Huxtable from The Cosby Show and Elyse Keaton from Family Ties, in their big-shouldered
power suits, juggled jobs and families, albeit imperfectly.
Cut to: My actual maternity leave, which was
only really three weeks' paid time off, cobbled together with unpaid days
and vacation for a total of nine weeks. Five of those nine weeks I was so
sleep-deprived and baby-focused that I could barely wash a dish or check email;
the other four weeks I was consumed with the anxiety of leaving the baby while
It helped that we found the perfect
home-based daycare, run by a couple named Mimi and Papa. That made my return
to work a little easier, knowing that she was in a place where she was truly
A year later, I'm still trying to find that
perfect balance of work and home life. I'm grateful for a job that keeps the
mortgage paid and the baby fed, but I can't help feeling as if I'm missing out
on a third of my daughter's life. I am desperately hoping she takes her first steps with me watching, instead of at daycare.
After talking to moms who seem to be able to
"do it all," I realized there are some common threads that help them work it
out: meticulous scheduling; setting priorities and putting aside everything
else; and a workplace that can accommodate flexible family schedules. Often, this means sacrificing a high salary
for a more "meaningful" job with a school or nonprofit, or, alternatively, owning your own
has also made me rethink my schedule so I won't
resent the time I'm spending away from my baby … and procrastinating on my