Wednesday, August 15, 2007

A Birthday Wish for Integration

Today is my birthday. I am 37 years old (I still can't believe that). I like to believe I look really young for my age, but that fantasy was shattered after I visited the lactation consultant a few weeks ago, who wanted to say--without judgement (ha!)--that had I given birth when I was younger, I wouldn't be as affected by the sleep deprivation (I doubt that!).

Anyway, this has been an amazing year. I got engaged, pregnant, married and then Maddie showed up. It's stunning how quickly your life can change once you find the person to grow old with and figure out he is a damn good person to parent a child with too.

What I think is the hard part of having children when you are older is that you have lived a long time without encumbrances. Moreoever, I have had almost complete control of my time for over a decade. I decided when I wanted to work, when I wanted to goof off, and when to sleep. None of those things are up to me now. So, at age 37 I have to learn how to start over.

Yesterday I caught an old Oprah show wherein she pitted the stay at home moms vs. the working moms. I found myself totally and completely alienated from the rather strident stay at home mothers who, in underhanded ways, accused working mothers of not making their children a priority or of being selfish.

Throughout the show I was wondering how I will get back to work. I already have people asking for abstracts, editing work and soliciting writing. I get excited about each of these opportunities and then remember that I may not find enough time to do any of these things. For me the issue is not should I go back to work, but rather, how to reorient my life so that I can both nurture, love and care for Maddie, while preserving my public, professional identity. Afterall, I want Maddie to be proud of what her mother does; hell, I want her to look up to me.

So, my birthday wish today is that you fine readers give me hope that I will be able to integrate my new identities--wife, mother, and professional.