work life challenge / by Susie Lubell

I have a friend who's pregnant for the first time and she and her husband came over the other night for a sit down with me and my husband about the realities of having kids and working full time. My friend was concerned about continuing with her current senior level job where she works probably 60-70 hours a week but has done the job for nine years and knows it well, or taking a new job where there might be a steep learning curve at first but she'd reliably work 40 hour weeks. So I gave her my opinion - that ideally you do something you are completely passionate about for say 20 hours a week and you spend the rest of the time raising your kids and running your house. And her husband chimed in that he, in fact, does most of the housework. I'm sure. Delightful. But are you planning to nurse the baby too? No matter how you cut it and how wonderful your partner is and how egalitarian your lives are together, if both parents are working it just means the mom has two jobs. Of course there are a zillion other factors like money and support from other family members and desire to be home with babies and the list goes on. 

I've had these conversations with plenty of other friends too and generally I just nod and say supportive things like sure, maybe you'll figure out how to be an investment banker and still be your baby's primary care-giver. Right. And the truth is with one baby you probably can keep doing what you were doing before you had kids and make it work. I did, sort of. Although a lovely woman named Nena was his primary care-giver during the day. (I like to blame his neuroses on her).  And you convince yourself, after the initial shock subsides, that this is totally manageable and in fact my life hasn't changed that much and we can still go to our friends' houses at night and just schlep junior along in the pack and play and whip out the boob on command. Not a problem. And then suddenly it's two years later and you have a toddler and a newborn and you marvel at how profoundly different your life is. And why didn't anyone tell me it would be like this. They probably did. But it's hard to wrap your head around these things until you're in it neck deep. I'm sure my friends who have teenagers and listen to me bitch about the tortures of wrangling my kids to bed every night are having their own giggle. When your son is fourteen you will wish he was four again.