Day 13 – The Secondary Parent

I bring a lot of strengths to the table as a parent. I’m organized, I read all the books on the importance of sleep and behavioral changes and implement its teachings in our house. I register baseball and swim lessons and other things on time (mostly). I put things in the calendar and am usually good for the 1.5-2 hours I see my son a day (during the week at least).

I am not the primary parent. Even the most equitable of households typically have a primary parent. The parent that spends a bit more time with the kid, is generally a more patient person and isn’t overwhelmed at the thought of a day alone with an almost five year old. You’d think I’d have five years to that, and yet, here we are.

To be honest, The Hubs and I spend fairly equal amounts of time with our kid. He takes the mornings while I work out and leave for work (usually by 7:30). He drops him off at school by 8:30. He picks him up too, but when I get home, it’s my time to shine and he’s my responsibility until bedtime, while The Hubs either works out or naps (sometimes simultaneously!). Weekends are more of the same where we switch off Saturday/Sunday mornings for our designated activities, and the rest is family time. He’s usually good with us individually, and sweet as hell to me when it’s just the two of us. But when we’re all together, it’s no secret who he views as the primary parent. And this doesn’t bother me – usually – because he is the fun one.

The Hubs doesn’t blink an eye at a weekend alone with our kid. I’ve gone on a few girls trips, marched for women’s equality, and it’s literally no sweat. My husband left today for a wedding and comes back on Monday night. My usual reinforcements are unavailable (people either traveling or with lives that don’t revolve around my inability to entertain my child for 12 straight hours).

I don’t usually complain about not having enough time together. I’m adamant that quality time is more important than quantity time. Of course I welcome this opportunity for a good weekend together. In April, I’m taking a full week off work to hang out with him over spring break, which is something I haven’t done since I was on maternity leave. Even that isn’t completely accurate, since my husband was home with me for 85% of my maternity leave, so I was like REALLY spoiled. I am freaking out about this because… WHAT THE FUCK AM I GOING TO DO WITH HIM FOR A WHOLE WEEK.

We have a 50-50 partnership that sometimes skews a bit in one direction or the other depending on the week. I love that The Hubs is such a natural parent. 99% of the time I do not harbor any insecurities or regret over the fact that I’m the type to take my kid to a movie, rather than create some sort of magical activity at home.

All this to say, there are many different kinds of parents and many different kinds of families. Oh, and if you want to hang out with me the week of April 10 or have any tips/ideas, I will do it. I will do it so hard.

Day 12 – Writing Something

I’m staying true to the challenge and my promise to at least write one thing each day. There. I wrote something. 

Day 11 – To Start An Empire?

I know I’ve been saying this a lot lately, but I know I’ve been phoning this blog challenge in the past few days. Carving out 30-45 minutes of uninterrupted writing time a day to produce the type of content I want has been much more difficult than I imagined. Tomorrow will probably be more of the same, as my flight lands at 8pm after a day of meetings here in Boston.

I will tell you about the awesome running class I went to in Cambridge. A good friend from my DC days is part of a running club/group that has a treadmill studio. Basically, it’s a bunch of people running on treadmills in a room together to kick ass music. They offer a lot of different classes, but the one tonight focused on speed/hill intervals + a sliver of core work. It packed A LOT into 45 minutes and it was just what I needed after a plane ride.

Nothing exists like this in Chicago. Sure you have Shred415 and OrangeTheory that has components of this, but no studio focused solely on running and serving the runner and his/her training. The Hubs and I have always joked about wanting to start an “empire.” We’re pretty open and flexible on what kind of empire it would be. One day, we think we should write a self-help book on how we juggle fitness with a kid, another day we think about opening up a legit taco stand (with real queso). Today, it’s a running studio. Maybe we’ll create the first taco + running studio where we’ll shill copies of our bestselling book “Relationship Goals” (his title). I think we’ll call it: Taco Your Run

Both of us are incredibly risk averse people, so the chances of us taking the plunge on anything like this is nothing but a dream. That said, if you live in Chicago, would YOU come to Taco Your Run?

Day 10 – Procrastination Nation + West Wing = Running Success

I’m starting this post while I procrastinate getting on the treadmill. I woke up this morning to run outside (or I should say, I never fell back asleep after my kid had a nightmare at 4:30am), but the windchill was 18 degrees and the treadmill feels really lonely in the morning. I used the opportunity to get a jump start at the office at 7am (yes I’m humblebraging) and actually get shit done before a day of meetings.

How am I procrastinating you ask? Well I’m lying (laying? I still have no idea which one is right) in my bed going switching between a trashy book, catching up on celeb gossip and texting my husband who is one floor below me. And I’m also thinking about what show to watch if I end up getting on the treadmill. Oh and I guess I’m writing this too. THAT my friends is multitasking.

What do you say, folks? Day 10 is by far the worst post yet. I’m reaching the bottom of the barrel here. Pretty soon I’m going to be writing about my socks a la Season 5 Carrie Bradshaw.

Alright. I’m getting up. I’ll report back after I successfully complete this thing.

One Hour Later…

work out

We’re both really committed to our workouts

Well, as expected I’m really glad I did that. I ended up doing my West Wing rewatch, which kept me riveted and made the run go faster than usual. For those who are familiar with the West Wing, the podcast is on the Two Cathedrals episode, which is the best episode of the series. I won’t spoil (though can one spoil the West Wing at this point), but it has what quite possibly the best five minutes of television I’ve seen in my lifetime. Those who are fans know the five minutes I’m talking about. If you haven’t watched yet, I highly recommend starting the show and listening along to the podcast. I’ve learned more about the nuances of the show and beyond just from listening.

Join me tomorrow, when I’m probably going to write something personal and of substance again (if I don’t chicken out of course).

 

Day 9 – How I Read

In addition to working a lot, running a lot, parenting a lot and doing laundry a lot, I like to read… A LOT. I could go into the details of what kinds of books I like to read (trashy romance/fiction and narrative nonfiction), and I’m sure I’ll get into it at some point, along with WHY I love to read. If you are really curious, you can find me on Goodreads.

What I really want to get into is HOW I read. All of the above-mentioned activities are certainly time consuming, but I still aim to crank out a book a week. Let’s dive into how I get it done, shall we?

Quality need not apply. I like quick reads with overly dramatic story lines that hook me and keep me hooked. I like books that make me want to spend the two free hours I have after my son goes to bed and not want to do anything else – like talk to my husband. These books are not Pride and Prejudice and War and Peace, but they are easy to read and offer nice escapism for a bit.

Technology works. Some people like the good ol’ hardcover book – and I do think it still has a time and a place. That said, if we’re talking about efficiency, the Kindle is where it’s at. I use my Kindle Paperwhite at home mostly, which conveniently syncs up to the Kindle app on my phone. I’ll typically read on the app on the L and if I’m standing in the Starbucks line. Usually if I have a spare five minutes where I’d otherwise be staring into space, I’m reading. Also, if I’m lazy and my actual Kindle is all the way over there, I can still read on my phone or iPad! #lazynessrules

Library pressure. Did you know you can get Kindle books from your local library? No? I sure do! You know why? Because I have three books checked out, five (the max) on hold and another three on my wishlist, which is just my staging area to put books on hold when I have a free slot. It’s a very serious process. When you get a Kindle from the library, you have a set period of time to read it before it disappears (Chicago Public Library gives you 21 days). That’s a lot of pressure to get it done. Anyone who knows me knows that I love a good deadline and this will do the trick. Have I not finished a book when it expired on my phone and had to enter the waiting list again? Yup! Did I curse myself for not being more efficient with my reading time? You betcha! I just don’t need that kind of stress in my life, so I do my best to read these bad boys expeditiously.

Switch it up. This is kind of redundant to the technology point, but we live in a world dominated by tech and apps, so it makes sense to cover this twice. This is more of a plug for an app I just discovered called Serial Reader that is keeping things interesting. This app has a huge catalogue of classic literature of all genres, breaks it up into “issues” that it delivers to your phone daily at your designated time. Each “issue” takes about 8-13 minutes to read and is a delightful and digestible way to get your classic literature fix. Right now, I’m reading a bit of Jane Eyre every day and can still go about my day and read my decidedly NOT Jane Eyre type fiction.

Have little to no social life. Once upon a time I went out a lot on the weekends. During that phase, I did not read a lot. Now, I spend a lot of Fridays and Saturdays at home because I’m recovering from the week and/or don’t feel like paying for a babysitter. I get A LOT of reading done on those nights! (Editor’s note: I do have some friends and go out occasionally. If I go too hard, I’ll just catch up on my reading in the morning when my son watches PBS Kids. Everyone wins!)

So there you have it. I’m sure I’ll use this site at times for book reviews and/or more thought provoking content on printed vs. Kindle. But for my 10 readers, tell me: What do you do to keep your reading volume up?

Day 8 – Work Work Work Work Work

Well, it’s finally happening. Almost every day, I’ve said that I don’t really have much to say. And then end up writing a novel. But today’s the day I might end up with just a paragraph (or three, because let’s get real).

I’ve been pretty non-stop with work since the beginning of the year, which has a tendency to happen when everyone wants to hit the ground running in the New Year. I’m usually pretty good at juggling it all, but so far I have had more work travel in 3 months than I usual do in a year with two more trips in two weeks alone. I used to keep this schedule no problem, but in my old(er) age, with more on my plate in my personal life, it takes just a bit more energy.

I worked 60 hours last week and am packing it in tonight after about 12 hours of work (there was a bit of a break to hang out with my kid and put him to sleep). I’m not saying this to complain. I don’t mind hard work and often I thrive on it. I like feeling valued and I like contributing.

Today though, after writing and re-writing about 30 pages of stuff, I’d rather use the 30 minutes I have left – before I pass out to Seinfeld – consuming other people’s words than producing any of my own.

Hopefully more tomorrow!

Day 7 – Sundays = Laundry

One week down, 3.3 weeks to go!

I have nothing in particular to write about today, so I’m phoning this one in because Sundays are my “get shit down around the house day.” Saturdays are usually reserved for quality parent-child time and generally recovering from the work week. Yesterday involved bagels, baseball, vegging and a night alone watching and donating to PBS while The Hubs was at a work event. I have no complaints on any of this.

Sundays are reserved for long runs, laundry (more on that in a minute), reading, more kid time and doing some actual WORK work if I feel a need to get ahead of the week (which today I did for about three hours… ugh).

So laundry… We all do it, but no one talks about it (or is that the other thing that everyone does… but actually everyone talks about that one). This is the one household chore that falls under my responsibility. The Hubs takes care of literally almost everything else.

Laundry

This is all the laundry I’ve done and have to fold this evening.

Living in a house with two dudes + me, means that we generate A LOT of laundry. Two of us work out 5-6 days a week and obviously wears different clothes to work, one of us is a five year old who gets dirty a lot. You could imagine the amount of clothing this generates in a single week. This does not include sheets and towels, which don’t get changes nearly as much as they should. (If we don’t have honesty during this writing challenge, what DO we have?)

Allow me to share – in a perfect world – the loads of laundry I will do on Sunday, including folding and putting away, if I’m feeling super motivated and not at all lazy (which is 25% of Sundays a month):

  • Exercise clothes – Typically 2 massive loads (that’s what she said, yes, I’m 12)
  • “Street” clothes, as the hip kids call it – 3 loads, including whites, mediums and darks. I am OBSESSIVE about sorting and if a medium gets mixed with a dark and/or an exercise gets mixed in with “street” I will lose it.
  • Kid clothes – 1 load. This is where anarchy sets in because I will not spend the mental energy sorting and categorizing clothes he will wear for 6 months and will likely destroy before then

This is seriously the bare minimum that needs to get done weekly for us to function as a household. I probably do it like every other week. Maybe. OR, I’ll get all the laundry physically in the washer and dryer, but it will remain unfolded until more laundry needs to get done. I haven’t even covered the towels, sheets, cloth napkins that The Hubs insists on because environment or the delicate/dry clean only clothes maybe addressed (really I have stuff from the summer that I haven’t cleaned yet). It. Never. Ends.

I wasn’t planning on writing this much about literally my least favorite subject, but as you can see, I desperately am procrastinating all of this. Please wish me luck.

More Laundry

Oh wait, there is also this full dryer and washer that also needs to be dealt with.

Day 6 – An Ode to the Lakefront Path

Chicago Skyline

What I see on an average 6-mile run and one of my favorite views on earth

After yesterday’s seriousness, I decided for Day 6 to go back to one of my favorite topics to write and talk about. Gardening! Just kidding, it’s running. Are you surprised? I didn’t think so.

I was struggling with today’s post as I’m totally boring and lame on the weekends (typically). My day literally consisted of: getting bagels, going to pre-school baseball, grocery shopping and sitting on the couch. Does not make for a rousing entry.

But then, I happened on Geoffrey Baer’s Lakefront special on PBS (yes, this is my Saturday night) and the choice became clear.

For those not familiar, the Chicago lakefront has 18 miles of beaches and park land – all with a (for the most part) well maintained running/biking/inline skating/yogging path. It is probably my favorite part of this city.

My love for the Lakefront Path began in high school. I was not – shall we say – an athlete, but I was looking for a way to get some exercise and enjoy the city in the summer. What’s a girl going to school in the late 90s to do? Inline skating of course! I’d strap on those bad boys, along with some stylish knee pads and wrist guards (safety first!) and head north from my Lincoln Park house for about 12 miles round trip. Once I got to the north terminus at Hollywood and turned back to head south, saving my beloved skyline view for the second, more challenging half of my skate.

I left for college and left Chicago for almost 15 years. I took up running and found a love for exploring my city of residence on foot. I’d come back to visit and run on the path when I could, but as a means to an end.

When I moved back to Chicago in 2014, everything changed. I was a full fledged, committed, crazy runner. Four days a week, I started lacing up to run on the path. Now that I live further north, my favorite skyline view is now closer to the start of the run, and reveals itself with open arms that will never, ever get old.

Training for the Chicago Marathon in 2015 brought me further south on the path than I ever had been in my (then) 33 years. Before then, I had never ventured south of Oak Street and I had no idea what I was missing. Running as far south as 31st street, the turnaround back north gave me that motivating view I had when I lived in Lincoln Park. Now I get the best of both worlds. I get Lincoln Park, Grant Park, Museum Campus and Soldier Field. It’s all mine.

The skyline view when you round the Shedd Aquarium is the model for postcards. Belmont Harbor at sunrise offers a scene that impressionist painters would have salivated over. In summer time, it’s not uncommon to see a line of amateur photographer/runners stop in their tracks at sunrise to get a picture between North and Fullerton where all you see is water and color.

Since moving back, I’ve estimated that I’ve run on the Lakefront Path approximately 300 times. Every time is different. And I try to remember what a privilege that is whenever running seems like a burden or an obligation. Running here will never, ever get old. I don’t have to run here. I get to run here.

 

Day 5 – The Selflessness of Pregnancy

39 weeks pregnant

Two weeks before my son was born, literally counting down the days

Editors note: This is a piece I started for Medium almost a year ago. I decided to finish and publish it today for Day 5. It might be a bit controversial. But that’s me.

I’m nine months pregnant and feel like a shell of myself. Throughout the previous year, my once pronounced legs that had taken me hundreds and hundreds of miles had been reduced to an hour on the elliptical here, a spin class there — and finally, a 3-mile waddle around Town Lake Trail in Austin.

This was supposed to be a happy and joyous time, but I can’t wait for it to be over. To meet my son and move on from this phase of my life. Little did I know, that my body still wouldn’t be my own. Apparently, it never was.


I’m 13 years old and on a mission to get “healthy.” My body is changing and I’m at risk for no longer being the smallest in my class — or the skinniest. It starts out honest. No more chocolate for dessert, no more chips after school. Pizza? Not if I want to stay 4’11” and 82 pounds.

Of course, little did I know that this was a normal part of everyone’s adolescence. Growth in new places, new feelings, new desires. But I didn’t want any of it. What would happen when people stopped saying, “Oh wow! You’re so tiny!”?

Two years later, my height ticked up, but my weight didn’t. 5’4″ and 90 pounds. For an entire summer and fall, I sustained myself on a few Starbursts and a few slices of toast a day.

I got over it. On my own. On the outside at least.


No baby has never arrived on this planet without a woman getting pregnant. Let’s think about the sacrifices she makes when she gets pregnant.

For me, my life was put on hold. The things I had grown – after several years and a ton of work – to love about my body and what it could do became unrecognizable. Of course, I was growing a fetus and eventual infant inside of me, something that was obvious to the world, which by definition is life moving forward. Everything else stood still. Any running or training goals halted with a screech. Though never at the initiative of my company, I felt like I was purposefully hitting a pause button on progress in my career. Trips could no longer be taken, races no longer run. I was a version of myself that I did not recognize.

Think about what we ask of women when we ask them to carry a child. Think about what we ask of women when we demand that they breastfeed — and what we’re telling them when we think their best isn’t good enough.

Think about what we’re telling women when we disprove of their reasons for having babies — or not having babies. Think about what we mean when we categorize women solely by their ability and desire to reproduce. Think of the boxes we put women in because their unchosen biology has designated them worthy of such an “honor.”

Some people embrace this change to their bodies and lives. They do it over and over. Women who’s bodies were made to do this. My body isn’t that body. My brain isn’t that brain.

Women in this country should be revered for what they sacrifice to have children. Do men make sacrifices for their families? Absolutely. But men aren’t often reduced to their ability to procreate – and then shamed for the decisions they make to control this aspect of their biology.


Were there things I enjoyed about pregnancy? Some. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of your child moving inside your body. But honestly, that was pretty much it. I hated the nausea, the changes my body went through, giving up so many things I loved that I associated with the core of my being – my self/body image a sliver of it.

There are so many reasons the question, “Oh, when are you having a(nother) child?” is invasive. So many women who desire to conceive can’t. So many women have miscarriages. So many women hated being pregnant. So many women can only afford one child.

So many women have suffered from eating disorders and are concerned that being pregnant will trigger eating issues again. This is not selfish.

It is not selfish to want to take care of your own mental well being before being responsible for one (or more) kid(s).


I’m probably going to generate a lot of heat from this. I will caveat that this is my own personal experience. If you are a woman who had an easy time getting pregnant, loved every second of it when it happened and gave birth relatively unscathed, then that is awesome! But I want to shed a lens on what it’s like for a person who isn’t like that – and show that there are so many different ways for women to come into motherhood. And each reason is valid and a little bit selfless.

Day 4 – Birthday Party Politics

This might be one of the days I phone this writing challenge in by just writing a paragraph or two. Between work travel, more work to do tonight and the impending weekend (which incidentally will likely include more work), I don’t have any huge inspirations to share with you this evening. (Editors Note: I wrote this before deciding to write about my son’s birthday party. Apparently, as you will see, I do have quite a lot to say about this topic.)

I will briefly share with you tCupcakes and candleshe complications of planning a 5-year-old’s birthday party. As I spend most of my working day managing clients and projects, the last thing I want to do in my personal life is organize shit. But a planner I am, so planning I will do. Here are the many elements that we have to consider for this lavish affair:

Date. You may dare to think this is a simple decision, but there are many factors at play, including, planning the party at least 6-weeks in advance due to the many possible conflicts and competing events. When there are nearly 50 kids in your son’s grade spanning three classes, people’s social calendars fill up faster than you can say LEGOLAND! I can barely plan what I’m doing this weekend, let alone something 6 weeks ahead of time (see the above mentioned work paradox).

Location, location, location. Do we want to throw an absurd amount of money at the situation and pay to outsource the party at one of those super fun, peppy, overpriced party locations? These places take care of the activities, food and cheap chotckie goodie bags, meaning all the parents have to do is agree on the date (complex in its own right) and send the invitation. In a perfect world yes, this option is ideal. But we are not high energy people – and these party places seem to pump air laced with cocaine to garner an appropriate amount excitement, glee and energy among the children. I just can’t hang. Plus, did I mention that these options are ridiculously overpriced?

That leaves us with the self-produced option, which is fine and certainly cheaper, but a shit load more work. We have to decide if we want it at home vs. a park vs. a school gym. Structured activites vs. letting the kids go apeshit on a playground. If I wasn’t married to a teacher/athletic director who is excellent at managing these parties, there’s a 99% change I’d pay for the overpriced option, and then hide in the corner while the apocalypse of 30 children rains down upon me.

The guest list. Do we want 10 kids or the whole class? Do we want only boys or co-ed? Do we want it to be a drop-off party or do we want the parents to stay? Do we want family at the kids party? Or do we want a separate get together for family? These are all actual things we need to decide. For a birthday party. For a five-year old.

Gifts? Goodie Bags? Do we need all this crap? This is the biggest thing the Hubs and I fight about. He wants a no gift policy, and my spoiled ass is all “give him all the presents!” He doesn’t want goodie bags, but I think we should give people a little something because it’s cute and Pinterest told me to.

Literally everything else. I haven’t even covered things like time of day, food options (pizza or just snacks), cake or cupcakes (or ice cream cake). Does he want a theme? Do I actually need to buy decorations for this thing?

I have planned events for work that involve waaaaaay more budget and has waaaaaay more on the line than a 5-year-old’s birthday party. Yet this is three times as stressful. I love my child, and I will do this for him because I want him to feel special, and therefore I will try to give him the best party “in the history of the world” (as he would say). But, dear god, please don’t ask me if there’s a theme.