Hometown Hollywood: Tales of a working girl embracing motherhood
I write about my kid too much.
When I was pregnant, I used to promise myself that after the baby was born I wouldn’t make everything about him. Now here I am staring at my screen and every story I can think of centers around Arlo.
It’s as if he’s cast some kind of spell on me — like a wizard. Or maybe Voldemort. So, as an experiment, I’m going to try and get through this column without making it all about the baby.
I’m back to work. (See? Good start.) Not at a job — not yet — but back to writing and hustling and trying to get a job. I used to worry that once I gave birth I wouldn’t want to work again. Turns out, that wasn’t the case.
I’m thrilled to be back doing what I love. It feeds me in a way staying at home with my child didn’t. And if I get one email about how I should be ashamed of myself for feeling that way, I will respond by sending you all the times my husband, Jason, was told that same thing.
Spoiler alert: It will be zero. Zero times.
The first few days I left the house to work were heady times. I was drunk on sunshine and caffeine and the way I didn’t have to look in the rearview mirror a million times to see if the baby was still asleep in his car seat. But around the third day, the novelty of it all started to fade and the exhaustion settled in.
I’ve always been a champion sleeper — one of those people who could nod off anywhere. A list of places I’ve fallen asleep includes a gym floor, a cafeteria and in the middle of a conversation with my husband.
I used to tell people I needed at least nine hours of sleep to be fully functional. Now I say to that girl, “Ha. Hahahahaha. Ha. HA.”
I haven’t slept through the night in four and a half months. When you’re dealing with that level of exhaustion, pushing through to find a reservoir of creativity can be a challenge. Luckily, Jason and I share the late-night wake-up calls.
But last week — yes, the first week I was back at work — Jason got food poisoning, so for two days he slept through the night as I rocked and shushed and rocked some more. I’d look over at my poor husband in bed, pale and shaking from the bacteria wreaking havoc on his body and I’d think, “He’s so LUCKY!”
Yes. I was jealous of my husband for getting food poisoning. That’s how tired I was.
Since those dark few days, Jason has recovered and I’ve started to realize this level of exhaustion is just the price I pay (what all parents pay) to try and “have it all.”
I don’t want to give up my career. I don’t want to give up my baby (so stop asking for him, Mom.) Which means I’m left dragging myself out of bed in the morning, pounding coffee and digging deep to find the creativity I put on hold for four months.
But when I do find it, when I strike that sweet spot somewhere between my second coffee and my third draft, my soul lights up like it used to. I get that little thrill of delight and the deep satisfaction of creating something new.
Then I go home and my son greets me with that little squeal of delight he’s just recently learned. And the moment I hold him I know that, for this, I would gladly wake up a thousand more nights.
Damn. I almost made it.
Jessica Runck, who grew up in Wimbledon, N.D., and graduated from Concordia College, is a writer living in Los Angeles. Visit www.jessicarunck.com for more information.