round

*Written Dec. 18, 2014

 

I saw it today. The unmistakeable roundness– a thickness, new yet familiar.

It hasn’t been as hard this time around, but the process has been challenged by other developments. A new job, a toddler who is (not) adjusting to daycare, and a constant yet inconvenient fatigue. The nausea comes and goes, mostly at night, and can easily be charmed by a slice of sourdough slathered with butter. I’m eating strangely, mostly beef jerky and eggs, with a generous helping of chips, mayo, and donuts on the side. (I don’t understand the mayo thing– it’s literally been years since we had it in the house.) I salivate at the thought of a juicy nectarine, or a pineapple drenched in its own juice, but December is not kind to these wants: nectarines are out of the question, and pineapple is hit or miss.

I’m excited, cautiously. I can’t imagine life with two, but I can’t imagine life without two. I’ve seen a whole, real person develop in the last year, and I’m thrilled at the thought of doing it again. I also know that the next couple of years will force growth in all of us, and from here, it sounds exhausting and challenging and hard.

But I know that we’ll have fun. Lots and lots and lots of fun.

four years

Four years married seems downright puny compared to the (relative) mammoth eleven years total. I imagine a dainty 4 year old trying to outwit a lumbering 6th grader: it’s just not a fair match. But a milestone is a milestone. Happy anniversary, EJV. I have to admit– marriage hasn’t been nearly as hard as the dating was. I suppose early years are tough, regardless of rings and marital status. And now, I look back very fondly to those stumbling, struggling kids. They were so stubborn, and helpless, and confused about the grand scheme of things. They thought being right signaled being smart, and didn’t understand that right doesn’t mean happy. They fought about some valid things, and some very stupid things. They drank too much, slept too little, and spent too much time seeking validation from people who would never give it. They drank trunk wine, ate cheese for a solid third of their meals, and probably drove the neighbors nuts. They were loving and kind to one another, and not just to make up for treating each other badly. They had Sunday morning waffle rituals, and first snow of the year rituals, and once cooked a turkey on a Tuesday morning.

All this is to say: marrying you wasn’t the best day of my life. It was certainly fun, and I have great memories from that day. But our life together is so much more than that. It’s the days between the big events: eating dinner on the kitchen floor while our boy twirls on blueberries, touring Sam Adams and smelling like fresh hops, scouting new coffee places on our Saturday morning dates. It’s planning our next trip, our next move, our next kid. It’s drinking coffee out of our h & j mugs, and discussing the literary references in Californication.

I love this life with you, and I can’t wait to see what’s next.

highs and lows

Some days, I feel capable and able and like I have much to contribute, and I ride high on the thrill of putting together a strong cover letter. Other days, I feel heavy and small, and though qualified, unable to express what I know.

On the worst days, I feel both ends tugging at my brain, and I collapse under the weight of the process. My old frenemy, Perfectionism, cajoles me into finding job after job that hits the trifecta of interesting, challenging, and attainable; then, when I sit down to apply, she light-heartedly asks me why I thought I had a shot. “Leave me alone,” I say, “I have plenty of worthwhile skills.” “If you say so,” she says with a side-eye, turning the page with a perfectly manicured finger.

Submitting the application knocks the wind out of me, and as I recuperate in a darkened room, I’m feel the Sitting Ghost slinking in. He’s not here to stay, but wanted to make sure I know he’s around. “Go away,” I say, knowing fully that he would never listen, “I’m busy.” I know he knows I’m lying, but I say it anyway. “I mean it. I’m too busy for this.” He leaves, but we both know it’s not because of what I said.

I try again. The blow is less harsh this time, and though I don’t crumble, I still wobble. The Sitting Ghost is noisily shuffling in the closet, waiting for his signal.  Perfectionism is arching her meticulously shaped eyebrow, signaling her disapproval at my weakness. I ignore them, and make another cup of coffee.

just go for it

I had a dream last night: I was working at a grocery store, and my (female) boss wanted me to stay on for another full shift. I explained that I couldn’t do so at my current pay rate (which was $7.16 in the dream), but that I would be happy to work as many hours as needed if my hourly wage was doubled. My manager talked to the company, and came back with a letter stating that they would increase my wages by 10%. As often happens in dreams, my job nonsensically changed from cashier to being part of the advertising department. As I looked at the average wages for the ad dept. and realized that I was woefully underpaid, my manager asked me (inquisitively, not meanly) why I wouldn’t just accept the 10% raise.

This dream stuck with me. I first woke up from it at 5, but remembered it clearly when I woke up around 8. What struck me the most was the way I was implored to just take what I was offered, and not ask any questions, particularly in light of the changed duties and higher level of responsibility. How typical. Women often don’t ask for more money or negotiate their starting salary, and often, when they do, they’re penalized. (Versions 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014) In the dream, I was confused that anyone would want me to work for so little, but second-guessed myself when my manager asked why I wouldn’t just take the raise as offered. I had a hard time explaining to her why an extra $700 a year* was not an acceptable trade for all the extra time I’d have to put in.

As I sit here on the cusp of applying for jobs, I have to continuously remind myself not to “settle,” and not to apply solely for jobs I feel I’m qualified for. I can’t tell you how many tabs I had open for jobs that required only an associate’s degree (and offered less than what daycare would cost). It’s not that I’m better than these jobs. It’s that I often don’t look beyond these jobs, and am at risk of getting such jobs and being bored and underpaid within 6 months. I imagine that many women put themselves in this position, and compound their mistake by going from one ‘comfortable’job to another.

When I left my most recent position, I was fed up with not being challengedI need to remember that frustration, and rethink my application strategy. As Sheryl Sandberg cautioned in Lean In, if I take a job I’m 90-100% qualified for, I’ll master the job quickly and won’t have much left to learn. In my last job, I was tapped as an “expert” contributor to a panel for process improvement when I had been in my position for slightly longer than a year. Comparatively, my husband has been in his position for 2.5 years, and still comes home to tell me about a new process he’s learning. Incidentally, he was only about 50% qualified for both of his most recent jobs. What’s more, I goaded him into applying for both, scoffing at his protests that he wasn’t qualified enough. I need to apply that same critical eye to my own reasons for “why not,” and just go for it.

Applying for worthwhile jobs is a tough gig. It takes a lot of time, patience, and internal pep talks (particularly when you don’t feel entirely qualified). But the alternative is to have no job at all, or worse: a job that neither challenges nor excites you.

 

*Yes, I’m aware that the math doesn’t add up. It was a dream. 

dear ejv

Dear EJV,

Happy father’s day! You should know that I would never have married you if I didn’t think that you’d be a good dad. But to say that you’ve exceeded my expectations is a laughable understatement. The love you have for our boy is palpable, and he clearly brings you more joy than anything else before him (even the Shadow!). He loves you more than anything… when you walk in the door after work, he can barely hold it together long enough for you to take your shoes off. To say you’re his favorite person is not quite enough: it’s more like he’s a tiny crackhead, and you’re his preferred drug.

Anyway. Thank you for being my baby daddy partner in crime. I’m truly enjoying this whole parenting thing with you (guess we must be doing it wrong). Thanks for your patience, your dedication to making us laugh, and dealing with the crap (ha!). If our kids end up being hilarious and a little bit weird, we have succeeded. Can’t wait to have a whole gaggle, I hope they like hippie shit.

Love,

H

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