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We recently sleep trained our kid to sleep till 6 a.m., which is just about the best thing that ever happened to us. I get up with the baby in the morning and feed him, but David takes him for music time for a while after that. I've been night parent for twenty months (plus nine months, if you think about it) so this is part of our trade off. When I get up, the kiddo and I normally listen to music and read some books, and generally check in and enjoy each other.
Because I'm on the West Coast and I'm in Internet publishing, I wake up already behind. Our first post goes up at 4:30 a.m. our time, and I often don't get to my desk till 9 or 10. So in the morning rush I normally try to take a few minutes to check in, look at email, eyeball the post and comments, and if I'm lucky get a picture on APW's Instagram account. I'm not always lucky.
I spent a few years working at an investment bank, where I had to be out the door at a hellish 5:25 a.m. That was years of leaving before it was light, or before David was up, and it was really depressing. The minute my schedule changed I vowed that we'd always eat breakfast together, and we've stuck to that. David normally makes something awesome, like muffins or pancakes or oatmeal, and we read the paper and engage in running commentary on the news. I figure we're less than a year away from the kiddo having opinions about what's going on in the world.
Once David leaves, we have what we call "Mama-baby time." I feel so lucky to have it, after years of corporate hours. That time is our secret sauce to making being a working mom (and working baby) pretty smooth.
We try, at least on nice mornings, to carve time out for a walk. Days that I'm particularly slammed, or have a shoot or a bunch of meetings, it doesn't happen, but it's a pretty regular thing. We got a wagon, but not surprisingly he's more into pushing it than riding in it. Poetic justice, getting a tiny CEO in training. We've got some regular stops, including all the houses on the street with dogs, a great hiding spot, and a blackberry bush.
When I had a baby, one of my friends told me I should make sure to glamorize daycare drop off. She pointed to all the bloggers and Instagramers who post pictures of their kids at photo shoots, even though all of us who work photo shoots know that kids are usually on the set for thirty minutes tops, unless there's a nanny there. In my early twenties I really bought into this myth that you could have this perfect creative career while your kids played at your feet, till I realized it doesn't exactly work that way with tiny kids. You can work while your kid naps, you can sneak in work in the few minutes or seconds they're busy with something, you can parent days and work nights, or you can get childcare. Daycare is one of the best decisions we ever made as parents, even if some days it is sad to leave him. But then art like this shows up in your diaper bag, and you remember what a blast he's having at his OWN job, and that makes it better.
I know you've seen a million blog-glamorous desks, but let's be for real for a second: I work in my kitchen. This was supposed to be the breakfast nook, but I took it over. I'm actually super grateful for my little office space. I forget it's the kitchen, because my back is to it, and I just see windows with lovely high up views (like half the houses in Oakland, ours is built into a hill). We moved here from San Francisco because I couldn't handle working at the kitchen table and having to clean everything up every night. I needed an office and file cabinets and the works. Every time we randomly go to an open house of some huge beautiful place, it never has half as good a space for an office. Since I spend my day here, I've decided I can't leave till I have a work space just as nice. Maybe next time with a childproof door, though.
Take any picture of me working at the computer, and multiply it by eight hours, and that's more or less my average day. I fit in the gym a few times a week (not enough, but I'm doing my best balancing things), and have a smattering of meetings and appointments throughout my week. In this picture, I guarantee you that I'm working on Instagram.
On this particular day, I got to go into San Francisco for a meeting with the fantastic Lisa of Zelma Rose. I have a policy that because I opted to hire a team instead of giving myself a raise, I always take everyone out to a nice lunch if we're having a meeting. Nice meals with nice people, that is my raise.
Lisa has this amazing merchandise line with everything from pocket squares and more, to these crazy amazing hand-stitched necklaces. But she also does business consulting, and today we were talking Instagram strategy. Just in case you thought online publishing came together with natural ease, rest assured. It's just meant to look that way.
Lunch is over, back to work. I spend a lot of my time working as an editor these days, and another chunk working as a business owner. Here I'm moderating comments and working on edits for probably six pieces at once. Currently, it's a rare day that I get to sit down and really write, but the whole team is working to carve out more time for that. Oh, and I'm pretty sure we all want to go to the gym more.
Daycare pickup. It's the part of the day I hurtle toward, because it's the hard stop in my tornado of work, and it always comes before I'm ready. But it's also, without a doubt, the best part of the day.
We get home before David does (don't get me started about how hard it is for men in America to get the flex time needed to keep a family running, and how that means women have to pick up the slack). So we hang out, play records, color, and eat snacks. It's a little crankier than the morning, because everyone is more tired, but there is more dancing.
David makes dinner every night. I keep expressing interest in learning more about cooking (when I lived alone I was okay, but I was far from brilliant). But David points out that the fact that he cooks is about the only thing helping to balance the scales of domestic labor in our household. There have been tons of studies done about how couples frequently revert to more traditional roles after they have kids. And while biology indisputably plays a role if you give birth to your kids, I had no idea how much of that had to do with inflexible societal structures. Our roles are currently a lot more traditional than we're comfortable with, but American work life isn't giving us a ton of options right now.
After I do my part getting the kiddo to bed, I normally check in on work. I don't work a ton at night, if all is going well. But I usually do quality control on the next morning's posts, and possibly try to wade through a little more of the giant stack of unanswered email.
Around about 8:00, we try to collapse on the couch for an hour or so to watch one of our (many, many) TV shows. As two ex-theatre professionals, we're pretty serious about good TV. Sometimes I work on needlepoint, sometimes we have a drink, but this is our couple time. Then bed. Early.
Since I started reading APW at the ripe age of twenty-one, I’ve been using this site as a virtual big sister, helping me transition from one life stage to the next, both in my marriage and my career. I didn’t grow up with a lot of married role models, so I’m constantly looking online for examples of lives being led in a way that resonates with how I envision my future self. But it’s hard to do that in a way that doesn’t lead to comparing your insides to other people’s outsides. Which is why, the more curated our online lives become (thanks Pinterest and Instagram!) the more important it is to look behind the curtain and see what’s going on in the daily lives of the women I admire.
When Blurb asked if we wanted to partner up to make photo books using their software, I knew I wanted to shoot a day-in-the-life style photo essay featuring APW’s Editor-in-Chief, Meg. I was inspired by a New York Mag article Meg posted in Happy Hour a few months ago featuring images of Jemima Kirke as she goes about her normal daily routine. Of the essay, Meg commented, “New York Magazine’s photo essay of a day-in-the-life of Jemima Kirke really stuck with me, because it gives a not-usually-viewed image of motherhood that jives far more with who I am. Even if I don’t tattoo my Shabbat guests.” What I learned photographing a day in Meg’s life is very similar to what she got from the Vulture article with Jemima Kirke: we are more alike in the minutiae of our daily lives than we are different.
Perhaps most importantly, what I realized is that this is what marriage is really all about. While the wedding industry wants us to believe that a wedding is the most important day of our lives, it really, truly, is just one day. When it’s all over, what we’re left with is the day-to-day slog with the ones we love the most. Which, when you step back and look at it from the outside, is maybe more special, in its own way. And certainly more special than anything that ends up on Instagram, or Facebook, or even in an essay on your favorite wedding website. Maybe that’s the real point. What matters is not what we put online for everyone to see. What matters is both the intention to connect with each other when we share, and also the ways we protect the moments that matter. (For Meg, I know she’ll put the unedited, long form version of this photo essay in a book, and keep it on the shelf for her family and her future.)
While I wanted to use Meg as the example for this project, what I really wanted to do was kick-start a mini-movement within the APW community to value the day-to-day. I want us to remind ourselves that no matter how impossible wedding planning seems, or how unsure we are about our jobs, our homes, or our desire to have kids/not have kids, there’s always breakfast, lunch, dinner, errands, chores, and hanging out. That’s what anchors us. And in the end, that’s what makes a life.
Now it’s your turn! share your day in the life photos on Instagram, by hashtagging your images with #DayInTheLife (don’t forget to tag @APracticalWedding and @blurb_books). Or use Blurb to create your own #dayInTheLife book and share the Digital version of the finished product with us.
*Offer valid through September 15, 2014 (11:59 p.m. local time). Valid for first time customers purchasing printed books only. No minimum purchase required. 20% discount is applied toward your product total with a maximum discount of $75 off. This offer is good for one-time use, and cannot be combined with volume discounts, other promotional codes, gift cards, or used for adjustments on previous orders.