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I Walk the Line
Three weeks into life as a working mom, I’ve become hyper aware of why there’s such fierce debate about staying at home with the kids versus being a working parent. This is a look at my new typical day. By Lindsey R. McKissick
6 a.m. The alarm is ringing, but I don’t want to get up. Gwynn is still asleep. If I were not so keen to go to work in downtown Denver, I could be, too. Instead, I have to shower, get dressed, and watch the clock so I can leave my Highlands Ranch house by 7:15. I used to leave for work at 8:15 when we lived in LoHi, but we recently moved to the ’burbs. Good schools and a bigger yard, yes—but also one helluva commute.
6:45 a.m. I’m all ready for a workday that doesn’t officially start for more than two hours. But, as I peek in to rouse my still-sleeping three-month-old, my willpower is tested. It would be so easy to spend the day with this baby nestled in my arms.
7:15 a.m. I whisk Gwynn out the door to the sitter’s or to my mom’s, along with the ridiculous amount of luggage that is somehow necessary for a day spent outside the house and apart. For a moment, I look at the sheer amount of stuff and think: This cannot be worth the hassle.
7:30 a.m. I have to leave her. My body aches at leaving my child with another person for nine hours. The pang is exacerbated by the fact that I could stay at home if I were a freelance writer instead of a staffer. If I didn’t go to an office, Gwynn and I could read, play on the floor, and take walks in the sunshine. Instead, I give her a quick kiss on the forehead, whisper “I love you,” and leave. I know I need the creative outlet work provides.
7:55 a.m. The bus is late, which means I won’t make my light rail train and I’ll likely be late for work. I’m schlepping a messenger bag of work stuff, a lunch bag, a bag of containers to “collect” Gwynn’s next meal, and a mug of hot tea to enjoy during the 30-minute ride into downtown. I feel like I’ve already put in a full day by the time I get on the train.
9:12 a.m. I’m late for work, but I’m finally here. My small cubicle, cramped as it may be, feels liberating.
10 a.m. As I sit in a meeting, I think about my afternoon interview and story deadlines. I feel a slight thrill at the thought of actually having a deadline. Three months at home with Gwynn made me realize the unstructured days begin to melt into each other. I’m happy to once again be part of the process that imagines 5280 each month.
11:30 a.m. I’m just hitting my stride on a piece of writing when I look at the clock: time to pump. No matter how you spin it, the process of using a breast pump is easily the most awkward (OK, humiliating) part of the working-mom business.
Noon My phone chimes and I see a picture of my baby up from her morning nap. I’m quickly saddled with the “It’s not fair you get to hang with my kid” feeling.
12:15 p.m. I get 20 uninterrupted minutes to eat my lunch and sit down with a glass of water. It’s magical.
1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. I am lost in writing and editing. I relish the sensation of being me, the old me; just for a short time, I’m once again Lindsey the journalist, not Lindsey the mom, who struggled to squeeze in a shower yesterday.
4:35 p.m. I miss Gwynn.
5:47 p.m. My bus is 15 minutes late. This is wasted time. I feel cheated. Gwynn will be heading to bed in less than two hours.
6:10 p.m. When I finally poke my head inside the door at home, I don’t care if Gwynn is giggling at a toy or having a full-scale meltdown, I want to scoop her up in my arms and never leave her again.
10 p.m. From the monitor, I can hear only the sounds of Gwynn’s noise machine. No squawking baby sounds. I kiss my husband goodnight and then set my alarm.