Thursday, April 17, 2008

Drawing the line

Today marks the day I draw the line.

I love my husband, and I love his job. Sure, working for a family business has its drawbacks. Business has become personal more times than I can count. Our finances are intertwined with those of the other family members much more than I would like (we will not be getting our economic stimulus check anytime soon because my husband, at age 27, needs to get information from his mother on one of his accounts that she couldn't find in time. Gotta love being financially independent). And there are other big negatives that I probably shouldn't mention.

But there are way more positives than negatives. So many more that I feel like an ungrateful wretch even mentioning the negatives, but it's human nature to complain I suppose. My husband enjoys unparalleled job security. I get to travel, enjoy expensive dinners and drinks that vendors buy for us, wear fancy dresses and go to receptions and luncheons and events and just generally enjoy the awesomeness that is the newspaper industry. I also get to dress up like a businesswoman, wear a nametag and go to conferences. I enjoy this way more than you might think, as it allows me to occasionally feel like a powerful woman of industry, even though my job actually only entails changing diapers and cleaning the house.

But I'm realizing that sometimes being the ever-present wife of a newspaperman is at odds with being a mom. I spent the beginning of this week at NEXPO, the biggest newspaper conference in the country. It was being held in DC this year, so Will attended all 4 days and I joined him for one night. The thing that struck me most about this particular conference is that had I wanted to, I could've been plastered for the entire time I was there. Practically every booth on the conference floor boasted a bar, some with hot hors d'oeuvres and plasma TVs mounted above where you could eat and drink for free. I heard all 3 presidential hopefuls speak, and was generously plied with alcohol throughout the Obama and Clinton luncheons (perhaps to distract from the tough, over-salted chicken served at both). We were invited to more dinners and receptions and "thank-you" cocktail hours than we could attend.

While we were in DC, Emily stayed the night at Grandma's house.

So far everything was fine.

But then, upon returning home we were invited out to dinner by the company who sold us the press. And today, we were invited to a Maryland-Delaware-DC press association dinner honoring Will's uncle as a past president. On May 3rd there is a Gala at the Newseum. Next week we have a murder mystery dinner in Carroll County given by one of the newspaper's clients. Not to mention various Frederick-area events that pop up without warning.

Now you start to see where I'm going with this.

Today I just said forget it. The thought of leaving my baby overnight with my mom for a second night this week was too much for me. I backed out in a panic, and my sister-in-law Margaret graciously stepped in so my ticket wouldn't be wasted. I realized I have been trying to keep up with my former schedule, and that I just can't without sacrificing more time than I'm willing to give up with my daughter.

Emily loves my mom and is totally comfortable at her house, but I just can't take the guilt. Will and I were never big party-ers, I honestly prefer staying home so I was glad that I wouldn't have to miss going out once we had a baby. But it turns out I do have to give up some socializing. I had heard "Who's keeping Emily?" one too many times recently, and although it was always intended as small talk, it made me realize that as much as I enjoyed my event-filled, glamorous pre-baby life, I prefer sitting on the playroom floor seeing a proud, seven-toothed grin on my daughter's face as she toddles toward me. That doesn't mean it's easy to opt out of these things. I do still want to dress up and go to dinners, etc. and that's what I wasn't really prepared for. I want to be with my daughter MORE, but that doesn't mean I now DON'T want to go at all. I also feel like a crummy wife sending Will to dinners and conferences alone when I used to be right there with him every time.

I know it's going to be a comparatively short period of my life where I'm going to have to miss things like this. By the time my kids are 15 they'll probably be begging me to go out so they can have some time to watch whatever they want on TV without mom telling them to wash the dishes. Maybe they'll even be accompanying me to some of these events. I also know I am the most spoiled person in the world to even be troubled about things like this, but hey, writing them out here helps me sort them out in my head.

So from now on, I am going to cut back on these events, especially when it means that Will and I will be getting back after bedtime and therefore Emily will have to spend the night at Grammy's house. It's sad to think of the dresses that will remain un-purchased and the cheap wine that will remain un-drunk, but there you have it.

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