"Sometimes, I Hide In The Bathroom With My Coffee"

Much of the parenting conversation has centered on the notion of having it all, but anyone who has even some of it knows that it’s less about “having” and more about “doing.” Going to work, caring for your kids, fitting in friends and fitness — it’s a lot to do. In our series, Mother's Day, we ask some of the most highly functioning parents we know exactly what they fit into a typical day, and how the hell they do it.

Everly, a 37-year-old IT manager who lives in Brooklyn, has her family running like a well-oiled machine, so well that even she’s surprised by it sometimes. But she’s facing what having a baby has done to her female friendships — and her sex drive. From secretly sipping coffee on the toilet to keeping the spark alive with “hallway hugs,” see how this mother’s day goes down.
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Parenting with: my husband, James
Some time between 4 and 5 a.m. my daughter starts crying and I zombie walk into her room to breast-feed her in the dark. Then, I put her back in her crib and shuffle back to bed. Actually waking up at 5 a.m. is not at all appealing to me, so I cheat by feeding her and putting her back down to sleep. I put in earplugs to try to drown out any peeps the baby makes before 6 a.m.
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She wakes up for real around 7:15 a.m. I announce to my husband, who’s been sleeping like a log next to me the entire night, that “I’m going in.” This is supposed to signal him to wake up and get ready to take over. Sometimes, it does; most times, it doesn’t. He makes his way to the kitchen to start coffee and breakfast. Usually he takes over mid-diaper change; he doesn’t leave for work until 11 or 12, so he does most of the morning childcare.

Then, I’m off into the bathroom to shower and get ready. Sometimes, I don’t shower, though. Sometimes, I grab a cup of coffee and sit in the bathroom with the shower running and the door locked and scroll through Instagram and listen to podcasts. One time, I forgot to lock the door and my husband came in to find me sitting on the toilet seat sipping coffee and blankly staring at my phone in the steamy bathroom. Oh, well.

I get dressed and do something with my hair and face (no makeup, but lots of sunscreen to keep looking young). When I come out of the bathroom, I usually eat the breakfast James has made. He makes the same thing every day: a veggie frittata. He prepares a gallon-size Ziploc bag of chopped veggies on Sunday night and scoops a ladle of it into the frying pan. I know you know how to make a frittata, so I won’t bore you with it. But this is an impressive feat, considering he didn’t know how to cook much of anything before we met. Now, he’s flipping eggs onto a plate every day.
The three of us sit down and have breakfast together for about 15 minutes before it’s time for me to go. I get up and brush my teeth while James cleans up the kitchen and the baby plays in the living room. After that, I pack my pump bag (clean pump parts, bottles, ice packs) and leave around 8:30. Sometimes, James and Sydney walk with me to the subway. If not, then we do a big song and dance (literally) of waving to me and saying goodbye at the door. You can see the street from our living room window, so they wave to me from inside. It’s pretty freaking cute.

Sometimes, it’s a well-oiled machine and sometimes, it’s a broken-down jalopy.

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My mother-in-law comes over to our place around 11 a.m., so James can get ready and leave for work by 11:30. We feel incredibly lucky and #blessed to have her here — she volunteered to take care of Sydney and we don’t pay her. Even if we have some gripes about stuff here and there, we still love the fact that our daughter gets to bond with her grandmother and we can afford to save money for preschool. (Some people save money for college, huh? I think in NYC preschool costs as much as college — and it’s sooner!)

Meanwhile, I’m at work doing 10 million things at once (or at least thinking about that many). The next tab over from this screen is a preschool application; the tab next to that is the Wiki page for a new parenting philosophy I just heard of; the next tab is the stats of the parenting podcast I produce; and the other tab is my Amazon birthday list for Syd...I’m currently on a conference call.
I get home around 5:30 p.m., so Sydney is with her grandmother for about six, maybe seven, hours a day. I sort of sneak in quietly and put my pumped milk in the fridge and pump parts in the dishwasher. If she still hasn’t seen me, I scurry into my bedroom, put on my pajamas, and take off my lipstick. When I come out, I’m ready to take over.

I nurse Syd while my mother-in-law gives me a quick rundown of the day’s events (how long the baby napped, what she ate, any new words or actions, etc.). She leaves and I play with Sydney a bit. Around 6 p.m., I start to get her dinner ready. She eats the same dinner as us, like at breakfast, but she eats a lot earlier. Our go-to lately is fusilli pasta with sautéed veggies (from that same gallon Ziploc bag) and little bit of jar sauce for flavor. I put her in her high chair while I cook and give her steamed broccoli or string beans left over from last night’s dinner. If I don’t give her something to munch on/tear apart and throw on the floor while she’s in her high chair, it’s curtains!
By 6:30, she’s done with dinner and my husband is on his way home. I wash her hands and face and brush her four teeth with this little rubber banana toothbrush. When James gets home around 6:40, we’re usually in her room getting her dressed for bed. We have a full-sized bed in her room next to her crib and the three of us lay down in there, sing songs, and read. She crawls all over the place.
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We either have sex or we go watch 'Wheel of Fortune.'

By 7:15 p.m., she starts to rub her eyes and lay her head down, so we know it’s time to put her down. Now, it’s mommy and daddy time. We usually give each other a big hug when we get out of her room and kind of sigh. During the week, it really feels like the morning and evening routines are air-tight and have no room for error. So, at the end of the baby’s day, it feels like we can just deflate and breathe a little. After the hallway hug, we either go into our room and have sex (it’s weird, I guess, but that’s the way it works sometimes) or we go and eat dinner in the living room and watch Wheel of Fortune and talk about our day. After dinner, I make the bottles for the next day and sort of clean up the kitchen. My husband and I then retire to separate quarters until bedtime. I usually lay in bed watching YouTube makeup tutorials and he sits at his computer and plays video games.
Around 10:30 or 11 p.m., I get up and brush my teeth and wash my face. My husband cleans up the rest of the kitchen and runs the dishwasher. We’re usually in bed together by 11:30 p.m. At 4 or 5 a.m., it starts again.
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How do you and your partner decide who handles what?
I do pretty much all of the purchasing (Amazon, diapers, groceries, baby clothes, household items) and he pays the bills online. I manage our money and do any investing or saving strategizing. We used to be slobs and only cleaned when people came over. But we argued about household work, even then. It’s one of our running issues. I feel like I’ve always been supremely aware of not wanting to be a put-upon wife and he doesn’t want to be a stereotypical boneheaded husband. When we fell into those roles before the baby, we’d have all-night-long discussions about our feelings and stuff. That helped us to shortcut when it happens now — we just do chores based on our work schedules.

Honestly, sometimes, the house is a wreck and we just let it be messy for a few days. On the weekends, I let him sleep in a bit (Until 8 a.m.! Ha! Who would've thought that would be a "sleeping-in" time?) and we just navigate around piles of clothes on the floor and open takeout cartons in the kitchen. But we like living in a tidier environment and our daughter is more mobile now, so we've started picking up after ourselves more. On Sundays, we both do our assigned chores: He does laundry, garbage and recycling, vacuuming, and weekday-breakfast prep. I clean the baby's room, the bathroom, and do weekday-dinner prep. We clean our bedroom together and order delivery dinner, so I don't have to cook. When Syd was a newborn, we decided that I'd do "input" (breast-feeding) and he'd do "output" (diapers). We both feel better when we have clearly designated roles and expectations, but we both pitch in to help each other, too. Sometimes, it’s a well-oiled machine and sometimes, it's a broken-down jalopy.

I thought my daughter would be surrounded by my girlfriends and they would be showering her with love and attention. Not so much.

Your biggest struggle right now is...
I'm still trying to decipher what normalcy is now — my priorities are so different. I'm totally engrossed in raising a child, yet I'm sort of nostalgic for my previous life. I didn’t realize that a lot of friendships wind down or fizzle out completely when you have a baby. I thought my daughter would be surrounded by tons of aunties (my girlfriends) and they would be showering her with love and attention. Not so much. I also thought I’d still feel close to my friends, despite having a kid. But I don’t really get invited out much and no one really contacts me to come visit us. I kind of fear that my single friends feel like I’m out of their club, because I’m not dating or partying anymore. So, I kind of had to mourn the loss of that old part of my life. But I’m old as hell and I dated and partied a lot, so I know I’m not missing much — but I do miss the intimacy of good girlfriends.

I'm trying to connect with other parents now. One way I'm doing that is through my podcast. I like the idea of sharing trade secrets, and talking to my guests also helps me realize that truly every kid is different. One told me she cuts her baby’s nails while she’s asleep. I was totally dumbfounded! We can’t even flush the toilet while our kid’s sleeping!

Are you still dealing with any postpartum symptoms? How are you feeling about your body?
I had a pretty quick and easy recovery after birth. No peeing when I laugh. I love what my body can do, and did do, for me: a quick and relatively easy, unmedicated birth and provide nourishment from my breasts for the past year. I hate the way it looks. I look like a brown, stretch-marked Grimace from McDonald’s. I’m a solid 20 pounds overweight and I have to roll up my pendulous boobs to stuff them into my ugly-ass nursing bra.

What has your sex life been like post-childbirth?
I barely have any sex drive whatsoever. My husband and I had a whirlwind relationship that was heavily based on sex. Now, that's not the case. I informally schedule sex two or three times a week just to make sure that when my sex drive does finally come back (hopefully after I'm finished breast-feeding), we won't have lost our comfort level. I don't know. I really don't want to be in a sexless marriage. I may not have a lot of carnal instincts lately, but I have a ton of emotional needs and regular sex helps me feel connected to my husband so we can keep on keepin' on.

What were you the least prepared for about life as a working mom?
I honestly expected to feel more torn about being away from my baby all day, but I have no guilt about being at work. I know she's in good hands. I also thought that I would be a terrible mother and that I was too selfish to have a baby, but it turns out that I'm pretty good at it. I'm a total nervous wreck — I'm constantly thinking that every tiny decision we make will have a huge impact on our baby, either detrimental or beneficial; I don’t know which — but at the same time, I take things in stride and just do what needs to be done. Pumping at work, middle-of-the-night feedings, not washing my hair for days, making sure my partner is truly being a partner and not just "helping me." Being a mother really forced me to prioritize what is actually important to me. I'm surprised I can do any of this!

When did it strike you that you’re totally a mom?
It comes and goes, honestly. When I’m dealing with her babyness, I don’t really think of myself as a “mom,” because it’s all still a novelty. But when I think about the longterm-ness of parenthood, I feel terrified. Like, is she going to rely on me the way I rely on my mom? Who authorized that? There must have been a mistake.


Names have been changed.

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