Having a kid is a full-time job. But for Alexia*, 34, an L.A.-based wardrobe stylist for film and TV, it’s a full-time job on top of her more-than-full-time job — and she’s doing it solo. During filming, she sometimes has to leave for work at 4 a.m. and won’t get home until midnight. She says there's no such thing as "balance," anyway, so she's just striving for harmony. Read on to see how she’s managed to raise a totally go-with-the-flow 4-year-old, who knows his “mommy’s always there, even when she’s not.”
Parenting with: MYSELF! Life after divorce has left me to single parent our son (my ex’s choice), but my village consists of A LOT of people: my mother, my grandmother, my father, my sister, and I just recently hired a part-time nanny. They help with dropping off and pick-ups, getting Aaron dressed, breakfast. During production, the village also prepares dinner and does bedtime.
Pre-baby? I was buried under my career, and I didn't think there were any more hours in a day. Boy, was I wrong.
I meet with my team (five to nine people, usually) to go over scripts (to determine how many days there are and to find any specialty wardrobe notes hidden inside). I make storyboards based on all this information, present them to the director, and then send to the prop master, hair and makeup, and the production designer, so they can see if my concept affects their work. If it does, that's another meeting. Once we are all mapped out, my team and I start shopping to prepare for fittings. Without my village keeping me updated on Aaron, I'd have no peace of mind at work at all. On filming days:
I can work up to 17 hours, and we're always all over the place, without any routine schedule or real breaks (most of my meals are craft service). Regardless of the chaos, I still think and talk about my kid ALL THE TIME. I'm the mom who’s like, "Oh, speaking of Dior — I remember this one time Aaron spit up all over the sales clerk!" I don't realize how much I do it until I'm driving home and think, Urgh I was totally one of those whack-ass kid-obsessed moms tonight.
Staying home full time would be WAY harder than my 17-hour workdays.
Aaron gets picked up at 6 p.m. When he gets home, he eats what’s left in his lunch box as an afternoon snack. I pay $850 a month for childcare plus $600 a month for the part-time nanny who works a few hours a day. She brings him home, starts dinner and homework. (Yes, he's only 4 and his school gives him homework. But giving a 4-year-old homework is basically giving ME homework — so thanks, school.)
It would be nice if I could get a break that didn't cost me guilt or money.
Ha! I wish I would have appreciated my body so much more before baby. I was so hard on myself. I see pictures and can't believe I used to complain about it. I'm just trying to get that ol’ thang back.
When did it really dawn on you that you are “a mom”?
My first parent-teacher meeting, I was like, This is hilarious that these teachers are talking to me like I'm the mom...Oh shit, I am a mom. 'Okay, repeat what you said about my son’s education.'
Once I walk in the door, he's not sharing me with the phone or computer.
My client [motivational speaker] Lisa Nichols told me balance is a myth; harmony is key, and that kind of changed my life as a mother. There's no way you can do everything evenly. Instead, get all the must-dos to work in harmony with each other. That's why we sometimes have dinner together on set, even though it screws with bedtime. Then I don't feel as guilty when I come home and he's asleep. I also draw hard lines around my time at home. I sit in my garage for 10 minutes and alert people that I'm off the clock. So once I walk in the door, if I only have two hours with Aaron, he's not sharing me with the phone or computer. My days off are called Aaron Day, and we do whatever he wants, no matter how silly. The nanny keeps me filled in, so I can leave notes that remind him his mommy’s always there, even when she's not. For example: ‘Hey Aaron, I am so proud that you won musical chairs at school, you are so fast! And thank you for eating all your dinner last night; you are going to grow so big and strong.’ And then we FaceTime to see who can make the other person laugh first. That's harmony. Ed. note: Names have been changed.