I wouldn't call my pre-baby outlook on life misguided, but like most 20-, er, 30-something-year-old professionals (especially those here in New York), the concept of work-life balance was far-fetched, to say the least. Perhaps I was looking too far away -- like France or back to my grandparents' generation -- for a practical way to apply the concept to my own life. Or maybe there was some truth to the notion that the "good life," was only attainable by certain groups of folks. Or, maybe, I just hadn't become a mother yet.
Who knew that the thing everyone says is supposed to turn your world upside down would actually shift it into balance. Granted, you might not be able to tell -- well, with my home consistently towing the line between new parenthood and an episode of "Hoarders" -- but where my husband and I may lack in magazine-worthy digs, we're making up for it in lessons learned about truly living the good life.
Here are five that we've gleaned so far... in no particular order:
1. Savor Every Sip (...Or Bite...Or Moment, For That Matter)
This isn't one of those things experienced parents say in rosy-hued retrospect, it's the lesson I learned on Valentine's Day 2014, one of our first night's out with baby, which ended with a change of clothes in a gross public men's room and a sleepy child with shoes on her hands. As for the cocktail shown here? I drank it...alone...before hurrying past judgmental restaurant patrons and dumping its boozy byproducts down the drain so baby could eat.
2. Make Nice With Mother Nature (Or, Better Yet, Invite Her In)
Winter 2014 sent many of us reeling into hibernation, a place that I previously imagined cozying into with my new baby until Spring arrived. But let's face it, there are only so many gingerbread lattes you can drink, and two weeks in, I was over it. Plant life isn't anymore entertaining than a sleepy newborn is, but if I were to go back in time, I'd stop waiting for Mother Nature to have some compassion and bring in some natural elements -- like this herb garden -- instead.
3. Invest In Good Bedding
Somewhere, someone's living the good life off the profits of all the baby gear we're practically buried under. But as most new parents learn, no matter how cool the gadget or how soft the blankie, nothing compares to our lap, in our bed, when it comes to nap time.
4. Make The Most Of The Mundane
My first day alone without baby wasn't as glamourous as I'd imagined. It involved a trip to the doctor, a wait in line at the post office, and a lonely, mommy-guilt-ridden lunch at Panera Bread. But in the spirit of making the most of my "free time," I swung by the hair salon for a treatment, where I spotted this little oasis of grown-folk goodness. I'm sure it'll be a choking hazard and otherwise impractical at some point, but for now, I say yes to any little luxury that will help our apartment-sized playpen feel like a home again.
5. Life Is Better When You Can Unplug
So maybe I did learn something from the French after all, and every time my daughter whines at the sight of my cell phone or laptop, and even more so when she smiles at me, I'm reminded of this fact.
Follow Jessica Cumberbatch Anderson on Twitter: www.twitter.com/mrsjesscc