It’s been over a year since I’ve written a blog post and to say I’ve been busy is an understatement. Since then, I’ve become a mother to a beautiful baby girl who will be three months on Friday 26th May, I’ve moved to another home and I’ve been lecturing in a Masters programme at the University while keeping my full time job.
My daughter was born on Sunday 26th February 2017 and it was an experience like no other. No description anyone can give can truly express what carrying a child for 9 months and giving birth feels like and how it changes you. Your spouse can try to understand what you’re going through and how you’re feeling but there is honestly no description that can make him fully grasp the essence of carrying life and birthing life. I constantly felt as if my body was not my own but I was still responsible for taking such great care of it and prioritizing its needs. My pregnancy had its ups and downs but for the most part it was great. Of course I gained weight, more weight than I ever expected but right now I’m about 5 to 10 pounds shy of my pre-pregnancy weight.
I will always remember the first glance at my daughter and my first thought towards her…”Wow I have a daughter and she has my nose”. My daughter was past her due date and was taken away from me as soon as she was born due to medical complications. About 5 hours later I held her for the first time. I wish I could say it was what I expected but at that moment I simply felt hugely responsible yet blessed. I felt that it’s no longer about me and that I was responsible for providing for and taking care of another human being for as long as she couldn’t provide for and take care of herself. I also felt extremely blessed that God would entrust one of his children to my care and raising her in his ways was of most importance. I constantly remind myself that I’m taking care of one of God’s children.
The Cosmic has aligned things in such a way that my contract for my full time job ends tomorrow and I am only lecturing part time. This would allow me to spend more time with my baby girl. I do miss the work hustle a bit but “Baby is Boss”. Being home with her has allowed me to give her a night time routine that ensures she is in bed by 8PM and this works for everyone in the household, especially her. Her evening routine usually starts with a walk around 5PM, either by me, her dad, or both of us. We get in around 6:30PM and she relaxes for at least 15 minutes. She is given a bath between 6:45PM and 7:15PM, then a feeding in her room with dimmed lights, which lasts as long as she would like it to. Then it’s off to bed…on her own. I learned quite a lot from my grandmother about taking care of babies, so I knew early on that rocking and singing would not be part of her bed time routine. It’s important to let babies figure out how to fall asleep on their own. Once singing and rocking are associated with sleep, it’s hard to break that habit. I also learned that a night time routine will help to provide cues for her that are associated with sleep. Babies thrive on routine because it helps to avoid chaos and it insulates the baby from huge, unexpected changes. “They’re a necessary part of socialization,” says Larry Shapiro, PhD, author of The Secret Language of Children: How to Understand What Your Kids Are Really Saying (Sourcebooks, 2003). “When a child learns that it’s time to go to bed, not play, she’s beginning to understand that she has to follow rules.”
Her morning routine is also coming in quite nicely. She usually gets up between 6AM and 7AM, gets a bath about an hour to an hour and a half later, gets her feed in a dimly lit room and she is off to bed for at least 3 wonderful hours. This is the time I try to make the most of. I’ll get work done, chores done and anything that requires my complete focus and attention. Her day time routine from 11AM to 5PM is still a work in progress but I’m observing her to figure out what works best for her. I have always been an advocate of keeping a daily routine as an adult so it’s wonderful to pass that on to my daughter. While my daily routine in the past would have been mainly focused on my goals, I now prioritize my daughter and structure my daily routine around her.
Earlier this year, I read an article by Ivanka Trump talking about women not being able to have it all. Ivanka Trump is the daughter of business mogul Donald Trump. She is also the executive vice president of development and acquisitions for The Trump Organization and the founder of the Ivanka Trump fashion brand. Most importantly, she is a wife and a mother of two beautiful children, daughter Arabella Rose and son Joseph Frederick. Ivanka recently launched the initiative #WomenWhoWork, which aims to “celebrate the many different ways in which women work and to redefine and break stereotypes around, what it looks like to be a working woman today.”. In an interview with Business Insider, Trump explained her perspective on work-life balance. She frankly says, “You can’t have it all.” When people ask her how she balances work and life, her response is always: “I don’t, and I don’t try to.” “People obsess too much about balance,” she said. “A scale is only in balance for a brief second. Inevitably the pendulum swings. It’s impossible to maintain.” Ivanka says, it’s less about balancing a “work life” and a “home life” and more about creating one rich, full life that’s tailored to my specific goals and priorities.
As I’ve decided to give my personal and family life a bit more focus, I too am realising the difficulties with trying to create a balanced life. I began feeling a bit overwhelmed with my additional responsibilities and sometimes I even felt as if I needed to give up something in order to feel a greater sense of accomplishment in at least one area. I grew up watching the women in my family. My grandmother was the first to rise in the morning and the last one in the family to go to bed at night. For a working women who still has the responsibility of taking care of her husband and children, I can only imagine a full night’s rest of 8-10 hours sleep can seem like such a fairy tale. Sometimes I think that it’s a bit unfair for women but then again there are times I see how privileged we are. We are expected to be as educated as men but in some organisations, industries or countries, we will never be professionally equal to men. Even after contributing our day’s work at the office, we switch our hats, become more submissive and nurturing and come home to take care of our families.
It’s inevitable that some of us will have to sacrifice some of our professional goals for a family life. Having been so focused on my career for most of my life, I’m starting to realise that I need to view family life with equal or greater importance than I do my career. The drive and passion I have towards my professional goals and accomplishments need to also be the drive and passion I have towards my personal life. When asked what’s her definition of success, Ivanka says happiness. She doesn’t think you are truly successful unless you are a happy person and are happy with your life. She recalls many people who are professionally successful but miserable. She concluded by saying that she’s happy when she’s achieving her professional goals and when she’s with her husband and children.
Today is the last day of the semester and while a big part of me will miss lecturing for a bit, my body is extremely happy. Last year during a doctor’s visit, I was reminded of the importance of sleep and how it can negatively affect my memory and my hormones as well as many other areas of my body. Over the past couple months I’ve noticed some changes in my body that I’m not quite happy with and I know it’s due to a lack of sleep. As a result, I’ve been slowly making changes to my schedule over the past 2-3 months to see what works best for me. I’ve planned out a new routine that I hope will work for me that would allow me at least one additional hour sleep per night. It’s my goal to sleep for 7-8 hours per night to give my body what it needs. While I can function on less sleep with a bit of caffeine lol, that little voice in my head is urging me to give rest greater priority. This would result in me arriving to work around 9AM. For most employees in my department this time is quite normal. I must say that I appreciate my manager, he is very understanding with respect to the time staff arrives at the office, especially those coming from far east or south Trinidad. With lecturing ending at 9PM on weeknights, it was sometimes a struggle to get my day started around 4AM or 5AM, so this new wake up time is one I can keep even on weekends. With teaching resuming on 25th May, I have time to catch up on sleep and prepare for classes for the third semester.
The new semester at the University began last week. For this second semester, I’ll be lecturing three courses, one on Design Patterns using Java, another on Databases with MySQL and lastly the programming language C. This will take four classes with a total of 16 hours per week, with four 4-hour classes, for a period of 12 weeks, with an additional week if needed. I’m most excited to lecture the Design Patterns course as this is the first time it will be delivered by the University. I know that my ability to successfully deliver the content will affect the likelihood of the course will be delivered again. Thankfully to sourcemaking.com‘s book on Design Pattern and James W. Cooper’s book on Design Patterns in Java, there will be no need for me to prepare course notes. I’ve also been fortunate to find a C Programming Tutorial from tutorialspoint.com which also eases me up from preparing notes for the C Programming course. I’m yet to find the perfect handout for the Databases course. The students in the class have no database experience and very little database knowledge, so finding notes with very simple explanations is proving to be a challenge. For the next 11 weeks, I will be managing my full time 8-4 job and my lecturing. This will be an exciting challenge as this schedule is a 6 hour increase from the lecturing I did last semester, so it will definitely test me and take me out of my comfort zone. Seeing that my classes end at 9PM, Monday to Thursday and I usually go to bed after 11PM, I’ve decided that it would be best that my morning wake up time be moved from 4AM/4:30AM to 5AM to allow some additional time for sleep. On weekdays, I aim for 5-6 hours sleep but that never really happens, so hopefully this can be attained with my 5AM wake up call. The next 11 weeks will be quite busy but it all contributes to a greater plan and purpose.