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Year One


The Ups, Downs and Sideways of Working Motherhood

Year One

Alex Steinman

Cooper turned one on Saturday, which makes me A) bummed that my tiny nugget grew into a little boy so quickly and B) elated we all survived. In one year, he's made me happier and stronger than I've ever been. There's something about the first time you hold your tiny, gooey alien. He looked me right in the eye and our breathing synced. This was when I realized he was truly mine. I say that as an only child and a terrible sharer. But also as an adoring mother. Those fingers, toes, eyes and ears were made by me. Ten months (don't let anyone tell you it's nine) of waiting, and my bump became a baby. It's the most amazing science experiment I've ever done, partially because I finally aced something in science. Waking up to the giggles, staying up for the tears, and breathing together in those quiet moments fills my heart with all the feelings.

It takes strong women to grow humans during pregnancy. Literal, physical strength. As I entered motherhood though, I was tested mentally in ways I never imagined. I can rock and bounce and play for hours. Sure I get tired, and sure I whine about it sometimes. But the truth is, the second he needs me I'm there. I don't know if it's adrenaline or my body in survival mode, but I show up for even the worst of nights (see Sleepless in the Suburbs).

As a working mom, Cooper redefined what success and ambition meant for me. The quality of my work has become more important than the quantity of hours in the office. Luckily, I work in an environment with shared values for the most part, but a recent article in TIME magazine hit home with an explanation on why so many women leave the workplace or lose interest in leadership roles: "...if laser-focused career ambition at the expense of a rewarding personal life is what it takes to capture the seat in the proverbial corner office- well, many women would rather not sit there." For me, success was hearing Cooper's first giggle and seeing his first steps. Success was keeping him alive and keeping my sanity.

I've realized I don't have time for self-doubt. I've got a young man to raise. These years go by quickly, and I'd rather spend them living with my family than living around them. In one year, Cooper's put life in perspective like I never imagined. In one year, I realized I am strong like all mamas.