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By Nicole Frehsee Mazur
Back when I had an office job, there was one workday a year that got me particularly jazzed. It wasn’t when bonuses were handed out or the company holiday party. It was the day of my annual performance review. (Yes, I’m a nerd.)
Maybe it’s the Jew in me, but I always liked the idea of a Day of Judgment, at least when it comes to job performance. Reviewing your successes, hashing out your missteps, discussing future goals…it all serves to make you better at what you do.
While being a mom is the “realest” job I’ve ever had — I’m on call 24/7, lunch/bathroom breaks are sporadic at best and I get puked on regularly — corporate America it’s not. That means I’m missing my yearly chance to hear how I failed (my kid’s screams are not a reliable metric) and how I can improve going forward.
Still, this is the perfect time for a review, as last month marked my first anniversary on the job: Maya recently turned one. Because my boss can’t talk yet (aside from “mama,” “dada,” “book” and “cat”), I’ll have to evaluate myself.
I stole these questions from some site called businessballs.com, so you know they’re legit.
What do you consider to be your most important achievements from the last year?
Pushing a (seven-pound, one-ounce) baby out of one’s vagina and then keeping him/her alive for 12 months is the ultimate achievement, IMHO. So there’s that. But in a macro sense, I feel like I became an adult. The “grown-up” traits I sometimes exercised in my pre-mom life — responsibility and risk-aversion, for example — have become part of my daily routine. (You’ve heard the saying “there are no atheists in foxholes?” There are no moms who don’t wince when their kid crawls up to a pointy, glass table.) I’ve learned to make organization and preparedness, which have never been my strong suits, a priority. Because, you know, you leave the house with an un-stocked diaper bag at your own peril. I’ve also been able to tap into reserves of patience that I didn’t know I had, which is a good thing in general.
Oh, and definitely losing the baby weight.
What elements of your job do you find most difficult?
Let’s be honest: Being in charge of someone’s survival and happiness is no small task. In some ways, I think I make it harder on myself because I haven’t fully accepted that, in the minute-to-minute sense, my needs come second to Maya’s. (Maybe this realization comes easier to people who are completely selfless, like my own mom.) This doesn’t mean I wouldn’t give her the shirt off my back or the food off my plate – I’d do anything for her, and happily. But sometimes, I just want to lie on the couch and catch up on “Narcos” instead of pushing her around the basement in her toy car. Is that so bad?
What elements of your job interest you the most, and least?
It’s no secret that caring for a baby can be boring and monotonous. The constant repetition of eat/sleep/poop/snatch-dangerous-object-out-of-baby’s-hand gets mind-numbing, and sometimes I feel like my brain is turning to mush. Not surprisingly, I love the “fun stuff”: reading to Maya, bath time, dancing with her to the classic rock we blast over our living-room stereo. But certain aspects of the job, like constantly cleaning up after her and trying to get her to nap (I lamented this issue in an earlier post), bum me out. While the grunt work is unavoidable, I’ve found that peppering the day with activities I’m psyched about breaks up the tedium. That’s why Maya reads a lot of books, takes a lot of baths and dances to a shit-ton of ELO.
What kind of work would you like to be doing in five years’ time?
This is a no-brainer: I want to hang on to my job as Maya’s mom, of course. Occasional lousy days aside, it’s hands down the most joyful and rewarding job I’ve ever had. Maybe there will even be another little person in the picture. Oh, and I’ll probably still be trying to finish season one of “Narcos.”
Nicole Frehsee Mazur is a first-time mom (daughter Maya was born in December 2014) and freelance magazine writer based in Detroit. Her work has appeared in O, the Oprah Magazine, Time Out, Maxim and Rolling Stone, where she’s a former editor.