Category Archives: Lawyering

Burnout

Feeling the burn

What does it say that I couldn’t get myself to attend a seminar I had signed up for called “Overcoming Burnout”?

Have I reached the depths of burnout? I don’t know. What I do know is that life right now borders on the chaotic. Sometimes it feels overwhelming. And I need more sleep.

I try to spin it by saying my life is full. It is. In many wonderful ways. I still need more sleep. And some time & space to call my own. (Can I get a body to call my own, too? Maybe for me burnout feels like being touched out… hmm…)

Speaking of sleep, I have a post about sleep that I’m really excited about, but all in good time.

Take care of yourselves, dear readers! (And if you think of it, please share in the comments the most important thing you do to take care of yourself… I need some help in that department!)

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A gift of a different kind

I did finally make it out the door, laden, as usual with pumping equipment & snacks.


The morning started promisingly. I woke up just before my alarm & successfully snuck out of bed without waking the baby. 

For a second, as I descended the stairs to the kitchen, I thought to myself, “How great! I’ll get ready in no time, nurse the baby upon her waking, & be out the door early!” 

But it’s not every morning that I wake without the baby. 

My actual instinct upon entering the quiet kitchen was to tidy up. It’s the kind of productivity that’s impossible with a one-year-old on your hip or under foot. For example: an open dishwasher that invites climbing rather than emptying dishes. 

So I did what any sane working parent would do. Rather than get ready for work, I put away the clean dishes. 

Having accomplished that task & still no sign of small humans being awake, I made myself a well-deserved pot of coffee. I sat down with my steaming mug of coffee and a magazine. And I savored it all. The quiet, especially. (Incidentally, I read the new Harper’s & Seyward Darby’s new article, “The Rise of the Valkyries“, which is terrifying for any woman who has read Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.)

A morning like this is a gift, and a rare one at that. 

Eventually, I gathered my things & actually started to prepare to leave for the day. Of course, at that point the baby was awake & on my lap as I tried to nurse, read M’s favorite book, and guzzle the last of my coffee. Oh, and catch up with my partner, who woke up with the baby. 

Our first attempt at nursing (& by first attempt, I mean the first conscious nursing, since we have an open milk bar all night long…) was distracted & so as I was saying my goodbyes, M unsurprisingly gave me the sign for mama milk. … Okay… Hike up my dress, adjust my non-nursing bra & we nurse. Quietly. Staring at each other in the sun-lit room. 

Then my work phone dings & buzzes. A reminder that the early birds in my office have started their work days already & a reality check that this mostly-blissful morning cannot last. Baby M wriggles in my lap, signaling she’s done nursing. I holler at my partner & I’m out the door. 

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Tips for traveling without your baby (if you’re a nursing mom)

Have pump, will travel


I have managed to avoid overnight separations from Baby M during her first year. Not that there’s anything inherently wrong with leaving an infant overnight. It’s just that I am a homebody by nature & will shamelessly gladly use my children as an excuse to not go on a trip that is not baby- or child-friendly.

But, I had a work trip recently that involved only one overnight—hardly long enough to make taking the baby (& the rest of the family or a grandparent to care for baby) a reasonable option. Also, the trip was an important opportunity for networking with colleagues, some of whom I had never met in person, and I knew some of that networking would take place after work hours. So, I decided to brave it alone. I might have looked forward to some solitude, except that I knew I’d have a constant companion: My breast pump.

See, while Baby M is one year old, eats a ton of food & loves drinking water, she also still nurses just as much as she ever has. … And as a result … I’m still pumping at work.

When I left my son for the first time (when he was just around a year old) I was no longer pumping & I traveled by train. I pumped (I think) twice & barely produced a drop (even though my son nursed until he was over four years old).

Baby girl is a completely different story. For whatever reason, I’m still producing a fair amount of milk for the pump, so she’s still drinking mama milk when we’re apart. I also recently had a run-in with a very painful plugged duct. So, pumping would be a necessity.

Can I just say, even though I was prepared for pumping in just about any scenario (including  toting a lightweight blanket in case I had to pump on the plane or in a car), it was a marathon! I don’t think I could take another day!

I was constantly looking at the clock & the meeting schedule to time the least inopportune time to disappear. I usually didn’t have enough time to fully empty my breasts (… or, if I’m honest, my one “good” breast…) & I often had to choose between peeing & pumping (& my fear of another plugged duct means I almost always chose pumping).

That said, I was extremely lucky. Both airports I flew through had nursing/pumping rooms. The TSA Officers I encountered were nothing but professional. The office I was visiting had a pumping room. My hotel installed a fridge for me that was already cold upon my arrival. (And they gave me a spacious room that was far nicer than what I had actually booked.) And my colleagues were patient & understanding. 

Despite the damage to my bladder (hopefully not permanent), I’d say the trip was a success. (Plus, no middle of the night phone calls from my partner & supposedly no tears from baby. I did have to get up to pump at around 3:30 after realizing ol’ righty was over-full … but I expected that.)

Cute wall hanging at one of DFW’s three mother’s rooms!

Here are my tips for traveling with a pump but without your baby:

  • When planning what you will have to pack, consider how much you expect to pump & how you will transport it all. This of course will depend on (a) the length of your trip (e.g. the total number of pumping sessions) & (b) how much you pump in a given session. These factors may be a bit unpredictable, even if you’re a super-pumper. As for (a), you may find that you have to pump more or less often when you’re physically separated from baby. My pump is awesome, but it’s still not quite as efficient as my baby, so I pumped a bit more frequently than I do when I’m just gone for the day to my home office. And as for (b), don’t be surprised if you pump less if you’re having to pump in uncomfortable or unfamiliar places or under the stress of work or being way from baby. In my case, I figured my soft lunch-style cooler would be enough space for such a short trip. If you will have a lot of milk, you should bring a bigger cooler. Or, if you’ll be gone for more than a couple of days, consider shipping your milk. (I met a fellow working-pumping mom in the security line after nervously handing over my little cooler to the TSA Officer & she told me that she had been on a three-day trip & was trying out a service called Milk Stork, which looks pretty nifty! It was so cool to connect with another mom & learn about other options.)
  • Visit the TSA’s website to review what you can & can’t bring through security in U.S. airports. Travel for pumping moms seems to have gotten much easier over the past ten year or so, but horror stories pop up now & then, such as just this June in Denver. Or take a look at this 2016 Vice article for other tales of woe & dumping liquid gold because the TSA messed up. Even with lots of training & at least one legal dispute ending in settlement, it appears that some TSA Officers are not great at dealing with breastfeeding & pumping moms. Like I said, I had a great experience (thank you, Dallas TSA!), as I’m sure most pumping moms do. But it doesn’t hurt to know the rules & know your rights. Print out the TSA policies so you have them, stay calm, & ask to speak to a supervisor if something goes amiss… Though, I don’t know how you stay calm in the nightmare scenarios… 
  • Speaking of the TSA: Pre-Check. Pre-Check! You’ll be dealing with enough if you’re carrying your milk with you through security, why worry about your shoes & other liquids on top of it?
  • Check to see if any airport you’ll be visiting has a nursing or mother’s room. These are surprisingly common now, at least at the bigger airports. I used one of the mother’s rooms at Dallas Fort Worth & was really pleasantly surprised at the quality of the space. It was clearly well-planned & well-appointed, with cute pictures & a log book, full of notes from fellow nursing & pumping moms. How cool!
  • Plan where you’ll pump while at your destination. If you’ll be at a conference, don’t hesitate to contact the organizers to see if there will be a private space for you and/or other mothers who need to pump. Seriously, don’t be shy. Ask for what you need! You may be pleasantly surprised that someone has blazed that trail for you, or you may be setting up the next woman for success. Also, don’t forget to ask about storage options—Will you need to keep ice or ice packs with you at all times or will there be a fridge on site? 
  • Call your hotel & request a cold fridge in your room. Even if your room has a fridge with beverages & snacks, there may not be room for your milk or the fridge might actually not be cold enough to chill (or freeze) your milk.
  • Relax! Make some time for yourself. Download shows or movies to watch while you pump & relax in your hotel room. Visit the hotel spa, or find a yoga class, if you’ll have the time. Say “no” when you need to. (If you’ve already gone out to dinner with clients or colleagues do you really have to go to the hotel bar, too, if you’re feeling worn down?!) I watched Catastrophe & Dr. Who in my hotel room in the evening & I ordered coffee from room service in the morning so I could enjoy a hot cup of coffee in peace… It was amazing! This trip was truly a marathon, so I’m glad I took that time (short as it was) to enjoy my solitude a little bit.

Pumping in comfort before my flight home.


So, what did I bring? 

  • My pump & flanges & other pump parts. Most women recommend bringing extra parts, especially extra valves. That’s not a huge issue with the Spectra pump I use, so I took my chances (plus I stupidly only have one set of pump parts anyway…).
  • Bottles & milk storage bags.
  • Zip-top plastic baggies, both gallon & quart sizes. I use the gallon sized bags to double up on my small milk storage bags & to store my flanges during the day. (I don’t wash them after every pumping session if I can keep them refrigerated.)
  • A hands-free pumping bra. Best thing ever for pumping moms! 
  • Unscented castile soap & a nipple/straw brush for cleaning everything once or twice a day.
  • Unscented baby wipes &/or paper towels for cleaning up drips & keeping everything tidy. Paper towels are also useful for drying your pump parts, laying them out to dry overnight, or placing them on a possibly dirty surface.
  • Hand sanitizer in case you have to handle pump parts without a sink for washing hands. 
  • A bag (or bags) to keep all of the above organized. 
  • Pictures of your baby! No-brainer but consider making an album on your smartphone of your cutest baby pictures.
  • A cooler & quality ice packs. I have a bag with built-in ice packs, but I didn’t want to chance losing that if the TSA didn’t like it. I brought a plain soft-sided cooler (the green one pictured above) & ice packs that I got when I orders some probiotics online a couple years ago (as freebies, I knew I wouldn’t be upset to lose them if they didn’t make it through security. 
  • Healthy snacks & water. 
  • I also brought big Post-It notes & a marker in case I had to create an impromptu “do not enter” sign or label any of my pumping gear. 

With these tips & supplies, your time away from your baby might not be so bad. 

What have I forgotten? How do you cope with pumping on work trip?

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Leaving the little one, redux

Still life, with one-year-old’s toes & eight-year-old’s craft project


Ages ago now, I wrote about leaving my son to take the bar exam. He was almost 2 years old at that point. Prior to that, when he was closer to one year old, I had left him for one night, to visit two of my dearest friends. He is now 8 & those days are long behind us. (Spoiler: He survived.)

Now our youngest family member is a newly-minted one-year-old & I’m gearing up for a work trip. I have to admit, I am nervous. Nervous simply to leave her for more than my normal work day. Nervous to be so far apart. Nervous for the nighttime parenting my partner will have to do without me (& without fully functioning boobs). 

Vaguely nervous that she’ll somehow wean due to my short absence. That I will somehow traumatize her & she’ll hate me forever afterward. 

I’m definitely nervous that I won’t find time & space to pump at our meeting. Nervous that I’ll get another plugged duct. Nervous that I’ll have to spend unnecessary time away from her due to flight delays, etc. 

In reality, I know that she & I will be fine. It is (in the grand scheme of things) a brief separation. 

My son didn’t miss a beat when I left him for those limited times when he was still so young. My daughter’s disposition is quite similar & I’m sure she will be fine with her dad and her grandma and her brother (who I’m certain is her most favorite person in the world…). 

Still, the fact that I love her so much makes me loathe to leave her. And I know she depends on me in ways that are unique from the other caregivers in her life. That’s just a fact of life & biology (mostly biology). 

Plus, the pressure on moms to be ever present is just so persistent! Under normal circumstances, I feel I’m more or less immune to such pressures. At least I like to think I am. But I know that gnawing voice in the back of my head sometimes speaks up, reminding me that I’m not immune to such cultural expectations & stereotypes & pressures that are unique to motherhood. (For example: As a friend reminded me recently, no one asks fathers if they’re returning to work after a baby; that question is reserved for mothers alone. Why? Because moms are expected to stay home during those early years, or at least to want to. Dads? Not so much.)

As an attachment parenting mom, I suppose I’m a bit overexposed to the line of thinking that prioritizes maternal presence over all else. It’s a fallacy that AP dictates an endless physical attachment of mother & child, but that doesn’t stop folks from falling down that rabbit hole. AP or not, I’ve called them out on it before & will do in the future (stay tuned for a review of a new book that makes some pretty silly arguments about maternal-child separation.)

I try to maximize the time I spend in full-on mothering mode, because I know it’s important work. But I also know (like, for a fact know) that some separation is okay, even healthy (particularly if it makes you a happier parent, which will almost always makes you a better parent). (Of course, how much separation is appropriate & when is something only you can figure out. But if you work on honing your baby language skills, you’ll figure it out.)

So, I said “yes” to this trip, which I think will offer important networking & career growth opportunities. Which isn’t to say that I’m particularly looking forward to it. This kind of separation is definitely different from that of our daily routines.

When making the transition back to work after giving birth (whenever that happens to be), I think it’s important to prepare. Practice the hand-off/drop-off routine. Start part-time if possible & increase the length of your work days (& resultant absence) over the course of a couple weeks. In short, make sure dad or grandma or nanny or daycare provider is a part of your baby’s life. 

That said, the goal is not to make your baby independent before he’s ready or to toughen her up. The goal is to gently expand his or her universe in a loving & gentle way. 

In other words, we shouldn’t be afraid of attachment or separation. They are both normal parts of infancy & life. (Heck, that eight-year-old I wrote about leaving so long ago… He was practically in tears when I left for work this morning… Yeah, this shit is never easy.) So, be attached when you’re together. Be comfortable with appropriate bouts of separation. 

As an example, I’ll tell you what I’ve done to prepare baby for my trip: Nothing. 

Well, I’ve made a meticulous list of pumping gear I need to pack. I’ve researched space for pumping at airports & at my destination. I’ve reviewed TSA policies. 

MFA Dad & I talked about him practicing putting the baby to sleep at night, but there was no follow-through. When I’m away, the routine they figure out will be theirs (hopefully with minimal tears). When she knows I’m there, she wants me & I want to cuddle her for nighttime nursing. 

Separation is about more love, not less. It’s not a deprivation. It’s just different. Sometimes we may not like it. They may not like it. But, usually, it’s gonna be okay.

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Life with a one-year-old (part two)

Cowgirl in motion, losing a diaper


I’ve decided to share what a couple random days in our house looks like. I mean these to be a glimpse into what attachment parenting might look like for a working* mom (or other parent, save for the nursing). I don’t think there’s any right way to be an attachment parent, so I wanted to share some of our experience, mistakes & all. 

Day #1 was actually a really nice day, despite being a bit over-busy. Day #2 looked quite different (& decidedly less idyllic), which is mainly why I decided to document a second day. 

Early morning: Baby wakes & MFA Dad takes her downstairs; apparently, he tries to wake me later, but I remember nothing…

7:30: I hear MFA Dad getting ready & realize it’s super late. I jump out of bed. It’s actually not such a big deal, because I’m working from home today & I’ll still get to work during my office’s core hours. I go downstairs & Baby M is happily playing with her big brother & Grandma, who is visiting to help with childcare. 

8:15: I’m logged in & getting to work, with coffee in hand, though I’m still in my PJs. MFA Dad is off to work. 

8:30: My mom leaves with the kids to drop my son off at summer camp. I dig in to my work & have a call with my boss about a particularly tricky case I’m advising on.

9:15: My mom returns. Baby M took a micro-nap & is really tired. I try to nurse her back down, but no dice. The hand-off to my mom is messy & baby is upset. I suggest distraction instead of fighting for the nap. She quiets down.

11:00: I have a conference call & have just finished nursing the baby. Now she’s really upset & screaming. Sometimes working from home makes things confusing for her, particularly when she’s overly tired, & today is one of those days. She screaming at her grandma, but I have to get on this call. She’s safe in my own mother’s loving & capble hands, I tell myself. I wish I could focus on her, but sometimes work has to take a priority. (That’s life for a working parent. I feel a twinge of guilt, but I know these individual moments don’t matter as much as the overall patterns of loving care this child receives from me, MFA Dad, & others.) Anyway, soon I hear my mom take the baby to her big brother’s room as a change of scenery & she immediately quiets down. I put on my headphones & dial into my conference call. 

12:15: By the time I’m off the call, the baby is sleeping. Which is a good thing, because I have a fire to put out in one of my cases. 

1:15: Baby is awake, my mom fetches her & she’s her happy self again. I nurse her, make myself some lunch, chat with my mom & get back to work. But I have to run to the kitchen for something & baby sees me & wants me again. I let my mom distract her & then I disappear. (I generally don’t like “disappearing” as a transitional tactic, but when I’m close by & ultimately available if things get rough, I think it’s ok. At least, it works for us.) 

2:30: It’s quiet & they’ve apparently left to pick up big brother from camp. They’ll run a couple errands, so I’m certain to work uninterrupted for a good stretch. I’ve been sort of productive today, but it’s a battle to be as organized & focused as possible when I’m at home—There are different distractions than there are at the office; and the distractions at home are more likely to knock me off my game if I’m not intentional about my goals & to-do list. 

5:15: Finally done working. Seems like it was a long day even though I was still in my PJs at the end. Baby is home & seems really tired, so I give her a little in-arms catnap to reconnect & decompress. 

6:00: Leftovers for dinner, thankfully! After baby wakes up, I let her play with her grandma & brother so I can shut down my work for the day. Pull together the leftovers & then MFA Dad is home! Family dinner. 

9:00: Both kids are having trouble settling down tonight. After I get baby to sleep, we have a family gathering in my son’s room as he’s having some worries about death (& what comes next). We end up distracting him by talking about the future, which he is certain will include flying cars. I lay down with him for a little while in the dark, but he crashes hard & fast. 

9:45: Baby is awake & unsettled again. She is working on walking & her sleep is disrupted & very physical these days, so it takes a while to get her back to sleep. I’m nodding off too…

Today was more challenging than yesterday. I love that I have the option to work from home a couple days each week, but I don’t like not leaving the house all day & not having a break to take care of myself (who would?!). It’s so great to be able to cut out my commute & have that extra time to spend with the kids. It also gives me the flexibility to nurse rather than pump during the work day, which is awesome! When I’m at work, though, I have a very well-honed routine to help me take good care of myself (drinking water, getting up to walk around or get a breath of “fresh” (city) air… you know, the simple things…). I’ve always been more organized at work than at home, generally, & I’m working on importing some of that structure into my (work at) home life.

* See my day #1 post for an explanation of the problems inherent with this term. For simplicity, I often use it anyway, which I don’t intend to diminish the real work primary caregivers do on a daily basis.

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What life with a one-year-old looks like in this house (part one)

Sweaty head hair flip


There aren’t too many examples out in the world of working* attachment parenting moms. At least, I think we’re woefully underrepresented in the blogosphere (do people say that anymore?!), parenting websites & books, social media, etc. So, I thought I’d post about some random days in our life. On AP mom’s play-by-play, so to speak…

Random day #1, which was pretty productive & sweet, was followed by random day #2, which was stressful & less productive. 

And that’s pretty much how we roll around here… The good & the bad, the dark & the light (for you Star Wars fans), the sweet & the challenging. In other words, (a fairly privileged, very lucky) life. Here’s a peek…

5:30/5:45-ish: Baby M wakes up, or at least starts to… She alternately flops around the bed & nurses, sometimes getting quiet & still. Foolishly, I think she might fall asleep again, but she’s awake awake. A little cranky, but sweet, too.

6:15: I’m making coffee & breakfast while she explores the pantry & tries her hand at unloading the dishwasher. No broken dishes but I shut down the operation before it gets dangerous. She’s not happy with the fact that I’ve thwarted her two preferred activities this morning. I’m half-listening to the news on the radio & for some reason keep missing the weather report. I enjoy a few sips of warm-ish coffee & quickly eat breakfast while packing up my lunch & work-related things. Mentally, I’m planning what I’ll wear since I finally caught the weather report. 

7:00: My mom is visiting & she wakes up. Then my partner, MFA Dad. I take my coffee & baby to the living room to nurse one more time. I wake up my son, show him how to use hair gel (a new experiment for him) & get myself ready. 

7:30: I’m off. I get a nice morning walk in to the train. I plug into my music (TV on the Radio today) & work on my blog. 

8:20: I arrive at work. Meetings. Email. A few minutes of meal-planning before MFA Dad heads to the grocery store. 

11:00: I pump. I’m trying to slowly cut out pumping at work now that baby is one. I have a private office & I can work while I pump, which makes me incredibly lucky, but I don’t like being unavailable for those solid chunks of the day. M is eating a lot of solid food & loves water, so we’re at a good point, I think, to transition away from bottles of mama milk. I was down to once a day; however, I just had a run-in with a clogged duct (seriously?!) & so I’m rethinking things. Extra pumping today to make sure I empty out enough since I’m just recovering from the plugged duct & still experiencing some pain. 

12:30: I’m getting over a stomach bug, too (double whammy!) & the lunch I packed is decidedly unappetizing. I usually don’t eat out (especially following gastro illness) but I need to eat. I find a place that makes broth in-house for their soups. Yum. 

1:00: It’s an afternoon of collaborating with colleagues, working with legal interns, & meeting with my clients. And some legal research. With another short pumping session mixed in.  

5:00: I’m able to punch out on time today. More blogging on the train. I didn’t bring an umbrella & it’s raining when I get off the train (so much for that weather report…) Luckily, I catch a bus. 

5:45: I’m home. M greets me outside with a big smile, a hearty wave, & so many kicks. We nurse a ton. My work dress is not nursing friendly, so I have to strip down so that we can reconnect. She’s at the acrobatic stage of toddler nursing, which is both interactive & exhausting & uncomfortable. … Dinner! MFA Dad has prepared some curried chicken in our electric pressure cooker, which my son amazingly eats with arugula & without ketchup. Baby eats it up, too, but mostly whines because we can’t get her water fast enough. 

7:00: Clean-up & our big boy accidentally knocks our precarious pile of recycling down the stairs. We laugh & stare for a few moments, because what else can you do?! He gamely helps to pick it up & I take it out to the bin. I notice the grass is long & the garden overgrown but it’s too late to do anything about it today. My mom, still visiting to help us with a patch of childcare, leaves to visit her elderly mother—definitely a sandwich generation moment for her. 

7:15: M’s short bedtime routine. A bath is nice but unnecessary every night. Our abbreviated routine consists of a couple songs, diaper change on the bed & nursing in the rocking chair. Baby seems a little unsettled tonight but she drifts off. 

7:45: I lay her down in her crib & join my partner & our oldest child for a few rounds of Pandemic, a cooperative board game. Our son goes to get ready for bed while I load my pumping gear into the dishwasher & catch up with MFA Dad for a few minutes. I read Harry Potter (Book 6!) to my son & snuggle & chat with him about his day at drama camp. He proudly tells me how he wrote a couple jokes for the script they’re preparing. We talk about the roles that might be a good fit (to help prepare him for casting excitement & possible disappointments). Lights out!

9:00: I get myself ready for bed. Oops! Baby’s awake. I rush to get through my routine. MFA Dad has her. She’s quiet but I know she’ll likely want to nurse. Sure enough, I walk in & her head pops up from his arms. We swap. She’s all over the place. Wet diaper. Still unable to settle. Some more active movement & she settles down. I try to write this blog post but fade as I rock with baby in my arms. 

10:45: Finally in bed, just in time for a lightning & thunderstorm to keep me awake. 

Fairly typical day. Non-stop, though I feel I moved only incrementally, if at all, in my work & home to-do lists. I generally find life & responsibility to be overwhelming & today was no different. But the day, as all those before it, is done. Goodnight!

* I am sometimes reminded of the rhetorical clash of language in discussions of mothers, specifically the reality that many of us get a salary from an employer & many of us get no paycheck but engage primarily in the labor of a functioning family. Others manage to arrive at a mix of the two. As many (most?) writers do, I use the term “working mom” as shorthand for those of us engaged in “outside jobbing” (even if we sometimes or always telework from home). This isn’t to suggest that those engaged in family labors do not work. It’s just that our language doesn’t have a great way to sort all this activity out. 

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My life post-Facebook 

My empty social media folder…


About three months ago, I quit Facebook. Indefinitely. Possibly forever.

After the election of November 2016, I had used social media as a serious crutch. Holy cow, that election was something. I don’t really want to recall how I felt in the run-up & during the aftermath. 

But I found a welcome outlet on Facebook. I’d never posted much, but I started sharing articles & posts, engaging in (sorta-friendly) political arguments with a variety of folks. I wallowed in liberal anguish with my “friends.” 

Then came the inauguration. The Women’s March. Anti-immigrant, anti-refugee Executive Orders & more local activism. On short notice, I rounded up the family, set off the alarm on Facebook & headed to the airport. Angry. (Though always thoughtful & friendly to the police officers protecting the various marches I attended.) Facebook was more than an on-line outlet for fake rage… it was IRL activism, y’all! Real & in-the-flesh organizing. 

But mostly I read. 

Doomsday articles. Articles that got me upset & scared. Debates on how some of us were doing activism wrong. Which made me anxious & upset for different reasons.

All of it made me feel overwhelmed.

Overwhelm was my default state.

I’d get the baby to sleep in the rocking chair & then I’d stay up late catching up on politics via social media. 

I was exhausted already & we were barely into this new presidency. How would I sustain my renewed activism over the next four (or less… or more) years? I was younger & childless & pre-Facebook when I was last involved in any activism. 

My partner suggested deleting the Facebook app from my devices. Yeah, right! I laughed maniacally. 

How else could I keep up? Stay involved in all the excellent local groups that had formed? How would I know about the next protest?

I was on Facebook on the train on the way to work. On the way home from work. Sometimes at lunch. At night after the kids were asleep.

Exhausting.

Overwhelming.

And, most importantly, unhealthy

So I finally heeded my parner’s advice & (publicly, of course!) said goodbye to Facebook. I deleted the app (though I didn’t kill my account). I thought for sure that my social media hiatus would be temporary. That I’d sort out my Facebook demons & hop back on in a more disciplined manner. 

Then the weeks started to pass by … and I just didn’t…

Maybe I’d get back on Twitter. Instagram. (Folks told me that Instagram was somewhat apolitical & happy, still.) 

Nope. 

Not interested. 

Because I started to notice something… I was deliberately more present with my family. Giving my son more attention. Relishing in the sweetness of my youngest’s babyhood. Conversing with my partner & even sneaking in a couple dates. 

It’s not that I had disappeared from family life previously, but it’s amazing how the brief snippets of social media distraction can cut into the time & headspace that should be focused on the actual living & breathing people in your immediate presence. 

And I started to think about my priorities. Talked (like, on the phone… not via Messenger…) to a dear mentor. My partner & I started some projects around the house. Started planning a vacation. Some camping trips. Sometimes we have dance parties in the evenings. Sometimes my partner pulls out his guitar & we stay up too late singing. 

It’s like a fog has lifted. 

And I’ve gotten over my social media FOMO. I know I’m missing some interesting & smart shit out there, but I can’t do it all. And for now quitting Facebook is an easy, clean way to make my life a bit more manageable, meaningful, & enjoyable. 

But saying goodbye to Facebook was not going to be a political cop-out. I saved my representatives’ contacts to my phone. I get an email each week about calls I might make. I’ve made calls. Sent emails. 

I keep up on the news on my own, with subscriptions to a small handful of real (not fake) news sources. A “curated newsfeed,” you might call it. 

But I still wanted to do more. And without the immediacy of Facebook, I could really step back to analyze my situation. 

I had never really been a protest-activist. Bless ’em, because it takes all types & all voices. 

No, in my post-Facebook meditation, I realized that I am much more into voice amplification. In college, I had a radio show, so I turned it into a platform for discussing issues affecting Latino students. As a law student, I organized events highlighting issues I cared about. As a small-time publisher, I’ve given space to a variety of voices.

So, now I’m spending some of the time I was spending on Facebook & protesting in a way that utilizes my skills and amplifies my impact: pro bono work. 

I’ve only just begun, but the prospect of helping to create access to justice for folks in my community (folks likely marginalized in the current political climate) is pretty darn exciting.  

I’m still in for a good protest, but I’m being a little more discerning. It’s gonna be a long ride. 

(Also, I started blogging more regularly again. Turns out, writing about parenting—& sometimes, politics—makes me happy.)

How are you managing (or mismanaging) your social media “life”? Do you have rules you abide by? Have you quit cold turkey? Never started?

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