An Interview with Work-At-Home Mom Amanda Bair
I find it interesting that my closest friends are more like my husband than me. I definitely have a type. Today's bitch is that type: smart, generous, and interesting. Amanda, like my husband, is so smart that you have to learn how to listen and engage, almost like double dutch, you have to know when to jump in and how to stay in without getting tangled up in the ropes. I mean this as a compliment. It's fascinating and fulfilling, and these conversations are some of my most memorable.
When I met John in 2004, Amanda was dating his best friend, Mike. Mike, John and Amanda went to college together, and Mike and John were college roommates. We did a lot of things together, got married a week apart, and bought houses in the same neighborhood. Amanda and I checked out of the corporate 9-5 world at the same time and sharing that experience brought us closer together. Over the past three years, we've taken long meandering walks while alternately leaning on each other as we go through a lot of the same things. Amanda is one of my favorite people to talk to and if you don't know her, you're missing out. Meet today's bitch, Amanda Bair!
You’re a stay-at-home mom. How many children do you have and what are their ages?
I have one little girl, Josephine, who is a year old. Also an 11-year old pug, Elvira. (I know it doesn’t count, but don’t tell her that!)
What did you do before you made the transition to stay-at-home mom?
I have been working in advertising and marketing for 15 years and am currently a freelance marketing writer and consultant. I also volunteer most weeks as a Start Now tutor with the Nashville Adult Literacy Council.
When did you first learn about that field of work?
As a child I was fascinated by advertising. That early interest led me to a school with a mass media department, where I majored in advertising and minored in marketing and English. After school I got a job at an advertising agency here in Nashville, and then I fell into corporate marketing, almost by chance. I did Marketing Everything for software companies for 10 years and have been freelancing solely for about three years.
What was your path that led you to becoming a work-at-home mom?
Some less-than-ideal 9-5 experiences led me to striking out on my own full-time so I could do more of what I enjoy -- the work -- and less of what I don’t -- playing corporate politics. It was after that transition that my husband and I decided to expand our family. This first year, both of us have had the opportunity to work from home and tip the scale heavily on the life side of the work-life balance.
There have been sacrifices (i.e., predictable income) but the benefits have been enormous. We both will be working more this coming year, and leaning more on outside childcare in the process, and spending this much day-in and day-out time with our girl has been a treasure.
Failure you learned from, or that helped you improve?
Having a big voice can be a challenge. I used to think that my mistake was not keeping my mouth shut. (And, let’s face it, sometimes that is exactly the mistake I have made.) However, the real lesson I have learned is that I need to seek out relationships where my voice is valued. Too much of the world wants you to be quieter, smaller, lesser. Finding those people and places where my ideas are an asset is a better use of energy than the exhausting work of keeping myself stifled. To that end ...
Favorite piece of advice, parenting or otherwise?
Know when to say “Fuck ‘em,” is the pithy and invaluable advice from my father. One of my pitfalls as a perfectionist is to put much more into my work than is valued on the other end. When that balance is out of whack, it can be so frustrating. Letting up on that pressure I put on myself -- or letting go entirely, if it comes to that -- is key to maintaining my sanity.
What would you do with 2 more hours a day?
I would like to think I would write more. (Oh, hey there, amandabair.com; someday I’ll finish you!) But honestly, I would sleep more and read more. So many books, so little time!
What is your greatest success (doesn’t have to be about parenting)?
Keeping a child alive and healthy for a full year is the hardest thing I have ever done. My husband and I toasted our success with whiskey at midnight on her birthday. Slainte to eight teeth! Mastitis x 4! Sleep training! And to the second year, where I still don’t know anything. It’s the best of times!
What’s the first app or website you open in the morning?
I do only enough social media to get by, so it used to be Slate or the NY Times. Then it was Tom & Lorenzo. These days, I get my priority emails pushed to my phone, and more often than not, that is more than enough Internet for me.
How do you decompress at the end of the day?
Take a walk around the neighborhood if the weather is nice enough. Cook dinner. Have a beer. Listen to music and dance around the house. Take a long shower. Put on pj’s as early as possible. Get into a bed of fresh sheets. Read a book. Some days I get to do all of these things, and it is glorious.
What’s the hardest thing about being a work-at-home mom that isn’t obvious?
Remembering to get out of the house to encounter the universe. One of the side benefits of volunteering every week is putting on real pants and talking with other adults.
That, and writing with a little one anywhere in the vicinity is next to impossible. She tears paper and bangs on the keyboard, like a cat with opposable thumbs. In fact, Josephine would like to interject something here: tg tgb trfvgcrtgcvrtfdvfg rrffx.
What is one thing everyone gets wrong about stay-at-home moms?
Being at home does not grant complete freedom. Even though there is downtime -- and I have a great co-worker! -- being a parent still requires constant attention and creativity and patience … and I don’t have nearly enough patience.
Lastly, and most important, what is your favorite TV show and what is your favorite snack?
Mad Men is probably my favorite show ever. I love everything Anthony Bourdain does (Bourdain+Ripert = #friendshipgoals). And I’m a sucker for those holiday baking championships. As far as snacks, popcorn with a glass of milk is my go-to.
All photos courtesy of Amanda Bair