Saturday, December 25, 2010

Is it really the THOUGHT that counts?

Here's what I remember about the first Christmas I learned what LOVE really meant.  I can't remember exactly how old I was, maybe 7 or 8, and per usual I was at my grandma's house for Christmas Eve.  Since my parents separated when I was 5, spending Christmas Eve with him at my grandma's house and Christmas at home with my mom was the norm.

We were all opening gifts.  Aunts, Uncles, grandma, dad, and us kids were sitting around the tree.  The kids were fists of fury; paper flying everywhere.  I noticed that my cousin had gotten this singing teddy bear that I thought was just SO cool from my grandma and I remember thinking, "WOW" she must really love him very much.  It was no doubt true, but I put the thought aside for a moment and opened a gift from my dad.  It was a Rainbow Bright doll.  Unfortunately for my dad, I wasn't really into Rainbow Bright at the time.  I immediately thought, "he doesn't love me very much if he doesn't even know what I like."

Poor, poor divorced parents.  The ones without custody are like onlookers on the other side of the glass.  They know their children, but they sometimes miss the details just for lack of being with their kids everyday.  It must be a heartbreaking thing, to only see your child on weekends and holidays.  I cannot imagine what that must be like.  Even though I joke that I would gladly take a day off from my children, I'm not sure I could stitch together enough pieces of me to make myself a whole person with the holes they would leave without their laughter, crazy dancing on the carpet, splashing in the tub, and yes the chaos of wrestling, shoving, and doing it themselves without any help from mommy.

So I do what all small children do when they are completely disappointed, I throw myself full tilt into a melt down; tears, storming out of the room and the icing on the cake of all tantrums I will not explain what has me so upset.  So I'm sitting in my grandmother's basement trying to piece together the connective strings I have learned in my short time on Earth.  Love equals things.  Better things equal more love.  So less things or lesser quality things must equal less love, right?  So that means that my dad doesn't love me nearly as much as my grandma loves my cousin because she gave him a way cool singing teddy bear and my dad gives me a Rainbow Bright doll that I didn't even want.

I want to cry at my childhood innocence and stupidity.  Blame our consumer culture if you want, but these are the sad lessons we as children learn through the actions of the adults in our lives.  My dad comes down and asks me what is wrong and I don't remember what I said.  Though I was saddened by his "lack of love" for me, I still didn't want to hurt his feelings by telling him the way I really felt.  Eventually, I confess that I'm not a big Rainbow Bright fan.  He seems a bit hurt, but instead of being angry with me he assures me I have other presents to unwrap and I might find something else I like.

After a little while of talking, he convinces me to go back upstairs and finish opening my presents. One of the very next presents I unwrap is Rainbow Bright's horse.  It had a big star on its forehead, which I thought was pretty cool at the time.  Now I'm happy.  Now she has a pet and this makes her better than what she was alone.  So I assure my dad that I'm happy with his presents.  I'll never know if he believed me or not or how badly I hurt his feelings by throwing a fit and almost ruining what I didn't know then would be one of too few holidays in our painfully short time together on this Earth.  But I learned something, despite my age; it didn't matter so much what he had gotten me.  He loved me and had wanted to make me happy with a gift and I used that gift to measure something for which there is no Earthly measure - the love a parent has for their child.

Despite my regret during this poorly timed growing experience, I'm eternally grateful that I learned that love can't be measured by anything, least of all a gift you can buy at the store.  Some people still walk this Earth, trying to measure it this way.  I think it's because it makes them uncomfortable - the enormity and the responsibility of love.  We try to break it down into smaller bite sizes pieces we can analyze and hold, and study with a microscope.  It makes us feel that much safer to put it into our pockets then to know it spans the entirety of every breath we take, every moment our heart beats, and the limitless sky we sleep beneath.  So on this Christmas day, when I myself have become the parent, I think of my Dad and I try to breathe without him.  I pray that he can hear my heart beat, because he helped design its rhythm.  I will sleep under the sky- the majestic, infinite sky that he watches me from and I know, without hesitation, just how much he loved me.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Ultimate Unfairness of Fair

We try to teach our children to play fair with others because as our reasons demonstrate it's in their own best interests to do so.  Would you want someone to take your toy from you?  Would you want to play with someone who will not wait their turn?  Would you want to play a game with someone who doesn't follow the rules? Who will want to play with you if you don't play fair?  Well ideally, the answer would be no one.  We teach them about fairness supposedly because it is in their best interests, but the reality is that they will grow up and go out into a world that is ultimately UNFAIR.

We tell them to do their best and that will be enough.  We try to brace them for the reality that "you can't win them all."  But what we don't tell them is that when they grow up, they will be living and competing in a world full of adults that simply didn't learn this lesson as a child or who simply disregarded the archaic idea that it was in their best interests to be fair.  What to do?  What to do?  One day when we get frustrated enough we will tell them "Life is NOT FAIR.  AND there is NOTHING we can do about it."

I have lived through plenty of loss, lies, betrayals, and broken promises to be the walking Poster Girl for UNFAIRNESS.  I lost my dad at fourteen before I even had a chance to push him off the pedestal.  I've worked for years for a promotion that was promised to me and ultimately denied and after fianlly quitting was doled out to a stranger free of charge.  I work hard and at every pass am made to feel that my best is not good enough because mistakes carry more weight than good ideas and intentions.

For me, I have no choice but to be the good girl that I am.  Somewhere way back in my past it must have been burned into my brain, or else we are born hardwired with the personality we have.  In any case, being UNFAIR simply doesn't register as the thing to do.  I'm not saying I'm perfect, oh I'm so the Poster Girl for UNPERFECTION as well if such a word existed.  I have been angry, frustrated, disappointed and saddened by the UNFAIRNESS of life, but knowing my children will meet it head on one day scares me.  Some part of me wonders if my training in FAIRNESS will leave them completely unprepared to survive in an UNFAIR world. 

Should I be teaching them the truth; that people who put their needs first, who take short cuts, who simply don't care whose feelings get hurt or don't look back to see whose lives are left drowning in their wake are the ones who succeed in the UNFAIR "real" world?  Am I dooming them to failure?  The short answer is most definitely YES.  But here comes my hard wiring again - I simply can't show them a roadmap that I don't have.  I will probably never know what it means to have SUCCESS by life's standards.  I have no grandiose notions of acquiring enough money not to give a crap about how I spend it or having strangers know my name and thinking that they perhaps know me too.  Happiness for me,  survival for me, depends on drowning these notions.  These notions are simply not compatible with my brain.

I fear for my children like all parents do.  We want to protect them from anything bad.  We want them to be safe and happy and healthy and we tell ourselves that if we can just accomplish this holy trinity of parenting then life will be fine.  It will open to them all the opportunities we never had.  It will give them the happiness we dream for them.  But the cynical me will always think in the back of my brain that life isn't going to GIVE them anything.  They will simply have to TAKE IT for themselves.  But my brain starts to overload at this juncture in thought because is TAKING what they want ULTIMATELY UNFAIR?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Will Work For Daycare

Today a very clear and distinct vision of my life came into comical view.  I stand on the side of the road with a dirty rough cut piece of cardboard in my hands with the words WILL WORK FOR DAYCARE written in magic marker.  (Side note: Anyone have any idea what is so magical about a magic marker?  Will I get what I write as long as it's written in magic marker?  Totally wish that were the case.)  So in my vision I am like that jobless person who stands by the side of the road, desperate for work, so desperate they will work for food.  There is something especially captivating about these people.  They don't ask for handouts; they ask for help and it's really hard not to really SEE them.  So too am I, standing on the side of my career path if you will, asking for help - WILL WORK FOR DAYCARE.

Since my mother is currently in the hospital with a broken ankle, I'm left in limbo with childcare.  I work part-time (3 days a week) so you'd think that there would be some monetary break for less than full-time childcare.  But I have not ONE but TWO children. Here is where the real exponential cost of having more than one child comes into play.  The cost of one more plate at the table, the cost of one more pack of diapers, an additional toy, none of them really level your budget like the cost of daycare.  For the first time since I was pregnant with my three-year-old daughter, I've starting pricing out daycare.  I'm hoping my need for it is for the next month to three months while my mom recovers.

I priced out a local daycare center, you know the kind, full of amenities like feeding your child, reading, singing, playing, changing them (the things moms do automatically, for free, but perhaps without the formal agenda).  It would cost me, not one of my two monthly paychecks, but basically one and a half of them.  After the cost of gas, I would be left working to pay for my children to be cared for by strangers.  Sigh....  So I thought, let's ask anyone who might know anyone who might be able to watch them in their home.  So I talked to a stay-at-home mome who watches children in her home. Yes, it's a decidedly cheaper option, but still regretably expensive when you consider my budget for childcare was $0 and there is really no extra money in sight.  Believe me (and if you don't just ask one of my friends) I am one of the most frugal people on Earth. 

I don't know for the life of me how working families pay for childcare these days.  I understand how important it is to have someone you trust caring for your children when you're not around, ESPECIALLY if you have ones far too little to tell you if something bad happened or they were ignored or...let's step off that bad path at the turn here.  I get it, but I also know from working in a daycare for my whopping two days (yes it was that stressful and oh yes I was already getting a fresh cold) that you pay people WAY TOO LITTLE money and put them in a room filled with more children then they can responsibly care for and even the caregiver with the best of intentions can't care for your children the way they would like to.

It's so beyond frustrating.  I keep thinking, this is NOT what I signed up for when I had children.  When I hatched my brilliant job-share plan, I did it with the belief that a stranger would not be raising my child.  I would raise my children and my mother who loves them would care for them, if not exactly like I would than equally as well.  So for now, they are being looked after by other family members for as long as my welcome and wallet aren't worn out.  I'm grateful for the help, but I am woefully worn out from stressing about money and childcare and work.  I realize there are a lot more women with less resources and options than myself and I wonder how they do it.  For weeks I have felt frustration, shame, failure, and guilt.  I go to my job and my day is punctuated with moments of utter sadness.  I know I'm rowing against a current I cannot possibly overtake.

In college, when things got bad I came up with my very first Erinism as I now call my quotes, my snippets of life philosophy.  It was meant to keep me going when I wanted to give up.  I wrote it down and hung it on my wall.  "It's a hard lesson to learn that sometimes your best is not good enough, and a harder lesson to keep going when it's not."  I guess it's about that time to write it down once again and hang it, preferably at height level, where I might be inclined to bang my head if it weren't there offering me a more positive option.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Mommy Track

Work and Motherhood should be synonymous, but for some odd reason they are not.  When talking about outside paid employment, motherhood is viewed as sort of a detour on the road to career advancement - a maternity leave during which you bond with your baby then promptly enroll them in daycare and mother them on nights and weekends.  Well that is the way it used to be thought of anyway.

It's so rare to find a stay at home mom these days.  They are going extinct at a rapid rate.  Society tells us that we simply cannot afford to care for our children "full-time" and besides women are independent and career oriented and should want to reach for the brass ring with the same zeal as our husbands.  But what happens when you trade in the brass ring, for dare I say it, a teething ring?

When I was pregnant with my daughter I expected to return to work full-time and enroll her in daycare, as most moms now do.  I was totally fine as long as I operated under the assumption that I simply had no other choice in the matter.  I was fine with my assumption oh until about three days after my daughter was born.  I called my grandmother to tell her the good news and she asked me if I was going to return to work. When I said yes, she asked me, "but why you wanted that baby so much?"  That is one of the few moments I can point to in my life and say see this is where it all changed.  She wasn't saying it to be mean or criticize my choice, she simply saw choices that I did not.

She was an immigrant to this country from war-torn Germany.  She raised three kids alone for the better part of their childhood.  She worked damn hard on farms, in factories, and for wages that may have made my first job after college look like I had made it to "the good life."  Work was life for my grandmother.  Motherhood was life too and the two things were not in fact separate ideas.  I did a paper for college about her work history and in every answer to my questions about work, she infused paid work with family work.  Without knowing it, she was saying that for women, the realm of work is not one thing, paid employment or work in the home, it's both simultaneously.

So after crying for weeks about a question I hadn't expected to shake me to my core, I started thinking about what would really make me happy.  I talked with my husband, then my mom, then finally my boss.  I did something up until this very moment in my life I found so very daunting, I asked for what I needed to make me happy.  I wanted to work part-time so I could spend time with my child and still contribute financially to my household.  I arranged with my boss to turn my full-time job into a job-share so that I could work part-time.  My mom agreed to watch my child (and later my two children) while I was at work.  And as a happy consequence I made a great friend in the co-worker and mother who was able to work the other part of my job. 

I was lucky that it worked out.  I have been happy and now all my stitching of my ideal life is starting to slowly unravel one stitch at a time.  All the knots that hold together my work/motherhood life are coming undone. 

My job is undergoing a major transition and there is a possibility I could be laid off.  My mother broke her foot and is in the hospital and afterwards will need months of rehabilitation and help herself.  It's like I'm back to that very moment when my grandmother questioned what I was going to do about work and motherhood.  The difference is, she recently passed away and she can not ask, so I guess I have to ask myself again - What's it going to take to make me happy?

I look for jobs online that require me to work full-time.  I think of how much more we would struggle if I stayed at home.  I look at my children and think of what it took to bring them into this world.  I know now, thanks to my grandmother, that I do in fact have choices, but she never said they would be easy ones to make.  I can think of just one thing that would make me happy.  Just one.  Again it hinges on the cooperation of others, it hinges on timing, it hinges on a future that I can not see or touch in this moment in time and like anyone else would be, I'm scared.  So I cling to today.  I take help when it is offered and say thank you instead of struggling in silence.  I try to think of getting through today and tomorrow and try not to assume anything more about the future than that. 

There is an old saying that if you have a job or a career and choose any other path besides full-time employment or choose to leave at the end of the day instead of living for your job, you are in fact on the "mommy track."  It's a term that was meant to put down women who choose to stand up and say that my family is just as important as my job.  I even had a professor in college who tried to discourage me when I told him I didn't plan to go on to grad school by saying, "What are you going to do then, stay home and have babies?" 

I was in my early twenties and didn't have a voice then.  But I do now.  I'm proud to be on the "mommy track."  Not everyone gets the privilege to be a mother.  But I will be blessed the rest of my life.  So while others are pushing their career up the track of success one piece of paper and project at a time, I take the track that meanders, that takes the short hill instead of the mountain.  I enjoy the view of my life as it sprawls out before me.  I know how this goes; this track is just a different segment of the same roller coaster. The difference is, I fill my car with my family and my hopes for them, not just myself.  It goes slower because there is more to pull.  It takes the hill over the mountain because what is an exhilarating rush of adrenaline to some, to others is just a rush of fear.  I don't know what's going to happen next any more than the next person, but I know one thing that perhaps others may not.  I choose to define success on my terms and I know I have more power than even I realize.  I can only hope that other women know that too.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

You're Hot Then You're Cold

I'm not sure Katie Perry had a toddler in mind when she sang "You're Hot Then You're Cold.  You're Yes then You're No" but it most certainly fits Toddlerhood to a T.  Some days I catch small glimpses of the sweet baby girl I remember.  When she looks deep into my eyes and says, "Mommy you have Hannahs in your eyes."   When the I love yous and hugs come without provocation or the desire to help mommy with household chores because she wants to be like me, those are the moments I try to hold onto when the screaming, demanding, frustrating little DIVA emerges ready to push her baby brother, tattle on whatever parent yelled at her to stop throwing things in the house for the thousandth time, or stomp her feet to prove her stubborness.

I can't help but look at her during these tantrums and think "Who Are You?"  She bursts into tears the second she hears "no" and it's hard to hold onto my resolve when she's crying  repeating "I'm sorry mommy" from the timeout spot, but when it gets tough I try to remember that she doesn't really have the verbal skills to explain what she thinks or feels all the time.  She doesn't really know why she breaks a rule and when I ask her if she knows why she was in timeout she only reiterates that "mommy put me in time out."  As someone who prides herself on her passion for words, I can only imagine how frustrating that must be.

So Who are you little Hannah?  You are EXACTLY my daughter that's who.  I know to some I may look like I run hot and cold too.  My emotions red and raw on my sleeve at times, even I can't find the words when I need them the most.  I think the hardest part of toddlerhood is not knowing whether its discipline or understanding they need at any given moment.  During the same day I find myself on the verge of a very real tantrum of my own because every small request of my 3 year old is met with the resistance of an army.  Then later that day I find myself snuggling with her, smelling her hair and praying that it is my love she will remember, not this nagging, complaining mom I am twisted into sometimes. 

I have no idea if I'm in for more of the same when my son hits this age, but I will probably be better at weathering the storm by then.  I feel a little sorry for her.  Because she came first, she has all the trial and error of my new parenting skills bestowed upon her.  I'm hoping that one day I will wake up at the end of this phase of her life when the sweet rainbow disposition I feel in love with in babyhood is the only remaining proof of these stormy terrible 3s.  As long as I don't sleep too long and end up in the teen years, where I'm sure we'll be revisiting "the hot and the cold the yes and the no."

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Keeper of Childhood

Many things come to mind when I think about my childhood, but there is one person that actually holds all these memories in the pockets of her gardening frock - my grandmother.  While searching through my old writing samples from college one thing became evident to me - my granmother and her house hold the key to my childhood.  Perhaps because it was the only lock that never EVER changed.

I remember nearly all the details of my grandmother's house, including the secret hiding spot in the yard.  My grandmother's face, her thick German accent, her ever present love is what created "childhood" for me.  Her life was hard, but she was soft and kind.  She survived World War II in Germany with no food, no permanent home and a toddler and an infant and she did it alone.  I cannot imagine surviving in the face of these daunting obstacles.  Her strenghth is astounding to me.

Last week, I came face to face with the end of my childhood.  I flew down to South Carolina to say goodbye to my dying grandmother.  It's hard to look at what life has left her with, stripped of her autonomy, mobility, and her health, but then I looked closer.  When she was awake, she was alert and funny and brave.  She was not lost; childhood was not lost.  I spoke to her yesterday and she seems to be rallying.  Her voice sounded full of life again.  She tells me not to be sad or fearful of death because there is just no sense in getting upset about the natural progression of life.  I truly don't think she has a single regret about her life.  It's really not hard to admire someone like that.

The person who gave me the freedom to love and hope, dream and also fail - that is my grandmother.  That is my childhood wrapped in that warm and somewhat shy smile.  I'm not sure at any moment whether there will be a next time to say goodbye, but now I will try to hold onto her wisdom when the time comes.  I will not lose her just as my childhood cannot be lost because it existed.   I am the person I am because of her.  I will always be hiding in the fort in the front yard, watching her weed her garden, drinking deep the smells of her kitchen.  I will always remain a version of my past the same way I, as her granddaughter, will live as the continuation of her life.  I am damn priviledged to carry her blood in my veins.

So here's to grandparents, who hold childhood in constant freeze frame and remind us that while life keeps ushering us forward, it is truly a gift to remember where we all started. 

Monday, September 20, 2010

Breaking The PIGGY Bank

Few things in life have made me feel like an utter and total failure as last week's dilemma.  I know many people are feeling the sting of the GREAT RECESSION, and my family is definitely feeling it.  My bank account often involves a delicate balance and I have to be extremely creative to make it by each month, but within the last year or so I am finding myself teetering on the terrifying edge of being BROKE nearly all the time.

Last week, with virtually nothing left in my checking account and having used all of my savings (which wasn't much to begin with) to pay for household expenses, I had to make a decision: Pay for groceries on my credit card or borrow money from my three year old daughter Hannah's piggy bank.  Well I chose to borrow $100 dollars for groceries and managed to spend a meager $57 on groceries.  I spent $20 on gas and am saving the rest for gas money to make it to the next paycheck.

I feel bad about taking money from her bank, especially considering it was my idea to stow away for her any birthday money she gets from family and friends to be used for college.  I wonder just how many moms like me are facing the same dilemma these days.  I have excellent credit and the thought of paying 14% interest on groceries that will be consumed long before next week when the dilemma starts again, makes me feel ill.  Would other women rather pay back their child or their credit card company?
What helped make me feel ok about it was that it is my job as her mother to make sure she is fed and well cared for today.  I have no idea what tomorrow will bring; only that we must do whatever we can today to ensure that it will be there waiting for us when we come to it.  I remember as a child, having a piggy bank started by my grandmother.  She would put a little money in it every week for me.  One day my mother asked me if I wanted to go to the Catskill Game Farm (an amazing petting zoo that has since closed).  Of course I said yes, but she said that we could only afford to go if we used the money in my piggy bank.  I agreed and off we went.

When my grandmother found out, she was extremely upset.  The money was supposed to be for me, she explained.  But it was; it was my choice to use the money to go to the zoo.  Looking back I can totally see both sides of the coin (pun intended).  I see how you want to save for your child's future, but you also need to remember that getting to that future always has an associated cost.  Whether its for an adventure with your family or just groceries, sometimes we have to stand together as a family.  Maybe its ok to give your child a choice and with that choice, an understanding that things cost money.  My mother had taught me that things are not free and that choosing to spend money on one thing means that you are choosing not to have money to spend on other things.

This morning my daughter begged me for a donut as we drove to my mother's house (Mimi's).  I told her no, repeatedly but the pleading continued.  When we got to Mimi's house she looked me in the eye and said, "Mommy why can't I have a donut?"  So I looked her in the eye with love and sadly a little shame and explained that donuts cost money and mommy doesn't have money for donuts right now.  She said to me in her sweet innocent voice, "That's ok mommy, I have some at home I can give you."  My heart melted. 

She's really doesn't understand she has a piggy bank with real money that is "hers."  In all likelihood she is talking about loose change that she finds around the house and we let her keep.  But hearing that made me believe that if she was old enough to make the choice to help her family, she totally would.  For that, I am the wealthiest person on earth.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Do As I Do, Not As I SAY

We tell our children to be nice, play with others, be gentle, take turns, etc. but the truth is many adults don't follow these "rules."  I don't know how we keep up the expectations of good manners, when they seem to be the "exception" and not the "rule" these days.

The truth is we just don't live in an altruistic world.  People seem to be out for themselves and for some, if that happens to come at the expense of others it's considered acceptable.  To start, we don't speak to each other with respect.  E-mail or texting makes us brave and say things we might otherwise bite our tongue about.  Perhaps its the degradation of the human conversation. 

We don't get much practice anymore.  We speak primarily through third party mediums, like e-mail, texts, and social media sites that require that we be brief, casual, and one-minded.  We "speak" with only "us" in mind.  There is little expectation of the listener at all.  So without an "audience" to all our "talking" we are really just speaking to hear ourselves talk.

The adage for parents used to be "do as I say, not as I do."  The expectation is that children can't for many safety and practical purposes do what adults do.  They can't, as my daughter has been trying with fervor these days, help me cook.  There are too many "what if" factors that make the risk totally unworthy of any reward she may feel in "helping mommy."  So she gets to help mommy empty the dishwasher or hand me hangers or clothes pins while I'm doing the laundry instead.  But the desire to do that which she is not allowed seems ever more interesting to her.

Becoming a mom means many things, but once you hit the toddler years it becomes clear you are a role model.  The first time you hear your accidental slipped out bad word come out the mouth of your innocent toddler, you know it.  You are now aware that there are eager eyes upon you all the time, looking to YOU - the be all and end all of role models - MOM.  So here it is, we want our children to listen to us, but we are rearing our children during an age where "REAL" conversation is becoming more and more rare.  How do we teach them the importance of "listening" when we don't stop to listen to each other?

I guess the time has come to revise the old adage to: "Do as I do, not as I say."   I'm a true lover of words, so this is going to be hard for me; to rely on my actions to speak for me, to listen rather than to speak.  I think the next time Hannah interrupts a conversation I'm having with my husband or mother I will try hard not to get frustrated and tell her to wait her turn.  She should know how important she is to me and although I tell her all the time, at least once in a while she should get the floor and someone else will have to get asked to wait a minute.  After all a minute does feel like an eternity to a toddler. 

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Frumpy Mom or Frugal Crusader?

Ok so I promise not to name names to protect the fashion addicts out there, but I can't help but overhear people complaining (like me) about being broke. The difference is, I also overhear lots of oohing and ahhing from these same people over recent fashion addiction purchases like clothes, handbags, jewelery, and of course the be all and end all of the fashion addicts closet - SHOES.

So being my frugal self I can't help but wonder, how do some people always manage to "find" money for what they want, but find themselves too "broke" to afford what they need? Is it the old adage of "Dress for the job you want, not the job you have" that's creating this need to "Wear Your Worth?" Side note, but that is the freaking worst advice I've ever heard (just my opinion). Are we suggesting that people go into debt racking up clothing purchases on their credit cards to "look" like they have more money than they do? Guess what people - you are in fact shopping with the paycheck provided by the job you HAVE not the job you WANT. Seeing a fundamental flaw with this theory yet??

Besides are we tossing out the idea that we should be judged by our skills, talents, dedication, and character. Is what you see really what you get? Is that what the world is telling us? Take me for instance. I think I'm a smart, hardworking, talented employee, loving wife and mother, talented writer, etc., but does the world simply see a "Frumpy Mom" when they look at me?

Do they see my pony tail, simple flats, bargain clothes, and makeup free face and think that I'm not worth all that much? Do they see that in fact I take care of a 3 year old and a 10 month old, which take priority above all else in my life, or that I value 5 extra minutes of sleep over a compliment on my appearance? Do they see that its impractical to wear high heels and a skirt while lifting children in and out of my mini-van?

Do they see that I simply don't care to wear makeup because it makes my face breakout? Do they know that I have excellent credit because I choose not to be seduced by the lure of what I'm supposed to want? Do they know that I chose to have less income (by switching from full-time to part-time) so that I could have more time with my children and that's why I don't buy things I can't afford to pay for today with the money I "actually" have.

As my daughter cried this morning because the sweatshirt I put on her covered up her princess shirt I had a little tingle of fear creep up my spine. I tried to explain to her that it was cold out so it's more important that she stay warm than see the princesses on her shirt. She's 3; I know she doesn't get it, but the fear hit me anyway. Will she ever understand that as people we need to be more than what we look like in order to survive?

I choose to think of myself as a Frugal Crusader, standing up (sometimes alone) for what I believe. I choose to live my life as a walking example that with people "what you see is NOT what you get." What you see, is just that - what you see. You have to look deeper to REALLY see a person. You can't look with your eyes at all.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Bad Mommy

We try to teach our children the lessons we think will prepare them for life, keep them safe, and at least at the toddler stage - keep others safe from them. But then every so often we forget to follow the same rules we teach them. I still can't believe I accidentally gave my 3 year old daughter a shinner.

It was one of those nice days out that stretches into too long of a day out. Willie and I took, Hannah and Jayden to the Walkway Over The Hudson. It's a beautiful view of the Hudson River and a decent walk. Willie was dragging on the way back pushing Jay in the stroller. Our one hour drive home turned into a two and a half hour saga of backed up traffic, gas light warning inspired hunt for a gas station, yard sale detours and a stop at a farmers market. So when Hannah started whinning for her cup and Jay was out cold, I just said "here catch Hannah" and tossed it back.

Then I hear the cry, you know the one - the "I'm really hurt" cry and you always hold your breath when you hear it. We pulled over and yup - pegged her right in the eye and it was all purple and puffy. So of course I feel like the worst mom ever and I'm crying just as hard as she is. I ride in the back with her the rest of the way appologizing.

My co-worker gave me some peace of mind - if that's even possible. She said that it was a good lesson for us all. That now Hannah knows mommy isn't perfect and mommy appologized for not following her own "No Throwing Anything" rule. I hate the idea that I hurt my child even though I know it was an accident. I guess all I can do is learn from it and move on.

There probably will be more days in the years to come where I'll feel like a bad mommy. Fingers will probably get pinched, heads bumped, knees will get scraped. I wish I could protect my children from all pain, but life is full of pain. At least the physical is a little easier than the emotional. I'm definitely not looking forward to her first heartbreak. But I'll never forget the sweetness in her voice when she wispered to me, "its ok mommy it doesn't hurt anymore." If she could in the midst of her pain find it in her heart to comfort me, then I know at least I've done something right.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Parenthood is the BEST Birth Control

Before you have children, you use birth control because you THINK you are not "READY" for the RESPONSIBILTY of raising children. Once you have your first child, the decision to have another child becomes a sheer act of will. You must BELIEVE that you are "READY."

The irony of ironies is that already having a child or children is the best birth control. Even if you are "READY" to have a child and even if you're down for we say "practice" you have to fight with all the child related obstacles - lack of privacy, time, sleep deprivation, to-do list overload, etc. So just keep in mind, it takes knowing what you're REALLY in for to know whether or not you're REALLY "READY." That my friend is why, crazy as it sounds, Parenthood is the BEST Birth Control EVER!

The Baby Bump

I can only credit one person for the creation of the "baby bump" - my wonderful husband. Before your mind takes a turn for the dirty - no I"m not talking about the term developed by tabloid magazines to "out" a pregnant star. I'm talking about a special non-verbal "I love you" that our children have learned since infancy.

I couldn't tell you exactly when he came up with it or why, but it has grown into a full fledged tradition, beginning with my daughter Hannah who is now 3 and continued with my son Jayden who is nearly 10 months old. My husband leans his head forward toward toward my children's foreheads and then I guess thanks to "monkey see monkey do" they lean in and together they bump foreheads.

It was like any tradition to sweep quietly into the heart of a family. It has been understood from the moment of creation that it means "I love you." So in a sense my children and I have been "saying" I love you since they developed neck control. My mom and step-dad quickly adopted it as well. My son takes it to a sometimes painful level of enthusiasm - giving multiple bumps to the point of potential concussion. Like his parents he's an all or nothing kind of kid.

Thanks to the creation of the "baby bump" I have learned that sometimes it's what you DON'T say that becomes the most special expression of love. Anyone can say the words "I love you." But the "baby bump" that's all ours. Do you have a special non-verbal tradition with your kids? Feel free to share. That's what we teach our kids right? Use your words and share. Certainly those are the lessons I'd like to instill in my kids - and many adults for that matter.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Everybody's Mother??

So is it just me, or does everyone seem to need more mothering nowadays? When did everyone start crying for mommies well beyond the years that it's acceptable to do it? Seriously, when did people just decide, nah forget personal responsibility that's just too much work. If things don't go my way, I'll just whine that it's not my fault because someone else should have don't it for me.

I truly hope that I raise my own children to take responsibility for themselves and their actions. I would hate to envision them out there in the world, just balancing their lives on the edge of excuses. Excuses not to live their lives the way they want. Excuses that allow them to blame others for anything that doesn't go their way. I can hear the explanations of adults in childish words "But it's not my fault mommy, it's my boss's fault for not anticipating that I might need extra time getting that project done."

It seems like if it isn't the "after the fact complainers" I hear these days it's the "can't you read my mind cause I sure expect you to" people. Holly hell people, have your forgotten your mothers long quoted mantra "Use Your Words." If people don't know what you want then you can't complain when you don't get it. If you wait for people to magically guess what you need or want then you're in for a long and disappointing life.

Here's a novel idea that just may work- ask, just ask and give others a chance to help you. Also expect that you still may not get everything you ask for, but you definitely won't get anything if you never ask. After reading "The Five Languages of Love," I agree with the author, you can make requests of loved ones, but not demands and that means that sometimes they will not be fulfilled. But the bottom line is, it's better to have someone want to fulfill your requests than someone who resentfully complies with an order. The workplace is a whole different battlefield, but I think the same idea rings true. If you make a respectful request, you are much more likely to be happy with the result than if you issue a bottom line demand. All people want is to just feel respected; that's pretty much it.

Lastly, I hope to teach my children to value and respect words for they can hurt or heal depending on how you choose to use them. I hear grown adults all the time wielding hurtful comments at each other without batting an eye. They have no idea how long those words live in a person's mind or heart. Words that hurt can spread like a virus attacking self-esteem and making us ever more numb to the healing words. Hurtful words drown out the good ones. I read once that it takes twice as many nice words to balance out the effect of hurtful words and I believe it. I hope that I can adhere to all these lovely ideas because I know that I'm not immune to forgetting these lessons, but being the mamma of two little ones sure gives me an ever present reminder.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Motherhood The New Career!

I have decided that we ought to be paid to be mothers. We work from sun up to sun down and even in our sleep we hear phantom babies/children crying or simply calling for us. Even the woman, like me, who can sleep through most anything will wake up at the smallest muffled cry when she has children. I can't tell you how many times I've been in the shower and heard my son or daughter cry for me only to realize that in fact it was perfectly quiet and they are both still tucked in and sleeping peacefully. What I'm getting at is that motherhood doesn't shut off, even in our unconsciousness.

If you work "outside the home" and you're a mother then you really work two full time jobs. In my case one and a half. Since I work "outside the home" part time you can count that as my half a job. I hate that 1950s term "outside the home." Work is NOT a place; it's a state of being. It's a to do list that never ends, replenishing itself the second one item gets crossed off. That is motherhood -WORK.

Even if a person LOVES their job. At the end of the day it's still a JOB. So if you have a CAREER is it different? Is the To Do List outlined in glitter? Do you skip to work? Do you hum while doing menial tasks like filing papers, typing notes or sitting in a marathon of meetings? My guess would be a big fat NO, but then again I have a JOB. What that means is that I work for the paycheck, the occassional pat on the head if it's offered and the chance to keep my brain from turning into baby mush. I often wonder if I would forget how to speak "Adult" if I were home by myself with my kids all day. I like my JOB, but I know there is no UP; there is nothing to work toward in terms of advancement. Is that a CAREER? Wanting to move up toward something better, towards a position more full of responsibility and one hopes pay??

Is a CAREER a calling, a strong desire to do something you would do even if money were no object? Is a CAREER the willingness to step into a role (sometimes knowing that you will need to grow into that role) that is more responsibility and one hopes more rewarding as well. If that is the case, then why the hell is MOTHERHOOD not a CAREER? It's perfectly clear to me that we do it, the never ending to do list that is motherhood, with money being no object because it doesn't pay a dime. I happen to think the world would be a lot better place if it were a CAREER. There would be a hell of lot less war, crime, greed, and corruption.

It would be great to get paid for all the work I actually do. I am shaping a future generation and I do it while balancing a bank account that is always teetering on the edge of empty. That means that I'm constantly balancing many other things as well- my marriage, my children, my home, and my job. My responsibilities are hovering around me every second of the day. I'm proud to be able to contribute to my family's income, but I know that if I lost that income I could not afford to stay home and simply raise my kids. So it absolutely sucks on those days when my life and my responsibilites to all those that I love feels like a JOB. If MOTHERHOOD was given the proper respect it deserves, and if it paid just half of the amount good parenting would save our society in punishment of crime, then it would definitely be a CAREER.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Triage On The Parenthood Battle Field

If you have more than one child you have now entered the fun triage zone of the parenthood battle field. There comes a day usually early after you bring home baby number two when suddenly both kids are crying at the same time, and here comes the instant triage scenario: You do a mental checklist, trying to come up with an assessment of which child needs you most urgently at that moment. Is one child hurt and the other simply lonely? Is one child hungry and one is tired and cranky?

The mental checklist is long and we mothers go through it at a supremely fast rate. To outsiders it may look like we are playing favorites when we quickly rush to one child's side over another, but what outsiders don't know is that we fight the war of guilt that consumes us all the time. It's all because we had the audacity to have and love more than one child, all the while knowing that we are simply one person with the limitations of being one single person who can not possibly do all things for all children all the time. Then we find ourselves begging our children to wait, be patient, hurry up, quiet down, behave, the list goes on and on. All because once your family goes from "one child" to "one more child" we have inadvertantly given our children the upper hand. Now we are out numbered.

When one child is sick the choice may seem easy. You go to the child who is sick first. But life and motherhood are not so simple. Just because one child may need you a lot more, you still must tend to the other or others. My heart goes out to women who face impossible choices every day, who carry guilt that they can not untangle from their love and devotion.

I guess all we can do is remind them, remind ourselves, to look up from our medical kits and our bandages and our checklists to see that there are other nurses and doctors in this triage tent of ours. That love can come from more places than we can possibly imagine and though the feeling of responsibility seems so overwhelmingly ours alone, it simply is not. Our children get love and guidance from our close and extended family, friends, friends of family, co-workers and neighbors.

I think that because mothers are responsible for our children from the moment of conception a part of us never lets go of the ENORMITY of that responsiblity, but sometimes, just sometimes it's ok to allow ourselves to step back and let someone else take over. It's ENORMOUSLY important for us to relinquish the responsibilty to our spouse, mother, father, sister, brother, friend or anyone who loves us enough to take some of the responsibility off our plate. We, as mothers, can not afford to look up from our checklists one day to see that it is no longer our children on the triage cot, but ourselves.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Baby Poop And Other Fun Stuff


Very few things really start the day off right like a big healthy dose of baby poop. It's my nice metaphor for life - Baby Poop. It's messy, it smells, it demands our attention and action, and we clean it half-heartily, begrugingly, and for the most part you wish someone else would just take care of it for you. Few people in life get excited about baby poop and those few people are yes, you guessed it MOTHERS.

In the first few months and years of your child's life, you spend an odd number of hours thinking about oh, here it comes again, BABY POOP. There is the wondering about what is normal or not normal - size, frequency, color, consistancy, etc. Then when my eight month old wasn't pooping and was so constipated he cried there was the fun of giving a supository to a crying baby - or as some of us know it - a butt bomb. As if shoving something up your infant's butt isn't weird enough - you watch for a few seconds/minutes for the explosion.

Oh the explosions I've seen in my life time. My favorite was when my daughter was sick and it was so bad I made my husband get this scissors because sometimes, no clothing is worth the price of washing putricity out of it. Now that my daughter is toilet training I wonder if the poop obsession will ever end. Will she ever tell me when she has to go or will my mom continue to find her pulling off a retched pull-up in secret. So where am I going with this? I'm not sure.

It just occured to me that it's a good metaphor for life. Life is BABY POOP, messy and necessary and suck-tastic. It's also a great metaphor for Motherhood because mom's touch, smell, and clean some of the nastiest things EVER. I have held out my cupped palms to catch my daughter's vomit, had poop on my hands more times then I can count, even got it in my hair once too. We are the caregivers and we take the shit. If we didn't love our kids we probably wouldn't do half of the things we do.

So why doesn't Mike Rowe follow us around when filming Dirty Jobs? It's man-tastic programing at its finest and I bet every man in every dirty job featured on that show wouldn't hesitate for one second when he comes home from a long day cleaning porta-potties, cleaning animal cages, or hauling trash, to hand off his son or daughter to his wife at the first wiff of BABY POOP. If you've got a husband, boyfriend, or even know a man who willingly changes stinky, baby poop, and especially if he can do it without making the vomit sound- buy that man a drink because lord knows it takes more intestinal fortitude for him to do what we do every day.

So if you've got a funny Baby Poop moment, feel free to share it cause god knows as mothers, sometimes we need a good laugh to get through life and oh yes the BABY POOP.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Live Life Don't Eat It

So a couple of events sparked this post. First, a few weeks ago I was getting a "treat" at Dunkin Donuts - a vanilla coffee coolatta. They have a new "kiddie" size which is perfect for me since I really never finish a "small." So the guy in line behind me comes running after me "What is that?" He is utterly shocked at how "small" my beverage is. Now I have the sizes in quotes because truthfully it was at least 8 ounces of liquid, which to me should be regular size not "kiddie" size.

So I think to myself what was I doing the day all the restaurants decided that small was just too small and they were going to make "small" what "medium or large" used to be and make "medium or large" ginormous? I don't remember the sneaky little trick and I certainly don't remember anyone complaining or even stopping to think about it.

So the second thing to spark this post is a show I watched yes, big sigh, on Oprah yesterday all about diabetes. My mom has diabetes so I watched determined to educate myself and find one maybe just one fact that I could share with her that would give her as Oprah says "An AH HA Moment." I shared that "a single serving of soda contains 10 teaspoons of sugar in it" to my diabetic mother who lives off a diet that falls into the following categories: SODA, SNACKS, WHITE CARBS (bread, pasta, rice, bagels, etc.), and last but not least FATTY MEATS. My mother, as could be predicted, sloughed off the comment with a nod of her head. She wanted to know about as badly as she wants to admit to herself that she does have some control over her body and her health.

So I ask, when did people (not all but some) decide that they'd rather eat away their life instead of live it? I find myself falling into the same pattern of thought as everyone else, but I see my mother's poor health and her unwillingness to accept any responsibility in the matter as my wake up call. I found myself on a late night trip to Wal-Mart for medicine one night promising my daughter a "treat" if she's good because I know it's getting late and she's getting cranky. I immediately thought ok I'll grab her a candy bar at check out and I almost said it outloud before I thought hey when did "treat" become only food and usually junk food at that. So instead I promised her a new story book for bed time. So she didn't get the temporary sugar high and instead got a book which we've been reading every night since.

It's no wonder we have so many health problems in this country. Our entire lives are at least 90 percent virtual. We don't walk the mall -we shop in our PJs in front of the computer, we don't go out with friends- we post factoids about our lives on Facebook or text our friends because God forbid we actually be dragged into a conversation. We don't experience life, we view it and for some, hell for most, we eat it. Every birthday celebration has to include cake right? We "treat" ourselves with chocolate or chips when we're upset, stressed, happy, fill in the blank and we do it. We medicate ourselves with food and then wake up one day to find that our body has had enough and starts letting us know in painful ways.

Everyone does it, not excluding me, I take responsibility. I wish more people would just take a second thought before promising a "treat" to their kids or "treating" themselves with food. Maybe your kids would be just as happy if you took them to the park, played a game with them, read them a story. Maybe before "treating" ourselves with food we could take a yoga class, read a book, take a trip, call a friend, or one of a thousand other possibilities. I'm not writing all this to be judgmental. I just want people to think for a second - What is my life worth?

Life is fragile and fleeting. Believe me I don't think my dad sat down in his twenties one day and said, yeah I'm middle aged, but by dying at 45 from abusing alcohol that's exactly what his twenties were- the middle of a life cut way to short by his choices. You know who pays for those choices, me and everyone else he left behind. So too will be the case with my mom. I don't think I'll ever get my mom to see her life as the valuable thing it is.

In a world of disposable everything I think that quality of life is becoming disposable too. Is one "treat" going to hurt you- of course not. Are you going to have health problems because you enjoy sitting down to a favorite meal with your family - No, but a lifetime spent eating life and not living it equals a poor quality of life down the road. And guess what -it's those we leave behind that pay the price. So my mantra now is Live Life Don't Eat it.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

There is no "ME" in MOMMY

If you ask yourself at least once a day, "Am I doing the right thing?," "Am I failing my children?," "Am I a horrible mother?" LISTEN UP - you're perfectly normal. What I find most intriguing about motherhood is that rarely does a woman truly ask herself, "What about me?"

The first thing to go when you become a parent is simply "you." Short of changing your identity by joining wittness protection, you are in short a completely different "you" once you have children. If you're like me, you view your pre-child life kinda like a good old familiar movie you remember watching over and over. You know the lines by heart, but ultimately you are a spectator viewing your own past. I'm not saying it's a bad thing. It's just different.

I wish I could say that having children makes you completely selfless. That you are devoted 100% of the time to your child(ren)'s utter happiness, but this is real life and not the hallmark channel. There are days, especially when your feeling sick, tired, rundown, unappreciated, overwhelmed where you want to scream, "WHAT ABOUT ME???" You wonder, sometimes outloud, where's my help? Where's my vacation?" Hell most days I'd settle for getting in the car by myself and going anywhere, hearing silence and not being so utterly tired that I can appreciate it for more than the few minutes it takes to drag my ass to bed.

As a very introspective person, motherhood has been like riding a rollercoaster blindfolded. I always prided myself in knowing exactly who I am and what I'm capable of. But I have found myself, even hearing myself as I'm doing it screaming at a toddler, begging a baby not to cry, cursing a husband for working late even though I know it's for the benefit of our family but because I need help and god damn it there is no freaking end to my day. Parenthood doesn't have a pause button, a rewind, there is no do over so this is where the worry comes in "Am I failing my children?" "Am I balancing work and family or will the scale always be tipped?" God the worry doesn't stop. I simpy have to hope that we all escape parenthood and childhood without any permanent scaring. But I have decided at least for myself that there is no Right Way to be a parent. There is simply what you do and what you don't do and as long as you can appreciate that and the fact that you can't always control the outcome and for the most part you're ok with the direction you take, then you ARE a good parent and you ARE a good person.

I may wonder sometimes "Will there ever come a day where I have more than a 20 minute shower to call my ALONE TIME?," but while walking around my empty house after returning from urgent care a few weeks ago, I was a little freaked out by how ALONE I really was. I simply didn't remember what to do without children to take care of. So I cleaned, not my favorite past time by any stretch of the imagination, but I was used to feeling useful, needed, depended upon and completely loved nearly every second of the day and the temporary silence was utterly deafening. So I have traded in "ME" for "MOMMY." It's not to say there is no more me, there is just a new ME, a forever changed version of ME. Sometimes I may look back, but never with regret.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Insanity Thy Name Is Motherhood

So you feel a lot of things when you're sleep deprived...anxious, angry, sad, weary, hopeless. Last night was particularly hard. I got my daughter Hannah who's two to bed without a tantrum and I got my three month old Jayden to bed an hour early but then it starts..the mental clicking clock in my head. The insomnia of motherhood blows all my teenage and early adulthood days of insomnia out of the water.

My head starts going on and on it's time to sleep. Gotta hurry now cause the kids are sleeping and I've got maybe three or four hours before Jady wakes me to be fed and then god knows Hannah will be up by 6 am. My being on maternity leave and her entering the facinating new world of two year olds means that sleeping is sooo not her priority right now. So tick tick tick goes the clock...Hannah's sleeping..tick tock...Jayden's sleeping....tick tock and I've got to hurry before my vital sleep time is over. It's enough to drive any person insane. That's why motherhood is total insanity. We asked for this craziness. All the cute coos and smiles come with the price of a little lunacy.

I love motherhood don't get me wrong. I love my children. But forgoing sleep for a good six months before you can actually sleep 6 or 7 hours in a row is akin to torture. The seams of my mind seem frayed into a thousand pieces and I can no longer maintain connections that make it ok to feel like complete crap 90% of the time. Thank goodness for my husband shouldering a little of the craziness last night or I'd really go off the deep end. It makes me feel at least a little better knowing he feels as totally helpless and completely crazy as me.

I think that before we have kids we have these romantic notions of parenthood...just as newly engaged people have about married life. As if all your every days are going to be filled with the same bliss of one perfectly planned day. People who think that are quickly awakened to the commonplace nature of real life. Even though I'm more relaxed in my expectations of parenthood the second time around that old familar guilt creeps up and reminds me in my moments of bleery-eyed insomnia that there is no perfect parent. I can't help that I want to scream sometimes. That I'd pay good money just for one night of Xanex sleep with overnight babysitting. That sometimes even though I'll be glad later my kids won't have to be weened off bottles and pacifiers that I would give anything for one night where my breasts aren't the pacifiers he uses to soothe himself to sleep. The only joy I take in these moments is to know I'm an totally normal and that this is what parenthood truly is. All the joy comes with all the craziness and everyone who dares down this path goes through the same things. We love our kids that's why we do this at all and putting ourselves through torture for our infants only to hear them one day tell us they hate us...that my friend is insanity.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Why Free Is For Me

Most people I know are obsessed with the next big purchase of their lives...a home...a new car...that flat screen TV just in time for the Super Bowl but not me. I've gotten used to doing more with less, being frugal, and accepting handme downs. When I was a kid I had a lot of the things I wanted given to me and like most I got the idea in my head that things equal love. Wrong.

My house was filled with things..too many things and that left a lot less space for the people who lived there. While they were nice things they started to take over our lives in unpleasant ways. I didn't have friends over much and the things that mattered so much at one point started to own my family instead of the other way around.

So there is nothing you can do about your childhood. For better or worse it's over and you can either hang on to old habits or decide for yourself to live your life differently. I did the latter. I worked hard and saved and bought my house just shy of my 24th birthday with my my husband. I drive a used car and have never really thought about buying new..well maybe if my car is having major issues it may cross my mind. We do have that flat screen TV but my husband waited for years for it till we could pay in cash. My husband and I have virtually no credit card debit, excellent credit and could qualify for many credit cards but instead we have two or three tops which rarely get used and then paid off as quickly as possible.

I gratefully accept handme down clothes and toys for my kids who really have no idea what labels are and what the difference is between new and used. I would love to keep it that way for as long as possible...before social pressure and media pressure tells them that it isn't good enough to want what you have but to strive to have all those things others have or those things you should have. I have spent my adult life working at nonprofit organizations and it's truly shaped my perspective. While everyone keeps looking ahead to what's next..what thing will make me happy now, I look to what I already have that others may not. I have a family I love more than anything. I have a roof over my head and my bills are always paid on time, even if I don't always have money for the extras. I am lucky to know what I have. I see all the time the proof that not everyone has what they need let alone what they want.

So I'll keep accepting handme downs, and I love passing things along to family or charities so others can have the things my family needed for a time but doesn't anymore. I enjoy seeing things leave my house when they are no longer useful..a very strange concept I know. Before I go out and buy something I shop my house first and guess what most of the time I find that item I thought I needed to go out and buy. I have found the one constant in my life is that if I always have what I need what I want is exactly the same thing.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Toddlers, Tiredness and Tantrums Oh My!

So ironically I think observing my toddler has taught me a lot about life. Tiredness can completely dictate how you behave. Courtesy of my two month old son and my two year old daughter tiredness is a permanent state of being for me.

Toddlers have an almost inability to communicate what they need. They can usually summon the verbal skills to ask for a snack but you pretty much never hear them ask for a nap. Sounds a lot like the adult world to me. We always seem to find a way to want more and more but a lot of the time we have no idea what we actually need and even if we do we rarely muster the verbal skills to actually ask for it.

I've watched my mother her whole adult life work fodr the same small employer without health benefits, a retirement plan or hell even a raise. I had no idea until a few years ago that what I learned by her not asking for what she needed was that I had no idea how to ask for what I need either. Her inability to feel worthy of things and her lack of faith in asking others - that they might actually comply and happily, taught me to feel the same unworthiness.

When I had my daughter two years ago I cried every night of my maternity leave dreading the day when I had to go back to work full time and leave her in daycare. Then slowly I began to hatch my plan. I decided what it was that I needed to be happy. I needed to work part-time and still be able to raise my daughter without feeling like I was missing her life. Work had me stressed out already so I thought a little less pressure would do me good. I decided that I could do without half my salary if I was just going to give it to a daycare anyway. So I asked my mom if she would watch my daughter every day for a half day while I worked and shockingly I even asked my boss to let me work part-time by hiring another part-time person to work the other part of my job.

To this day I don't know how I summoned the courage or why he agreed, but I've been a much happier person ever since. Now as I approach the end of my maternity leave and have to leave my son in my mother's care I know I can face it. I can verbalize it...I'm happy. I can help provide financially for my family and keep my job skills current and I can still feel like I'm raising my kids with the help of someone I truly trust. Who knew that just by asking for what you just might get it.

Monday, January 25, 2010

What Surgery Has Taught Me

So I just had my galbladder removed three days ago and here's what I learned. Hospitals really suck at customer service, but more importantly families don't. After waiting from 11:30 am - the scheduled time of my surgery until 5:30 pm when they finally got around to talking to me about my surgery I realized that to these people I was a procedure - not a person. A procedure that could be bumped and there was no need to actually talk to me and tell me what was going on.

I could focus on the horrible experience I had or focus on what I learned. My family really stepped up to help me. My mom waiting at home with my screaming 2 month old who didn't know where mommy and subsequently mommy's milk went and with my two year old in all her new found defiance. My husband watching movies with me on his ipod touch so I wouldn't notice how long it was all taking. So here's what I learned. I'm a lucky person to have people who love me and whom I love. Surgery for me was new and it was not just a procedure for me. I was scared but more importantly I wasn't alone and for that I'm grateful. I also learned that it takes three grown adults to do what I normally do alone which I kinda suspected all along.