Archive | June 2015

Working mom vs. SAHM

This is the end of my first week working four days a week, and the start of summer vacation.  I’ve got six kids bopping around my house, giggling and fighting and eating and making a mess and giggling some more.  This is what summer vacation always looks like at my house, a mad house of children running around everywhere.  Only this year, they’ll only be doing it in the afternoons and on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.  Because I’m going to be working the rest of the time.

Working is wonderful, and I really, really love my job.  It’s challenging and rewarding and I wish I had more time do it.  Similar to being at home with the kids – I’m constantly feeling as though I’m not putting in enough time anywhere.  There’s work that gets undone, and work that gets crammed into home time, and there’s child care woes and worry that my babies are missing out on time with me.   And that’s before I start to think about the housework – oh, the housework.  The laundry, the shopping, the dishes.  Did I mention the laundry?  Because the pile of clean laundry waiting to be folded is starting to scare me, and I’m now always behind in washing/drying as well now.

That being said – so far, so good.  The kids have adjusted fairly well to my working -although Julie is having a lot more temper tantrums as of late. Of course, that could have more to do with the fact that it’s summer and light out forever now, so she’s up later and not sleeping anywhere near enough.  Let’s blame that – and not me.  Because the truth is that blaming myself, and my schedule, has become second nature.  I blamed myself because Jessie had to wear shoes that were too tight and had to walk home from school yesterday.  Not that either was technically my fault (Jessie hates shoe shopping and refuses to go, and lost her pair of shoes that fit her well.  And it was a gorgeous day, we live less than a mile from her school, and both her dad and I were working).  But let’s be honest, I felt like it was my fault.

It’s a major shift in self-identification for me.  A shift in how the kids identify me.  I’m not endlessly available anymore – but I’m learning to forgive myself for the lapses in mama-time.  To be grateful for the time I have with them, which is still a lot more than most working parents get.  I’m grateful for working – because it turns out that I like working.  A lot.  I like doing well, I like organizing and managing and getting stuff done, and working is so much easier in many ways to staying home.  Nobody wants me to get a drink for them, and my co-workers don’t randomly start screaming and chasing each other around the room.

And it’s summer vacation – and even though I’m working, I still have days like this.  When six kids are running around and screaming and giggling.  When my five year old will curl up in my lap and my nine year old will show me his drawings and my twelve year old disappears into this tween world that fits her so perfectly.  When stepdaughters and friends make themselves at home, because my house is home for them.   Being a working mom isn’t all that different from being a stay at home one, at least not for me.  But I’m so grateful that I get to blend the two – and as happy as I am to be home today, I’ll be equally happy to dance off to work on Monday morning.

Mid-June Round-Up

So many things happening!  Not even sure where to start…

Marc has been working as a full-time insurance guy since the beginning of the month.  I really do think he loves it, but he’s got a tendency to throw himself into a new job, especially where there isn’t any set hours.  I worry about that, he’s running, running, running all the time from appointment to appointment into the office back out for another appointment, and it’s not at all unusual for him to leave the house at eight and not come home for another twelve or thirteen hours.   There is some flexibility in his schedule – which is fantastic, but not as much as I’d like.

My job is wonderful.  I really do love it, and more than that, I really want to do it well.  I increased my hours up to 20 hours a week until mid-August (and then I’ll be at 32 hours)- which makes so much sense.  Organizationally, financially – it’s totally the right thing.  But I got off the phone with my boss and had a minor panic attack, because going from being at home full-time with my kids to being a working mom (even a part time working mom, because 20 hours really isn’t the same thing as working full time) is such a big transition for me and I worry so much about how it’ll impact the kids.

My mother is wonderful – and Julie has adjusted to having Grammy Days so well.  It’s a big change for my little girl, and she loves it.  My mother will be around all summer long (except for a few weeks, when she’s insisting on going on vacation with her husband), and she’ll be there to pick up the slack when I’m not around.   When Marc isn’t around.   The summer will be a little challenging – but my hours are mainly morning thru early afternoon, and Marc is going to work at home as much as he can, and he’ll drop off with my mother when he can’t.  And there are playdates and older siblings (I knew having teenage stepdaughters would come in handy), and aunts and friends, and we’ll get thru it.  The kids are adamant that they don’t want to go to camp, so we’re going to try and cobble together coverage to get us through until September.  Once September comes, all my childcare woes disappear, as my hours will coincide perfectly with the hours of school.

Jessie is almost done with sixth grade.  I am so grateful for Goddard Scholars Academy, because it completely changed my little girl’s relationship with school – and she loves it there.  But if she was still at Flagg, we’d get to have a GRADUATION.  She essentially left elementary school last year, and there was no fanfare.  I miss that.  She accidentally got all her hair cut off earlier this week (she had wanted it to be brushing her shoulders, but it curled and bounced up – so she actually ended up with a chin-length bob).  She went to the car and sobbed… but there’s no way to glue the hair back on (because I considered it).  Thirty five dollars later, we had a whole bunch of new headbands, clips and barrettes and I think we’re getting used to it.  She’s gorgeous – which makes any haircut a lot easier to deal with – but she’ll probably never get it cut again.

Sam is in that middle-stage of childhood.  Where he’s just bopping along, ending second grade and moving happily enough into third grade.  He’s lost in mine craft much of the time, these days, but it’s mostly a social activity for him, his favorite activity is to do it with his friends or his dad.  He’s always happiest with a friend over – and very much looking forward to getting an XBOX for his birthday this year.

Julianna is my child who’s probably been impacted the most by me going back to work.  The older two haven’t really noticed it, other than Jessie taking the bus in the mornings more, it hasn’t impacted their lives at all.  But Julie’s whole world changed when I started, because suddenly she didn’t have those days at home with Mama anymore.  She’s up and out of the house with the rest of us – and she’s handled it SO well.  I would have anticipated more challenges, but other than the occasional temper tantrum, she’s adjusted beautifully.

Next week is the last week of school, Glennys is coming down on Tuesday, and our summer is officially starting.  After what feels like the longest school year ever, I’m ready for it to end.  I’m ready for kids sleeping late, and afternoons at the beach.  Weekend camping trips and nights staying up too late going to the drive-in and stargazing on the way home.  Ice cream trucks, watermelon all the time, and constantly yelling “did you put on sunscreen yet??”  Here’s to Summer 2015!

All the balls in the air

I know that something is going to get dropped.

Oh, I love my job.  I really do.  I know that it’s all manageable and that we’ll adjust.  I know that.  I know that all the chaos is simply a result of having no experience with it.  The running around, you pick up this kid here and I’ll get that one there.  I even know that that it’ll get substantially easier once September comes, because I’ll be working five days a week but all three kids will be in school full time too.

But right now, we’re a hot mess.

Completely forgot about the bat mitzvah lesson, for the second week running.  Marc and I have taken to having calendar clearance meetings every couple of days, reviewing who’ll be home, and when.  Who can pick up or drop off, and whether anyone will be home to cook dinner on any particular night.

It’ll get easier once the kids are out of school, and probably even easier once school starts back up.  June is always a really  time of year for us – all of the concerts, and activities.  Adding in Marc working 12-15 hours a day, and me starting working.  But for the next few weeks, I think I’m going to be feeling like a chicken with my head cut off most of the time.

On the upside, the day is beautiful, and the kids are all healthy.  Marc is loving his new job and seems to be doing really well.  My job is so much fun, and I kind of wish that I could put in more hours now.  But I’ve got a glorious summer stretching out in front of me, and so much to look forward to – as long as I don’t end up forgetting to pick up a kid somewhere.

 

Weekend Updates

- I skipped nearly everything this weekend at the synagogue.  Normally, I love going, and kids are usually enthusiastic too.  But this week, we could (conceivably) been there Friday night, Saturday morning and Sunday morning as well.  Instead, we skipped the first two, and I think that Sunday went a lot better for everyone because we had taken that time to chill out and recover after a chaotic week.

– Marc started his new job, and so did I, this week.  So we were both a little extra stressed, and it was complicated because we both came down with a cold mid-week.  Marc’s was worse, and complicated by back spasms.  By Friday afternoon, we had to be really careful and conscious about not snapping and sniping at each other, just because we were both a little overwhelmed with the new hours/responsibilities.

– Sam came home sick on Tuesday and Wednesday with an upset stomach.  He only threw up once, but felt cruddy for a couple of days.

– We learned the hard way that, for Marc, working from home really isn’t an option.  It’s hard for anyone, obviously, but the way Marc functions is definitely not conducive to multi-tasking.  He tried on Tuesday and is now convinced that it won’t work at all going forward.   I don’t think anyone likes it, but he’s sort of especially bad at it.  Lovely at all sorts of things, but being able to keep an eye on a five year old and working at the same time – not so much.

– On the upside, we also learned that Julie really loves the one-on-one time with her Grammy.  And I’m especially grateful to my mom, because without her helping us out this month, there’s absolutely no way we’d be able to pull this off.

– I really love my new job.  It’s only been two days, but it’s really so lovely to be working.  I love having entire conversations where I don’t mention my kids once.  And hours upon hours when I don’t have to do a dish, or get someone a drink, or referee a fight.

– Friday night Shabbat dinners are utter chaos.  I mean, they always have been, but the older the kids get, the more I think it’s going to settle down, and we’ll start sitting down quietly and calmly and having these peaceful, relaxing dinners.  They aren’t.  They’re loud and crazy and I both love and dread them at the same time.

– The only person I know who hates shopping more than me is my daughter Jessica.   She really hates it.  Hates everything that I hate about it, and has less patience and tolerance for dealing with it.  I can usually grit my teeth, suck it up and get thru the trip without snarling.  But I’ve got a lot more experience with it.  We actually tackled shoe shopping (which is impossible) this weekend.  Turns out that Jessie’s feet are a full size apart, so one foot is happy and the other one is either squeezed impossibly tight or in a shoe that’s way too big.  She’s also got narrow feet, except for her toes, which are oddly wide.  We went with flip flops that are too big for her (because of her toes), and heel inserts to make the smaller foot happy.

– Sunday, both Lilli and Sam were feeling a little off, and Marc was exhausted.  So I dropped Lilli at home, and then brought Sam and Marc home.  Marc slept, Sam spent the afternoon playing legos and I took Sarah, Jessie and Julie off on tour of playgrounds.  The three of them played great together, until the very end, when poor Julie got mad.  It was actually kind of funny, because she stormed away from her older sisters and headed back to the car.  The entire time she was ranting and yelling at them, but they were back on the playground, so she looked slighted deranged as she approached the car.  Was quickly mollified with a cold drink and some triscuits. I had a lovely afternoon because I had a book I was trying to finish, and ended up reading in the car while they played.

– I still really like my mornings home while the kids are at school.  Even though I’ve actually got two of them home with me today (Sam’s stomach is still fragile, and he had diarrhea this morning – since he threw up all over the classroom last week, didn’t want to push my luck this morning).  But they’re both quiet and coloring, and I’ve got laundry, and dishes and baking and blogging and reading my Access 2010 manual done this morning.

Sam’s Bedroom

I don’t believe in karma.  Not really.  Another perfectly viable way of explaining karma is to blame the victim – you deserve what happens to you, because you must have done something to deserve it.   My philosophy (arrived at after decades of trying to figure it all out) is that sometimes crappy things happen for no reason at all, and that perspective matters.

That being said – there is an element of karma going on here – Sam is my punishment for never cleaning my room as a kid.

My boy, my beloved boy – is an absolute slob.  He takes off his socks and wings them wherever he happens to be.  He takes all the blankets in the house, brings them all into his room, creates forts on his loft bed and then shoves them all down on the floor.  He strips the bed every.damn.time I make it, preferring to sleep on a bare mattress.  And he’s actually managed to beat me down into being grateful that he sleeps on a bare mattress, instead of just on the hard floor, because that’s where he ends up more often than not.

Legos, books, minecraft figurines and cups – so, so, many cups.  They’re all over his room.  Granola bar wrappers, a half eaten bag of pretzel goldfish.  Little pieces of paper, and scissors – because obviously at some point, he thought creating a whole bunch of tiny, tiny pieces of paper was a good use of his time.

I shovel it out once a week, if I can work up the energy.  And always when he isn’t home, because if he’s here, I try to kill him.  In theory, it’s his job to keep it clean, and if intentions mattered, it would be spotless.  The reality is that he just doesn’t care all that much.  He wants to clean it, because he truly does want to make me happy – but the reality is that he just doesn’t notice how it looks.  Clean, dirty, cluttered, confused – he doesn’t care.  It’s just his room, and he loves it all the time.

And so, I’m apologizing, publicly and sincerely, to my poor mother.  Because I know damn well she felt the exact same way about my room.   One of the things I hated the most, as a kid, was the dreaded bedroom cleanup day.   My mother wanted to kill me.  I know that.  But now that I think about it – I remember stories of my grandfather literally sweeping the floor of her bedroom, clothes, toys, books, everything, into a giant trash bag.  So maybe it’s not karma, but just a function of parenting.  Either way, Mom, I’m sorry.  And if you have some time later, maybe you could come by and help me clean Jessie’s room?

facebook questions

WITHOUT ANY prompting, ask your child these questions and write down EXACTLY what they say. It is a great way to find out what they really think. When you re-post put your Child’s age.

Jessie is twelve, Sam is almost nine and Julianna is five


1. What is something mom always says to you?

Jessie:  “I gots to be comfortable.” Julie:  you always sing me the Twinkianna song  Sam: I love you


2. What makes mom happy?  Jessie – sleeping alone and a clean house  Julie: rolling around with us and having snuggle time  Sam: being with me and Jessie and Julie and Daddy and Lilli and Sarah


3. What makes mom sad?  Julie: going to kindergarten orientation   Jessie:  when you have to yell at us to get us ready in the morning  Sam: when you’re sick

4. How does your mom make you laugh?  Julie: you tickle us  Jessie:  when you sing songs with weird lyrics  Sam: every way possible

5. What was your mom like as a child?  Julie:  I think you were like me  Jessie: a bookworm  Sammy:  a bookworm

6. How old is your mom?  Julie:  42  Jessie:  42  Sam:  32

7. How tall is your mom?  Jessie:  between 5’5 and 5’8, Sam:  the size of Daddy  Julie:  I think you are the size of 10

8. What is her favorite thing to do?  Jessie/Sam/Julie – read

9. What does your mom do when you’re not around?  Jessie:  read   Sam:  clean  Julie:  read

10. If your mom becomes famous, what will it be for?   Jessie: writing  Sam: writing  Julie: writing

11. What is your mom really good at?  Jessie: writing   Sam: being nice  Julie: playing with your kids

12. What is your mom not very good at?  Jessie:  geometry  Sam: can’t think of anything  Julie:  science

13. What does your mom do for a job?  Sam:  write and receptionist  Jessie:  office manager  Julie:  at the library, you’re the girl who gives out the cards

14.What is your mom’s favorite food?  Jessie: tiramisu  Sam: sesame chicken  Julie:  lemon danish

15.What makes you proud of your mom?  Sam:  everything  Jessie:  that she works so hard at everything she does  Julie:  being who she is and speaking up

16. If your mom were a character, who would she be?  Sam: Alice from Alice in Wonderland  Julie:  Belle from Beauty and the Beast  Jessie:  Liesel from The Book Theif

17. What do you and your mom do together?  Sam:  read stories  Jessie:  everything  Julie:  go out for lunch

18. How are you and your mom the same?  Jessie: we’re both amazing  Julie:  we love each other  Sam:  we’re nice

19. How are you and your mom different?  Jessie:  I’m more social than you are  Sam: you drive a car and I don’t  Julie:  because you have curly hair and I have straight hair

20. How much does your mom loves you?  Jessie: to the moon and back  Sam; enough to fill the world  Julie:  you love me up to heaven

21. Where is your mom’s favorite place to go?  Sam: the library  Julie: to spend time with your family  Jessie:  in the car to read and eat take out chinese food

22. How old was your Mom when you were born?  Jessie: 29  Julie:  21  Sam:  33

 

 

 

 

 

I don’t know how she does it

I’ve always been vaguely irritated by the Mommy Wars.  I try hard not to be judgmental in general, and assuming that working mothers had it harder than stay at home moms struck me as foolish.

And I still think that.  But…

My first day at work was wonderful.  Absolutely fabulous – I loved every bit of it – I got a parking pass – FOR THE LIBRARY. I have an official badge, I learned all about the Literacy Volunteers, I love my co-workers, the hours are ideal – really, the job couldn’t be any better.

But the rest of the day really has to count as a total fail.

I did get the kids to school on time. Two of them, anyway.  Marc was going to bring Julianna in for her last day of preschool, and it didn’t go well.  She didn’t go.  There was an issue with a pair of socks that she felt were too tight, and then a pair that was too big (yes, my daughter is Goldilocks).  There were tears, a sock bucket (I stopped matching socks a few years ago and just keep them all in a laundry basket) upended and then Marc gave up and  kept her home. Sam got sick, threw up all over his classroom and had to nap in the nurses office for an hour before they could get a hold of someone to pick him up (my phone was on vibrate in the bottom of my bag, and Marc didn’t recognize the number and didn’t answer). I spent forty five minutes yesterday late afternoon lining up childcare and rearranging schedules for the rest of the summer.  Then I totally forgot about Jessie’s bat  mitzvah lesson.

The house is a mess, and I didn’t get anything done last night other than driving Jessie to her lesson (seriously late, but her tutor got stuck in traffic so it was okay). I missed most of a Federation meeting, but got home by eight.  Just in time to wrangle the kids into bed – and they slept badly. Sam ended up in bed with us because of a nightmare,and Julie woke up at four thirty, convinced it was time to start the day.

I know it’ll get better. I know it’s just my first day, and Marc has a cold. I know that I’ve got all summer to work out the kinks, and it’ll just get easier.  On the upside, Jessie did laundry yesterday, and Sam cleaned his room (at least he thinks he did – his definition is vastly different from mine).  Julie had a fun day home with Daddy, and Marc is now certain that working from home really isn’t an option if he’s the only adult.  My first day really was wonderful, and I’m excited about my future there.  Excited about our future here, because everyone is learning new things and adjusting to a new world where Mama isn’t home all the time.  In the end, change is good – even when it makes my head spin.