Monthly Archives: January 2014

One Giant Leap for Womenkind: I’m Bringing My Baby to Work

The story begins with An Opportunity and A Problem.

I was asked if I’d like to participate in an intensive training in through my job for a new, marketable skill. I said yes, enthusiastically.

I received the info and realized that including the commute to childcare and the training, I’d be away from my baby from 7:30 AM-6 PM, minimally. For two days.

The problem: my baby STILL won’t take a bottle. She will spoon-feed a milk/cereal combo, but it doesn’t fulfill her need to suck and she still gets very grouchy. She also rejects pacifiers. We haven’t pushed the issue because I’ve been able to accommodate her “addiction to the nip” as I call it. In one more month she can start solids and a sippy cup, and we will be in a better spot.

Also, one of my theories about kids is that they have their whole lives ahead of them to have schedules forced on them, to cry themselves to sleep, etc. Why start all that at 5 months?

I talked to my husband. We discussed options: risk epic meltdown of the baby, me not going, him bringing her to me the day he will be taking care of our daughters.

Or-

“What if I brought her?”

My husband encouraged me to call and ask.

So I did.

I left the craziest voicemail, explaining my problem, and that “I’m not a crazy mom who doesn’t believe in babysitters but I have this issue and can’t be away for eleven hours.”

I probably could have left this out.

I got the sweetest, nicest call back. That it was great that I had asked and proposed this. That it would be fun. That they had to check with the lead trainer, who was a mom with a baby, who would probably say yes.

And she did.

So, next week l am going to wear my baby to work and breastfeed her. She is mellow, so I’m thinking it will go well.

I was terrified to ask for this accommodation. I was afraid of looking like some nutty woman who couldn’t be separated from her baby. Which, while I certainly miss my children at times, isn’t me. Or like some wuss who couldn’t make her baby “do” something. But I was able, with support, to put these fears aside and just ASK. I mean, what was the worst that could happen-someone I’d never met would say “no.” Who CARES what she (or anyone) thinks of me? It’s what I need-and want-for my work/life balance right now.

Lesson learned: ask for what you need in the workplace, as a woman, as a mom, and as a breastfeeding mom, and you just might get it.

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Listening to the Universe

Sometimes, you just can’t force things.

While many mothers open up about their struggles with nursing-and just so you know, I’ve been there-I’ve been struggling with the opposite issue.

Despite starting early with her, and lots of practice, one day my daughter up and decided she would not drink from a bottle. And that was it. I’d go to work, and she’d wait and cry until I came back.

We tried many things. None of them worked.

As you can imagine, this is not a way to make friends with babysitters. Even if that babysitter is not actually a babysitter but your breast-less spouse.

And many mothers struggle with the work-life balance. As an until-recently full-time working mom, I’ve been there too.

In the midst of this feeding struggle, our regular childcare, aka “Nonna-care” got sick.

Frustration set in. How was I going to work? I had already gone part-time. “Part-time” is a generous description to describe how much I was working. Plus, my main caretaker was out for the count, for awhile, and my baby wouldn’t eat for her anyway, so now what?

After getting really angry (which, btw, solved a lot) I decided that the universe was sending me a message, and maybe I should listen to it.

This is a departure from my usual pragmatism. And a big hit to my need to “contribute” financially to my family.

Apparently, I needed to contribute to my family by spending a lot of time with my children. And by arranging an already flexible work schedule around my daughter’s feedings. And by strengthening a new friendship and sharing childcare for when each of us work. And learning, from this relationship, that this balance is tough but doable-and that I’m not the only one who struggles with self-worth, feminism, financial realities, and family.

Once I stopped raging against these situations, solutions slowly have-and continue to-emerge.

I’m learning to just go with it.

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Germ Magnets

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been trapped in my house with two tiny germ magnets for the past several weeks.

We have had a cold, pinkeye, another cold, and yesterday, “My neck hurts, Mamma.”

Toddler-ese for, “I have a sore throat.”

Awesome.

And my two little ones have been sharing these ailments with each other. Such good sharing!

You have not had fun until you have tackled a toddler and a baby every day, three times per day, for a week, bearing eye drops.

By day two, my baby was squeezing her eyes shut and squirming, and my toddler was screaming ” Ahhh! Hide!” and ducking under furniture.

We bribed her with chocolate. After one time, it was ineffective.

It was helpfully suggested to me that breast milk would clear this up. First off, I did that, which is how the pinkeye remained delightfully contagious and shareable for a few extra days. Secondly, liquid in the eye is unpleasant to children regardless of “natural” properties.

Every consecutive sickness has led to an increase in cabin fever, of which, at this point, this mamma has a near-fatal case.

Whenever we have had a break in symptoms, we try a new activity.

Which in turn, has given us a new cold. Thus, missing the following week of said activity.

How many weeks until spring?

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Developing Discipline

I would have been an excellent dictator of an imperial-era province. As a personality type, I enjoy power, rules, unquestioning obedience, and consequences to dissenters.

Knowing myself, I then became a parent.

And, with the luck that can accompany that type of decision, I am the parent of a toddler.

As you may imagine, I am not met with unquestioning obedience.

Nor do I believe in harsh consequences for my little dissenter.

Welcome to the parenting dilemma no one talks about: when one’s own style is at odds with one’s own beliefs.

Teaching children discipline is important. We all want our children (or at least most parents do) to have the skills to interact successfully with others.

I do not want my children to grow up to be little dictators thanks to mimicking me. I don’t believe a “take no prisoners” style is good for kids. Or that it even works. I wasn’t raised that way, but my personality (read: first born, control freak, extrovert) can lead me down that path.

In aiming to teach my children self-discipline, the person I’ve had to discipline the most is myself. To not burst open with frustration; to not yell and scream; to re-think, re-explain, and repeat new skills.

“You’re so patient!” I’ve heard.
“No, I’m not,” is my reply.

I’m committed to the process. The process takes time. I’m very impatient and want it to be over.

“You’re strict!”
“Yes, I am.”

I don’t pick unnecessary fights with my toddler. I don’t care if she wears socks, finishes her carrots, or draws all over herself with markers. But the battles I choose, and the lines she can’t cross, are defined and the expectations are clear.

That is the balance I’ve struck at this stage of the game.

And if I ever do get to be dictator of my own little province, I’m punishing dissenters by putting them in cars with hungry 2 year olds who have to use the potty. At rush hour.

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Working From Home Part 2: Sticking to a Schedule and Maintaining Boundaries

In my profession, there is a certain climate of urgency that has to be constantly navigated. The trick is honoring and managing the sense of urgency with two factors in mind: 1. Very little of the urgency is actually necessary, and if it is an urgent matter, there are emergency services and 2. Working part time means exactly that: part time. As in I will call you when I am working.

Most of this, quite frankly, is on me, and my ability to “de-program” from the crisis mode I have operated under for the last several years of my working life.

My current goal is to put down the phone when I am not working, and resist the need to answer work demands immediately when I am not working. My kids deserve a mother who is fully with them; my clients deserve the same attention.

Here’s to putting boundaries on my brain and releasing feelings of obligation.

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Mom-petition: Ain’t Nobody Got Time for That

Until four months ago, when I gave birth to my second daughter and switched jobs, I lived a life devoid of mom-petition. Why? I worked full time and did exactly zero things where I met other moms with children my age. Also, friends I have with children weren’t a part of the regular routine.

Now that I do things with both my kids that involve seeing and being with other children and their mothers more frequently, I have two minds about the competition between moms out there.

The first is that my inner dialogue is a bigger enemy than other mothers. Or other people. The voice in my head is much louder in fearing my child isn’t performing to 110% than the actual volume of noise/mess/commotion my child (or children) is actually making. Example: I just took my older daughter to dance. She refused to dance. All the OTHER little girls were dancing. I was like, “Wow these moms must think I’m such a loser. And that my daughter is not developing appropriately.”
Truth: At the end of class they were like, “Bring her back! New things are scary.” Which, quite frankly, is what I would say to another mom.

The second is that the current parenting atmosphere of experts, philosophies, and methodologies is putting moms on the defensive and making everyone put up their guard-or should I say, building a fortress.
Example: I had a mom look stricken when she realized I heard her say she would give her son a time-out. Another apologized to me when she told my daughter to be careful jumping off something high. Both these moms said they were afraid of “offending” me. Truth: I could care less about how someone else disciplines their child, (not including tactics that are abusive and illegal-but that goes beyond mom-petition to human rights) and my kid should be told to be careful when jumping off something high.

Am I on the outside here? Are other people that into what other people say and do and think about their children and their parenting? Have other moms endured attacks that make them put their guard up so high?

Or-and this is what I think-are we, as moms, so insecure that we judge others to feel more at peace with our own skills?

I’ll put it right out there-I fail to be my ideal mom-self multiple times a day, everyday. And my children act like…children. They have good days and bad days, and strengths and weaknesses.

You know, just like everyone else.

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Check Your Floors!

I’m a terrible housekeeper. My house goes through a regular cycle of order, chaos, and recovery, motivated mostly by the idea of visitors or the need to use a clean fork. When I was working full-time, I had a cleaning person come every other week for awhile.

I miss that.

Being home all day most days, the state of my house has started to mean more to me. Not because it is a reflection of my wifely skills, but because the mess makes me nuts when I have to see it all day. Also, my life is way easier when I can locate both my daughters’ belongings.

I’ve been looking for inspiration to assist my quest to make my house more “doable.” I have a mom-mentor friend who shared a bunch of strategies with me that have helped a lot.

One day, on my Facebook feed, I found this cleaning schedule from Clean Mama.
(I just tried to paste it in here but it crashed my post 3 times.)

One of the daily directives is “Check your floors.”

This inspired a lively conversation amongst some of my other domestically disinclined friends. Check for what, exactly? Are they still there? If they are dirty? Cluttered with items?

In this spirit, we did check our floors, and this is what I’ve found so far:
1. A tater tot
2. A waffle
3. Two earrings (not a pair)
4. Squished blueberries
5. A stuffed frog
6. An oven mitt
7. An unused birthday candle, broken

I could go on.

I’m not sure how this has helped my homemaker sensibilities, but it has made me create new rules about where my toddler can eat.

One step at a time.

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Like a Grown-Up…Adult for the Very First Time

There are times when there seems to be a synchronicity in the universe, and this is one of those times.

This past week, the following three things happened: I attended a New Years Eve Party that ended at 8:30 PM, my family and I were seated in the “family corner booth” at the local eatery, and our pipes froze.

Each of these events have caused a moment of pause, and the thought, “I’m an adult. These things happen to adults.”

I’m not really sure why these feelings are happening now. I “moved out” and became responsible for myself almost a decade ago. Yet, only now do I really feel like a “grown up.”

So what of the universe, and synchronicity?

Dan Savage, on the latest episode of the Savage Lovecast (Episode 375) discusses this very same sentiment in his opening monologue. Using his “then” and “now” New Years Eve celebrations as a compare and contrast, the takeaway is that becoming a “grown up” is great. That every stage should be celebrated.

Many times recently I’ve heard myself say, “Yeah, I’m boring,” to describe my current state of being. Honestly, at 22 I would have been bored, but right now- it’s awesome. And, quite frankly, way better than the miserable mess I was at 22. You couldn’t pay me to be 22 again.

I’ve decided to stop self-identifying as “boring.” I worked hard to make the choices and create the opportunities I have now, and damn it, I’ll go to bed at 8:30 PM to celebrate!

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WTF Weight Watchers!?!

Is anyone else offended by these new Weight Watchers Commercials?

If you haven’t seen them, and can’t be bothered to click the link (Confession: I rarely click links in blogs), here is the synopsis: Once upon a time, you were a little girl who believed in fairy princesses, and that “anything is possible.” Now, you are a big girl, and you should know anything is possible because…you can go on this new diet!!!

This is where feminism has gotten us. We apparently trade fairytales for fad diets. As grown women our realm of possible has apparently shrunk (pun intended) to wishing and working towards thinness.

I am particularly distressed because I have done Weight Watchers in the past, and it is a fair and balanced approach in an elimination diet world (I’m looking at you, Paleo).

It appears that whenever feminism takes a giant leap forward, such as with Lean In, or with Hilary Clinton completing a successful run as Secretary of State, or the Afforable Care Act increasing coverage for breastfeeding supplies and support, there is a backlash to keep women in their place.

Or was it not an accident that a book title about women’s leadership started with the word “lean”?

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I solemnly swear I’m up to no good-New Years Resolutions

Each December 31st, since I was eleven years old, I have made the same New Years Resolution. Want to hear it?

I’m going to stop biting my nails.

As this is the 21st year I have made this resolution, I can give you this update on my progress: it’s not going well. Small periods of victory are followed by dramatic falls back into my nail nibbling ways.

Therefore, I’ve decided to diversify this year. I made three more New Years Resolutions. I resolve to:

1. Leave my slippers next to the pellet stove. Mmmm, warm slippers.
2. Sleep more. I took a nap yesterday. It was good.
And most importantly:
3. Shut off the voice in my head that constantly tells me I’m a lousy mother-whenever I’m tired, or lose patience, or allow my child to watch too much TV-this voice helpfully reiterates to me what a rotten job I’m doing.

It’s not helpful.

But toasty feet and more sleep should help me retain my composure and brighten my mood in all situations across the board.

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