Category Archives: personal change

Ladybro 2018: Travels with Myself

Overheard on my FaceTime: “Mommy, why did you go away?”

Mommy: “So I can poop alone.”

An over simplification, to be sure. However, that snarky snippet holds a nugget of truth.

Mommy went on vacation with her friends- A “ladybro” if you will, aka bro-ing out with her lady friends-to have a complete thought. To spend time with people who have known her for decades.

Mommy went on vacation with her friends because Mommy likes to travel, and generally, Daddy does not.

Mommy went on vacation with her friends because she has a very intense job, in addition to motherhood, and needs to be reminded, at times, that people move through the world and experience joy, and sunshine, and karaoke.

Finally, and quite simply: Mommy went on vacation with her friends because she wanted to. Daddy is a person who thinks it’s important Mommy does things she wants to do, and helped Mommy work out all the details to make it happen.

I want my girls to grow up and have an image in their head of independence. Of knowing that they are able to do things on their own. That hopefully, they will have more courage and more know-how to pursue travel, and experiences, and the figuring out of the things, earlier in their life than I have.

And if, despite my best efforts, they don’t, that it is never too late to learn new things, to explore, to dream, and find new parts of themselves.

I don’t want my children to fall prey to the STILL pervasive trope of Mom being unable to leave because Dad cannot handle the children. If Dad went away for ten days, I GUARANTEE no one would ask him, “But who is watching the kids?”

“The same people who always watch my children when I don’t,” I tell them, “Their father, and their grandparents.” (And yes, some extra help from grandparents, because they can’t watch themselves when Dad is at work and they aren’t at school, and I’m not there. And no, I didn’t set up the schedule before I left, as their father is a sentient being who knows when he needs childcare.)

I understand that vacations aren’t a universal choice for ways for women to take care of themselves. However, in the spirit of the ladybro, I DO believe it is universally important for women, and specifically mothers, to put themselves and their needs on the list of Things to Do-and to sometimes put themselves first. The house, the kids, the responsibilities, whatever they may be- we are programmed to feel it will all fall apart if we are not tending to them, day and night.

There are times this is true. However, the majority of the time, it is not true. The truth is that we are made to feel guilty if we delegate, neglectful if we share responsibilities or simply let things go, and anxious things won’t be done “right” if we don’t do them ourselves.

Who makes us feel these things? Sometimes it is a specific person in our life- a friend, a relative, a parent. But most often it is the anonymous Everybody who controls our inner voice. Everybody thinks we are a selfish, terrible mother if we do not do All The Mom Things 100% of the time.

I also know I wasn’t born with any special know how of how to run a household. I have learned, and am learning, by doing it. Particularly in heterosexual couples- if your husband DOESN’T take care of the kids, no, he won’t know how to do it. Or the laundry. Or anything else. But these days there is an excellent chance your husband lived on his own before he lived with you. He didn’t always have dirty clothes; nor did he starve to death. Therefore, it is highly likely he can remember how to take care of himself without you around, and probably also figure out your offspring need the same basic things.

Will he do them “right?” Maybe. It is likely he will make mistakes. However, as a mom who has left the house with no diapers, arrived at school with no backpacks, and lost an entire bag of clothes on the last family vacation-my own shortcomings keep me humble. I also know that the more times I do something, the fewer mistakes I make.

Yes, I miss my kids, and my husband. And they miss me. But like I told my daughter:

“When you are a grown up,” I told my daughter, “If you decide to have babies, Mommy will help watch them so you can go on vacation with your friends whenever you want.”



Surrounded by Love

I’ve spent most of the past year home with my two kids engaging in the work of motherhood. After going back to work when my oldest was 12 weeks old, it was both a difficult decision and a no-brainer to give up my job for one that was flexible and part-time in preparation to become a mom of 2.

As I gear up for another change in working status, (more to come
on that) there has been one piece of my experience that I did not expect that has totally, completely taken my breath away.

At the risk of sounding overly sanguine, I did not even begin to anticipate the effect it would have on my life to spend my days surrounded by love. That is the true gift I have received being with my girls this year. Despite the tears, tantrums, pee on the floor, and unidentifiable rashes, there was also a near constant stream of hugs, kisses, tickles, snuggles, and little arms wrapped around me.

I was in a difficult place in my life a year ago, and I feel that this experience has had the same effect on me that The Whos from Whoville had on the Grinch after he stole their Christmas. Being surrounded by love has been strengthening, healing, empowering. My heart has grown and exploded its previous boundaries.

For this, I am grateful.

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And it’s been awhile…

It feels like yesterday, but it’s been awhile. Almost four months, actually, since I’ve posted.

I realized in starting this post that it is because this is simply my pace right now, of getting things done.

I’m in a spot where I’m not pushing myself, and I’m also not making excuses as much. Excuses, for me, are driven by guilt. Guilt of not meeting expectations, of things coming out “less than” and of not fulfilling a self-created obligation.

Where I left off, this past winter, at the end of the polar vortex, was a place where my kids were continually sick, it was continually snowing, and life felt like it had come to a stand still.

Then I realized-this just IS. I can’t help that my babies have a multitude of illnesses; that it’s negative a zillion degrees. Things are just moving in this way.

And then, of course, we fell into the “Frozen” machine and poof! There goes the last few months of my life.

With this increasing slowness in the pace of my life, the little people who currently occupy my time have become rounder characters, filling the spaces where I used to “get stuff done.”

I’ve worked a lot of things out over the last few months as well. I struggle with self-disclosure, as I have, in the past (I’ve been blogging on and off for twelve years!) self-edited poorly, and overexposed. While I’m hardly a person of note whose life will end up in the tabloids, there are still things that need to be carefully considered before they are talked about. I write what is on my mind, as opposed to a carefully curated set of topics, so when what’s on my mind isn’t postable…well, four months go by.

But I’ve been itching lately, to post, to re-enter this forum, to communicate with all of you who take the time to read my musings.

Geez, that sounds a little overly precious.

So anyway, when I’m not chasing my kids, (the younger one now crawls like Gollum in The Lord of the Rings Movies) I’ve got some stuff to say!

TTFL, peeps.

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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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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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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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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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