Oh, Great… New Guilt (flavored with Gratitude)

(the following haiku must be spoken in your best wrestling announcer voice…)

It’s a G word fight!!
Guilt v. gratitude… cage match!
The victor? Stay tuned…
………………………………………………….

I work full-time and my husband stays at home with the kids (one in school full days, one in half days). He manages the household – laundry, cooking, grocery, a little cleaning, home and car repair. I bring home the bacon, manage the finances, do some yard work and also clean house when I’m sufficiently motivated (e.g. when company is coming).

This set up has been working for us for about 7 years. In those seven years, I’ve become thoroughly experienced in a variety of guilt:

– how much I like my job
– 7am conference calls that mean I don’t see the kids in the morning
– 8pm conference calls that mean I tuck the kids in at bedtime
– That between 7am and 8pm conference calls, I don’t give Frank as much attention as he deserves and I want
– How I don’t contribute very much to the non-financial aspects of this family
– That I can’t recall the last time I made it to a dentist appointment for the kids
– That the kids more or less like him as much as me now
– That he doesn’t get much time with people over 4 feet tall
– That when I get home from work sometimes all I want to do is hide under the bed and not talk to anyone or do anything, which means he never gets a break.
– Working out since I’m already not seeing the kids much

Well, friends, I have something new to feel guilty about, and it is an interesting role reversal guilt: Frank has gotten a job.

We’ve always known this would happen. Long ago we decided that once our youngest started full-time school, Frank would return to work. We need the income to support some choices we’ve made (namely private school). And it would be nice to take a vacation to someplace other than my parents’ house. And our savings account is quite dusty… You get the idea.

But now the time has come. He job hunted, found his engineering skills still very marketable, and has a great new job starting in a month. The kids know that he is going back to work. Here is just a sampling of what I’ve heard them say over the last few weeks:

–         But who is going to take care of us (because clearly we are now going to just leave them home alone…)
–         But I’ll miss daddy
–         But daddy has always been the mom
–         But I don’t want him to go back to work

So now on top of all the other guilt that I’m experienced in, I now get to add the “I don’t make enough money to fully support us and now the kids are sad because dad has to work” guilt. Wow, that’s a fun one. Now, no one is making me feel this way. Frank hasn’t overtly said: hey, would you please make more money?  But would he rather not have to get a job that makes $XYZ and instead do something that makes some ill-defined amount of money and is super flexible? Sure he would.  And the funny thing is, I would too. These last few weeks, as we’ve managed kid and adult sickness, job interviews, extra yard work, new spring activities for the kids, doctor appointments, etc etc., it has become very clear to me how much I’ve come to rely on his flexibility and the work he does around the house.

I’m also feeling a wee bit guilty about the nugget of resentment I’m realizing I have because him going back to work is going to mean more “work” for me, too. (that has to be the most bizarre sentence structure ever) I’ve truly benefited from him handling the daily stuff and now I’ll have to handle some of it too.  Laundry, picking up around the house, grocery shopping, post office visits, and on and on.  (Again, I’ve always “known” how much he handles at an intellectual level, but the last two weeks I’ve felt it “real time”.)  The concept of taking what little discretionary time I have in the evenings and dividing it up across more chores is not a thought I enjoy lingering on.

Part of me keeps snarking at myself: you have a great job that you love, your kids are healthy, your husband is a saint; boo hoo hoo, you have to work around the house some more so you can have your private school/vacation cake and eat it too; cry me a river.  I get that. I respect that. All good points.

That’s why I’m pleased the majority of me has been realizing how much gratitude I feel for Frank.  He graciously, and with almost no debate, pulled himself from the workforce to do right by the kids and our life during the last 7 years.  He doesn’t complain unreasonably. When I’m beat and want to hide under the bed when I get home, he diverts the kids’ attention so I can do just that. He reminds me that we are a team… I have my role and he has his, and together is how it all gets done. And now that he is the one having to change it up (again!) he’s been totally cool.

So I think it is time to end the G word versus G word battle raging in my head these last few weeks, and remind myself what my friend Lynette told me many years ago – guilt is a useless emotion. (I’ve also really enjoyed reading Becky and Susan’s posts over at Working Moms Against Guilt about their recent transitions – very inspiring; so nice to know I’m not alone.) Instead, I will keep gratitude high in my awareness and enjoy watching this family explore new routines and responsibilities (the kids have no idea that they are going to get tapped to do more around here… announcing that should be fun…). We’ll figure it out.

Even My Tired is Tired

The body begs “sleep”;
The mind succumbs to rubbish,
dressed as important.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I am dog tired. I am a dog-who-was-left-on-vacation-and-walked-400-miles-back-to-her-owner’s-house-in-a-week-then-had-10-puppies tired.  There are three things responsible for this.

ok, so I made her pose for this, but you get the idea...

1. The Oscars.  I’m not all that into movies, but I love to watch the Oscars. The clips are fun, the jokes are usually ok, the clothes beautiful and the speeches touch me.  Last night we let Tivo get a head start on it, but still took us until 12:15am to get through the show (no matter how often I told myself to stop and go to bed, I just couldn’t look away). I really liked it. Loved Billy Crystal no matter what everyone else says. And I now officially have a thing for JLo.

2. My work. This morning, a Monday morning mind you, someone scheduled a global conference call at 7am. And this same person put me on the agenda, over and over again (actually, that was my own fault now that I think about it). Oh, and did I mention, it was a Video Conference! Yes, you guessed it, that means I had to be there in person. Now normally (wait! if we work together, don’t read this next part – promise me!) I take 7am calls while getting ready for work. For most calls of this nature, I listen for 90% and only talk maybe, at best, 10%, so I can finish my make up, even dry my hair (thanks to a bluetooth headset that automatically increases volume when surrounding noise increases), get dressed, kiss the kids/the man, grab my breakfast, and hit the road, all while people blather on and on about budgets and innovation and marketing. But today, as I’ve already lamented, it was a video conference, and I had several agenda items, so alas, I had to be in the office by 6:50am. This means I had to be out of bed by 5:15am.

3. My self. I’m not sure what is wrong with me. Last night at 12:15am, the Tivo’d Oscars having ended, I was clearly tired and headed toward disaster, as my alarm was already set for a mere 5 hours away. Instead of going upstairs to bed, however, what did I do? I checked WordPress. Then my email. Then a brief look through Facebook to see if my friend wrote back. Then, for some reason, I clicked on abcnews.com to see if anything exciting (other than the Oscars) had happened. Then finally, I went up to bed. However, upstairs it just got worse… I checked my work email on my then bedside-Blackberry (just because I really like getting emails late at night that remind me how much freaking work I have waiting for me in the morning as that always relaxes me). Then I headed to the bathroom to do the evening routine, which involves listening to an audio book while I floss, brush, wash, tone, spot cream, deep wrinkle cream, eye cream and moisturize.  (I work for a skin care company, forgive me…) Then comes the “hair hunt” which involves me looking into a magnifying mirror trying to find newly minted eyebrow hairs to yank mercilessly from my brows, which always devolves into mindless wrinkle inspection (…I wonder if I finally look younger than my older sister…) and hair-do imaginings (…maybe I’ll let it grow long and wear a pony tail…). Jesus-H-Christmas, 20+ narcissistic minutes later I emerge wondering where the time went.  After slathering a few more potions on my hands and feet, I crawl gratefully into bed only to grab my phone so I can pull up the Daily Dilbert App and the XKCD App to see any new cartoons.  A few pages of my hard copy book later, I’m finally relaxed and ready to sleep. It is now 1:15am. I am insane.

So when 5:15am came this morning, I felt like someone had hit me in the head with a 2 by 4 and poured salt water into my eyes. (No, there was no alcohol involved…) I crawled into the shower, got myself ready, did mostly well on the call and promised myself I’d leave work a little early given the early start.

At 6pm tonight I called my beloved and told him I was on my way home.

Not yet done with the self-delusion, I then promised myself that after the kids went to bed at 8:30pm I would NOT come downstairs and get distracted… I would go to bed myself and catch up on sleep.

Did I do this? No. Of course not. I came to this god-forsaken site to poke around and decided this topic was a good blog idea. Good enough to deprive myself further of sleep in order to get something posted because postings lead to clicks and clicks mean I’ll have some email to check and checking email means I’m worthy.

It’s 9:52pm. Help me. Please.

My 7 1/2 Minute Lesson

For how much longer
will his little hand seek mine,
earnestly, in love?
”””””””””””””””””””””’
At work today there was a celebration – a “thank you” for everyone for their hard work. One feature was free chair massages, and I happened into the room where they were set up just as a cancellation came in. Bonus! I got my massage straight away.

It was a very good one. She instantly found the knot in my shoulder-blade that keeps lighting off every time I lift my arm. She had a firm but gentle touch. I could hardly believe I was at work.

And then I started to worry… how long had she been at this…were my 15 minutes up yet… wait, was that a “wrap up” move… she’s working on my hands, that must mean she is almost done…damn, I wish this could go longer… 15 minutes is so short…I wonder if I can have another appointment…

And that’s how I ruined the chair massage. I spent half the time in my head asking myself all these questions and worrying about the next moment. I wasn’t enjoying the massage itself or how relaxed I was able to get. I was thinking and thinking and thinking.

In a flash of insight, I realized a terrible parallel and asked myself a question I didn’t want to answer: How much of my life do I spend not in the moment, enjoying the sensations, but “in the worry”, anticipating what’s next? The answer? A lot. And I’m not ruining chair massages with this worry, I’m missing the small, intimate moments with those I cherish most. I have worked a lot harder the last 3-4 months to be more present with my husband and kids. To not work through my “to do” list mentally while with them. To actually just hang out and watch TV and not also feel compelled to dust or straighten up at the same time.  To not ask about what’s next while in the middle of what’s now. It has been hard.  I’m not used to that level of intensity and focus (or, for that matter, self forgiveness for things not completed). I am the product of our times, addicted to moving from one thing to the next, not penetrating (with attention or action) any one thing very long. Or worse, I’m a guilt-ridden working mom trying to do a little of everything to seem like I’m able to handle it all.

But my 15 minutes in the chair helped me understand the tragedy of this. Here I was at a physical level, feeling the difference between a massage where I was present and one where I was worried — and the difference was astounding.  I grew sad that I never fully recognized how diminished my mental, emotional and/or spiritual engagement was in other situations where I was sacrificing my present focus.

I know I’ve been doing better, being more present, and yet I still have capacity for more.   I’ve decided I’m done ruining the metaphorical chair massages of every day life.

Am I being replaced?

Sitting here jealous
of homework and puppy walks.
I don’t wanna work.

”””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””

The change has been quite subtle… My daughter would run to Dad as much as me when she hurt herself and needed comfort. And then the kids would call me Dad (granted, they would call him Mom).  But a few weeks ago was the hardest blow… my stay-at-home-dad-husband did a very mom thing. He was thoughtful. As in “full of thought”. He thought ahead, planned and did something for one of the kids that officially granted him entry into mom-hood.

I was devastated.

I’m ok being called Dad. Hell, I go through a rolodex of names when I talk to my kids too. But I always saw myself as occupying unique space as “The Mom”. I thought ahead enough to buy the birthday gift before day of the party.  I realized that my girl was sad and needed comfort before the tears arrived.  I was sensitive, I was interpreting what was important and I was acting to avoid a problem. And dammit if he didn’t do just that.

If I were honest with myself, I’d admit that I was hoping this would happen. It can be exhausting being the only one who thought this way and I often bemoan (in my own petty little head) that he “just doesn’t get it”. But I’d be lying if I didn’t take some martyr like satisfaction from thinking no one could do this job but me; that no matter what, I am mom and therefore better. And slowly now I’ve had to get used to sharing the spot light.

When we both worked, no matter what, I was still the chief parent.  We only had the one kid then, and she preferred me; I made a lot of the rules; I made a lot of the kid decisions (yes, some exaggeration, but not a lot…I’m not a wench, it just mostly works out that way when you’re the mom, right?).  And then, he became chief parent, he was in charge most of the time – and I tumbled in stature.  It was very hard for me to get used to.  Still, I lived off the fact that both kids would prefer to hang out with me rather than with dad if given the choice.  And I was sure I still had a unique skill set that the Y chromosome was incapable of duplicating.

Snf snf. I was wrong. I’ll get over it.  Statistically speaking he was bound to do something like that at some point, and it hasn’t happened again since then so there’s still hope. But there’s no going back.  Right now, and likely for a while, this is the right choice for our family, all things considered. My life is blessed and I’m more settled right now then I’ve been in a while, much in part to how wonderfully this set up is working.  It’s just that the view is different from this position and I’m not sure I’ll ever be totally ok with that…

Old Women with Shovels

With a quiet strength
Old women with shovels can
Handle anything

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This post is dedicated to all the old women with shovels I know.  I hope to be one of you someday. 

Did you see the article about the 85-year-old woman from Alaska whose husband was being trampled by a moose? She grabbed a shovel and used it to beat the moose until it took off. It was 30 below; they had been out walking their dogs.

I love this woman.  In fact, I know several old women with shovels who are amazing role models for me.

These are not “old ladies”. Old ladies carry handbags.  You give up your seat on the bus to old ladies because you fear for their hips.  Old women carry shovels, or the metaphorical equivalent. You give up your seat to them  in deference to their fortitude and the paths they have quietly walked for decades.

Here are a few of the old women with shovels I count myself lucky to know.

We used to live 2 doors down from my husband’s Aunt Sarah. Frank and I were doing a major house rehab — so much so we couldn’t live in it — and she would help us out. I remember one afternoon, my job (as unskilled labor) was to clear up all the shingles that had been stripped from the roof and now lay strewn all over the ground (where I swear they reproduced).  Aunt Sarah came over and we worked shoulder to shoulder loading the wheel barrow. Then she would wheel it to the dumpster (she wouldn’t let me push the wheelbarrow; I was relatively new to the family and still perceived as a city princess, I think. And it was true).  Once at the dumpster, she and I would get on either side of that wheel barrow, pick it up, hoist it over our heads, and empty it into the dumpster. We did this dozens upon dozens of times until all the shingles were cleaned up.  I was in my late 20’s. She was in her mid 60s. She worked me into the ground. I couldn’t keep up.

The Howard Sisters; Aunt Sarah is in the middle, in purple

Not too many months later, once we had moved in, I uncovered a snake under a bag of mulch. I have a real problem with snakes. Scare the bejebers out of me. Who did I go to? Actually, I ran… two houses down to Aunt Sarah. She grabbed her shovel and marched over to where the snake was, completely nonplussed.  The snake had already departed, but I was left with a feeling of deep astonishment and gratitude for this woman.  With nary a worry, she was ready and willing to chop up a snake to protect me.  There are 9 Howard sisters and 7 are still living.  All of them are amazing old women with shovels.

My mom is an old woman with a shovel, although her shovel is less literal.  First woman in my hometown in Georgia to do just about everything – from President of this to Chair of that, she has been a role model for many professional women, including me.  I spent many afternoons after school in her office (she and dad had their own CPA firm), listening to her counsel people not just on taxes, but on life. I watched her manage her staff — from the CPA’s to the bookkeepers to the secretaries to her daughters. She was always able to get the best out of each, and each felt important and vital to the running of this small business.   And 40 years after she arrived in that small city, she is still blazing trails. In her semi-retirement, she is working up an idea on how to help out women who find themselves, 20 years after shelving a college education to raise babies and keep a home, divorced and not quite sure how to proceed. She knows how to shepherd them. Her shovel is her brain.

Miss Atwater, my second grade teacher, passed away a few years ago. Major first class old woman with a shovel.  Second grade was a crucible year for me — I know that’s laughable, but it’s true: I tried to do just about everything wrong I could, all in the name of testing boundaries. Tried to cheat (got caught). Wrote on the bathroom wall (got caught). Was a jerk to another kid (I know, who isn’t at that age, but I still got caught).  She also introduced me to the woman who would be my piano teacher for the next 10 years, a gift I treasure still today.  Another gift she gave me was the Golden Rule – each day, someone would recite it in class, and that remains a primary guidepost for how I live my life today. Her shovel was an unwavering dedication that provided a type of guidance that was critical for me at that time.  I am a better person for her teachings.  And she did it for 30 years of students.

Women with shovels cultivate.  By digging in the earth to raise food to raise a family. By using words or actions or convictions to raise awareness or help grow the generations after them.

Women with shovels build things. They have “a lot of work in them” and want to stand side by side with the partners in their life – partners in business, in love, in friendship, in life. Their shovels topple things. They reshape things. They brings things into being.

Women with shovels protect what matters to them. They don’t pick a fight, but be warned if you come after one.  That isn’t a handbag, it is a shovel, and they know how to use it.

To the old women with shovels I have known and loved, thank you for helping me find my shovel and so gracefully wielding yours.

Making Choices – My 5 Roles

Embrace the choices:
They map your way forward and
Soothe the looks backward.

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

I learned something a few years ago from an executive at my company that has helped me with my work/life balance. He (yes, it was a he) hypothesized that each of us can reasonably have 5 roles in life that we are committed to. A role is something like wife or mother or tennis player or gardener.  If we decide to take on more than 5 roles, and want to fully commit to those roles (meaning we want to do them well), then he claimed something or someone will suffer.

I’ve been experimenting with this concept for a few years now and I think he is right.  Once I started thinking in these terms, I quit beating myself up for not “doing/having it all,” a self doubt-a-thon that I think many working moms engage in.  Instead, I decided that “having it all” was as simple as focusing on these 5 roles such that I was doing them well. Not perfectly, not full on all the time, but in a consistent way, with focus.  If I am able to do that, then I count myself successful, consider myself living the dream, and cut myself some slack on the things I’m not doing.  How powerful would it be if we could all see 5 reasonably well-executed roles as cause for celebration.

That isn’t to say that this is easy. Take a look at my current list of 5 roles.

  1. Wife (this is purposefully first, because it is too easy to make it last; I still struggle to give him as much time as I’d like)
  2. Mother (there may be a time when I won’t need to have this on the list, but not for a long time…)
  3. Employee (another “not really a choice” choice for our family, but still, have to acknowledge it is a role and it takes time)
  4. Healthy person (writing it down gives me permission to choose a work-out over coming home early)
  5. Writer/Blogger (new this year, yeah! Finally made it to the top 5)

These may seem obvious choices, to you, but to help dimensionalize how hard it is to pick the top 5, let’s list some of the things that didn’t make my list.

Daughter. Gasp! Really!?!? How can I do that? First, it doesn’t mean I don’t call my parents. It just means than I don’t focus time and attention on cultivating that role. Time and attention would probably mean more trips South to see them; a regularly scheduled phone call; more emails; home-made videos of the kids, etc. But I haven’t made this choice. So we talk about every 2 weeks while I’m driving home from work or on a random weekend when I get a moment. There may come a time in the future when their health drives “daughter” right back on the list, but I’ll clearly know it can’t be an incremental role, something will have to go.

Housekeeper.  If you ever visit me you will find dust. And likely a floor that needs to be swept assuming you can find it under the toys. If you are lucky enough to see upstairs, then you’ll see unmade beds and likely a dirty sock on the floor. Get over it. It isn’t a priority – I don’t put money or more than minimal time against this role. We don’t live in squalor (don’t worry, the kitchen and bathrooms are quite clean, the clothes are washed – even I have standards), and I do clean the house on a regular-ish basis, but I’m sure there are those out there who would frown if they visited.

House rehabber. This was a role last year (when writer wasn’t on the list). That’s because last year was our first full year in this amazing 86-year-old house which requires a lot of time and attention (not to mention money). Last year we focused on the house. This year, we don’t need to as much.

Sister.  Just like my daughter role, I don’t make this a priority.

Friend. There is an amazing women’s group that I get together with once a month. But I don’t have “girl friend” time the rest of the month for the most part.  Facebook keeps us connected, but I don’t foster the relationships like I see other people do.  I work with people I consider friends, and I like the moms of kids at school, so the itch gets scratched in those ways, but that’s it.  Sometimes I miss this…

Are there drawbacks to these choices? Sure there are. If it were painless, then it probably wouldn’t really be a choice.   But what keeps me committed to this concept is this:  when I think about how (even more) stretched I’d be if I also tried to put effort against more than 5, I realize none would be done well, and that is something I’m not willing to sacrifice.

Do I do some things outside of my roles? Of course, but I recognize that they will get less investment and thus lower returns. Or, I rethink my definition of it. For instance,  I’m a girl scout troop leader. Is that a new role or a “mother” role? I did it at my daughter’s request, so frankly I think of it as something special we do together – mother role, check.   I also keep a garden in the summer – is that another role? If you saw my garden you would agree it was NOT a focus area for me. Instead, I get the kids involved (harvesting carrots this year was a riot) or I treat it as exercise (healthy person role).  Again, you might see this as cheating, but I approach it holistically and it makes it easier. This doesn’t need to be any harder than it already is.

Lastly, you might ask “where are you on the list”? Healthy person – that is broadly defined to cover all the things I do to take care of my mental and physical health. Sleep in when I can, no work in the evenings when possible, Pilates class, etc.  Make sure you have you on your list too.

Stop Driving Me Crazy – A Request to my Work Colleagues

My job would be great…
if I didn’t have to work
with any people

*************************************

I work in a large company and have the pleasure of spending most of my days in meetings with other people. Sometimes those people (excluding those of you who happen to be reading this) drive me a little crazy. I’d like you to meet them:

  1. Mr. Fancy Words. He shows up at the meeting, sits back in his chair, and throws out words that none of us have ever heard. At the last meeting, he used the word “obviate”. Huh? Isn’t that what I do every 28 days? I cannot ever recall that word being used at work before (frankly, I’m not sure I’ve ever heard it, ever), and I consider myself reasonably intelligent (don’t we all?). Put your “word-a-day” calendar away and talk normal, ok? Either that, or go hang out with the guy from Finance who keeps using the word ‘accretive’. You’ll get along famously.
  2.  Mr. Interrupter. He seems to only call into meetings, never manages to make it into the office. He therefore uses the handicap of being on the phone to talk over everyone else.  It’s not that he doesn’t know you are talking, he just decides what he has to say is more important AT THAT VERY MOMENT than anything anyone else can say. I have two words for him: shut up.
  3. Ms. Stand in front of the Projector. Do you realize what you look like? The velociraptor from Jurassic Park. You know the part when it raises its head and all the genetic codes are

    Image from the movie Jurassic Park

    projected onto its face.  This is what you look like. Do you not know how it makes your skin look? Dead. Do you not know your eyes get a demonic glint in them from the light? I beg you, take a step back – just 18 inches and you’ll be fine. Because otherwise I can’t stop imagining you eating the guy from Finance, or at least biting him every time he says accretive.

  4. Ms. Too Good to Stay for the Whole Meeting.  You know what? My next meeting started 10 minutes ago too. We are 2 freakin’ minutes from closing this topic for good. Please don’t go. You know you are a decision maker. If you leave, we have to start this all over again, and I’ll have to take my own life.
  5. Mr. Never Blinks. You, sir, are just creeping me out. I have watched you now for several minutes and I never, ever, see you blink. Now I can no longer concentrate on the topic being discussed because I can’t stop watching you. I live in fear you will catch me staring at you… but I also live in fear I’ll miss you blink. Blink, dammit, blink!
  6. Ms. Types on her BB and Talks in the Meeting Concurrently. Ok, so you are more talented than I am. I don’t care. Right now, you are giving neither me nor the poor schmuck you are emailing your full attention. No one is so special that she must multitask that way. I don’t mind you typing under the table – we all do it (she in glass houses…) – just pick one.
  7. Mr. Conversation Tick.  You know him, right? For some reason he needs confirmation that you agree with what he’s saying, right? And he tends to request this confirmation at the end of each sentence, know what I mean? This wouldn’t be so bad if his cadence and tone varied sentence to sentence, but it doesn’t, understand? Oh. My. God. Stop it. Go stand in front of the projector or something.
  8. I would be remiss in pointing out the pains of the workforce if I did not link you to this delightful video about global conference calls. Every time I watch it I laugh my ass off. It is a perfect representation of what 80% of my calls are like. I cannot add anything to it. Enjoy.

In closing, if you see yourself in these profiles, know that I do like you, but sometimes I just want to strangle you, understand?  Reading this and appropriately reacting would obviate your risk of committing these sins in the future.  I’m not expecting perfection – just try on some self awareness, please. If you lack that (which I’m fairly comfortable saying is probably true), I work in HR – ask me how you show up in meetings and I’m happy to give you a clue.

Have you seen mom? (or, how Bermuda saves my sanity)

Hey mom… Hey mom… Hey
(…witness protection program…)
mom… Hey mom… HEY MOM!
——————————————–

The weekend didn’t start well.  I believe my 5 year old said “mom” easily 30 times before breakfast was on the table Saturday. Even my hubby noticed: “Dude, give the woman a break,” he said. It was somewhat downhill from there.

I am sure I will write more posts about the guilt I feel as a working mom.  One guilt I feel is what I call “desire to flee guilt”. It doesn’t come very often, but when it does – bam! – I want to bolt the house screaming, jump into my car, and not return until I’m sure everyone in the house is asleep, preferably 3 days later.

I have never done this, but man oh man did I want to this weekend.

How is it the kids’ neediness peaks at the exact same time as my tolerance of neediness is at low tide? It is uncanny.  I believe it is further proof that God thinks he is way funnier than he really is.

What do I do? Usually stand on the back porch and take a few deep breaths, remind myself that I chose to have kids and then try to visualize a beach in Bermuda… ahhh. I am refreshed and ready to take on whatever comes my way. Well, at least for 20 minutes or so.  Because in 20 minutes, the kids and the damn dog will decide they all need to be in the bathroom at the same time I am using it.  They don’t like the smell of broccoli cooking but they voluntarily hang out in the bathroom with me when I’m there for an extended visit? What gives?

Breath in, breath out… South Hampton Beach…pink sand… scooters…

A little while later, my darlings will then each ask me something at the same time, from opposite ends of the house. Both will use a voice that conveys urgency and distress. Both will, after calling for me, proceed to yell at each other that they “were first”.  I pretend I don’t hear.

I wonder if we have any wine in the house. What time is it? Crap, not even lunch yet. They’d give me wine in Bermuda. I wonder how much flights are…

And then the tide will finally come in and the normal-ness of our kid dominated life will no longer aggravate me. I won’t mind hearing mom repeated so often that I start to believe my child has turrets.  It won’t bother me that in order for both kids and the damn dog to be in the bathroom with me at the same time someone has to sit on my lap.  Nooooo, I’ll be perfectly fine.

Delta flight number 656 departs at 11am…

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