Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Balancing Act

I have the best of both worlds. I am a work from home mom. Not only did I get to keep a version of my job after Lady Baby arrived, but I get to do it from home. I didn't miss first steps, first words, or first temper tantrums. I have been here for every step of her life, dragging my lap top behind me. But (there is always a but isn't there?) it is not easy. There are time management issues. There are child management issues. There are house management issues. My issues have issues.

Balancing Act
Did you know I could do this?
That's skillz. With a Z.
When I was sitting at my desk very pregnant, I would daydream about life after baby (I was way too big to be productive and one must pass the time). Working from home seemed so doable. So uncomplicated. So not stressful. Ha! I scoff at my foolish former self, with her silly daydreams and full night's sleep. I assumed (ass=me) that it would be, wait for it, EASY. Wrong again, genius. It is far from easy. The only part that is uncomplicated is the step where I plug my lap top in, and sometimes even that is complicated because of those little plastic covers that you have to use a butter knife to get out of the socket. The rest is a balancing act of epic proportions. It takes organization, motivation, and brain power. Three things which I have been lacking in a big way for the last 21 months. 

Pre-child I was the manager of a two doctor optometrist office. I was in charge of a staff of five people. I ran the office, filled-in where needed, made sure people were doing their jobs, did all the billing and filed all of insurance. (Side note--you read the part where I mentioned I was in charge of other people, right? Now I can't even get a toddler to listen to me.) I wasn't Russel Simmons or The Trump, but I was very busy and in charge. Fast forward to month eight of being pregnant, also known as "get your schmit together time" and/or "last minute." We realized day care was super expensive and pointless, because I would basically be working to pay for childcare. Not to mention the late nights and general emotional exhaustion. So with heart palipatatons and a shaky voice, I asked my bosses if I could step down as manager and continue to do the insurance and billing portion of my job part time. Not only did they seem relieved (I later learned they thought I was going to quit all togheter), they offered for me to work from home. It was if a little fairy had come along and crapped my greatest wish right in the palm of my hand. Work from home? In my pyjamas yoga pants? With my perfect angel of a child snuggled beside me (This was my prechild daydream. I didn't know, okay?) How about "yes, please" times a million. I practically started to cry. Or I did actually started to cry. It's a little fuzzy, but either scenerio is possible. We did some negotiating on duties and pay. I would be contract and I would continue to do everything with insurance and billing and credentialing. I was prepared to begin living the dream, baby.

I do live the dream. Everyday I spend the mornings doing stuff with Her Highness. Activities, classes, playdates, and various kinds tot-enriching fun. I spend the afternoons working while she gets her beauty sleep. I also work sometimes in the evenings. Occasionally in the mornings before Alice wakes up. Often after everyone else in the house goes to sleep. When she is at preschool, I am at Starbucks or Panera working and eating muffins. Forget that last part about the muffins--not important. It is not unheard of for me to stand at the kitchen counter while dinner is cooking, doing work. I find the time whenever I can. Sometimes it is hours, other times I can only grab minutes. I feel like I am perpetually running and can never quite catch up. Sometimes the dream is a nightmare. There is always more to do. Never enough time or energy. It is annoying and frustrating and totally completely worth it.

If only I could talk to that chick daydreaming at eight months pregnant. I would yell at her, actually. "It's not going to be easy. It's not going to be relaxing. Yes, you can wear your yoga pants, but then when you leave the house people will wonder why you never make an effort even if it is just Target and baby music class, so you won't. You will wear jeans and flats and fix your hair. You will even wear eyeliner. You will want to nap while your child naps, but you can't. Because you are a work from home mom. The baby is not going to make it easy on you, so forget that. She is going to have colic and barf a lot. A LOT. She will also have a desire for 100% of your attention. So rest now hugely pregnant girl. And enjoy those comfy maternity pants. You are going to miss those."

Please don't think I am complaining. I know that I am one of the lucky ones. I get to have a foot in both worlds. While it is exhausting and at times frustrating to straddle lives, it is totally worth it. I love not having to rush out the door in the mornings, and I love that I am exhausted at night because I have been wrangling my child at the park, not because I have been seeing patients. Just don't expect my house to be spotless. Don't assume I have all the time in the world to cook fancy dinners and make homemade bread. And lord knows, when I say I am tired, please don't tell me to take a nap when Lady Baby does. Ain't gonna happen. I have work to do.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Childfree Time: Awesome and Glorious

A few times since Lady Baby joined us on this earth we have flown the coop and left her for a weekend at home with grandparents. While I thought I would be worried and stressed and concerned for her safety, I was none of those things. On the contrary, I was a giddy free spirit. We tore the band-aid off early with the whole babysitting thing and have been leaving her with others for the evening since she was a wee thing. When we left for that first weekend away, it was not as if we had never been apart from our child. We had just never both been away from her overnight. In another town. Several hours away. And it was awesome. Yes, that's right. Awesome. 

Our first trip away was to the beach with friends early this past  summer. My parents came up and watched Her Highness from Friday evening to Sunday lunch. I thought it would be difficult to enjoy myself so far away from my precious offspring, but I was seriously mistaken. Maybe it was because I knew she was well taken care of (they did keep me alive afterall). Maybe it was because I knew she was in her comfort zone. Maybe it was a little bit of both. Whatever the reason, I was foot loose and fancy free and we had an outstanding adult only weekend. We talked about our kids a lot, but they weren't there, sucking up all the attention with their constant need for parenting. There was no one to entertain, no one who needed milk or snacks, no one who relied on me to monitor whether they had pooped their pants. Let me tell you, it was glorious.
The Awesome and Glorious beach weekend

Please don't get me wrong. I lurve my child. She is the light of my life, the reason I am alive. The sun shines out of her little bum. But we are together a lot. Seven days a week minus two mornings of preschool and the occasional movie night. I have done the math and that is like minimum 150 hours per week. I include sleeping time because as every parent knows, just because they are asleep does not mean that you are off duty. Children are tricky little beasts who often grow neediest the moment they sense you drifting off. So after months of 24/7 Mommy+A time, we both need a little break. Cue the grandparents. Hubs and I get 48 hours of just being normal people. We can finish a sentence. We only have to hold someone's hand if we want to. The huge tip at dinner is because it was a fancy meal not because of the amount of food on the floor. Ahh, bliss.

When I hear people say that they cannot bear to be away from their children, I don't get it. I just cannot relate. I enjoy a break and I am not embarrassed to say it. It doesn't make me a bad parent. I don't love her less than other parents love their kids. It just means that I like time away to get back to being plain old T. I need moments where no one needs my attention. Where I can sit and enjoy other adults. Time to eat a meal with my husband and have a conversation that does not include the phrases "do not throw that" and "stop feeding the dog." I have to have a little space, especially after life with a clingy toddler. One can only be touched but so much on any given day without feeling a little squirrely for some personal space. I like date nights, girls trips, and weekends away. Not only do I benefit from it, but so do my marriage, my friendships, and my child. I believe it is good for her to spend time with her dad and her grandparents when I am elsewhere. It forces her to develop bonds with them that don't happen as easily when Mommy is available to hang on and hide behind.

This past weekend we had an epic (often overused but appropriate here) time hosting friends from out of town for a concert. Alice was at my parents and we had a weekend in our own house without the child. Weird. It was a little heart wrenching to drive away and actually leave her somewhere for a few days, but only a little. She had a great time with Papa and Busy, we had a great time with our friends. Amazing how much less stressful it is to wear your party-pants when you know there will not be a toddler waking you at 7am. In a few months we are going to NYC with friends and we will be dropping the child off with Grandma and Grandpa. She will get several days of spoilage by her grands and we will enjoy a mini-vacay. Win-win.

When I have been away from Lady Baby, the reunion is always a very sweet one. I return refreshed and ready to tackle motherhood again, instead of feeling worn down by the daily grind that often takes over. She is happy to see me because she is a toddler and they are basically human puppies. Not much sense of time and happy no matter when you walk in the door. When we arrived at my parents to pick her up this past Sunday she was so excited she kept hugging me, screaming, and hugging me again. It was a great reminder of how a few days apart can help us remember how much we love each other. Absence makes the heart grow fonder they say? True. Very true. A little of it also makes the Mama happier. 

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Just be Nice

I like being nice. Is that dorky? Is it nerdy? Is it Pollyanna-ish? Don't care. Am I making you want to barf with my pie-in-the-sky, the-world-is-groovy, everybody-hug-now attitude? Too bad. My happy shiny is here to stay. 

Despite the bad rap it gets, I find people respond to niceness. Down deep, they like it, even if they won't admit it. I also believe that you can get further with being nice, than you ever could with nastiness. Every kid's show teaches little watchers to be nice and to care for others. Elmo never mutters racial slurs at Rosita under his breath. We need to all take our cues from these shows and remember the importance of kindness. I mean, they are called the CareBears for a reason. Because it is cool to care (or at least is was in the 80's). 
Make like a Care Bear, and hug
someone. People love that.
I am not sugary sweet. I have as much snark, maybe more, than other people. But I also believe in doing the best you can for your fellow human being. I think it is sad when people use meanness to get their way instead of niceness (not sure if that is a word, but if not it should be). It really is just as easy to smile and say, "thank you" as it is stomp off with a "harrumph." Not only is it unfortunate for everyone around you, it leaves you feeling like crap. You know the old saying "Smile and the world smiles with you."? It is an old saying for a reason. Because it is true. I have worked with the public and I have seen all kinds. ALL KINDS. Some bad, some good, some unbelievable. The people that I can't understand are the ones who are consistently in bad moods. We all have bad days, but these peeps seem to be having bad decades. Year after year, they come into the office grumpy, angry, dissatisfied, and sure we are trying to screw them. Every time we  see one of these types I  wonder what brought on their nasty. Were their parents awful? Did they grow up thinking it was normal to be disagreeable? Maybe something happened later in life, some major blow that caused them to give up on being nice. The loss of a job, being left at the altar, maybe a series of unfortunate turns that rendered them lonely with only a cat to talk to. Who knows? I hate to think they were born angry and untrusting. Whatever the reason, be it nature or nurture, it makes me sad to see people who have ceased treating their fellow men the way they would like to be treated. I am quite sure if you took a poll of Negative Nancys the world over, they would prefer people being nice to them over a dose of the crap attitude they are dishing out. You should ask one next time you you have a close encounter. Please message me to let me know the reason.

Sometimes, a smile is all a person needs to improve their day . It doesn't hurt to be nice. I promise. You don't have to work harder to be pleasant. I find it takes more energy to be negative. I should know, I am an expert at conserving energy. It is definitely more draining and does nothing to improve your mood. People notice when others are pleasant and they appreciate it. I know first hand, when you are nasty and manipulative and mean, people talk about you. Wouldn't you prefer people to say "she is so nice" rather than "she is so cold/mean/angry/fill-in-the-blank." I certainly would. I have no interest in being a bitch, no matter how cool it is (no pun intended). I am warm and bubbly and nice. I am not frigid or bitter or angry. Therefore I want to project an aura of warm fuzzies with the belief that I will get some back. It is simply good karma, which I take very seriously. 

I want to be an example to my children. I want pleases and thank yous to roll right out of Lady Baby second nature. I want her to see me being nice to people in all different situations, no matter their age, stage, or place in life. Then she will grow up thinking it is normal to be kind. You hold the door for people, you are mannerly and you show appreciation. The emotions you put into the world will return a million-fold, and who doesn't want a million-fold of sunshine hitting them up. If I can teach her those things, then I will raise a young lady to be proud of. I can only hope she will pay it forward and spread the positive vibes. Maybe even hug the angry out of a few people. Lord knows I have tried.

If tiny monkeys can be nice to disgusting
birds than surely we people can be
nice to each other.


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