The Parental Juggling Act


 

Parenthood: More than just juggling hearts and flowers!

When you have two working parents, and two children, there are many different things you have to try to balance. It’s not easy. It’s exhausting. It frequently requires a tag-team effort.

Yes, there are the meals that go uncooked, the house that goes uncleaned, and mass chaos but on top of that there are other considerations:

  • Determining which of us is less likely to face career retribution from staying home or leaving early to take care of kids;
  • Figuring out which one of us is actually more tired and frustrated (competitive self-pity);
  • Delegation of triage procedures for toy-related injuries;
  • Which series on the DVR to delete because we’ve never managed to catch up;
  • Which children’s program is the least annoying;
  • Setting a date and time to actually have a conversation not involving scheduling, kids, or finances…
    and the actually managing to do it;
  • Locating and/or remembering what presents were hidden where and who they were for in the first place;
  • Figuring out who gets to eat the treats we deny our children for health reasons (aka taking one for the team)!

Can you relate to any of this?  Parenthood:  a wonderful journey requiring frequent comedy breaks and a massive sense of humor!

 

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Things I Don’t Get


My niece has inspired a new list for me this evening. I will call it “Things I Don’t Get”…

1. Why anyone would need an additional belly button tattoo right next to the original: was the first one lonely?Didn’t it hurt enough the first time?

2. Skinny jeans: they certainly don’t make anyone skinny!

3. 18 self-checkout machines manned by 3 employees staring at the 26 people in the regular check-out lane for who shopping in the first place was a big enough ordeal without bagging it all too…

3.5 Ditto for airport self service kiosks;

4. Entertainment venues offering children’s parties where parents are not free;

5. The existence of caffeine-free diet soda in general (and how I have managed twice now in two weeks to buy it);

6. Why they can’t make in rewards card that accommodates a plethora of vendors;

7. Velveeta.

Clearly I am getting old, rigid and easily confused, but honestly it wears me out just thinking about this stuff.

The first item on my list is really just to razz my sister about her crazy kids…though yeah, STILL don’t get it.

Hiding from Food


I may have mentioned before that I am fat.  It’s not much of a secret.   I don’t like to use that term, hate it in fact, but it is a medical reality. And I am struggling once again in attempt to fight it.

My inspiration is simple: I don’t want to be this big. I hate it. I sometimes hate me because of it. And that is not a good example to be setting for my kids.

When I went to a doctor recently because I seem to struggle with losing weight – even when I eat the right things, I was put through a battery of tests that basically said there isn’t a darn thing wrong with me. The dietician looked at food logs I presented, then back at me, perplexed.

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Dinner time on a diet


I may have mentioned previously that I am not a skinny gal. It’s a battle I continue to fight: at times my efforts are pretty hardcore.

Like now, for instance.

A working mom’s best friends are sometimes drive-thru windows and at least partially pre-packaged meals at least once or twice a week.

Not an option. I have a very limited diet and need to prepare my own meals. It sucks.

What becomes harder? Walking into the house and preparing a meal that will feed me and making additional options for everyone else…far tastier options.

It’s not just the cooking. It’s the dang dishes and the clean-up. It is a giant pain in the hooey.

What I need is a personal chef and housekeeper. For that matter, a personal trainer would not run amiss.

But if I had those things, I also probably wouldn’t need to work the hours I do, etc., etc.

Ah well. Night 3 of home-cooking included cooked cabbage. Not the tastiest item, especially without lots of butter and salt. My family’s option included pasta, which I can’t have.

I’m not bitter, not really. I ignored my daughter’s comments about my soggy lettuce. I tried not to smell the delicious carbs. I ignored my husband’s pitying look. I am eating what I should and hopefully it will lead to better things.

That said? The lovely cabbage smell? The kind of smell that sneaks up on you in hallways of random apartment buildings?

Yeah, they won’t be running away from that anytime soon.

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Concessions of a working mum


There are many ways in which my life has changed while trying to balance a family, kids, and a career. I now find myself:

  • Listening to books a la .mp3 while commuting since keeping my eyes open with a real book seems impossible;
  • Writing blog entries on my cell phone mornings at two a.m. while waiting for my small son to fall back asleep;
  • Watching the first 10 minutes of one television show on the DVR over a three evening period because I keep falling asleep before the 11th;
  • Sneaking into my children’s rooms to watch them sleep because I get such little time with them during the day (and occasionally waking up in their rooms);
  • Catching up on the lives of my family via Facebook since so rarely are we able to even speak on the phone at the same times;
  • Not having any kind of consistent social life outside of the minions;
  • Getting little quality time (read: any time) spent on hair, makeup, or general beautification unless I am willing to get up at 3am (sorry world);
  • An almost constant craving for Sleep, Sleep, Sleep (Um, have I mentioned sleep?) has supplanted almost all other desires.

And honestly? I am so grateful for the two little Berserkers I have that as long as they remain decently clothed, fed, and (reasonably) happy, nothing else matters. There is nothing I am unwilling to do in that pursuit, no job I would not undertake, and I am sure that is true of you too.

The minions: my main inspiration for everything.

True Confessions: I want to be like my Mom.


I hear all the time how women don’t want to become like their mothers. I feel sorry for them.

Don’t get me wrong: my mama isn’t the cuddly, Hallmark type. She can cut you down into shreds with words if you get on her bad side, she can talk you into doing things you would never in a million years otherwise consider, and I would pit her against Mike Tyson any day: the power of her stare would make the guy quiver and shrink into the fetal position in a heartbeat.

  • She once tackled me, sat on my stomach and put gum in my hair when she caught me chewing it with my braces on.
  • She abandoned me post-surgery in the food court of a shopping mall because I couldn’t keep up. (Notably, I had had my wisdom teeth removed and couldn’t eat either.)
  • She cancelled Christmas one year on us because we were such naughty kids.

In essence, my mommy is one tough b*tch. She is the badass of motherhood. And I want to (mostly) be just like her when I grow up.

My mama can out-cook, out-clean, and out-organize just about anyone that I know. She will give the clothes off her back to someone in a pinch. She has raised most of her grandchildren for free. She is an artist, a poet, and an accountant, and had she had the opportunity to go to college, she would have pulled straight “A’s” out of pure determination.

BKS would put any executive to shame with her ability to understand the bigger picture of a situation. She will go a week without sleep preparing for a party and making it perfect; she is relentless in her diligence to everything. She never forgets (although she may occasionally get confused) and she is always prepared.

She is the strongest woman I know, and can simultaneously be trusted with your deepest secret and depended on to help wherever she can. She is ridiculously self-less. She has bailed me out of my own messes so many times I cannot even count, and she loves the heck out of me even if I make absolutely no sense to her.

And believe me, I make little to no sense to her. It’s not that I’m so complex, it’s that she thinks I am completely ass-backwards in most respects. She’s probably right.

  • She told me not to move to the City – I did so anyway.
  • She told me I was a fool to go on vacation on my own to the Pacific Northwest, renting a car and staying in hostels up the Pacific Coast.
  • She yelled at me when I called her from the side of Multnomah Falls, telling me not to use the cell phone because I could be lynched or fall.
  • She has told me on numerous occasions that I have far too much fun and that I should work harder. She’s probably right.

Truthfully, my mother’s not entirely sure how I’ve survived this long. I’m not entirely sure how I’ve survived this long either – except by the Grace of God and the help of friends and family.

Anyway – even if I don’t make sense to her – my mom has pushed me to do something with my writing for about 25 years now. I think she knows that inside, that’s what I really want to do, if I can only figure out how to do it. I haven’t managed it yet, but I am trying: if I had half her moxie and drive, I am pretty sure I’d have managed a book or six by now.

I love her dearly, respect her more than anyone, and hope someday to do as I am told like a good girl and to make her proud.

So, Momma, it’s not a book, and I doubt you’ll ever read it – but this Blog’s for you.

Keeping it Real


It is sooo easy to get caught up in wanting what you don’t have. The high-end baby couture, the money,the boats,  the vacations, the careers. I find myself wishing I had a different shape, a more exciting job, and a cabin with a giant hammock.

When it comes to “thou shalt not covet thy neighbors’ goods” – I need to go to confession more.  At this rate, I’m likely to be struck by lightning.

Jealousy just doesn’t make you feel good inside: it cripples and blinds you to the awesome things you do have. It steals your contentment. It makes you anxious. It makes you bitchy and resentful. You are not fun to be around (I speak from personal experience and the testimony of friends who have called me on it when guilty of being “that girl”).

Comparing yourself to others creates an internal dialogue that somehow you are better or worse than someone else. Neither is healthy. Telling yourself you are better keeps you from working on your defects, and telling yourself you are worse becomes an excuse.

Here are a few things I’ve been taught over the years:

  • Don’t assume. The stories we tell ourselves about the would-be happiness of others based on the cool things they have and do are usually pure fiction. That chick carrying a Prada bag with the fab social calendar may not actually like any of the people she is with, but utterly terrified to be alone.
  • Skinny people (apparently) need love too. My size six friends want to be twos, and the size twos want to be zeros. They don’t eat much food, and are just as self-conscious – if not more stressed – about their own appearance as I am.   There is fierce competition in the set.  They also break easily and fall through grates routinely. (Have I mentioned most of my dearest friends are skinny? And gorgeous?)  Give them many hugs…gentle ones.
  • The more you put your focus on giving to others and work to make others’ lives happier, the less you focus on yourself or what you don’t have. Try volunteering. Shock your mother by showing up and doing something for her. Go clean your sister’s house.
  • Focus on what you have. Lay on the floor in your house. Look at the ceiling and be grateful you have a roof. Imagine not having one. Put your hand on your belly. Is it full? Are you hungry? Even being able to ask that question is luxury. Are you wearing clothes? Do you have a car to take you to work? Do you get to have a job? If you have what you need, even if it isn’t what you want, you’re luckier than many, many people.
  • If there is something you want, work for it.  If you want the trip to Disney, start saving now.  Put in more time at work, or get creative and figure out a way to increase your income if you can.  You are the only one who can really do anything to improve your situation, regardless of how you got there.  Take responsibility for making your life better.

Occasionally, when I remember to do these things, I find I feel an awful lot better about life and people in general. I’m still sarcastic, yes,  but I enjoy life more.

The reality is unless we can learn to be happy In our own skins and content with what we have, chances are we won’t know what to do with more anyway.

That said, you people with the awesome boats and sweet swimming pools? I’m a great cook and would love to visit…

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Have I mentioned my beautiful, skinny friends occasionally take me to amazingly gorgeous islands with pools? I am blessed.

Friday gratitude list


Not only am I grateful this Friday that it IS, in fact, Friday, but also for the following:

  • The Chicago Blackhawks convention is only one weekend long. My husband will be in a good mood for weeks afterwards and be extra kind. It is worth the price.
  • It finally rained, and there is an outside chance that not every single flower in my yard will be a crisped husk.
  • The dog may have pooped in the house yes, and even pug poo is gross, but at least he chose a brown rug. Ahem.
  • Some really cool chicks commented on a few of my blog posts and passed them on, making me feel ridiculously warm and fuzzy inside.
  • I have been writing for a whole three weeks now, longer than I manage most diets.
  • My mother-in-law is MY mother-in-law and my kids are MY kids.
  • Today is yet one more chance to greet the dawn and kick some azz! (insert theme to ‘Rocky’ here)
  • What are YOU grateful for today??

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    “Keep Trying, Keep Trying, Don’t Give Up, Never Give Up…”


    Maybe like me, you’ve had that Yo Gabba Gabba song pounded repeatedly into your consciousness – or maybe you are far luckier and have been busier catching up on True Blood and Modern Family. As a working mom, I don’t get too much TV time, and sadly far too much of what I watch are the kiddie shows. But sometimes, even as adults we can learn a lesson or two from watching them.

    Life is Hard. You know that, I know that. Lately, I’ve had some things going on in my life that have been a bit overwhelming. I will save you the drama of the detail, but suffice it to say there have been days (and days and days) where I want to throw the towel in and hide under the bed. I make stupid mistakes at work, my body refuses to downsize, I never feel like I am giving enough time to my kids or myself. I try really, really hard in all those respects, but sometimes? It just doesn’t seem or feel like I am enough, or that I will ever be enough, or that I am even up to the challenge of another day.

    I keep falling down on my face. Hard. And sometimes? I don’t want to get back up. I want to lay there. It feels like too much. It hurts.

    I watch my daughter. She is whip-smart, and a stinker to boot. But she doesn’t like to not be good at things. She doesn’t want to ride her bike if she’s not good at it, if it’s not easy. I tell her all the time that we have to learn how to do things, and that sometimes those things are hard. It is a constant battle. But she gets up and she tries again.

    And if I don’t get up again when I fall, how can I expect to teach her to wipe off her bloody knees and get back up on the damn bike? How can I sing Yo Gabba Gabba songs to her and expect her to buy into them if I refuse?

    Every day we have on this earth we have to make a decision, and sometimes even getting out of bed seems like a hard one. Standing up and looking at our awful messes is hard; facing our failures and trying again is painful. Convincing ourselves that we truly can be more, get better, and improve after so many years of trying is a challenge.
    But I owe it to my kid, and I owe it to myself to persevere: to push what I can really do and who I can become. I will keep trying. I won’t give up.

    Multiple social identity (dis)order


    I like to believe I am pretty honest and straightforward. I do not like the fake, and I am not a fan of the airbrushed. Half of my job depends on my ability to see through the facades people project to find and in some respects, judge, the character and potential beneath.

    And I am damn good at it.

    But here’s the thing: I am coming to believe in the necessity of multiple personalities and identities. Where blood types and hair color used to be enough to identify bodies, we now have to use DNA to really make sure. And these days, the same level of research seems critical to figuring out who the heck you’re dealing with on a daily basis.

    No longer are these judgements based on resumes and simple conversation. You now have to cross-reference LinkedIn profiles versus Twitter feeds versus Facebook. And in some cases you’ll find all 3 vastly different, and that is not by accident.

    Even on a micro-level, we compartmentalize our identities more and more, and with social media that trend expands. I am attempting to write not one, but two blogs: one that speaks to me, myself and my experiences and the other to those as they relate to my kids. Why? Because even though I am the same person and tied to my world in both ways, there are some people who dig reading about kids and my stories there and others who just don’t.

    I would add a third blog to cover my career gal side if I had time. My work life is catalogued on LinkedIn, my personal on Facebook, and other parts of me scattered among blogs and hash tags. Fragments of who I am show up all over the internet.

    I don’t think I am less of a person, less deep, or less kind (usually). I am still me. But adaptation to the social landscape comes at a price: using
    so many different outlets for connection and business and self-expression shapes our identities as well. The very tools we use to craft our outward identities change us and the way we think in the process.

    I am Google-optimized. That can feel scary, and occasionally leaves me feeling fragmented. But I try to believe I am becoming more of a person, not less, and that we grow to fit not shrink the identities we develop – at least I pray that is the case.

    To keep myself sane, I make a conscious effort to step away from the machines, the laptops the iPhone and television and unplug. I play with my kids, pet the dog, and drink a glass of wine on the porch.

    Call a friend you usually text message and see them in person. Remind yourself (and them)  how much more you are than your status update or latest tweet. That’s what I do anyway. And if maybe you are feeling a little fragmented and overwhelmed by all the social media in your life, you can try it too.