Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Working and Being a Mama

"Guess I can't see the harm
In working and being a mama
And with a kid on my arm
I'm still an exceptional earner
And you want a piece of me"

- The very wise Ms. Britney Spears in "Piece of Me."

Mama got a raise today. I'm bringing home the bacon, frying it up, serving it, and packing it up for lunch tomorrow. Time to pick out a celebratory purse.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Wine, Park, and Guilt

I am not very good at relaxing. I hate getting massages. I can't stand yoga (an hour alone with my thoughts is not relaxing). I don't like being at home very much. I always want to get out and do something.

Usually we are so busy that there is not much downtime for me to get bored but this past Sunday we did not have much going on and I so wanted to get out of the house. We were debating between taking Leo to the park or strolling around the Circle (the Circle is this adorable little town center where I live with antique stores, restaurants, a cute fountain, etc.). The Circle ended up winning. We walked around and had an appetizer and a glass of wine on the patio of a favorite restaurant. The weather was gorgeous and it felt like we were on vacation.

When we got back to the house, Leo was cuh-razy. He was just a little ball of energy that was ricocheting off the walls. I started to feel bad that we had not taken him to the park. The husband off-handedly commented, "oh Mommy was selfish and didn't take you to the park."

Me? Selfish? Putting my own needs before the baby? Never! It is all about him, all the time. Ok, maybe I was thinking more about me when I decided I wanted to go to a restaurant for a glass of wine and a little food. That definitely would not be Leo's first choice. He would have chosen the park. I declared that we were still going to the park and would go after dinner.

I fed Leo his dinner and got in the car to go to the park. There is an awesome, brand new, super clean with a perfect toddler sized playset park about 15 minutes from our house. I headed there. While I was driving I realized that the sun was setting. Crap! I have to take my baby to the park! I started to freak out and tried checking my phone for the sunset time. It was in 20 minutes! Shit! I started to use my navigation to find a closer park with no luck. Fuck it, I thought, we are going to the damn park and I floored it. Now I was the crazy mom in her crazy SUV driving like a bat out of hell to get to the park in time before the sunset.

Don't judge me about my cell phone use and bat out of hell driving. There is a reason why I bought Leo the most expensive car seat that ever existed.

We finally got to the park (the husband stayed home to work on the yard aka watch football). It ended up being a success. We had a solid 20 minutes of play time which is perfect for a toddler. Leo is obsessed with balloons right now and he saw a little girl with one, of course he started to chase her. The little girl didn't speak English and kept yelling at him in Spanish. I wanted to say "he just likes your balloon" but my high school Spanish was failing me and I was afraid of saying something horribly offensive which would prompt her parents yelling at me in Spanish. So I just kept redirecting him. Despite the constant chasing, we had fun.

On the way home I realized that I had no gas. After filling up, we got home around 8pm. Leo got a bath and went straight to bed he was so exhausted. All this because I felt compelled by guilt to get him to the park. Because I felt guilty for thinking about what I wanted to do before what the baby might want to do. Looking back, Leo had fun at the Circle and would have been fine without going to the park. We had fun at the park but the heart attack I suffered in trying to get there really wasn't necessary. He would have had just as much fun at home with us.

I need to remember that it is ok to think about what I want from time to time. That putting me first or listening to what I would like to do is ok and does not need to result in a frantic dash to the park to make up for it. When I was younger and I thought about motherhood being hard I thought it was because of the dirty diapers and sleepless nights. I did not fathom the sheer amounts of guilt that could stem from a simple decision to go to a restaurant versus the park.

Motherhood is kind of a mind-fuck.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


About once a month I have to work late to go to a board meeting (I work for a public agency). These days give me horrific anxiety because I have to arrange someone to pick up Leo from daycare. I drop off and pick up everyday because my husband takes the train to work. So on board meeting days my husband either has to leave early or I have to find someone else to get Leo. Today was one of those days and Captain America left work early to get Leo.

In the days before Leo I would have been so flipping stoked to be advising the board. I would have sat up there all proud and stuff extolling expert legal advice. Now I just hope that no one can see my anxiety induced sweat attack as I check my phone obsessively for text messages from my husband confirming that he got the baby.

But then, randomly, I ended up getting out of the meeting early and traffic was amazingly light. I called my husband four times, left two voicemails, and a text message telling him I would get Leo. I was not all that surprised when I bumped into him in the hall of daycare as I was walking out with Leo. Obviously, we need to work on checking our phone.

Since we were both off work early we went to Red Robin. Yum.

Leo got a balloon and a kid's meal complete with a little cup of milk. He looked like such a little boy. It seriously seems like yesterday I that was trying to figure out how to breastfeed him while sitting in a booth at a restaurant and not bang his head on a table. Or mixing a bottle of formula and hoping the La Leche League nazis didn't see me. But there he was, with his little cup and everything.

Dinner with my boys was such a nice, random surprise on this fake Monday. Leo loved his balloon but could not handle it if the balloon was floating over his head. So I had to hold it at face level. Toddlers are weird.

How cute are my boys? I could just die. Seriously. Later that night I watched my husband read books to Leo and my icy heart melted just a little. This motherhood thing is making me soft.

Monday, September 5, 2011

It's Not All About Work

Lately, I've only been posting about being a working mom, but I don't work every day and I had quite the enjoyable weekend.

First it was gameday on Saturday. Yay? The Husband went to University of Michigan so of course Leo and I have to support him.

Even though we all know UC Santa Barbara is way better (it is at least more more). But they don't have a football team so I accept cheering for Michigan.

Yes, I'm aware that my husband's jersey is hideous. It is some retro thing for the Notre Dame game. He is very excited about it. Try not to tell him how ridiculous it looks.

On Sunday, the Husband went off to golf. I hung out with the little dude and took him to Joann's Fabrics for some craft supplies. Except Joann's opens at 10am on Sundays and when you get up at 6:30am that seems to take forever. So we went to Starbucks for a coffee date.

Leo is obsessed with these fruit pouch things. I figure it is ok since its fruit. But does it count as juice? I'm afraid of juice. Anyways, we still ended up being early to Joann's so we waited in the parking lot with all of the other crazy crafting ladies.

Then we headed off to our city's annual street fair. It's all about food, music, and beer. Leo had lemonade for the first time and a corn dog (part of one at least). He loved all of it. I did not love all of the stupidly drunk people stumbling every where. Also did not love seeing my ex-boyfriend (who got fat). Might rethink this event next year.

That was Sunday. On Monday I had a coffee date with a good friend and her oh-so-snuggly baby. I may have demanded unprotected you-know-what when I got home. She made an awesome pumpkin cake and I think when I host the next one I will make peanut butter chocolate chip crescent rolls. I forsee a healthy baking competition in future coffee dates. Then we had lunch with my grandparents and went on a family walk.

You are probably asking yourself, "So what did she get at Joann's that was so important?" That's a good question! I crafted all mother-trucking weekend. This is very strange as I never do any crafty things. When I rushed my sorority I couldn't even make my big sis her own gifts. My bff/pledge classmate had to do all my crafts.

First I made a fall-themed rag garland. Just strips of fabric tied onto twine. Super easy but it takes an eternity to cut out the strips and then tie everything. I may have consumed an entire bottle of wine while watching a Sex and the City marathon while completing this craft.

I also made two yarn wreaths. Also an easy craft but took forever because my cute little skein of yarn quickly became a giant cluster-fuck (sorry but no other way to describe it) and I had to untangle knots every five seconds.

I think it came out pretty cute though.

I also made chicken picatta, crockpot chili and cornbread (from a box), and a lasagna. I would now like a weekend to recover from my weekend.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

One Year Anniversary

Tomorrow marks my one year anniversary of becoming a working mom. One year ago I stuffed myself into work clothes (ok fine, I'm still stuffing myself into work clothes) and dropped off my precious baby at daycare. I ran out of the daycare center crying and drove off to my brand new job. To say that the past year has been crazy is a gross understatement.

But this post is not about me (for once). This post is about Leo and daycare. I signed up Leo for daycare when I was about five months pregnant. I just wanted to get it over with. I researched all options and picked a daycare center that I loved.

Leo started at nine weeks old. It was heartbreaking for me. I don't think he noticed all that much.

His teachers quickly became his second greatest cheerleaders (besides me and the husband). They cheered him on as he learned to roll over, sit, crawl, and walk. They worked with me through starting solids, teething, and sickness. They were always there with advice and stories of their own experiences.

And boy was there sickness. Despite their best efforts, the daycare center is a germ factory. Leo has suffered through colds, two fevers, two stomach bugs, pink eye, and an alleged ear infection (I still think it was teething and the doctor was wrong). My world fell apart each time he was sick. It was never anything serious. He always recovered quickly. There was much drama over who would miss work, who could take him to the doctor. Looking back now, I laugh at myself for being so dramatic about it. I never thought I would find myself begging for solid poop so he could go back to daycare and I wouldn't have to miss a third day of work. The one plus side is that a sick baby is a snuggly baby.

When Leo was having a rough day, his teachers were always there with extra love, attention, and snuggles.

I laughed to myself when he brought home all his "art projects." I had no idea I would be hanging such things on my fridge so early but I did.

When I dropped him off, I watched a huge smile spread across his chubby cheeks as he saw his teachers. I swear one in particular can make him laugh in a way that I have never seen duplicated.

At a very early age I watched him engage in parallel play and when he hugged a little girl the other day I just about died.

Leo has been in fulltime daycare for a year. He is happy, healthy, and well adjusted. He is cautious about strangers but quick to warm up to friendly faces. Different environments do not faze him. He is curious and active. He can nap through noise and in broad daylight. I frequently vacuum his room while he is asleep and he doesn't even notice it. Dropping him off is still hard, picking him up is still amazing. I miss him like crazy during the day but I am comforted by the fact that he is in such caring and capable hands.

So to all my daycare mommas out there - I know it's hard and I know people will give you the sideeye and yes, your kid is going to get sick, a lot. But daycare can be such a great place, a source of support, and an environment where your child can grow into an amazing little person. My advice is to research your options and pick the center that meets your standards. You can ask all the questions in the world, but once you walk into the center you will just know if it is right for you and your family. Oh, and invest in a good humidifier. Those are a lifesaver.