Being a first-time mother was hard. I worried about everything. Is my baby putting on enough weight? Too much weight? Is my toddler talking as well as the other children? Shouldn’t my daughter be potty trained before her third birthday? I worried so much that the early years of my first child’s life are little more than a blur. I am certain that countless hours were spent singing, playing, reading books and rocking her to sleep, but my memory of those moments is so vague, I really can’t be sure.
By the time I was pregnant with my second child, I thought that I knew all there was to know about being a mother. I offered plenty of advice to my friends who were pregnant with their first child. I was the expert. At least I thought I was.
But, after baby number two arrived, I quickly discovered that my second child was nothing like the first one. I started to panic because none of the things that worked with my first child seem to work with this one. As I slipped into the fog that inevitably comes, I wondered if motherhood would ever get any easier.
Years later I discovered that I was pregnant with baby number three. This time things really were easier. They were not easier because I knew what I was doing or because baby number three was any easier than the first two. They were easier because I expected that they would be hard. And they were hard. But because my expectations were realistic, I was able to relax and enjoy the early days and weeks with baby number three.
After I accepted the fact that raising kids is hard no matter what you do (or don’t do), I was able to worry less and enjoy motherhood more.
With baby number three I say “yes” far more often than I say “no.” Most of the time the things I am tempted to worry about really aren’t that important. And if I happen to start worrying too much, my husband quickly reminds me to relax.
The best part about my new approach to parenting is that when baby number three reaches for my Diet Coke, I just act like I don’t notice as he chugs down the rest of the bottle. Rather than cringing as he does this, I enjoy watching and hand him a bag of Skittles. After all, Skittles taste really good with Diet Coke.
Timothy loves to draw. He started out drawing with crayons and coloring books. But, he quickly lost interest in crayons when he discovered markers. His favorites ones were the really bright ones. Unfortunately I quickly discovered that his favorite markers were not washable. I quickly replaced them with the washable kind. Which is a good thing, because Timothy has decided that his favorite place to draw is on his body. When I remind him that we only draw on paper, he says “I draw paper” and immediately goes back to his body art instead.
Recently, I had to bring Timothy to my office for a few hours. I decided to keep him busy by setting him up with plenty of paper and markers. This kept him occupied for quite a long time and I was surprised at how much I was able to get accomplished. When it was time to leave I discovered why he had been so well behaved – he had been drawing on my office walls! Now I have a permanent reminder of my precious two year old in my office.
Today, Timothy decided to take his artistic pursuits to a new level. He found two Sharpie pens in a desk drawer. In a matter of seconds, he had drawn all over his sisters’ computer that was sitting on the desk. So far we have been able to get the Sharpie off the computer screen (except for a few small marks on the edge of the screen). But, we haven’t been able to get any of the Sharpie off the computer keyboard. My teenage girls are very unhappy about Timothy’s latest coloring adventure so I am now searching the Internet for ideas about how to get rid of Sharpie. In the meantime I am scouring the house for all hidden markers, pens and other writing instruments. This experience has reminded me that leaving a two year old unattended, even for a matter of seconds in a room that you “think” is toddler-proofed, can be a very expensive mistake to make.
I haven’t posted for a while because my work schedule has been grueling lately. This evening was the first time that I have been able to sit down for dinner with my family in two weeks. I wish I could say that we had a home cooked meal, but we didn’t – we all met for dinner at a local pizza joint.
This evening I also had an opportunity to catch-up on some reading that I had been wanting to do and even had a chance to surf the web. While doing so, I came across a blog written by a working mother who mused about wanting to be a “domestic goddess.” This is a term that you hear fairly often these days. There are numerous cookbooks and other books/articles written about this topic.
But, I must admit that I have no desire whatsoever to be a “domestic goddess.” I will do absolutely anything to avoid having to fold a load of laundry. My husband often jokes that the only reason I work is to avoid having to do this undesirable chore. I think he is right.
In fact, I really can’t think of any domestic chore that I enjoy – other than perhaps cooking an occasional gourmet meal. But, even my love of cooking is tempered by the reality that doing so requires a trip to the grocery store (another chore that I detest). And, since my family really doesn’t like to eat any of the “unusual” things that I want to cook, most of the cooking that I end up doing isn’t really very fun.
And, as for keeping a perfectly neat and clean house, with four kids living at home, that is something that I cannot imagine ever being able to accomplish.
So…unlike many other moms, I am perfectly happy living in my somewhat clean house eating our somewhat home cooked meals and wearing our somewhat ironed clothes. And no, I will not ever be a “domestic goddess” – thank goodness!
You can learn a lot about a person by what you find in their car.
Today I sat in the backseat of a colleague’s car on the way to a lunch meeting. I didn’t know much about her beforehand, but I learned a lot about her today. The first thing I noticed was that there wasn’t much in her car – it was pretty clean. No kids. There was dog hair. She must be an animal lover. And there were Mardi Gras beads. Now I know that she is a Saints football fan.
My teenage daughter’s car is crammed with stuff. If she was ever stranded in her car, I think she could survive for weeks living off the things in her car. There are clothes, shoes and plenty of snacks. There are even pom poms – still there long after the end of football season. Without even meeting her, if you saw her car, you would know that she was a busy teenager, juggling school, cheering, friends and having fun.
Like most working mothers, I practically live in my car. You will find a briefcase full of work that needs to be done after the kids go to bed. There is hand-sanitizer, diapers and wipes – just in case an emergency diaper change is required. And because I spend so much time at the soccer fields, you will always find several folding chairs, a blanket and a spare pair of socks.
When I know that a client might ride with me to go to lunch or a meeting, I clean-out my car. But no matter how careful I am, there is always one thing in the backseat of my car that gives me away . . . goldfish cracker crumbs. What kind of mother would I be if I didn’t have a few crumbs in the backseat of my car?
The Urban Dictionary defines a workation as “anytime you bring work materials, laptops, paperwork or worse, keep meetings, in a neurotic attempt to ‘keep up’ on what essentially should be personal or vacation time.”
Last week was my kids’ Spring Break. We spent the week at the beach in the panhandle of Florida on vacation. Or was it really a workation?
I found myself checking emails on a regular basis through-out the week. One day I spent the entire day (and night – until past mid-night, actually) drafting documents. Another day I had a 3 hour conference call. Fortunately the baby took a long nap that day. And yet, even with my neurotic attempts to keep up with things while I was away, I find myself laying in bed on Sunday night unable to sleep because I am worried about how far behind I will be when I get to the office in the morning.
Like most working women (and men for that matter), the workation has become the norm. Unfortunately, I don’t think many of us have much of a choice. Our clients expect that we will stay in constant contact even when we are on vacation. In this ultra-competitive market, if we don’t, our competitors are more than happy to swoop in and steal our clients.
So, if taking a complete break away from work isn’t possible, what can we do to have less of a workation and more of a vacation?
As my week progressed, I began to realize that I was spending far too much time working and not enough time relaxing and enjoying the kids. So, I decided to put my phone away and only check emails at lunchtime and later in the afternoon. This gave me long periods of time to just focus on the kids. It sounds so simple, but in this crazy connected world, putting down your phone for even a few hours can be a challenge. But it was worth it. I found that those last few days were so much more enjoyable. And I was reminded that the emergencies that did come up didn’t have to be handled immediately – they could wait just a little while.
Going to the panhandle of Florida for Spring Break can be risky. The weather can be wonderful – or terrible. It can be warm and sunny. Or it can be cold, windy and wet. The first few days of our week at the beach were fairly cool and foggy. But today was a perfect day to be at the beach. The temperatures were in the low 80′s and the sun was shining. It is days like this that make me love coming to the beach!
I wasn’t the only one busting to get out to the beach today. Timothy woke up bright and early this morning – ready to go out to play. His teenage sisters were not quite so excited about getting an early start. I finally gave in and let him wake them up around 8:30 a.m. Timothy was so happy walking out to the beach with his bag of beach toys. He played and played. He built sandcastles. He let us bury him in the sand. There really isn’t anything he doesn’t love about the beach.
But not all kids like the beach. Some kids don’t like to get their hands sandy. Others are scared of the water. Timothy, though, loves everything about the beach – even a mouth full of sand doesn’t seem to slow him down for long. The only problem with bringing Timothy to the beach is having to drag him inside for an afternoon nap. He played so hard today that he slept for 3 1/2 hours. What a great day. I was even able to catch-up on emails and participate in a conference call while he slept.
Watching Timothy play on the beach today with his sisters reminded me that I need to slow down. I need to take time to enjoy life. To enjoy my kids. And to enjoy the beach. Days like today are too far and few between.
One of the hardest parts about being a working mother is having to go on business trips out of town. My husband (an overworked lawyer himself) is super supportive when I have to travel, but it is still hard. I worry about what I have forgotten to do…who is going to get sick…what child will need to be picked-up and from where…
But part of me actually enjoys the occasional business trip. The work is usually enjoyable. Sometimes even challenging. And for a few days I get a break from the sometimes not so enjoyable night-time routine of cooking dinner, overseeing homework and fussing at kids to get to bed on time.
So, while I will have a few moments of guilt and worry while I am gone, I will try to relax, knowing that my husband will have everything under control. And for a few days, I will be just a working woman – not a working mother.