Archive for the ‘Working Parent’ Category

Preschool Teachers Rule The World- 09-10-14

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014

How Preschool Teacher Rule The World

Greyson said good-bye one morning last week as I was wrangling Charlotte into school clothes and scooping baby cereal mixed with applesauce into Henry. A minute later he popped his head back in the door, “My car won’t start. I need your keys to jump it.” He took them off the kitchen desk while I continued to wrangle and scoop.

It was the first week back at school so naturally things had to be more frustrating. Greyson had no cell phone since he put it in the pool bag and it got wet during the summer’s last fling at the neighborhood pool . It was at the phone repair shop, so there was no way to contact him when he wasn’t at work.

Now that school has started we live and die by the clock. We have to be out the door at 8:45 am to be at preschool on time. You can guess what happened at 8:40 when I was loading the car. I searched the kitchen desk drawer where keys, old lip balms and broken ball point pens in our house go to die. The car keys were not there.

I went back out to the car that was already packed with my purse, diaper bag, breast pump bag and Charlotte’s lunch box. The keys were not there either. It was 8:49. I started to panic. “Charlotte! Do you remember where Daddy put the keys?” She replied, “No, Mama. Can I wear my ‘Frozen’ bracelet to school?” “You may not go to school today if I can’t find the keys.” That’s when she asked a bunch of questions I tuned out before whining about not being able to wear the bracelet to the school I couldn’t get her to anyway.

There was no way to call him. I cursed the day I let moisture into the bag that tainted his phone. I knew he had driven off with the keys! Blerg! We were going to be late to preschool. I texted my preschool mom friends to vent. It’s the 21st century so started wracking my brain for other ways to communicate. That’s when I turned to Facebook. I ran to the laptop and friended Greyson’s coworker, begging her to have him call me when he got into the office.

At 8:52 I heard him pull up. I literally ran out to the driveway to grab the keys from him as he said something. I feel like it was an apology, but I was in the zone. I shouted for Charlotte. He helped her in the car. He asked, “Charlotte, was Mama mad at Daddy?” She grinned and said, “Yep!”

He looked at me through the car window slightly puzzled and said, “Why are you so concerned with getting there on time?” My eyes grew large, I took an exasperated breath from the drivers seat and replied, “Because those preschool teachers have us by the balls, THE BALLS!!”

They do. They rule our week. I have to drop her off at the right time and pick her up exactly on time or face the dreaded walk of shame to the director’s office to retrieve my child. I already got a talking-to from the director once. I have problems disappointing authority figures. I can’t do it. Plus, I don’t want to be “that parent” who is always late and appears to neglect their child and disrespect the institution of preschool. I’ve heard some of the  moms talking smack on the playground about other moms who can’t get there on time. I can’t have that. Oh, no. I mean, if you wanna talk smack, come find me. Just don’t make the smack talk at my expense.

The teachers aren’t gonna put up with crap from some thirty-something who’s only been a parent for 3 1/2 years. They’ve been teaching preschool for 25 years and have helped raise a generation of 3 and 4 year-old’s. Who am I to argue with them? Charlotte’s teacher told me that getting to school on time is crucial because that’s when they come in, get settled and form that day’s dynamics, reinforcing relationships. Also, when they arrive they will begin spelling exercises at the start of the day. She said that children who are frequently late are often not ready to move up a class in preschool because of their spelling. Ahhh! That’s the way to terrify a parent. Tell them their slacker ways will hinder development. I pictured my child living on our third floor, eating Doritos and taking improv classes at the community college when she’s 30. Gah! No!

Greyson was like, “We pay for her to go to preschool.” This is true, but I explained that it’s not like it was when we were paying for daycare. At daycare I could take her and pick her up whenever because it was open all day and we paid them as much as our mortgage payment. I felt like a premium customer.

At preschool, it’s less expensive, but they own my ass. Own it.  I do what the preschool teachers say. I wait in their long carpool line. I obediently sign out my child and wait in the designated area for pick-up. I write checks for the Booster Club. I buy only healthy snacks listed on the Snack List when I’m the “Snack Mom.”

They are genuinely sweet and kind people. I mean, they’re preschool teachers! But, for some reason I’m terrified of them, their sweet voices and perpetual upbeat attitudes. I smile at them and accept my child’s folder full of art work with gratitude. I can only hope they don’t see how frazzled and flawed I am as a parent and continue to educate my preschooler because I can’t.

preschool 2

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Sacrifice- June 26, 2014

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

I’m feeling foolish as I write this. Foolish because my last post was begging for your advice about strollers as my brain was consumed with our upcoming travels. We had grandiose plans to take our family of four to a family reunion in Nebraska this weekend. Now that it’s almost here I’m a little embarrassed to say we had to cancel at the last minute. Why, you ask? The short answer, money.

money pic

So often money is a taboo thing to discuss. I figure I talk about my leaking boobs and stitched up lady-parts on my mommy blog, so why should I be ashamed of discussing finances? I don’t know, but money is a touchy subject for most people. It’s private. It shows how vulnerable we are. That’s funny for a generation of people who are putting every mundane personal detail of their lives on the Internet to say that money is the thing that most shows our vulnerability, but it’s true.

Don’t get me wrong. Technically our family could afford to go on this trip, but at the price of some real financial strain later this year. It was going to cost an absurd amount to fly, rent a car and get a hotel room. We didn’t want to put a ton on credit cards. You know, credit cards. The cards people our age got when they walked on campus freshman year with their school logo on it.

Here’s the thing, we REALLY wanted to go on this trip. Bad. We had talked it up to our 3-year-old. We told her how great the zoo was going to be and how she was going to get to play with 50 million cousins she’d never met. We promised aunts they would get snuggle time with our squishy 7-month-old. I planned outfits and did laundry. I made arrangements for friends to dog sit. We bought plane tickets. We were going. We had our hearts set on it.

That’s the problem. We had our hearts set on going and wanted to go. I’ve found that Gen X/Millennials like us typically get what we want. Think about it. We came of age in the 1980’s and 1990’s. People my age knew nothing but mostly peace and prosperity until the economic collapse five years ago. Growing up, I figured things would always keep getting better and better. No, seriously. I just assumed my parents would always make more money than they did the year before, ensuring great family vacations and my college tuition taken care of.

This is not to say our generation is not innovative and hardworking. We are. I’m proud of how hard my husband and I have worked for many years to provide a great life for our children. We have a nice home near a good school, two cars and enough for preschool and dance classes.

Now that we are a single income household, we have had to make some adjustments. Sadly, we didn’t adjust enough. We didn’t plan. If we wanted to go on this trip so badly, we should have planned for it better than we did. Yeah, we did have some unexpected expenses pop up, but if we had planned better, it wouldn’t have been a problem. We made the choice for our family to have me stay home with our children. We don’t regret that decision, but we’ve still been living life as we were a double income household. We didn’t sacrifice.

Staying home from this trip is our sacrifice. We are learning the lesson of our generation. We can’t have everything we want all the time. Now, we have to raise the next generation to understand the same thing.

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#WorkingMom to #SAHM 04-01-14

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

working sahm collage

The number one question I get lately is, “How’s it going being at home with the kids now?” The short answer? Awesome. Yes, we’re in transition, but overall it’s been a really good move for our family. I’ve been home two months after returning briefly to work following maternity leave with Baby #2. Honestly, I was nervous. Change is hard. I was terrified that we would be bored and that I would get lazy. Bored? Ha! No. We’ve had plenty to do but, that’s not by mistake. I knew we needed to have a plan. These are the things we did to ease the transition from working mom to stay-at-home mom.

1. Buffer Time- My last day of work was January 31. Our daughter’s daycare had a policy where they needed a 30 day notice of you leaving. We got our original deposit back from when I registered Charlotte at the school three years ago as an infant. I could apply that to my last month, so it was half the price. That was nice. So Charlotte was at daycare until the end of February.

It was one more month with Henry to get our act together. He was only 2.5-3 months old. It was kind of an extended maternity leave. He was really not sleeping much at night then, so this was key for us. Charlotte had a month of us telling her that “mommy was staying home and she would be going to a new school.” This information sunk in and it was not a shock to her. Word got out among the teachers and parents at daycare. My husband and I showed excitement about staying home with mommy and going to a new school, so Charlotte was excited.

The buffer month helped us figure out things financially as well. Even though I’m not the main breadwinner in our house, my income did contribute substantially. We had to make adjustments.

2. Mom Support- Since I was a bit apprehensive of the change, I contacted Erin who’s older son used to go to my daughter’s school. She started staying home after her daughter was born.  She is the same age as Charlotte. Immediately Erin let me know there was a spot available at her part-time two-day a week preschool. Boom! I’ll take it. Erin was my angel, ya’ll! She scheduled a play date with us and another family who has a son in Charlotte’s new class. She knew two kids going into her new school. Erin had been where I was, so she was able to give an honest answer to “Was it a good decision to leave work?” (The answer was “yes.”) She could tell me about transitioning from full-time to part-time care. She gave me the heads-up on the kids playing together after school. She introduced me to other moms. I liked the parents in Charlotte’s daycare class, so I really wanted to get to know these moms too.

3. Scheduled Activities- Yes, I’m staying home now so that I can spend more time with my children. Yes, we all appreciate the more enjoyable pace and not having the extreme stress of getting the entire family out the door in the morning before work. But, I knew my kid who had spent 8 to 10 hours a day in full-time daycare since she was 3 months old would need something to do.

The first day Charlotte was home, we started gymnastics class. Her two-day a week preschool started the next day. On the non-school days I tried to plan something fun like going to the library for story time. Her preschool is not as academically rigorous as her daycare was. That’s not a huge deal. I think they all catch up with each other by elementary school but, I’m not kidding you when I tell you that her 3-year-old class at daycare was learning things I learned in first grade. I try to do little things each day to continue Spanish, counting and letters.

Even our best laid plans fell through with recent snow days or someone getting sick. Like being a working mom, you just gotta go with it and hope for the best some times.

4. Ties To The Working World- I am fortunate to be able to do some contract work with my company. I was terrified of a resume gap. I was out of the house and in the office two days this month. I did other prep work from home. I’ve popped into the office with Henry in tow a couple times for a little bit. It’s been great to work some. I loved the two days, but was glad to get home to my little ones.

5. Exercise- I signed up for one of the stroller work-out classes I marveled at when I was working. What were these classes? What did they do in them? I mentioned before that I would be out at a client lunch, or eating with coworkers and I would see these moms with their strollers, exercising with their babies and my heart would ache. So, I had to give Stroller Strides a shot.

I can only do it when Charlotte is at preschool because I don’t have a double jogging stroller and I don’t have $600 burning a hole in my diaper bag. I took her to one of the indoor classes and she sat quietly and played on the floor of the gym. She was very good, but apparently this was a huge faux pas. It’s a liability to have them out of the stroller, even if it’s inside. Oops.

It’s awesome, though. It’s kicking me into shape. It’s forcing me not to rest on my nursing laurels, assuming that the breastfeeding calorie burn will take care of the baby weight. It won’t. I have to jog and do sprints and these things called burpees. Ugh! I’d rather eat ice cream and take a nap, but I really feel so much better working out.

Overall- So this has been good. I spoke with another mother who will be leaving her job soon and she said she’s not planning anything. They are just relaxing for awhile. I totally get that too. I feel like I got that time off during maternity leave, so I was ready for some in-home structure.

I don’t think this is really advice, it’s just what worked for us. So, no matter your hashtag, #WorkingMom or #SAHM, I’m interested to hear from you. What works? What doesn’t?

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Career Move- January 29, 2014

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

photo

When I went back to work after Charlotte was born it was at 2:00am. I dragged myself out of bed and away from my baby to report the news. That was January, 2011. For another year I left my infant each day to go to work. It was hard, but she had great care at a great school. I changed careers a year later in February, 2012 and started at a PR agency. It was a good move for me. I love my coworkers. I love working with clients. I like having my weekends off and not being a slave to the news cycle. Life at a PR agency can be hectic, but rewarding.

For three years I prided myself on being a do-it-all working mother. I was proud of how much my daughter was learning at her school. That made the steep monthly payments more justifiable. I went to all the class events I could. My house was often messy. We could only have playdates on the weekends. I used the hashtag #workingmother. Most of all, we were an insanely busy family, but life was good.

This month I went back to work when Henry was 9 weeks old. We found a great sitter for him with a better price than Charlotte’s daycare. She is a wonderful teacher and caretaker for my baby. She helped soothe the harsh wound of leaving him.

But, this time going back to work was different. Yes, I felt the same stress of having two working parents trying to get a baby out the door and I longed for my children, but it was worse. I was missing it. Missing everything. The first time I went back it was always with the thought in the back of my mind, “Well, I could always stay at home with the next one.” Plus, most of my salary goes to childcare.

I never pictured myself as a stay-at-home mom. Don’t get me wrong, they are fascinating! I would be in my suit on my lunch break and see them in line at Panera or Chipotle. They would be in yoga pants and have their tots in jogging strollers. I would push aside the pacifiers in my purse to get to my wallet. I would see them with their babies and my heart ached for my own. That’s when I would do a quick countdown to the number of hours left in my work day. Except, I knew that likely wouldn’t be the end as I would surely be on the laptop answering emails after bedtime. I would look at these women and wonder, “What do they DO all day?” as my phone buzzed in my pocket with backed up emails.

Well, I’m about to find out what they do all day.

After coming back it hit me like a ton of bricks. I stared at the computer in my office and I knew it wasn’t right. My shoulders were tense and there was a weight on my chest. It was just all wrong. I think I had to go back to work after maternity leave to know that my heart was calling me home.

But, what about my resume? What about the 8 years of my life I poured into a career in TV news, dragging myself into work at all hours of the night and day to keep pushing to be promoted?  What about my 2 years at a PR agency, learning so much about the different industries of our clients and offering my news expertise? Would it all be for nothing? I worked hard and I’m proud of what I accomplished.

A fellow working mom said it best, “What’s a year gap in your resume? You wouldn’t be the first mother to do that.” True. I told Greyson, “If I don’t do it now, when would I? When they’re older and don’t want to hang out with their mom?” No, it’s now or never.

So, a week-and-a-half after maternity leave I told them I was leaving. Get this. I swear it’s a freakin’ dream come true, ya’ll. They want me to still work in a freelance/consultant capacity. I’m still an employee. My first gig is in March. Seriously? Is this real life? How awesome is that?! I’m feeling so, so blessed.

We are sad we’ll have to take Charlotte out of her daycare. She has been with those kids since she was 3 months old. Her teachers are wonderful. But, blessings continue as I found a part-time preschool that can take her in March after she finishes her last month at her current daycare in February.

Sometimes everything comes together and all things point to a certain decision. Yeah, it’s still a risk. What if it’s not what I think it will be? How long will I do this? Do I have to use the hashtag #SAHM?

Friday is my last day. Here goes nothing…or something.

 

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“Little Boy Blue and The Man on the Moon”- September 12,2013

Thursday, September 12th, 2013

amber shower

You all have heard me lately whining that I’m so busy and life never stops, blah, blah,  blah. I’m sick of writing it, so surely you’re sick of reading it.  I was starting to feel very guilty about the limited time I was getting with my daughter in recent weeks. I’ve had some after-hours commitments and a lot on my plate.

I got all weepy in the car the other day as Darius Rucker belted out lines about how “it won’t be like this for long…” At least we have that song now to hammer home parental guilt. I think we can all agree that Harry Chapin’s 1974 “Cat’s in the Cradle” is the most ridiculously melodramatic piece of folk rock to hit the airwaves, ever. That is not a statement to rebel against my parents’ music by running away from Cat Stevens’ Peace Train, it’s just true.

One night recently I was leaving an event about 20 minutes before Charlotte’s bedtime. I called Greyson to ask him to keep her up so I could see her and put her to bed. He said, “No, she doesn’t want to see you! She’s in the corner rocking back and forth, crying and singing ‘Cat’s in the Cradle’.”

I almost had to pull over I was laughing so hard. He kept on by singing “When you comin’ home mom? I don’t know when. We’ll get together then.”

I think it took that joke to make me come to my senses and realize I am indeed a pretty awesome mom who need not feel guilty when country or folk singers lay it on thick.

“My child arrived just the other day
He came to the world in the usual way
But there were planes to catch and there were bills to pay
He learned to walk while I was away”

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