Archive for the ‘Working Parent’ Category

Retail Workers: You’re Not Alone If You Work Thanksgiving- November 21, 2014

Friday, November 21st, 2014

Thanksgiving and Black Friday 2014 collage

I keep seeing all these posts on my Facebook and Twitter news feeds saying things like, “Boycott Thanksgiving Shopping!” or “Big Retailer X is opening their doors on Thanksgiving Day. Show them that is not okay!”

Um. Alright. To me, if you don’t want to shop on Thanksgiving or Black Friday, don’t. Why the fuss? Why do you care if others do? What, you’re concerned for the religious sanctity of a secular national holiday like Thanksgiving?

I come from a family that shops on Black Friday. We are not the extreme crazies who crawl over children and old ladies in wheelchairs at 4:00 am to save $50 on a Playstation. We’re not those assholes. But, I join my extended family at the mall for some shopping and lunch after we draw our cousin’s name. You know, the cousin we shop for that year.

One year my dad gave each group of shoppers one of his high tech Walkie-Talkies. This was before smart phones and group texts. They were color-coded and we had code names. If you had the yellow Walkie-Talkie you were “Yellow Bird.” There was “Green Hornet,” “Blue Bird” and “Black Bear.” This was how we stayed in touch through the crowded mall. We could find the lunch spot with the shortest line, or notify everyone if they found the sweater for Grandma at the best price. My dad required us to use the code names, say “over” and “over and out.” Yes, that story about my family is absolutely true.

I understand why everyone is not all about Black Friday. When people misbehave, it’s a ridiculous display of everything that is wrong with capitalism. I get it.

I heard about the petition calling for Kmart workers to get time off at Thanksgiving. I understand they’re opening at 6am on Thanksgiving Day and remaining open for 42 hours. That’s a lot, but come on! Hospitals are open all the time. Those people want to take off, but may not be able to.

While I’m not working this year, in my adult life I have worked more Thanksgiving weekends than I have had them off. I worked at two different retail stores in college. Immediately after college I was in TV news and I knew that was part of the job. I can’t tell you how many Thanksgiving mornings I covered the local rescue mission’s turkey dinner or the Turkey 5K. If you get a job as a Sales Associate at Best Buy, chances are, your Thanksgiving is cut short because you gotta be in the store by midnight. That’s part of the job. I was always told, “If you want holidays off, get a job and the bank or the Post Office.” You know who else works Thanksgiving? LOTS OF PEOPLE! Including:

  • Doctors
  • Nurses
  • Law enforcement
  • EMT
  • Firefighters (You know some idiot will catch their house on fire because of a turkey fryer.)
  • News people (Someone has to cover the house fires.)
  • The Detroit Lions
  • Whatever NFL team is beating the Lions.
  • Al Roker with his giant scissors.
  • The other hosts and crew of the Today Show. (Somebody has to put on the Macy’s parade.)
  • The up-and-coming pop star on the Carvel float singing “Rocking Around The Christmas Tree” in the parade.

I could go on and on. Kmart employees, you are not alone. Lots of people work on Thanksgiving. This petition and all this drama is making news because stores announced they are opening earlier on Thanksgiving Day. People having to work on Thanksgiving is not new. Get your holiday hours, bitch to your coworkers and survive. Yay capitalism! Happy Holidays!

 

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Working Is Harder Than Being a Stay-At-Home-Mom October 15, 2014

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

Me with my kiddos.

I hang with moms and kids. That’s my crowd as new stay-at-home mom. I joke that there are days that the only adult males I interact with on the regular are my husband and the Starbucks barista. I’ve noticed a distinct difference between two types of  SAHM’s. There are moms who have never worked outside the home since they had children, and those who have. Meaning, I know moms who stayed home with their first child and I know moms, like me, who started staying home with their second child.

A conversation with a group of moms holding babies went something like this:

A SAHM with two kids who never worked after her first child was born asked me, “So, Amy. Do you miss work? Are you glad you’re staying home?”

I say, “It’s great! It was a really good decision. My daughter loves her preschool. We were a little nervous pulling her out of her daycare. We were sad to leave there. It’s a great place, but I love being home with the kids. I’m actually a ‘stay-in-the-car mom’ Ha! We’ve been so busy.”

She says, “Yeah, but it’s so hard taking care of the kids all day!”

A new mom holding her first baby chimes in, “Yeah, being a stay-at-home-mom is the hardest job in the world.”

::blink::

I looked around the group to try to catch the eye of a mom like me, one who went back to work after her first baby. No one like that was in this circle. I stayed quiet. I faded out of the conversation that turned into complaining about nap schedules, unhelpful husbands and struggles to decide what to cook for dinner.

Hardest job in the world? No. No it’s not. Working outside the home while still being a parent is harder. It is. It just is. I feel I can say this because I’ve done both. Take all the stress of caring for children, cooking for your family, maintaining your home and add the intense pressure of a full-time job to it. Add the commute. Add the limited time. Add the daycare bill. Add the pressure of counting up paid and unpaid maternity leave days. Add the agony of leaving your baby. Add the guilt. It makes it all harder.

I’m not saying it’s all roses being a homemaker. I’m busy, no doubt. My kiddos keep me on my toes. Napless days of wicked tantrums are exhausting and infuriating. Those are times I miss the outlet of work. I know there are mothers of children with special needs who have much more taxing days at home than I do. I understand there are mamas with colicky criers and mothers of multiples trapped in the house all day. I feel for them. I know they have rough days too.

I’m just saying that since I started staying home, our lives are so much better. There were days that I would spend less than two hours a day with my child. We’d get dressed in the morning. Eat in the car and I’d drop her off. By the time I got to her, I had two hours before she went to bed. That time was mostly for dinner and bath.

When two parents are working it’s like being shot out of a cannon on Monday morning and the cannonball lands on Friday afternoon. The cannonball falls exhausted into a messy house and an empty pantry. While we did have lots of fun on the weekends, we often did not. We often had to clean, grocery shop and do all the mundane things we couldn’t get to during the week. The weekend culminated with the Sunday night dread. I’d prepare with a gripping feeling in my chest because another work week was beginning.

I understand job satisfaction is part of this. I know some women who are very fulfilled in their jobs and feel that’s where they get the most validation. Other women I know work for companies with 12 paid weeks of maternity leave, mothers’ rooms for pumping that have lounge chairs and half-day Fridays. While I liked my job and the people I worked with, I chose careers that were not as conducive to parenthood. I knew that when I went to college and majored in journalism and communications. It’s hard being a mother reporting the news live on TV at 6:00 am or answering my public relations client’s email at 7:30 pm when it’s bath time. My friends who work in banking, for example, start at 9 and end at 5. That’s the nature of their business.

Now I can let my daughter play on the playground after preschool. I can take half an hour and make a gingerbread house with her. Hell, I can lay my head on the couch and take a nap when the kids do on a Tuesday because it’s raining and I have a headache. One parent is home to unload the dishwasher and start dinner so it doesn’t become this huge issue or argument. I can take the kids to the doctor when they are sick without scheduling it on my Outlook calendar or calling five people to make sure things at work are covered. None of that was possible when I was working full time and it was hard. Harder than this.

My biggest fear about staying home was that I was going to be bored, lonely or unstimulated. Those are the complaints I hear from SAHM’s. I can say that I have not felt that way AT ALL. Not once in the last 8 months have I been bored, lonely or unstimulated. Maybe it’s because I immediately planned stuff for us to do and groups to be a part of, I dunno. But, I really attribute not being bored, but being happy to two things:

  1. I am not home with only a baby. I have a preschooler and a baby to keep me busy. Yeah, babies can be boring. Add a toddler, preschooler or older child in the mix? Party time! Boredom be gone!
  2. I know how crazy it is to have two working parents and I know this is better. It just is.
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Baby Marks- September 22, 2014

Monday, September 22nd, 2014

Back when I was working full time I would constantly find reminders on my clothing that I wasn’t just an employee, but a mother. My babies made sure they left their mark somewhere. I remember a paci in my blazer pocket, a princess sticker on my leg or spit-up on my blouse. Being the sloppy klutz I am, these were usually after I had already spilled coffee on myself.

I got to thinking about Emily. Emily is my former co-worker on maternity leave after the birth of her first baby. She is soft spoken, kind-hearted and fiercely witty. Emily is an incredibly talented writer and I always enjoyed working with her.

Emily holding Henry when he was just 3 mo. old.

Emily holding Henry when he was just 3 mos. old. I was only back at work a week when I realized my new calling. This was during that week.

 

One morning in the kitchen we were brewing coffee. She was being very polite when she said, “Amy, I was just going to tell you that you have something on your chest right there.” She pointed to my collar bone. I touched something hard but sticky and pulled it off my skin. I looked at my fingers in horror. I held a half-dried, smeared booger. Yep, that’s about right.

I recalled earlier that morning my snot-nosed little girl had smashed her face into me in some traumatic, tearful fit.

Now that I’m part of a yoga pants-clad army of stay-at-home moms, the smears and stains on my clothes are less of a big deal. I think babies want everyone to know, no matter their mama’s job, she’s a mama first. They leave their boogers to prove it. Please tell me I’m not the only one with dried boogers on them.

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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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