If their library books are overdue,
If you’re shelling out the dough for soccer, ballet and Tai Kwon Do,
If you’re a mommy and you know it,
If CPS knows what your address is,
If you bribe to keep them quiet and lie to avoid a riot,
If you’re a mommy and you know it,
If homemade gifts have made you cry,
If you wouldn’t trade it all for a maid and the Taj Mahal,
If you’re a mommy and you know it,
If you know how lucky you are, to raise your little stars,
If you’re a mommy and you know it,
My husband and I went together to drop my daughter off at preschool last Friday. We don’t typically go together, but it was the end of a long week and we thought it would be fun. As we were walking back to our car, one of the other moms stopped us as she was walking in.
“You two are so cute, coming together! I don’t know how you do it, you both work full-time, but you’re always smiling, you’re very involved with your sweet kids and I can only imagine that your house is amazing. And you, Paige, look great”. My husband I both started laughing in disbelief. I glanced down at my short, average body and glanced back at her tall slender frame and thought she must usually wear glasses.
“Just hide in my house for a day and you’ll see why I always say, ‘don’t look behind the curtain’. You’ll hear me yelling, you’ll see the messes and you’ll figure out that I am crazy, but thank you, you are very kind”, I said as we headed to the car.
That brief interaction sent me into a tail spin. I started mentally listing, by category, all of my faults and short comings:
Positive and Smiling?
- I typically only use the F word when I am upset. I use the F word daily, multiple times per day.
- My best friend thinks I should pay her as much as I pay my therapist.
- When it comes to parenting, I have been asked to write a book… on what not to do!
- If the kitchen cabinets aren’t re-done soon, the house may be condemned
- There is always mold in my shower!
- I am better at math than decorating, and I barely passed high school math.
This list continued as I walked back into the house. By the time I sat down to my computer to work. I was on the edge of a melt down. I felt like a fake. How could this high energy, fit, sweet mom be praising me?! I decided to write this blog post on how upset I was to be given praise that I didn’t deserve.
Then the most magical thing happened…
Before I could start this post, I checked my email. In my inbox was a post from one of my favorite bloggers, Julie Gardner. The post was entitled, ‘Today Call me Enough’, as she was guest posting on the blog, “Just Be Enough“. Hello?! Before you even visit the blog, which you should, the title should be smacking you in the face – it left a big nasty red mark on my cheek! Here’s the magical part… I read it and stopped making my ‘why that sweet mom is crazy and I don’t have it together’ list.
I have decided the appropriate response to the sweet mom at preschool is thank you.
Thank you for recognizing that I work full-time but make parenting my priority. Thank you for pointing out, when I couldn’t see it, that I do a pretty damn good job of juggling it all most of the time. Thanks for not expecting me to be perfect, even though I sometimes am crazy enough to expect that of myself. I have tons of help from my husband and others, but I do the best I can. It’s not perfect, but it’s enough.
It’s interesting, I have no trouble listing my failures and flaws on this blog. I use humor to mask the negative feelings, but at the end of the day, I am comfortable being truthful if it helps others feel ”normal”. It’s much harder for me to share my accomplishments and pride. I thought about creating a second list of all the great things I do, but find it too hard to “brag”.
Why is it so much easier to focus on the negative instead of celebrating the positive? I always push friends and family to celebrate their strengths, I tell them not to be so hard on themselves. I marvel at their greatness, but I am relentless in measuring myself. I think many of us fall into this camp. We push ourselves so hard to be perfect, to succeed and ultimately just drive ourselves crazy… or to drink… or to chocolate.
Since Friday, when I have felt ambition or perfectionism getting the best of me and when I set my intention at yoga on Saturday, it was simply, “Just Be Enough” and you know what, I already am. On the days when I’m ‘not enough’ or ‘slightly off balance’, it’s still enough, but with extra amusement.
Do you want to do something brave? Do you want to help me be brave? Comment on this post with one of your strengths or one proud moment. Did you make an amazing dinner? Did you rock the project at work? Did you finally catch up on your laundry (at least for one day)? Did you get some quality time with your kids?
Finally, give yourself a pat on the back for being amazing just the way you are.
When my oldest son was 6 months old, I had to go back to work and we put him in an in-home daycare. Pause as I think of the weeks of tears I shed at this tough decision. In order to limit his time in daycare, I would go to work early and get off early, while my husband would keep later hours. My husband would drop him off at 9:00 in the morning and I would pick him up at 4:00 in the afternoon. This was our routine. I like routine. I need routine. Without routine, things get… messed up. I am eloquent, aren’t I?
On my husband’s first business trip post-baby, we had to adjust the routine. I would go to work a little later, drop my son off and still go back to pick him up.
The first morning started so smoothly. I set my alarm early to allow time to feed him, change him into a onsie that looked just like the onsie he slept in, but was clean, and still get myself ready for work. It was a little cold out, so being a model new mother, I added a pair of socks with adorable bears that rattled.
I loaded him in the car, carefully buckled his 5 point harness (these days I pull out of the driveway like a bat out of hell, yelling, are you buckled!?) and headed out. It was a beautiful sunny day, and I saw a couple of neighbors out jogging. That made me smile. No, not because I was proud of them or because I love to run, but because I thought better you than me suckers. Then I frowned, realizing the joke was on me, that they were fit and I was… a new mom. I realize some new moms have babies, then look like Giselle two weeks later. I was not that mom! I was the one who was so enraptured with my new baby that my self-identity no longer mattered. I thought I would never care about hair, make up or clothes again. Okay, I still don’t but I pretend to. Or vice versa. Not sure.
Anyways, I continue driving thinking about how Dr. Spock would be so proud of my newly acquired parenting skills. I’m nursing, I’m pumping, I decorated with primary colors, I…
What is that noise?!
Oh my gosh! The rattle of my sons socks…
I forgot I was taking him to daycare. I was halfway to work on autopilot.
What would have happened if I hadn’t heard the socks? Would I have parked to car and gone into the office? Would I have been one of those mothers on the news? I am thankful that I never found out. I am also proud of myself for shredding the post-it-note that said ‘Don’t forget the baby’ that was taped to my steering wheel, before my husband returned.
Secretly, when I see one of those mothers on the news who forgot about their kid, I think to myself, shame one you, but I feel ya sister!
What have you done that was, or almost was, newsworthy?
Today was one of those days. I didn’t sleep well last night, thanks to an adorable, yet snoring child in my bed. It was grey and drizzling outside and frankly, I am pms’ing (apologies to my male readers). My plan was to go inward metaphorically. I would hide from the world and maybe even skip yoga because it’s just a crummy day.
Then I got a text from a friend that she’s having a tough week too. I decided the best way I could support her and anyone else having a tough day was to dust off the blog (Oh my! Does anyone have an extra feather duster and some Pledge, because I have been gone too long!) and share the 3 things every
mommy woman person needs. Hopefully, you all know what you need, but consider this a reminder, permission or just a loving nudge to be good to yourself!
- The Real Story – You are awesome, without having to be perfect. Nobody is perfect. If you are, please don’t tell me, I am fragile today. Here’s my shining examples of not being perfect-
- Every mom feels guilt. We were tired so we only read the top sentence of every page of our child’s book (sadly when they learn to read, I have to find other ways to cheat). We tell our kids we left their favorite movie at a friends’ house so we don’t have to hear it AGAIN. (Notice I say hear, because I am guilty of not even watching it)! We pick going to get a massage over watching a ballet practice. I think I have said enough to win mother of the year, I am moving on…
- Every mom yells. Our preschool teacher is amazing, like off the charts patient, kind and creative. AND she has FOUR kids! FOUR! She was recently asked, do you ever raise your voice and she said of course she does. If she says she does, than I know its okay that I do! That is one benefit of rainy days, I know my windows are closed so that my neighbors can’t hear me yelling!
- Every mom gets behind on housework. A note to the working moms – the stay at home moms have laundry piling up too! Even the cleanest houses and those with cleaning ladies have their bad days! (My blog isn’t the only thing that needs dusting…) You can’t perpetually hide the kids’ toys, husband’s junk or pet paraphernalia!
- Pick your poison. We all have our coping mechanism alcohol, caffeine, sugar, carbs. Okay, I pick all of them! There may be people out there who don’t need any of those, but I am not confident enough to be friends with somebody like that, so I choose to think we all have our vices. One mocha Prozac vodka latte please –with whip!
- Pick your distraction. TV (Somebody should give the Nobel Peace prize to the inventor of DVR, because that person keeps the peace in my house), books (Have you read 50 Shades of Grey?!), magazines (I get more than I have time to read, but it’s comforting to know they are there to fill my head with gossip, recipes, fashion and homemaking!). What’s your distraction?
- Pick your escape. Book club, bunko, mom’s group – these all could be bucketed as an excuse to get together and drink wine. Yoga – hmm, add wine and it might be utopia… The point is to find a way to blow off steam and smile!
- The sounding board. You know, the one you call and say, “I am going to kill my kids”, but she doesn’t call CPS (although you might appreciate if she did). Or the one you can call and say “should I be mad at my husband for …”. Or the one you tell, “I really need to pull it together” and she tells you that you don’t have to.
- The one that takes the high road. Just like we need the in-your-corner (even if it’s the corner of crazy and whack job) friend, we need the one who puts it in perspective, plays devil advocate and tries to make you a better person. Let’s be honest, we only call that friend when we’re not afraid of heights. But when we’re capable, the high road reminds us that there are people with bigger problems and helps us find gratitude for our blessed lives. She is also not a mind-reader, so when you tell her to “F” off in your head, she probably can’t hear you, I don’t think…
- The vice connection. She is my personal favorite. When the going gets tough, the tough get cocktails and she’s the gal stirring the drinks! She’ll split the whole chocolate cake with you and insist on opening the second bottle of wine. Who can have bad day while in a sugar induced coma?
The moral of the story- There is someone with a messier house, a shittier day and no wine in the fridge. Call the friend you need, meet her for yoga and have a snickers and cabernet on stand-by. You deserve it. Yes, you!
Tonight is my daughter’s first ballet recital. She is excited, as am I. But I have a little unpleasant business to attend to while I am there.
One of the other mothers from the class is on thin ice with me (seasonally appropriate don’t you think?). Last night at rehearsals, I found her to be so offensive and clueless that she has penetrated my normally namaste demeanor (I am on my way to yoga shortly).
The first time I met
Judgy Judy (too much like Judge Judy) “Judgy Janet” (not her real name, in fact, I can’t seem to remember her name), was at the park. I was with my daughter and Janet said hi to her by name. I walked over and introduced myself and she explained that the girls are in ballet together. I said, “Oh then you must know our nanny, Jessica” (who takes my daughter to ballet). She interrupted and said, oh yes, I have known Jessica for years, and I always wonder “Where IS this girl’s mother!”
Eh hem, excuse me, while I capture my composure and take one step back to help diminish the cartoon in my head of me shoving tan bark in your mouth to silence you.
The conversation didn’t improve, she talked about how she used to work, but quit because she wouldn’t dream of letting other people raise her children (although, it might be better off for her daughter if someone else taught the girl tact). Throughout this first conversation, I remained calm and polite. I was internally trying to determine if the woman was a condescending bitch or just socially awkward. I decided she might be just lonely and awkward, so I didn’t say anything in rebuttal. But the conversation bugged me for a few days.
Fast forward to last night. It was the only second time I had spoken with her since I do not attend my daughter’s ballet class very often. I attended the rehearsal with another working mom friend whose daughter is also in the class. We were sitting with our girls, waiting for their turn, when Janet sat down behind us. Her opening comment: “You must be their mothers. You never come to class.” The conversation didn’t improve. My strategy was to keep my back to her, in order to avoid giving her a piece of my mind in front of the girls.
Which leads to tonight. Me, the duck, who normally lets things roll off my back is quite sure that one more comment from this miserable mom will force me to politely share with her my thoughts. Much to your surprise, I do mean politely, because I am a believer in having more weight in my message when coming from a place of kindness, balance and class. So let me share with all of you what I plan to say (and secretly hope I have the opportunity to do so).
“Excuse me, I am not sure if you are aware that you are being rude. In the two times I have spoken with you, you have mentioned my absence at ballet over ten times. I am trying to decide if you realize you are being rude or have merely made an unfortunate choice in conversation topics. Either way, I feel you are in desperate need of some education. It is narrow of you to make any assumptions regarding someone’s life or how one raises children based upon their attendance at one activity.
I share this with you not out of concern for my own feelings, but to help you avoid offending other’s who are not as calm and forgiving as me. You see, you don’t know what keeps a mother from a ballet class – what if she’s a single mom and working to put food on the table, what if she’s an ER doctor that may someday have to help one of your children, what if she’s at home with a newborn. The point is, an absence does not speak to the character of a woman.
Furthermore, since my absence is because I have a career, let me share the “consequences” of me being a working mom:
- My children are independent, but loving
- They are confident, yet kind
- They are comfortable in any social situations
- They are being taught that they can be anything they want when they grow up. My daughter can be a pilot, a doctor or a stay at home mom – each holding equal weight in my mind. My son can be a CEO, an artist or a stay at home dad, as long as he is passionate about what he does.
- My children travel frequently and see other cultures and have unique memories, while always returning to a happy home.
- And most importantly, we are rasing our children not to judge other people based on their profession, home, socio-economic status or any other life situation. We choose our friends based on character and kindness and see the benefit of diversity in our circle of friends.
So, do you think she’ll stay quiet long enough for me to say all of that?
I’ll keep you posted.
- Armored Car
- Sling Shot
- Ear Muffs
DefensiveOffensive Driving Handbook
- “I Brake for Crossing Guards” bumper sticker
When preparing for battle, one must have the necessary tools and a solid strategy. Elementary school drop-off is no less than war. The meek do not survive (or their kids are late). Here’s what you need to know:
- Know Your Allies - Some inexperienced soldiers think that the crossing guard is the enemy, since she can bring a group of over-caffeinated, sleep-deprived, stressed out parents to a grinding halt with her long-range stop sign. Wrong people! She keeps our kids safe at frequent risk to herself! Make friends with her, smile and wave every morning, give her extra space and give her an eye contact check before proceeding. The next thing you know, she will let you slide by, before she allows the 5 minute parade of scooters, bikes and strollers.
- Know Your Enemies – They are any parent who thinks their kid is more important than yours or that where they are headed next trumps your next destination. They park to close to the right hand turn into school, blocking traffic and requiring you to make crazy swerving maneuvers to get around them. Another enemy is anyone who disregards the crossing guard – shoot them dirty looks. If possible, use a bull horn to shame them publicly. In dire circumstances (or with the repeat offenders) do not be afraid to sling shot your cold Starbucks at their car***. Hey, your coffee wouldn’t be cold, if they followed the program.
- Practice Offensive Driving – I use my large SUV (or armored car as I call it from 7:40 – 7:55 am) as a child safety device. I purposely drive 25 mph (the speed limit in a school zone!!) to slow down the other speed demons who are a danger to the kids. If they tail gate me, I slow down to 23 mph. It’s “offensive” driving because I find their disregard for children’s safety offensive.
- Set The Example – My elementary school actually has quite a well-thought out drop-off plan that works when people respect it. Set the example, work with the program, not against us. Drop your kid and keep moving, don’t stop to chat while taking space for another little pumpkin trying to get out of the car safely. Take notice that the darling children who open your car door to let your kids out say ‘have a nice day’ every. single. time. Thank them! And tell those sweets kids to have a nice day too!
- Have a Back-Up Plan – There are days… oh there are days… when the enemy pushes you too far. What you normally refer to as ‘silly drivers’ in front of your children starts to sound more like an Ice-T album. Just use the ear muffs! Don’t let your child hear you lose it! If you forget the ear muffs, crank your radio and try to swear under your breath.
- Believe in Karma – I believe in karma and know that karma hangs out with the sheriff and CHP. One of those three musketeers will catch up with the insane drivers.
In a delightful twist of demon driving fate, I just opened the following email from our principal:
“Please remember to be courteous to students, parents, and staff when picking up your children. It is inevitable that you will have to sit in traffic during drop off or pick up. We ask for your kindness and patience during these times.”
I love our principal, she is a charming lady who carries herself with class and tact. Her message is perfect and reminds me why I am not the principal, because I would have sent the following:
“It is freaking alarming that some parents show such a blatant disregard for the safety of others. To those parents that think their time is more valuable than others, think again. If you have a legitimate time constraint, arrive at school earlier! Remember, the person you cut off today may turn out to be the one hosting your child for a playdate tomorrow or teaching your child to read in class while you’re causing mayhem on the road!
***Because the world is a ridiculously litigious place, I must inform you that this post is for entertainment purposes only. I do not encourage or condone any acts of violence or vandalism towards another motorist, even the stupid and selfish ones. Follow the law! Especially the one that tells you to drive 25 mph in a school zone and obey all traffic rules!
I recently had the
pleasure privilage misfortune occassion of being called for jury duty. In all of my previous juror summons I was released the night before, including the time I forgot to call and was lucky that I was released and did not face a bench warrant. (Although secretly, I would like to play up my bad girl image just a tad – do bad girls say tad?)
I am truly very interested in serving as a juror. I am fascinated by the process and the cases. My dilemma, as with all things in my life, is the luxury of time. If I miss work, my work does not magically disappear, it waits for my return. (Thoughtful and gracious my job is, huh?) I imagine a time in the future when I don’t work as much, the kids are less dependent and then I can bask in the Perry Masonesque experience. (This may coincide with the time that I will be able to use a handicapped parking placard due to my advanced age).
As I sat in the parking lot watching people walk in and progress through the metal detectors, I felt a familiar tightness in my chest. It felt like… the pressures and stress of parenting. I immediately whipped my head around to ensure that I had not inadvertently brought a kid with me that should be somewhere else. Thankfully the car seats and boosters were empty, but my neck did hurt from whiplash. (I have accidentally had unsuspecting stow-aways in the past, but that story is for another time).
After spending the morning in one of the little courtrooms in my small town, I began to understand why it felt like parenting…
- You’re asked to pass judgment on something you did not witness. You’re given two sides to the story, but each side has different perspective and has the ability to lie. And thus we have the daily life of a parent.
- Weapons are prohibited because the temptation to use them can be high. Has anyone ever thought of putting a metal detector in my house around 5:00 pm on any weekday night? Don’t bother- I know how to make a shank out of a Crayola.
- Almost anyone can serve on a jury or be a parent, but not everybody should. I live in a unique county that is a blend of affluent people, average folks and backwoods country characters. Despite the written reminder, the simple dress code of ‘no shorts, no tank tops and must wear shoes’ was broken by several prospective jurors. There was even a fascinating gal who took the strategy of sharing with everyone that she had a mental disorder that would get her off of serving on a jury. But if that did not work out, she planned to stop registering with the Department of Motor Vehicles or renewing her license, but she did state that she would, of course, still drive. You can see where I would question the appropriateness of this woman upholding our laws.
- There’s other people telling you how to do it, when you really just want to go with your gut. Think of the millions of parenting books out there. Do you know which ones I follow- Betty Crocker and The Idiots Guide to Bartending. If chocolate and booze won’t make me a good parent, I find it hard to believe anything else will. As for being a juror, I consider myself a balanced, objective person – give me two seconds to look at the defendant and I’ll know beyond a shadow of a doubt if they’re innocent – or at least well dressed.
- Your time is not your own. My kids run my schedule, unless I am at jury duty. At jury duty I can be forced to sit quietly (the quietly part is especially tough) for hours before I am told that my vacation interferes with the length of the trial and that I will be summoned again within 60 days. You know what this means…
Numbers 6 -10 on why jury duty is like parenting are not far off!
Aside from the fact that this post may dash any political ambitions I might have, what do you think about jury duty? Would you rather parent your kids after a birthday party double-header the day after Halloween or sit on a jury for a civil claims litigation?
I volunteer in my son’s second grade classroom every other Monday morning. I think it is important to be present in my son’s education. I appreciate the opportunity to witness what he is learning, and how is learning, in order to be consistent at home. Our teachers have the critical task of educating our future leaders and I want to support them in their efforts.
All of the above is true…
But let’s get real…
I want to observe my son’s classmates to determine who are appropriate play dates! As I help the teachers, I envision each of the kids coming over…
If I see this in class…
I envision this…
If I experience this,
I imagine, I will have a playdate that goes like this…
Parenting is tough, I want to keep my son from having friends like…
At least not until he’s old enough for me to enjoy the trouble with him!
What ways do you weed out the Eddie Haskells and Dennis the Menaces?
I have been thinking a lot about the balance of my career and being a mother. In other words, I am still struggling to balance the two. I have come to the conclusion that I cannot permanently solve this issue of balance, but rather attack it every day and set new priorities everyday – generally based on who is screaming the loudest.
What has helped me with my daily prioritization is having one über focus. I have decided that I am a mom before anything else. So as I read the summary of my resume, I decided it might need some editing…
Yes, this is really my summary of qualifications… I am in HR and can’t believe I thought this was useful…
- Professional and effective communicator with the ability to establish a positive rapport with internal and external customers
- Responsible and competent in high pressure situations, motivated and willing to put in 110%
- Successful in leading and managing projects
- Contributes to process improvement and strives to enhance job effectiveness
- Demonstrates innovation and helps achieve company wide goals through meeting challenges and exceeding expectations
Now here is a more realistic copy, who wants to hire me now?
- Professional and effective communicator with the ability to establish a positive rapport with internal and external customers, unless I have been up all night with a sick child. If that is the case, I stick to one syllable words and that sounds more like gibberish than communication. Positive rapport? Unlikely.
- Responsible and competent in high pressure situations, motivated and willing to put in 110% on some days. If it is my classroom volunteer day, my child’s birthday, the first day of school, the last day of school or sunny outside, I am willing to put in 72%.
- Successful in leading and managing projects only because I have learned the art of delegating so that I can spend more time with my kids.
- Contributes to process improvement and strives to enhance job effectiveness these are only so that I don’t have to work as hard to get the same results so I can spend more time with my kids.
- Demonstrates innovation and helps achieve company wide goals through meeting challenges and exceeding expectations the challenges I like to focus on include how to work less and spend more time with my family and I hope to exceed my children’s expectations of being present for them.
What is the truth behind your resume?
Speaking of spending more time with my kids, I made the very tough decision not to pursue my coaching dream at this time. I don’t want to give a serious passion anything less than my best. As I take stock of my life right now, there is no room to give my best to anything else. Hell, I can’t even give mediocre to anything else right now.
I am having a serious struggle with work life balance right now (as evidenced by my lack of writing) and just can’t pull any more time out of my a.. (absolutely crazy schedule, ahem). So I am focusing on
restoring balance not going insane, and getting back to blogging (as I miss it and all of you) and will revisit coaching when my schedule permits. Thank to all those who have provided amazing support!
Now seriously, what’s going behind your resume? Tell the truth. The truth is always more delicious.