Two Children and a Headache

There is nothing worse then being home with two kids and a headache.  In the past there have been times I have showed up to work with headaches, bad colds, and just not feeling well.  My co-workers would ask, “Why are you here?”  My reply is always the same, “It’s easier being here then at home.”

The truth is being at home is hard when you are feeling good, when you are sick, it is unbearable.  When you are sick and at work people tend to leave you alone because (1) they know you probably don’t feel very sociable, and (2) they do not want to catch your germs.  But at home there is no lenience, no break, and no timeout.  Your kids still need breakfast, and baths, and running around outside and it really doesn’t matter if you feel like you have been just run over by an 18 wheeler.  Their little minds and legs are still running.

On top of it all even if I do get to veg out a little bit, I quickly guilt ridden myself into getting up and doing something with them because I feel bad.  Last week I was home with them and I had a headache.  I was lying on my bed and the kids were being quiet in Liam’s room (which is never a good sign) and instead of enjoying the couple of moments of quietness I pushed myself to get up and do something with them because I didn’t want them to be bored. It is times like those when I think, “Man I wish I was at work.” I could just type away at my computer and not have to worry about anyone crying, getting hurt, needing anything from me.

And then it happened. Liam asked, “Mommy why are closing your eyes?” I told him my head hurt and I was trying to make it feel better. He climbed on my lap and kissed my forehead. I smiled and melted all over. My head still hurt but I didn’t care anymore.

 

It’s Ok Not to Go to College

So what I am about to say I think is going to anger some of you, but as my kids get older, if appropriate I might say to them, “It’s ok, you don’t have to go to college.”

I want my kids when they become adults to be happy, successful, and do something they enjoy.  With that being said, college might not be the answer.  As I have mentioned many times in the past I value education. However, I do realize not everyone fits in the same box or mold.  Some career choices a four year degree would not be helpful.  For instance, to become a beautician a BS or BA degree would not be beneficial.

Then there is the other side of it. In today’s high pressure for children to succeed we have forgotten one important thing, not all kids are built for college.  In recent years we have begun to put unrealistic expectations on our children.  Not only does not every profession require a college education, but not every child is built for it.  Today’s standard for education is quite frankly unattainable for some.  In some ways I feel as though we are setting up our children to fail.  To make every child feel like he must go to college when maybe that is an unrealistic road for him to take is not right.  I think it’s very important to push our kids to try hard, however we have lost sight on the fact that not all kid’s definition of success means college.  In doing this, we have set our children up for failure and disappointment instead of finding an appropriate avenue for them that they can achieve at.  Furthermore, we have created a feeling that may reside in our children if they do not go to college it is shameful

I read an article recently that said the freshman college dropout/flunk out rate in the last 10 years has gone up 30%.  Part of it I believe  has to do with social promotion (which is a discussion for another day) but the other part has to do with the fact that nowadays it’s assumed that everyone goes to college whether equipped for it or not. As parents I think part of our job is to help our kids focus on an attainable goal for them. Just as not every kid likes the color red, or likes chocolate cake, not every kid is meant to be a doctor. That in part is what makes the world go around. Our differences are how we learn new things and develop new ideas. If we were all meant to do the same thing then not only would this world be a very boring place but there would be no individual. We need to embrace these differences and help our children achieve what is best for them.

There’s Never Enough Time

Last night after work I had to run some errands before I went home. By the time I got home I was tired and hungry. I walked through the door to be greeted by the barking dog, Ava hugging my leg, and Liam yelling, “Mommy you’re home”. I tried to make my way through them to the kitchen to unload all of the things I was carrying and halfway there my husband met me and took it all out of my hands. Almost immediately Ava began crying and made the motion to be picked up, Liam asked if I wanted to play trains with him, and all I was thinking was I have to go to the bathroom.

In the end Ava melted down (it was almost 7:30 bedtime for her), Liam watched Thomas (which he asked me to watch with him), and I am not sure if I ever ate. My husband and I often talk about how there is never enough time to get everything done. Play with the kids, clean the house, take care of the yard, go grocery shopping, etc. I am always about finding balance (maybe it’s the Libra in me) but when it comes to time in a day there is no balance. There quite simply is never enough time.

I always feel like I did not get enough done and did not do enough with the kids. Last night when Liam asked to watch Thomas with him I said no because I had to get a few things done. From the moment I said no I felt guilty, however I had to remind myself of all of the things that I do, do with him. Then I went downstairs to be instantly reminded that the cat litter needed to be changed, which I took care of while my husband began the bedtime process with Liam. By the time the night was over there were still things swarming in my mind of what I need to get gone but just ran out of time.

I am sure I am not the only person who feels this way. Actually I know for a fact I am not. I constantly hear people listing the things they need do but haven’t gotten to. There is also the fact that you need to take time for yourself, hence this blog or for my husband his drumming. It might seem indulgent but if you don’t ever take the time for something for yourself, you are going to burn out and no one wins with that. The truth of the matter is that there is no real balance to this particular not enough time in the day problem. The good news is that we are all in the same boat. So maybe instead of berating ourselves for what we have not gotten done we should congratulate ourselves for what we did do. We got through another day.

Ode to Teachers – Happy Teacher Appreciation Day

It started similarly for all of us. We were five or six years old, a brand new box of crayons, and 20 or so new faces among us. This was the beginning of our school years. We learned how to spell our names and add 1 +1 and began making new friends.   Through the years our skills increased and we learned to read and write and multiple and divide. But as things became more difficult at times we had to stay after for extra help. We got involved with band, chorus, theater, and sports. We did it all not really thinking about the people that made this all possible. The Teachers.

This week is Teacher Appreciation Week and specifically today is Teacher Appreciation Day. All too often these committed and dedicated people are forgotten or even at times ridiculed. These people give so much of their time to our children and most of time all we do is complain instead of praise these giving people.

What parents and the general public forget is that for many teachers their day begins prior to the first bell and are still at schools hours after the last bell either grading papers, overseeing clubs and sports, or talking to a student who just needed an ear to listen. We all too often forget these teachers on the weekends are preparing for the week, creating lessons, and grading papers. It’s the teachers who guide and help the students plan the perfect prom and schedule the eventful class trips. It’s the teachers who chaperon the dances and coach the baseball games, and yet somehow in the last several years these hardworking people have come under fire.

Everyone has an opinion on how the world of education should be run, how teacher’s lessons should be structured, what should go on in a classroom, and how every student should reach a certain score. The problem is that many people who are creating these rules and having these opinions, have never spent quality time teaching. It’s quite easy to tell people what they should and shouldn’t do, how things should or shouldn’t be, but until you actually do this job all the philosophies of teaching don’t mean that much.   It would be like taking some classes in medical school, never performing a surgery, and then suggesting to surgeon how they should perform in their job.

Whether you have a child in school right now, or maybe you yourself are in school, take the time to say thank you. It goes unnoticed quite frequently how much time and effort these people put into what they do. To all the teachers out there, thank you for everything you do. We wouldn’t be where we are today without you.

 

Tell It How It Is

There is no mincing words with a toddler.  They say what the mean and they mean what the say.  It’s as adults we become more illusive with our message and have a difficult time being direct.  For my supervisor its even a more difficult thing.

I used to analyze and go over and over in my head what went wrong every time I had a conversation with her.  I would think maybe it’s my body language, what I said, how I said it, and now eight years later I have come up with only one explanation she is a bad communicator.

As adults we often sugar coat topics to make discussions more bearable to handle.  So different from a two year old.  There is no questioning my son’s body language, tone, and message.  It is, “I am mad and you are about to pay for it.”  My supervisor I often feel comes across in a similar way but shockingly I think she is unaware of it.  Unlike my son who is acutely aware of his behavior and what he is trying to express, my boss seems clueless on how she comes off and becomes offended when you become defensive when her demeanor is putting off a very hostile attitude.  It becomes even more difficult because she sometimes gets so worked up she doesn’t even let you finish explaining before the rapid fire questioning begins and if you dare to question her approach she becomes very stern and stubborn; very much like my son right before I at times have to put him in time out.  However there is no timeouts for bosses and what is even more upsetting is that unlike my son who is young and has much to learn about getting along with people and communicating, she is middle aged.  She is not going to change, there is no chance of growth or adapting.  So then it comes to an acceptance on my part.  Just as I accept that Liam might have a temper tantrum or that there might be a timeout today, I must accept that I will never be able to be at ease speaking with my supervisor.  It will never be comfortable and it will always leave me feeling frustrated.  Maybe that is where I can take a lesson from Liam.  Just as he walks out of his timeout and starts fresh all over again maybe I can try to do the same thing with my supervisor after our next “talk”.  If not, at least maybe I can put myself in a temporary timeout.

Narcissistic

I love to write.  For me it’s a creative outlet that I don’t normally get to indulge in.  However, I have always been very uncomfortable with the idea of having a blog.  I used to think that they were very narcissistic.  Part of me still does.  I can’t help but think how self-absorbed a person must be to think that their “Dear Diary” entries would be enlightened and informative enough for others to care enough to read about.  However, my opinion slightly evolved after having my son, Liam.  He was my first and like many first time moms my head was spinning and could not comprehend what was going on.  I remember searching sites for ideas and tips on how to deal with sleep deprivation, unable to breastfeed, postpartum depression, the list goes on.  I found those blogs to be useful as moms would retell their trials and tribulations and sometime I would cry or laugh as I related to it.

Shortly before returning to work (part-time, three days a week, 10 hours a day) I turned to the internet once again hoping to get some encouragement and support as a part-time stay at home mom and part-time professional.  There are blogs upon blogs regaling in the joys of being a stay at home mom and giving advice on how to make your own puree organic baby food, while washing the cotton diapers and knitting booties.  There were endless blogs from mothers who rejoiced in being full-time professional but still found the time to tuck their kids into bed at night and bring them to the park on the weekend.

However, what I didn’t find was any blog to help the mom who was stuck in the middle.  The mom who enjoyed being a professional but probably would never hit the level of success as the full-time working mom did because she was not in the office enough.  There were no blogs telling the stories of the mom who stayed at home two days a week but never had time to make organic anything because she was always trying to play catch up with her kids, the laundry, the doctor appointments, etc.  There were no blogs to offer advice to the mom who was working part-time because she enjoyed the mental stimulation, the adult time, and quite frankly the time away from the house, but the minute she walked out the door she wished she was home with her kids.  On top of this, these two species of mothers who were polarized also seemed to be opinionated about the other type.  Full-time stay home moms would ridicule the full time working moms for not making the sacrifice of being with their children 24/7 and full time working moms would stick their nose up in the air to stay at home moms for not respecting themselves enough to using their college degrees and becoming powerful business women.

I was neither.  I was in this weird limbo that could not fit into either mold.  I was just hoping someone could offer me some advice on how to get some spit up out my new Calvin Klein dress I wore only once to work.  I grew increasingly frustrated and more and more lonely.  It didn’t help that in my own personal life I was only surrounded by the two mother types I described above.  I had some people question my income, my values, and my parenting skills because I did want to work.  I had others make passing comments that true success could only be achieved if I was in the office 50 hours a week.

So that is what brings me to today.  I am now a mom of two still trying to figure out the balancing act of professional and stay at home mom and being happy doing it.  I have come up with some ways to make it easier for myself and mantras to tell myself when I am down.  Maybe this blog is a little narcissistic or maybe it’s an answer to huge gaping void for the “limbo moms”.