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Posts Tagged ‘Motherhood’

Okay, so I wrote this post on my job huntin’ site. It’s about the stuff I’ve learned by living amongst stay-at-home moms rather than through analyzing them in research reports, a task that was ironically, a big part of my former job.

The post idea was spurred by all this reflecting on what-in-the-heck has happened to me over the last 10 years. I swear, I used to feel so foreign in my suburban surroundings. I didn’t know how to be a mom, give my days structure, make friends, cook, or have a hobby. Nothing felt right or familiar or as I expected.

Now ten years later, I’ve gotten used to being at home. I’ve ushered my kids off to school successfully (enough), made great friends, cultivated some interests and adjusted to the pace. Dare I say, I enjoy it.

I remember how I used to love going to work, carrying my latte and tote bag. I loved the big windows in my office and the cold bottles of Evian in the conference room down the hall. I felt at-home in a black suit. I thought nothing of giving a presentation. I could draft a Powerpoint “deck” in a single afternoon. I had business cards, a title and an assistant.

Now I sit in reception areas waiting for interviews, and I feel completely ridiculous. I don’t like the smell of offices. The fake, piped-in air seems toxic. I see stress on faces that race past the waiting room, and my stomach hurts. I’m tortured with my inability (or desire) to button-up myself up into a business persona. I’ve spent the last ten years speaking frankly and cracking self-effacing jokes. I’ve forgotten how to wear a poker face or use terms like “circle the wagons” without laughing.

So I ring my hands and force myself to keep trying. Maybe this adjustment can be different. Maybe it will take less than ten years, two nervous breakdowns and 92 desperate blog posts.

Yeah, so…got any advice for me? Anyone? Bueller?

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Chapter 2

first day 018

Today I dropped off two daughters at school. One begins her last year at elementary school and the other begins her first. When we got within sight of the playground, my fifth grader (!) ran off. I never saw her again – confirmation that indeed, her friends are preferable company.

I walked my first grader in and helped her find her locker, her classroom, her desk. We took pictures, pointed animatedly at her nearby friends and then I stood back with all the other moms and waited. It couldn’t have been less than 90 degrees in the classroom. My eyes were stinging from the 7:00am wake-up call and my back was slick with sweat.

The place was swarming with parents. Some moms were brushing away tears and others were maneuvering for the door. I leaned down to her tiny desk to kiss her goodbye and she distractedly blew in my face – an aborted attempt to blow me a kiss, I think.

I left the classroom missing her already and at the same time, silently screaming “Woo-hoo! I’m freeee!!!!”

Now I sit in my silent house, one kitten at my feet, a cup of coffee next to the laptop and I’m ready to get started.

Chapter 2.

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Um, No?

lion

My week in 10 questions (am I really supposed to answer these?):

1. Mommy, you’re not going to throw away this sponge are you? I love this sponge (holding the dirty, kitchen sponge up to her cheek, caressing it). Please pinky-promise me you will not throw away this sponge.

2. What? You’re getting a new driver’s license? But I love your old one. Don’t get a new one, Mommy, please (sob) please, please?

3. Will you Tell Mason (who’s standing at my door) I don’t want to play with him EVER again…because he’s MEAN. Tell him to go away, forever.

4. Can I have five dollars to go get ice cream with Mason? I don’t want to use my allowance because I’m saving up to buy a cat.

5. Would you talk to Caroline? She wants her (stuffed) dog to marry Greta’s dog and her dog needs to marry Mia’s dog because Mia is her best friend and Greta is my friend and her dog married Greta’s dog last time and now Greta’s dog wants to be married to my dog and now Mia’s crying and Caroline’s MEAN.

6. Could you call Hallie’s mom to see if she can come over and play? I know they got home from vacation last night and I’ve already called them six times this morning and no one is answering. Maybe if you call this time, they’ll answer.

7. Can you take me to the store to buy material, stuffing and yarn? I’m going to sew a baby doll and a dress for Emma’s baby sister. And Mommy, can you teach me how to sew?

8. Mommy, I don’t feel like I’m going to vomit anymore, can I have just one more?

9. Tell Elizabeth to stop reading and turn off her light so I can go to sleep. She’s keeping me up. And, Mommy, can you leave the hall light on? I’m afraid of the dark.

10. Mommy, why can’t we? When’s Daddy coming home?

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I’m at the bookstore again. It’s a beautiful day outside and I’m inside, chewing pieces off a mega chocolate chunk cookie which will make me even fatter, but I don’t care because at this moment, I need a little pleasure. A little buzz. I’m hunched over my laptop in the Barnes and Noble Café forcing myself to write something, anything… just so I have something to do.

Can we just talk about how boring it is being a stay-at-home mom? I’ve spent the last eight years dying for them to be in school so I could finally be alone – and now I’m finally alone, and I have nothing to do.

I don’t volunteer at the school because when I’m finally away from my kids, I don’t want to be wrangling someone else’s. I don’t do the PTA thing because it’s just not my thing. Since my diagnosis, I don’t run or go to the gym every afternoon, which I used to do (to burn time, not calories). I should volunteer somewhere, but I only have 2 1/2 hours of free time a day and honestly, right now, I don’t have the energy.

I just can’t face cleaning my kitchen again or planning tonight’s dinner (which I’ve already done anyway: grilled chicken and salad). We don’t have money, so I can’t go spend it. I’m pretty organized, so I’ve finished all of my errands.

after1

I called my good friend to chat, but she was too busy ironing her sheets and had to go. I’ve tried calling a few others, but I just keep getting their voicemails. Where is everybody? What ARE they doing?

I wish more mothers would own up to how boring it is to be at home. Or at least give me a hint of what else there is to do. I once whined to one of my friends about how depressed I was because I was so bored. She told me when she needs a pick-me-up, she organizes a drawer. It gives her a sense of accomplishment.

after-22

I asked another friend for advice. She looked at me like I was stupid. “Haven’t you ever heard of shopping?” she said.

When I worked, I always thought I would love being at home so I could do the things I always wanted. I thought I would learn to play the cello, write a book, lose weight, listen to NPR, meet interesting people and take up tennis. Uh, I guess I forgot there would be kids. So after years of sweeping the kitchen floor, fixing meals, wiping butts, brushing hair, grocery shopping, paying bills and making beds, my energy for the cello is diminuendo. I’m too depleted to lose weight. And the interesting people are apparently already doing something — else.

after-4

I need a cause. I need a purpose. I need a job. I can only browse the isles of Target so many times. I think the people at the B&N Café are beginning to worry about me. I might need to find another bookstore.

Somebody better give me some ideas soon or I”ll be writing more posts as boring and whiny as this one.

after-3

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There’s this thing about a mother’s intuition. We’re supposed to listen to it right?  

  

Not too long ago, a new family moved into JCrewville. They are young with two cute kids. I’ve talked to the mother several times. She seems sweet and church-going.  I’ve been careful to watch my language around her.

  

Other than a little small talk however, I haven’t made the best neighborly effort.  We haven’t had them over for dinner or brought them a pie. I’ve felt guilty about this.

 

So when my older daughter wanted to have their son, Mason, over for a play date, it was probably the guilt that got the better of me.  Mason is a sweet four year-old with a round face, freckles and auburn hair. Whenever we walk by, he stands at the window and waves furiously. He sooo wants to hang with my daughters.

 

On this particular day, I was a bit more tired than usual.  I was trying to diet (again) and my blood sugar was low.  I was jittery and cranky.  Add that to my daily caffeine overdose, the upcoming dinner-making hour, and you have the beginnings of a perfect storm.  I should have said “no” more firmly, but the whining wore me down.

 

“Pleeeeese, Mom” she begged, “Please, can Mason come over?” 

 

“Honey, it’s just not a good day,” I countered, wobbly. “I don’t feel good, and I need to clean up and make dinner. I can’t really keep an eye on Mason right now.”

 

“Oh Mommy, I’ll watch him, I promise.You won’t have to watch him at all…pleeeeease?”  

 

This went back and forth for a while until I caved.  I was tired, worn down, and frankly, thought maybe this could count as a welcoming, neighborly sort of thing.

 

When I called to invite Mason, his mom was down-right elated. Clearly, she needed a break. “Thank you, thank you” she kept saying gratefully as she stood on my porch, “I’m just going to go for a quick run, if that’s okay – oh, thank you so much for having him”.

 

“No problem, take your time” I smiled back neighborly. I shut the door and turned Mason over to my daughter Elizabeth.   

 

All went well, for the first couple of minutes, than the “wanting” began. Mason wanted a snack.  Mason wanted to use the bathroom.  Mason wanted to watch a movie.  Elizabeth came to me for all of this and I started simmering.  I was growing increasingly shaky and behind schedule.  I needed them out of the house.  I told them to go outside even though it was a cold March day, piles of half-melted snow dotting the muddy backyard.

 

They went outside, and I began trying to get dinner started.  Now, seriously shaking and running behind on things, I tried to keep an eye on them, but I was scattered and distracted.  I don’t know how much time elapsed before I noticed they were missing.

 

Elizabeth!!!!” I yelled out.  No answer.  ELIZABETH!! Where are you???!!” I yelled out.  Nothing. I started to panic. What if I had lost the new neighbor boy?

 

I couldn’t see them out the back windows, so I went out the front door, unknowingly leaving it ajar.  As I turned the corner to the back yard, I spotted them.  Elizabeth had the garden hose running in the 30 degree March air.  She was squirting the icy water on Mason’s bare feet and up his pant legs.  She was trying to wash the three-inches of mud caked up to the thighs of his pants. He just stood there shivering in the foggy vapor, one little bare foot in a pile of snow.  Elizabeth had thick, dark mud up to her thighs and was barefoot as well.

 

I completely snapped.

 

ELIZABETH, What the ?????  Get inside, NOW!!!” I hissed. Mason jumped, wide-eyed and confused.  I scooped him up (gently) by the armpits, took him inside, stripped off his jeans and told him evenly to “go play, Elizabeth will be with you in a minute”. He scurried off in his Scooby Do underwear.

 

 I grabbed Elizabeth by the arm, yanked her inside and wrestled her long, heavy eight-year old body onto the kitchen counter.  I was incensed and out of control. She started sniveling.

 

“DAMMIT!!!”  I yelled as I put her muddy feet in the sink, “Do you see why I DID NOT WANT MASON OVER HERE??!!, I seethed uncontrollably.  “I told you I did NOT WANT TO BABYSIT MASON right now!!  We should NOT HAVE INVITED HIM.  I have too much to do!!  This is UNACCEPT—-“

 

“Hello?” I hear behind me.  Shit.

 

I turned around and there she was, in my kitchen.  Obviously, I hadn’t heard her knock. But there was no way she did not hear me. Her little boy was all alone in the living room in his Scooby undies, probably climbing up an un-bolted bookshelf or something.

 

“Oh, hiiiii.” I said.  Shit. Shit. Shit.  “Um, just having a bad mommy moment” I stuttered. “I, um, was trying to —“

 

“Oh that’s okay”, she cut me off swiftly and gently without looking me in the eye.  “Come on, Mason, let’s go home now!” She sang out.  She swooped up her half-naked son and in one single movement, gathered his muddy pants and wet shoes and said, “Thank you, again, for having him.” She smiled quickly and before I could say more, she ran out the door with Mason balanced on her hip, his bare feet flopping as she sprinted across the street.

 

Yeah, my mother’s intuition tells me a pie would have been a better call.

———

 

Postscript: Happy Mother’s Day to my Mom – who laughs with me about so many things – especially the crazy moments of motherhood.  Could it be that she’s had a few as well? 

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