Sunday, January 27, 2013

Working Mom Blues

 I am debating changing the name of my blog. It seems as though it could be slightly dated. I quit my corporate job about seven years ago in the hopes of being an over achieving "stay at home" mom where I would be an expert in the field of "staying at home" to raise amazing children. I envisioned nothing but complete bliss along the way as I cooked meals from scratch, took my children to the library daily, and dried every tear as I hovered freakishly close over my children's lives.

I stayed home about two years then found myself back in the corporate world working part time over the course of the next 4 years. The declining economy suggested I head back to work full time if my children were ever going to get braces, a secondary education, or the ever popular overpriced health insurance. I've been back at work a little over a year and I'm finding the values that I tried so hard to instill upon my children are getting buried under the mess of a busy life as I struggle to pull it all together.

I realize I used to pride myself and my family on the amount of time we spent outdoors, the little almost non existent time playing video games or watching TV. I loved the amount of time we spent reading, cooking, exploring the area, or just playing with toys and finding how to be entertained. Now I find my kids want to do nothing other than play video games and be in front of a screen on the weekend (they are not allowed on weekdays unless of course I have to get a project done for work and need to buy some time- I know, great parenting, go ahead and say it).  Can we go back to where we once were? I crave the old days that seem so far gone. I keep telling my girls that I want to see them, talk to them, listen to them and that I miss them while I'm at work and traveling but I seem to have lost them to the screen. I know I own this mistake and it's going to be a long journey back, I just need to figure out how to recover this mess we are in.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Why We Move

Having moved away from my good friends and strong social network, I frequently find myself wallowing in self pity. Poor me, no good friends that I can visit at the drop of a hat. No one to discuss books we've read over Indian food and a glass of wine. No one around that really knows me with the exception of my kids and husband. When I'm stuck in the moment of self pity, there is no saving me. I just want to pick up and move back to Cincinnati so I can spend Friday night out with my girl friends rather than then endless nights and weekends spent without socializing.

Today I got a wake up call from Craigslist. I posted an ad on Craigslist to get rid of the last of our moving boxes. What a better way to recycle than to have them reused. The first person to respond to my ad said she could be here in a about 15 minutes, she was coming from the next town over. As with all of the people that come to get the boxes, and we have had many, I always am excited to hear where they are moving to, mainly to make small talk, and mainly too because I don't have any other adults to chat with throughout the day. I remember six months ago meeting a couple that I could have seen hanging out with on the weekends. They were excited to be leaving the NYC area to start a new life teaching in North Carolina. They had had enough of the long commute, especially with a new young baby. They told me about what papers to read, what websites have great lists for what is going on in town and what to avoid. They were also very grateful to have the free boxes. I met other people along the way who were only there to pick up boxes and didn't want to even say "hi" or "thank you". They just wanted to get on with their move without having to chat to someone excited for a harm body at her doorstep.

The woman that showed up today was different than all of the rest. She came in her old two door sports car that had certainly seen better days. It was a car clearly on the end of it's final miles but had been at the height of car fashion in a prior decade or two. So when she came, the dogs immediately started going crazy over a visitor, so I yelled that I would meet her at the garage. Upon properly greeting her, I apologized for the manners of the barky beagle. She only replied, "I would love a dog someday, but I can't have one". Figuring allergies or a stuffy building that didn't allow pets, I left it at that.

"So, where are you moving to?", I said in an overly excited voice as if all moves are always exciting and happy occasions.

"Well, the boxes are going into storage with all of my stuff, but I promise to recycle them when I'm done. I will post them back on Craigslist", she quickly said to me as if I was the recycle police to the world beyond my house. She ended the conversation since she knew I was going to ask again if she didn't offer it up, "I'm moving into a shelter for awhile".

I didn't know what to say, so I just wished her the best on her move.

As we loaded her small car with the boxes. She was embarrased over her messy car and appologized, which was nothing compared to my minivan with litter constantly falling from the doors on windy days. I commented on how much space she had with the hatchback and reclining seats. She said there was a lot more room with the car seat gone. "Luckily my son was sleeping so I could leave him there". It look me awhile to realize that she most likely left her sleeping son at home alone while she went to get the boxes. Obviously she wouldn't have been able to leave him if he was awake, so she did luck out.

Hopefully her car made it back without breaking down, or before her son woke up. What more can I say, she is moving without a choice. She isn't moving to better her life, to have an adventure or to be closer to family. She was moving for the simple need of shelter.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Our First Fall Nature Hike

We don't hike like we used to. I remember constantly loading the kids into backpacks as we hiked for hours in the parks of Ohio. Now that we are surrounded by endless parks, beautiful landscape, and unforgettable scenery we seldom make it out for nature hikes. Sure, we are busier now with unpacking a new house and having a puppy, but really it's just finding the motivation to get everyone out and dressed properly for time outside.

Sunday I finally found the motivation. I got the girls excited about a nature hike with the dogs, and it was warm enough I didn't have to obsess over hats and mittens. The youngest even went hiking with fancy shoes and a dress, like I said, the battle was just getting out the door.

The leaves on the trees were colors that really can't be duplicated. It's hard to believe such a bright red is really found in nature, but it exists in the North East, really it does. The hike was invigorating. Everyone was so happy to be outside, the rocks sparkled and the girls were convinced all of the boulders must hold crystals since everything was sparkling. A fellow hiker we met at the start of the trail told us of a great lake for dogs to swim in, so the girls couldn't wait to find it to see if our new lab could swim.

After hiking for an hour, we didn't find the lake, and I wasn't finding the trail to be a circle as the map had promised. My mind started to panic. I had this vision of my cold wet girls huddled in a corner of the forest as my husband cleaned the warm basement at home without a care in the world. He doesn't worry like I do, so I pictured the end of daylight savings time bringing a 3:00 darkness where we would never find our way out of the forest. Certainly he wouldn't start looking for us until long after dinner, assuming we stopped to get a meal without him, while we were out and about. Again, he doesn't worry, so there is no way he is going to look for us. I worry, so my mind was starting to bring wild animals to our remote location.

To my hiking wonders' disappointment, including my own, we turned around after hiking for an hour and went back the exact way we came. Panic mode required that I review the photos I took to compare where we had been to give me the confidence that I did know where we were. I didn't let the girls know I was worried about getting home before famine and hypothermia took over (not really that worried about either, but I did want to be home before bedtime).

What I learned:

1. Study the map if you have never been to the place before and take it seriously.
2. Take a photo of the map so you can reference it when you want to turn around or keep heading forward, either way, it's good to have a copy of the map.
3. Bring a cellphone if it's really not too remote. This place was bigger than I thought, but certainly having the cellphone would have given me the false confidence I needed to keep going.

The kids had a great time since I didn't let on that I was needlessly paniked. No need to make them fear new trails!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Why Can't She Walk to School?

When we lived in Cincinnati my kids walked to school everyday. Of course I walked with them since I had a first grader who was afraid of a hedge apple rolling down the city streets. My oldest daughter is rather timid so I couldn't accept the fact that I knew even at the end of first grade she might not be ready to go it alone. Once my then preschooler started kindergarten, I knew they would have what it takes to walk to school together as a team. She has enough confidence for us all. I knew I would face unbearable judgement from the woman across the street who walked her 6th grader to school everyday, or for that matter, all of the parents that walked their kids to school or drove them hastily to school. I liked the fresh air and better yet, I liked that we got exercise in even the worst rain or cold temperatures.

I had visions. I dreamed of the stories my girls would come home to tell me about as they walked together without my influence or protection. I pictured tattling going something like this, "she crossed the street while the crossing guard was still in her car smoking". Or something to that extent- no, our crossing guard didn't smoke, but she did wish us a "blessed day" up until the last when I told her we were moving. Walking together I thought they would be able to conquer the world problems together as they got older, maybe not the world problems, but the playground issues they were dealing with or what ever it may be.

So when I read the article in the NYtimes entitled: Why Can't She Walk to School? I got so nestalgic for the town we left behind. No we didn't live in the suburbs like the article depicts, we lived in the city proper. Crime, sure there was lots of it, but I really believe everyone has their fears in life. I don't believe my children will be abducted the statistics are too low, they won't be bitten by a bat (really this is a true fear of one of my dear friends) but let me give you the twenty hour quiz if you want to drive my children in a car in the backroads of our new rural home. We all have our fears in life, can't one of them be to let our children find their way to school, get some exercise and see that the world is not out to kidnap or rape them?

But do I need to mention that my kids now take the bus? When they asked if I could drive them, the answer was a quick, "no, it's better for the environment to ride together". I drive everywhere now as one does in the country but I certainly miss the days of walking to school and really seeing what was going on in the neighborhood not to mention saying hello to other families and getting to know the kids on the walking bus. Even living in the rural suburbs of NYC, we aren't outside as much as we were living in the city. We don't have an automatic walk built into our day like we once did. We simply walk to the end of our driveway and the bus picks up every child at his or her driveway. Simple.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Babies in Our Tummies

I know better. I have read everywhere that you should refer to being pregnant as having a baby in your uterus. Not sure why, but I do remember reading about it and thinking it all makes perfectly good sense- they aren't in our stomachs food goes there, so don't teach an incorrect fact.

This morning Penelope and I were having a snack of yogurt (she calls it Ogurt, much like Shrek food) at the dining room table and we were chatting about various things like the Halloween decorations we put up last night and the funny berries in the Yogurt, when she asked if she could go back into my tummy where she came from. She was ready to return. I gave her the sad news that she doesn't get to go back, it's a one time free ride. "But I really liked it in there". Okay freaky if she really remembers it. But all the same, I said "no".

So how did I get there?

Rather than getting into a long explanation about the facts of life at three, I stated that she was pretty much like a seed growing there. She started out so small, then grew big enough to come out. But how did I get a seed in there? Did they cut you up to put my seed in there? Can we cut you up so I can get back in?

All valid questions how could I argue with such logic?

They did cut me up to just a little to get you out since you were stuck, but that isn't normal.

So if they can cut you up to get me out, can't they cut you again to get me back in there, I really want to be back in your tummy.

Realizing we aren't getting anywhere, I try to finish it up by saying it's just not an option again, you only get one chance to ride inside of me. Starting to lose interest too she finishes up with, "So it must be just magic I guess. It must be the tooth fairy putting the seed inside you. I just love the magic tooth fairy."

Me too, sweet girl, me too.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Get Back to Nature- Get Outside

When moving to NY, we spent a few weeks trying to find where outside the city to live. It was pretty easy to fall in love with Westchester county. We loved all of the trees and parks at our finger tips. For a family that spends so much time outside, it seemed like a smart choice for us.

The town of Bedford offers a class through the Recreation and Parks Department called the Wonders of the wild. The class is for parents and children to get together and spend time in nature at various regional parks. Being new to the area it seemed to make sense, I might meet other parents that enjoy being in nature with their little ones, and I might find a new park or two. The class starts next week, I'll keep you posted.

On the weekends, I found myself Googling parks and trails where we could take the kids and dog. As I was driving around I would keep my eyes open for trails I hadn't found yet. I thought I had found everything within 15 miles of our house, until I discovered this map and website. There are hiking trails only minutes from our house! How long might it have taken me to find it without this fabulous map?

Also included in the website is a great printable book on things to do in nature. I'm not certain I'll print in, but without a doubt, we will use it for suggestions before heading out when we need a little motivation.

The time U.S. children spend outdoors has declined 50% in the past 20 years, according to the Ad Council. The Forest Service is hoping to change this startling statistic through a PSA campaign entitled “Where the Other You Lives.” I can't wait for my older two to get home from school to show them this website and let them help me pick out what to do on our nature hike.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

How to Exercise Without Knowing It

I know this isn't a weight loss blog, but I couldn't help but want to share this smart article. I come from very thin people, both of whom follow all of these practices. It certainly is more fun to work in the yard than go to the gym... not sure if it's more fun than yoga with friends, but it's a start.