Thursday, August 30, 2007

The End of Stuntmom?

I know, so dramatic. I've been tossing this article around in my head for days now trying to figure out how to approach this subject, but I wasn't sure. However, I am 100% sure things are changing. I'm still planning to write, but I think my readers need to know one thing--I'm going back to work. I've managed to work out the details with my past employer, and I will be returning to work next week.

Why, when I love the stay at home life? I love my kids endlessly and want to see them as much as possible. It's a funny question that I'll do my best to explain. These last three weeks have been by far the hardest for me in my two years at home. I spent two of these weeks in Maine visiting my family without my husband since he was working. Wow, I can't imagine being a truly single mom, with no help.

When I came back from vacation, the baby was sick, and the two older girls were endlessly fighting (possibly not feeling that great either). My oldest daughter started kindergarten, attended for two days, and then school was canceled for the next two due to heat. We were stuck in the hottest, driest days ever in the history of Ohio (or at least the history that I can remember; you have to trust I know the weather.)

I would call this third week "rock bottom". I was in such a bad place in my head everyday and nothing seemed to help me out of it. I didn't feel like taking care of the kids, the house and certainly not the dogs. The thought of making one more PB&J just made me want to run back to bed. I don't know why, but suddenly I just didn't want to do this anymore. Maybe it had to do with some of my friends who were going back to work after some time off or I was becoming distanced from friends that I was hanging out with--but something in my head was changing. I couldn't explain it to my husband--sure I was on vacation for two weeks in nice cool weather, but really I need a week without changing a diaper, not getting endless glasses of milk, not having little ones constantly asking "MOMMY, HELP, I NEED THIS NOW." I had this need to leave everything and go live alone for a week or two just to clear my head.

Then I got an email from my previous employer with a job offer on the Friday morning of my worst week ever--such amazing timing. (I should mention that every time a head hunter would call over the past two years, I would ask them to keep my number on file--it gave me a certain amount of security knowing there were still people out there that thought I was employable.) The job I got an email about was tempting. I called them up after looking into how easily I could get a nanny. I called the office and spoke to my potential new boss so I would have all of the details to present to my husband over the weekend. I admitted to them that he was going to be the hardest sell of all. (Please keep in mind our deal has been if I wanted more than two babies, then one of us needed to quit our job. When I was pregnant with number three, I quit my job.)

Michael easily agreed to my going back to work. I'm not sure if it was because I was in such a bad place and he understood I was quickly falling apart? Or that he too thought it was just such a great offer, how could anyone turn it down? He agreed on a few conditions. One being that we hire people to help us out. I agreed to hire a cleaning lady to do the work that I very seldom ever did anyway. I also agreed to hire a nanny. No early morning daycare drop off. No arguing over who's job is more important, my main job will still be managing the house, but now I get to leave it for part of the week.

So, I'm going back to work and I couldn't ask for a better deal. I still get to work out of my house with an occasional trip into the office or down to the customer. I will still have the summer off, since it's a temporary position, I'm going to be working on a specific project that will end around the same time as school. Once the project is done, then I'm done. Also, I get to set my own hours.

I'm really embracing this change. It will give me an opportunity to take a break from my kids. I know I will really miss them for the hours I'm out of the house. It will also give me a chance to appreciate them again. It's sad to say, but once I accepted the job, I started being a better Mom again. A light switch went off and I started to really want to spend quality time with them again. I know I was taking them for granted, so I feel it couldn't have worked out better.

Suddenly I'm grateful to be a mom again. Does any of this makes sense? Am I crazy and just need a good counselor? I know I should be happy that I don't have to work, but I think this is just the thing that is going to make me a better mother.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

You Need a Phone

You Need a Phone by Karen Marsh

I just got off the phone with my soon-to-be-ex-husband. I’m in my office, where I have a phone. During the weeks that my husband takes care of the kids, I stay in a condo and do not have a phone there. I don’t have a cell phone either. My friends have stopped saying, “You need a phone.” My husband has not.

What gave rise to this particular assertion that I “need” a phone was an issue related to one of the kids that he would have liked to have heard about last night. Instead, I told him about it this morning. He feels that he might have done things differently this morning had he known the information last night. Hence, “Karen, you NEED a phone!!!”

Well, do you know what? I DON’T need a phone. And there are a lot more factors playing into the fact that my husband did not have the information he wanted when he wanted it than simply the fact that I don’t have a phone. Take for example the fact that he is choosing to exit our marriage. Yes, I think that probably has an effect on our level of communication. And I’m not telling him that he should stay in the marriage. It’s about personal choice. One of the beautiful things about dissolving a marriage is realizing that you are not “in the orbit” of the other person. I like the freedom of not having a phone some of the time. I also like being 100% present with my kids when I am with them and basing my decisions on my interactions with them. I have not yet felt that my abilities to parent them were compromised by the fact that I could not get information from someone else on the phone. Also, I actually don’t think that being slightly compromised is always a bad thing.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Waiting by Tracy Houston-Smith

Guest Editorial by Tracy Houston-Smith

As a first time contributor, I will introduce myself as a working mom (teacher, so kind of best of both worlds) with one almost 6 year old daughter. We are trying to adopt a second child, but feeling the sucking, festering melancholy of THE WAITING. We waited 3 years while trying to conceive a second child on our own and with fertility treatments. We waited while we decided if fostering or adoption was right for us. We waited for our home study from the adoption agency to be completed, and now we are waiting for the phone call that will tell us someone has picked us to be the parents of their child.

There is no 'nine months' here. There is no known time-frame, nobody telling you that your due date is their second cousins' birthday. We have no idea when to get a baby's room together and set up that crib. There's no shopping for that one little baby item that you pick up as a secret treat when you're sure of a pregnancy (mostly - are you ever completely secure?) We have nothing ready, nothing done, and nothing bought. What would we do? Set up a nursery and have it sit expectantly in a little sequestered room like part of Mrs. Haversham's house? For how long? 3months? 3 years?

I see families with more than one child and I see complete families. In my mind, I am in the limbo of waiting for my complete family. I love my daughter very much, but I have always felt like there was a person missing in our family. It's not so much that we are waiting for a new arrival, but that we are waiting for the missing person, the one that's supposed to be here. It's very hard to wait for that. There aren't many other people I have run into that can commiserate with The Waiting, who can give me tips for how to get through it. I apparently know a disproportionate amount of very lucky people. How long did you have to wait, I would ask - Oh, six weeks. Seriously.

The hardest part about The Waiting is the uncertainty. Or rather the certainty that it may not happen at all. That we could wait and wait, and never get that phone call, that no one will choose us. Part of me has already prepared for that. In fact, in my mind I have already set my deadline (my daughter's seventh birthday) at which point I will give up The Waiting and go back to just being. Just being the family of three. Just being the mother of a daughter who will have no brother or sister to share all her family complaints with ("do you remember when mom and dad made us...took us to...embarrassed us..."). I suppose that's the most depressing part, that we're waiting, but all the things we're waiting for aren't certain to happen and that person we've been waiting for may never come to our house.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Our Road Trip Begins

This Saturday morning we will be leaving for the 18.5 hour drive to Maine. It's a great time to be leaving Cincinnati since we are experiencing typical August heat- Mid 90's, humid, feels like 100F.

I won't have much time to write while on vacation -Michael is driving us out and then flying back since he doesn't have endless time off from work like myself. So please feel free to submit any articles while I'm out. Send them to Any and all content is appreciated.

If you don't have time to write but want to read, check out my sister Heather and her husband Todd's blog of their three week road trip with three young boys riding happily in the back of the station wagon. It's a great blog with excellent writing. Worth checking out especially if you tire of my "interesting punctuation and spelling".