Friday, April 11, 2014

Get Back to Work!

So, I'm going back to work. Full time.

It's such a crazy feeling, to be on the cusp of this major change. I'm elated, on the one hand, because I got offered a job that seems challenging and interesting in an environment that seems incredibly positive and supportive. I will no longer just be known as "mommy" or "Ember's mommy" or "Oren's mommy." I will have a valid reason to wear something other than sweatpants and a t-shirt. I won't have to fill my co-workers' sippy cups with apple juice every ten minutes. I will be able to have actual adult conversations, and not just daydream about them.

But I'm also sad and worried. In ten days, I will no longer be singing "Let It Go!" with my kids every five minutes. I will no longer be taking the kids to the toddler story times at the library every day. I will no longer be the person who is with my kids each time they reach some huge or tiny developmental milestone. I will no longer have my sweet little hand-clapping, feet stomping, head-bobbing entourage with me throughout the day.

My kids are amazing. They can be difficult to manage every hour of every day, but they are amazing. I am so proud of who they are, even at only 16 months old and three and a half years old. And even though I am having a hard time coming to terms with the fact that the intense period of mothering that I have experienced as a stay-at-home mom is coming to an end, I know they are going to do really well in this next phase of childhood. Because they are amazing.

So this is my SAHM swan song. It was the best of times, it was the craziest of times. I learned a boat load about my children, about myself, about parenthood, and about life, and I wouldn't trade the past year and a half for anything in the world. I wish I had had the time to better document all the adventures the kids and I had together, but I was just too busy being a mom to document anything.

On Wednesday night, while I was putting Emmy to bed, I had one of my (all too frequent these days) spontaneous emotional breakdowns, and tears started streaming down my face as I sang Em her lullabies.

Em looked at me and asked me why I was crying.

"Well, you know how I told you I would be going back to work, Em?"


"Well, sometimes I get sad when I think about going to work and not being with you all day, because I know I am going to miss you very very much."

"Well, mama, you don't have to be sad, because remember that your heart is right next to my heart, and even if you are at work, our hearts are next to each other."

I had used that explanation to get Emmy to calm down one day when she was telling me how she didn't like going to nursery school because the boys would growl like tigers at her. I told her my heart was always next to her heart, even when I wasn't standing right next to her, and that my heart could help her not be scared.

Of course, hearing Em's comforting words just made me bawl even more. So she held out her two favorite stuffed animals.

"Maybe you could bring puppy or pink reindeer with you to work, so you won't be so sad."

And I of course started crying even harder.

"Thank you, Emmy. Mommy is going to be fine. I promise."

And I will be fine, I know I will. It might take me a few days, or even a few weeks, to adjust to not being around my kids all day, but I know I will be fine.

Still, if you ever come visit me at my new work place, and you see a pink reindeer sitting on my desk, don't ask questions. It is there for a very good reason.

Friday, February 28, 2014

I've Been Trapped Under a Snowbank (and other excuses for not blogging recently)

So, the kids are asleep and C is at volleyball. I have the option to use this time wisely in a couple different ways:
a) I could go to sleep right now, THIS second, and could try to score more than my average four or five hours of sleep a night. This would make the bags under my eyes look less like, say, carpet bags and more like, say, chic little purses.
b) I could fold laundry. Because there is ALWAYS laundry to fold. I have come to the realization that I will probably spend at least 80 billion hours of my life folding our family's laundry. I don't exactly EMBRACE the idea, but I haven't burned all of our clothes yet, or suggested that we move to a nudist's colony.
c) I could write a very long overdue blog post about this absolutely insane winter, and about my absolutely insane (but hysterical and beautiful) children, and about the many revelations I have had while basically snowed-in during these long, cold months.

Sleep, I guess you are going to have to wait. Laundry, you can fold yourself for one night. This mama has got to blog.

Ok, let me start off by saying that had I known, back in June, that the first winter I would experience as a stay-at-home mom would be a record-breaking, snow-up-to-my-nose, frostbite-within-seconds-of-leaving-the-house, eight-month long season, I probably would have stayed employed.

It's not that I haven't enjoyed bonding with my kids, or getting to see and experience Oren's first year on this earth in such a complete way. I really really have. I feel like I know my kids SO well now, and that is incredibly valuable to me.

But this winter has been the winter from hell, and has proven very clearly to me that I am a seasonally successful stay-at-home mom. In the summer and fall, I would say I do a relatively good job as a SAHM. I find ways of making the days entertaining and educational, while actually ENJOYING my responsibilities. But in the winter? I suck at life AND motherhood. I spend most of the day staring at the window, cursing at each and every snowflake and icicle while the children juggle knives and strangle each other somewhere in the distance. I have TRIED to get out of the house, when possible, but other than outings to the library and indoor play parks and pet stores, there really hasn't been much to do.

But enough about the winter of my discontent. Let's focus on the kids.

The kids. Seriously. They are crazy. And they are A-MA-ZING. And they are COMPLETELY crazy.

Ember is no longer Ember. By that, I mean she honestly spends 9 hours of the day playing the role of Elsa from the movie Frozen. And because Elsa has the magical power to freeze people, I spend 9 hours of the day pretending to be frozen. So if you are in need of a living statue, look no further. I have had LOTS of practice. I'm your gal.

Ember is also EMBER. By that, I mean even though she is only three and a half years old, she is so much her own person and personality. I think it actually took having a second child for me to realize how unique Emmy's personality traits are to her. She is SO creative, and SO sensitive, and SO funny, and sometime also SO difficult. My biggest challenge with her is getting her to LISTEN and pay attention. She gets caught up in her own thoughts and imagination and needs, and it is sometimes very tough getting her to step outside her own circle. We are working on it, though.

And Oren? He's a delight, and he's a joy, and he's a very silly, very mischievous boy. He is very quick to smile and laugh, and is SO good at cuddling. He loves dancing and music and balls and lights and eating crackers and smushing crackers into the living room rug. He also LOVES climbing up on chairs, couches, tables, shelves... and sometimes he loves climbing INTO shelves. He loves finding the most dangerous object in the room and using it as a drum stick. He loves trying to flush large objects down the toilet. He loves running around naked. He loves digging through the garbage to find small plastic items to choke on. In short, he loves giving me small heart attacks on an hourly basis.

Oren is talking - saying quite a few words already, and then grunting to make his needs known the rest of the time. His vocabulary is telling of his personality: mama, dada, ball, uh-oh, kick, cracker, no (with the intonation of "no"), no (with the intonation of "more"), down, and all done. It's amazing how much we can communicate using just these ten words.

I feel guilty (SO guilty) for not having blogged more about his growth, his milestones, and his personality. He truly is a gem, and a love, and I feel like I have cheated him by not recording his first year in a more complete manner. But it is what it is, and I can only try to try harder.

And in other news, we have sold our house and are moving to a bigger home, just about eight miles from where we live now. The whole buying and selling process has been so incredibly stressful for our whole family. It is SO not easy to show a house when you have a one year old and a three year old. I turned into a maniac from the moment our house went on the market, and became vicious about keeping the house clean and tidy. Every time the kids took out a toy to play with, I would get a nervous tic. It was NOT good. But we were incredibly lucky in having our home sell in 15 days (we had multiple offers, which was pretty thrilling considering we were selling in the dead of this stupid winter, and in this rather dead economy). So now we just have to get through the next month of the closing process, which I am sure will feel like the longest month EVER, and then we will be in a new home, with lots more room (and a second bathroom - yay)!

I think the whole country is ready for this winter to be over, so I am in good company in aching for spring's arrival. I cannot WAIT to bring the kids to the playground again, and to feed the ducks and the fishies at the pond, and to not have to dress them in eight layers of clothing every time we leave the house. If, in the future, I ever start to lose an appreciation for the warmer weather days, and start to take them for granted, I hope I re-read this post and pause to give thanks for the grass and sun and flowers and how much easier it is to parent when it is NOT wintertime.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Carmageddon - The Messiest Family Car in America

This morning, I took Emmy and Oren to a mommy group "festive cookie decorating get-together" at one of the mommy leaders' houses. It was a well-attended event, and by the time the kids and I arrived at the house, the driveway was already packed full of family-friendly vehicles. So I parked our car on the sidewalk, helped the kids out of their car seats, and we made our way up to the house.

On our walk up the driveway, I gave in to my voyeuristic urges, and peeked inside the windows of all the other mama cars. I wasn't scoping out their car seats, or sizing up their interior upholstery. I was on a mission to find out if the other parents' vehicles were in the same state of horrible messiness our car is always in. It's gotten so bad, I've nicknamed the poor Hyundai "Carmageddon."

It's not that I don't clean. I DO. Just maybe not ENOUGH. And, seeing as I play chaperone to a 3 year old girl and 1 year old boy, the cards are seriously stacked against me.

Whenever we get into the car, my daughter decides she is dying of thirst, and my son starts screaming for a snack, so I grab a juice box and a bag of pretzels. As soon as I put my key in the ignition, my daughter goes to town, spilling as much of her juice box as possible all over her skirt, her car seat, and the floor beneath her. My son eats half of the pretzels I give him, and then throws the other pretzel pieces in the air like its New Years' Eve confetti.

And every time we leave the house, my daughter has to bring an entourage with her. She will tell me that her BFF pink kitty cat needs to come shopping with us, and her plastic dinosaur wants to come along to make sure we don't get in an accident, and we need to drop her My Little Pony off at pony school. She also wants to bring a toy to play with (because the other things are her FRIENDS, not her TOYS), some markers and paper so she can write HER shopping list (which consists of the letter "E"), a musical instrument, and a ball to throw at my head while I am driving.

Also, both of my children seem to be somewhat obsessed with taking their clothes off in our car. We will leave our home totally clothed in seasonally appropriate outfits, but by the time we arrive at our destination, the kids have stripped down to their underwear and sunglasses, looking like they are headed to the beach. I swear, it can be the dead of winter, with wind chills in the negative teens, and my son will still think the car has a "no shirt, no shoes, NO PROBLEM" policy.

So every afternoon, after my children and I return from our play dates and shopping excursions, the car looks like it is has just barely survived a nuclear explosion. Pink kitty cat has found refuge underneath the front passenger seat. Plastic dinosaur is floating in a pool of juice in a side door compartment. My Little Pony is nibbling on pretzel crumbs that have been smooshed into the seat cushions, my children's shoes are having a secret meeting under the driver's seat, and the back of the passenger seat has been "tagged" with red marker. Total Carmageddon.

I'd probably be a little more motivated to keep the car spotless if I thought the car could STAY clean for, say, more than twenty seven seconds. But I know better. I know that the minute I finish vacuuming up the pretzel crumbs and scrubbing juice off the carpet, my daughter is going to beg for more juice, my son is going to scream for another snack, and fourteen stuffed animals are going to be hitching a ride to the supermarket. Why fight fate?

But every time I see a spotless family car, with no sign of crumbs, clothes, or kitty cat friends, I am filled with envy and wonder. Do other parents just deny their children snacks in the car? Do they refuse to give rides to hitchhiking stuffed animals? Do they glue their children's shoes to their feet? Or do they just spend an hour cleaning up the car at the end of each day? 

Which kind of parent are you? If you manage to keep your car clean, how DO you do it??? Is it sorcery?