Friday, September 28, 2012

The Crazy Hamster Wheel of Mommyhood...

Now I know all you moms out there can relate to feeling a bit out of control of your life sometimes… Case in point, last weekend I showed up with kids in tow 2 hours early to a birthday party! Imagine the mom’s surprise to see me in her doorway (feeling punctual and organized, of course!) with present in hand and Evan ready to party at 10am when her party didn’t start until noon! Since everything was very calm and no one else was there, I clearly sensed something was amiss! “The party does start at 10, doesn’t it?” I sheepishly asked as her son eagerly took the present out of Evan’s hand. She smiled understandingly as she answered, one crazed mom to another, and I quickly realized I had written it down wrong in the once fail-safe calendar system that runs my life. Garbage in, garbage out, right?! The fail-safe system doesn’t work if mommy’s brain cells are decreasing by the minute!

So let me first of all wish you and your family a Happy Belated Mother’s Day! Because you know that we all try to do it all and often make mistakes or arrive 2 hours early to a party as we juggle our family’s lives, do the laundry, figure out what’s for dinner (even if it’s eggs or cereal sometimes), clean the kitchen and bathrooms (again!), sign everyone up for everything so they don’t miss out on anything, (God forbid!), drive them to everything everywhere, do the grocery shopping at 5 different stores to make our mostly organic budget stretch, decide at what point the cheese stick or gogurt can be put back in the fridge if it’s been the lunchbox all day (what is the call on that?!), bark orders to get them ready for school, make sure homework is done and taken to school the next day and/or drive it to school after drop-off because you feel bad it was laying on the counter amidst the 50 other coloring papers and of course he didn’t see it, tie or untie shoes, manage screen time, playdates, arguments, moods (including our own), careers and shoes (does anyone put them away?!) and try and go to bed each night feeling like you’ve done everything or anything well!

I commend all of us for running this crazy hamster wheel of mommyhood each day, since we know in our hearts that when we first joyously saw that positive blue mark on the pregnancy test we had absolutely no idea what we were signing up for and could never foresee that a career change, although we may sometimes long for it, is not in the cards! For there are those days when the kids are grumpy, blaming everything on you and won’t stop bickering when you wish you had signed up for something else entirely, like traveling Europe with a backpack or living on a tropical island as a care-free waitress with a special friend named Brad…

And then, in the midst of all the chaos, you have your “MOMMY MOMENT“; your daughter, out of nowhere, comes up to give you a hug and tell you how much she loves you and you understand from the bottom of your heart how pure and unconditional that love is. Or your concerned son‘s face lights up when he sees you walking towards him in the morning school line as he realizes that you didn‘t leave without saying goodbye after all, and you realize that you being there to say goodbye really does make a difference to him. Or your 11-year old, who is almost as big as you are, still wants to sit in your lap, give you a hug and kiss and ask for a trip to Target… Okay, so maybe they aren’t all tear-jerking mommy moments!

And so we realize on any given day that the positive blue mark was only the beginning of a lifetime of pushing and pulling, swelling and contraction, and daily joy, fear, anger, excitement and sheer determination needed to not only give birth, but to be the great moms we all are. So I hope you had a relaxing day! Now get back on that wheel!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

"What I Am Not; A Primer to RePurposing Your Mid-Mommyhood Life"

Well, I knew it had been much too long since I've posted to my Blog when I tried to log in to my account and realized that I had totally forgotten my password; I guess that speaks to both my incredibly bad mid-life memory unaided by daily ginseng supplements and the fact that as I nervously stare at this blank page, I realize that along with a couple of other big decisions I need to make, I have avoided writing a new post simply because I've let the daily current of my life provide me with both excuses and inertia, that deadly combination killer of successful goal achievement and probably the reason why personal coaches stay in business!

And needless to say, I also didn't figure out what color my parachute is (please refer to my last post in yes, April!), as I continue to struggle along with my fellow 40-something moms that stepped off their career ladder 10+ years ago to be home with their young children and now realize as they pleadingly ask their middle school sons they have waited for all day if they want you to fix them a snack or a sandwich as they walk through the front door and right past you to their room that it's really time to re-purpose my life! But I guess on the bright side, even though I didn't exactly find my ultimate "calling" this summer as I thought I would, I did find out some of the things I'm definitely NOT meant to be.

For instance, I can tell you with certainty that there is no way I could be a nurse, unless, of course, Nurse Ratched from "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" was the role model! That realization came upon me in early May, when my husband, Troy, had full knee replacement surgery and I was put into the role of said caring nurse for several weeks. It was during this period of sleepless nights (both of us), staring out the window all day in a drug-induced stupor (him) and running up and down the stairs 100 times a day to make ice for the ice machine, spill ice and/or water all over the kitchen floor trying to fill the ice machine, crush ice with a hammer until I got blisters so I didn't have to spend a small fortune and make daily trips to the store to buy ice (me) and losing all my compassion as I ran out of ice for my gin and tonic and wondered when the hell he was going to get out of bed and help me with the kids already!

Now with all due respect to anyone who has had to provide long-term care for a loved one, it wasn't like I had to change his diaper or anything, but I'm pretty sure that if anything ever happened and it got to that point, I would be the wife/nurse you read about who "accidentally" tipped her husband's wheelchair over the Grand Canyon on a strategically planned family vacation! (Just kidding dear, for better or worse, right?)

Another career I have decided to take a break from and realized over the summer that I could never be permanently, much to the dismay of my Olympic-hopeful kids, is perpetual "Swim Team Mom", which if you watched any of those Olympic athlete back stories, you know is a full-time career that does not really pay very well. Now, for those of you who have never had the privilege of being a parent of children who swim competitively, please note that summer swim league is a 3-1/2 month period which begins in May with hauling kids to and from their respective age group practices from 6pm to 9pm, making family dinners, coherent homework time and any other activity virtually impossible to plan.

The other highlights include but are not limited to washing towels and swim suits, buying healthy swimmer food to try and satisfy appetites borne of swimming hundreds of laps each day, looking for lost goggles, caps and suits, buying or borrowing new goggles, caps and suits, preparing for swim meets that are 6-8 hour events twice a week for the entire month of July, trying to keep them indoors and rested for the first 6 hours of a beautiful day before each meet without driving each other and/or you crazy, packing a cooler full of yes, ice! with food and Gatorade and water, packing another bag full of towels, swim gear, folding chairs, and everything else you may need for a 6-8 hour event and loading it into the car to drive a half hour to the away pool, and then trying to keep yourself and your  kids located in a swarm of hundreds so they don't miss their event, warm (June-mid-July), cool (mid-July - Aug), hydrated, fed nutritiously, calm, organized, with goggles, cap and suit, motivated and not mad at you if they lose, gracious if they win, and then load everything back up again with now 100-pounds of wet towels, and then all of you put to bed at a decent hour so they can get up and do it all again. And all while staying non-neurotic about your kids coaches, abilities and your own old dreams of being an Olympic swimmer... So you can see, Professional Swim Team mom I clearly am not!

After swim team season and a couple of camping trips, we got to mid-August, and I realized with both horror and excitement that school was starting again in a few weeks. I don't think I have to explain excitement, but the horror was at at all the things I didn't accomplish that I swore I would this year, like go through all the kids' notebooks and projects in June that still sat in my pantry in September and all the math fact sheets I was going to do with my daughter still in their neat, copied pile in the kitchen drawer along with my best intentions of doing educational outings and writing projects with all the kids.

So I realized that even though I still want my kids around so I can be a mom, "Homeschooler" is yet another "what I am not" job for me and I would quickly join the ranks of other moms with their home-schooled children that I see at Target during the day, getting their math lesson by adding up the total cost of a new purse, band-aids and a bag of Cascadian Valley chips! (Just kidding, I know all you real home-schoolers do a great job!)

Today, now that my public school kids are happily in their educational mobile pods, I'm trying to figure out whether I can be a real, in-school Teacher and/or a real, published Writer. And in order to do so, my husband, having successfully survived my stint as a nurse, promised me that if I can get some of my writings published to pay the $40,000 tuition I need for a Master's Degree, (I guess I forgot to open up that 529 Plan for myself!) then I can fulfill my current dreams for repurposing my mid-life mommy-hood into whatever I want...

In the interim, I'm working as a paid tutor for my kids' school three days a week to determine if this current dream. And despite the fact that my oldest son earns more per hour as a Soccer ref coordinator than I do (once again, that BA in Advertising coming in handy!) and that I'm working with college grads that are young enough to be my older kids, I'm having a blast watching the teachers, getting to know the kids and listening to responses like "Well, my sister told me this one, but she said I can't tell you because it's a secret" when I point to a letter of the alphabet and ask a Kindergartener what it is. Hilarious! At the very least, I'm sure to get some great material for my next posting, right?!

As always, thanks for all your support and I'll let you know when I get published. In the meantime, please feel free to share your own stories of "what you are not" or what you have become in your own quest to repurpose your mid-mommyhood life! And if you'd like to stop by after school, I can definitely make you a sandwich!