Saturday, September 21, 2013

Life as a Working Mom: Part 1

I have three weeks of work under my belt now... and my first consecutive days off since I started. Four, to be exact. Hooray! It's a good thing, too, because Scott has been home with our boog for these last three weeks, but he is about to go back to school. Adjustment time is only beginning.

Working 50 hours this week has left me pretty brain-dead and incapable of forming good paragraphs, but I can make bullet-points. So here's being a working mom in a nutshell, so far:

The Good:
* The paycheck. I know it's mercenary, but it is really gratifying to look at the clock and realize that my actions are filling my bank account. It won't always be my job to provide for my family, but it is nice to be able to participate now.
* Scott completely understands all the things that were frustrating to me as a stay-at-home mom. I think he'll be a lot more understanding in the future when I return to that role... and I'll be a lot more understanding of him as he gets home from work and doesn't want to do anything for a few minutes.
* I really, really love nursing. I am passionate about what I am doing, which helps.
* I love the kids I work with. I love making them laugh and trying to brighten up their days, because let's face it -- they spend a lot of time choking down medications that make them throw up and dealing with me messing with a tube that goes through their chest all the way to their heart. They have tough lives, and if I can make them happy for a few minutes, I can feel good about that day.

The Rough:
* I miss Cal so much. Fortunately things will get better once the residency is over, but right now it is hard to only have an hour some days, a few days off scattered about, and then days when I don't see him at all.
* It is stressful -- in general, adjusting to a new life, and also, being in a situation where my mistakes could seriously endanger someone's life. Not to mention the fact that seeing kids suffer is pretty difficult as well.
* I thought my time was limited as a stay at home mom -- I never felt like I had time to exercise, clean, cook, take care of Cal, be a good wife, and do some things for myself. Now I am trying to do all of that and work and commute, and there's always something that has to give way (usually cleaning).
* I feel out of place everywhere -- at work, no one else has kids. At church, no one else works. It isn't always comfortable being in an in-between place.

However, with both the good and the bad, I'm so grateful to have this job. I'll keep posting on this topic every so often. Hope everyone is having a good weekend, and GO COUGARS!

Sunday, September 8, 2013


I've been doing a lot of re-prioritizing lately. Having a 40-50 hour chunk taken out of your week causes a lot of rearrangement. Of course my family gets the largest chunk of my remaining free time. Today I found myself frantically hovering over Cal when he was clearly happy to be playing on his own, because I felt like I had to give him every second of my non-working time.

I've always been someone who has a lot of hobbies and interests. I love to read, play the piano, work on photo books, write, blog, take free college courses on the internet, spend time with friends. And to me, especially in the last free-time filled year that I've had, those things have come to feel like necessities. I am such a planning oriented person that every little activity found a space on my to-do list and burrowed its way in until it no longer felt like fun, but like an obligation.

The last week, I've had to let several of those things go. It's actually been easier than I thought it would be -- I look at something on my list and realize, "That's not going to happen," and off it goes into the atmosphere like a balloon. Studying Italian daily. Writing in my book blog (although I haven't given that one up all the way). Exercising for 90 minutes a day. Making everything from scratch. Up, up, up and away.

I also thought that writing was going to have to go. Writing for me often seems like an unproductive activity. While I'd love to get published, I don't have the time to make the edits and revisions necessary to put it anywhere pretty. Also, I often feel stuck between the feeling that I should edit myself into a mold-fitting, perky blogger dishing out the Anthropologie-wearing, gourmet-dinner-cooking, perfect life that we all wish we had, and the desire to get it all out there, the good, the bad, and the ugly, so that I'm left feeling cleaned out and refreshed. I've never been good at happy mediums. I'm an intense, all-or-nothing person, which is usually to my detriment.

Here's the thing, though. I was reading the blog of a friend today, and she is so refreshingly open and honest. She has been through some brutal struggles, and she has turned them into something beautiful, and something that she shares. And I think about all the times that I have felt left out and alone, wishing I had a friend that would confide in me and trust me with who they are and what they've experienced. When I have a conversation like that, I feel so grateful to have a connection with someone else, to learn from them and share with them. Also, so many of my burdens have been lightened by sharing them with someone else, by knowing someone else walked that path. I'd so much rather be connected than invulnerable.

The problem is that sometimes I am paralyzed by others' judgments. To clarify, I am paralyzed by what I imagine others' judgments to be, which is probably much harsher than what they actually are.

But here's the thing. That drive to keep writing never goes away for me. That drive to tell my truth, to share my experiences, to open up and be real. And being a writer isn't about being comfortably cloistered away; it is about speaking uncomfortable truths. Even if I'm the only one reading them and I'm the only one who is uncomfortable.

This has gotten long-winded and I've veered from the point. The point is: I need to get real. (Cliche phrase, but there's a reason that cliches become cliches -- they express something succinctly and perfectly). There are private things that belong in my journal and stay there, of course, but I also think it is important to express and share, and because writing is a main way that I do that, it is going to be happening here. So, yeah. That.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Mama Monday: Bringing Up Bebe

So, I love parenting books, and I love France. Bringing Up Bebe was a no-brainer read for me, but I thought it would just be an exploration of French parenting. I was surprised by how much I loved it and related to the concepts it presented. I'm going to quickly sum up the take-home messages I got from it in bullet points.

  • La pause. This means, essentially, wait a few minutes when your baby starts to cry. It means don't rush in to them immediately, but it also means don't let them cry for hours. Listen to the cry, try to figure out what it means, give your baby a chance to soothe herself, and then if your assistance is needed, head in.
  • Waiting. This goes with la pause. Teach your children to wait by not always having everything but the kitchen sink in the diaper bag, but instead teaching children to delay gratification.
  • Food. I agreed with this part so wholeheartedly. Abandon "kid food" like fruit roll-ups and pizza rolls and feed your children real food insofar as it is developmentally appropriate. No, Cal can't eat a steak, but he did a pretty good job picking up my cut up spinach gnocchi in gorgonzola sauce tonight. Also, if a kid doesn't like something, present it to them multiple times (a few days or weeks apart) to give them a chance to acquire the taste. 
  • Mom time. In my world at least, there is such a guilt complex for not giving your entire soul to your children. Even typing that out feels like a bad thing to say. However in France, parents believe they are entitled to adult time. I think this is healthy for marriages and mental health in general. Of course you want your children to be well-adjusted and loved, but it doesn't mean you have to be a helicopter parent.
  • The after-birth body. In some ways this might seem like more pressure, but I think it might be a good paradigm to set. In France, women are expected to lose the weight by the third month postpartum. Obviously this is a silent rule rather than something enforced, but societally people look askance at the mama that hasn't lost her baby weight. I am nine months postpartum and still have many pounds to go, but I wish I could have lost the weight earlier and think if I had had that expectation for myself I might have done better. 
Of course, there were also things I didn't agree with, such as the decreased breastfeeding time and the expectation that all moms work (not that I have anything against working -- I'm starting full time tomorrow. But I don't think it is the right thing for every family and doubt that it will always be the right thing for my family. Everyone is different). However, reading it was an interesting experience and definitely left me with many ideas to consider. 
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