Super productive.

January 7, 2007

Today, a woman asked me what I do. I gave her baleful stare as my two sons alternately clung to me, jumped off of me, whined, and were your general, well, little boys.

I told her I stay home. “You are so lucky!” she trilled.

True, I am privileged to get to be home with the kids, but as any stay-at-home mom knows…there’s a lot about the job where the word “lucky” just doesn’t apply.

Staying at home for me means being a mom first, then topping off the day with a laundry list of chores, including the namesake laundry, dishes, errands, grocery shopping, cooking, LAUNDRY (it is never done), and about forty six other tasks. The difference about being a mom who works outside the home is that if I did not get to the laundry list, I didn’t sweat it–hey, I was at work. I didn’t feel the sense of guilt that descends now when I don’t get the work done. I feel a pressure, self-induced and societal, to be hyper productive since I’m in the home the majority of the day.

Truth is, this is the hardest work I’ve ever done. If you know me, you know I’ve had some…how do I put this delicately…challenging positions, but they pale when compared to the MOUNTAINS of laundry that face me every morning.

Did I mention, the laundry is never finished?

I love my job, I appreciate my job, and I———–

Sorry, got to run. A load needs to be moved from the washer to the dryer.


A friend gave me Jennifer Weiner’s book, Little Earthquakes, to read. I was glad she did, too, because this isn’t a book I’d have pulled off the shelf on my own, and so by her passing it on, I got to read something that was fresh and new to me.

The book centers on four women who are all new moms (well, three of them are…one of the women has lost her baby to SIDS…a tragedy). The notion is that new motherhood is terrifically difficult–much more so than we may be led to believe by a society that focuses on which stroller or diaper bag we should register for, or which darling outfit we’ll bring the baby home in…that kind of thing. The truth is, the first year of motherhood is baptism by fire.

For some (like myself) early motherhood is an exercise in humility, in self-doubt, and most of all, an exercise in extreme, relentless exhaustion. Jennifer Weiner captures all of this well. She chronicles with humor how strangers and family members alike offer up well-meaning advice, and how it invariably leads one to feel resentment…as in “Thank you very much for your opinion…now beat it.”

This book is an amusing and warm read, even if you are not a mom. If you are a new mom, well then, enjoy this during one of your 3:00 a.m. feedings. You’ll find something of yourself in one (if not all) of the characters.

Flu bug.

December 5, 2006

Question:  Which is worse? Being sick, or taking care of others who are sick?

Answer: Me with bhroncitus AND my two kids are taking turns succumbing to the flu bug (read=throwing up all over mommy).

Yesterday was one of those days–miserable.  Let me capitalize that: MISERABLE.  Both boys were ill, and I was trying to tend to them, bring them juice and crackers, get prescriptions filled, all while scuffling about in my robe with a headache and hacking cough.  By 2:00p.m., I gave up thinking I’d get out of the robe and threw in the towel.   I threw in lots of towels–into the washing machine.  Towels, bed sheets, pillowcases, pajamas…the mountains of laundry that pile up when kids are sick.

Today was much better.  I managed to get dressed, both boys were back to their typical good health, and normalcy ensued.  I caught up on the laundry, cleaned up the multiple juice cups, put away the Pedialyte and Tylenol. 

We’ve squashed the bug for now. 

Babysitter Gold.

November 6, 2006

For us, getting a babysitter is a big deal.  We don’t have a lot of people clammering to spend quality one-on-one alone time with our kids, so it’s always asking a favor of someone or figuring out financially how much that $40 dinner for Tim and I is really going to cost us (probably around $80 when the babysitter is paid and tipped). 

So, when we do get someone to watch our kids, particularly when they do it for free (or with the casual “no, really…don’t worry about it.  You can watch our kids for us sometime”), we really feel obligated to make the most of the time.  I have anxiety about this.  Last night, for instance. 

We were over at some people’s home, having a lovely dinner and great conversation, and in my head, I’m thinking:  Is this the best use of our time?  Should hubby and I be sitting alone in some romantic restaurant reminiscing on why we fell in love in the first place?  Or should we be at home cleaning out those closets that we can never get to with the kids underfoot?

Last night, I felt guilty not squeezing the most out of our babysitting hours.  I had to remind myself that’s it okay to just be relaxing with friends, talking about things other than child-rearing.  Taking a breath, I enjoyed myself.  I laughed at adult conversation.  I ate my dinner without a child (or two) wanting to sit in my lap.

When it was time to pick up the kids, I thanked our friends for watching the boys and asked when I could watch their kids.  And I hugged my kids close: just those few hours away were gold…it made me want to squeeze my children and I remembered a couple of things:  I’d rather spend time playing than cleaning out closets, and I remembered why I fell in love with them in the first place.

Close Call.

October 31, 2006

At about 4:45 a.m. today, we were rudely awaken by a very loud robotic voice saying, “ATTENTION! EVACUATE! CARBON MONOXIDE BPS 55” and then “ATTENTION! EVACUATE! CARBON MONOXIDE BPS 58.”

It took Tim and I a few beats to wake up, and to determine that it was our fire/carbon monoxide alarm that was going off.  Half asleep, I thought it was our security alarm telling an intruder to evacuate, and I picked up our phone to make sure I’d be able to call 9-1-1 if need be.

Tim yelled upstairs to tell me to open windows…our carbon monoxide reader BPS was now in the 70’s.  The BPS is the reading of how much carbon monoxide is in your air.  A high reading can cause brain damage and is often fatal.

Amid my eldest son’s sleepy questions of “what we doing? are we up now?,” we called the local fire department.  I assured the operator that this was not an emergency, but she begged to differ.  In a matter of minutes, three firefighters, including a fire chief, arrived at our home with their carbon readers in tow.

Sure enough, our carbon monoxide levels were way too high and climbing.  We’d kicked on our gas heater for the first time this season, and it had been building carbon monoxide in our home for the last three days.  The fire chief told us that this was the first time in his fifteen years that he’d seen a carbon monoxide warning alarm be right: usually, it’s just dying batteries that set off an alarm.  But in this case, our alarm was right on the money.

Carbon monoxide has no distinguishable odor and you may not know it’s a problem.  Please make sure you have an alarm in your home that works and has good batteries.  Fire and monoxide alarms can keep your family alive.

If it weren’t for that alarm, our family would have kept sleeping…possibly permanently.  Thank God for that alarm!

About carbon monoxide poisoning:

Huh, that’s ironic.

October 27, 2006

It’s a Friday night, which usually doesn’t mean a whole lot in our household.  Yep, gone are the days of the Friday Night weekend kick-off, that being a rally cry of “woo hoo! bring on the margaritas!”  No, nowadays, it’s “honey, let’s take the kidlets out for pizza and, maybe spring for an ice cream cone afterwards.”  If we’re feeling really festive, we call around to invite friends who are kid-friendly or who themselves have children.

But not tonight! No, sir.  Tonight we have that wonderful, elusive and rare thing: the babysitter.  I set this up a week ago.  I’ve anticipated it all week.  Get the margarita mix ready, baby…we’ve got a sitter lined up! 

Except now it’s Friday night.  I’ve got to go get my diaper bag all stocked for the sitter, and really, I’m tired and I don’t so much feel like going out.  I don’t feel like changing out of my yucky shirt and jeans for attire appropriate for a restaurant a step up above IHOP.  I don’t really feel like doing a whole lot, in fact.  So I ask myself, what do I feel like we should do tonight?  What sounds good?

Honestly, pizza and an ice cream cone.  Ironic.

Boys and empty hours.

October 23, 2006

I dread Mondays, because they are the one day that I have nothin’ goin’ with my two boys.  On every other day of the week, there is some planned activity: speech therapy, preschool, meeting up with a friend, gymnastics lesson, something.  And let me tell you, having a three year old, and an eigth month old boy…sitting around in the house all day is simply not an option.  These are BOYS.  They need to do stuff, need to get the energy burnt in some way or it all comes back on me in the form of monster tantrums (well, the baby doesn’t know yet what a real tantrum is, but he’s watching his older brother with something that looks a lot like awe…he’s going to learn to mimic it pretty soon). 

Coloring at the kitchen table, playing together on the floor, reading a book–these occupy my eldest for all of 10 minutes.  So, there’s the park.  Can you be a good mom even if you really can’t take going to the park once a week?  It’s not that I dislike parks and playgrounds per se…well, actually, maybe I do.  I’m not particularly a park type of person, I guess.  I’m not an outdoor person at all, so it’s no surprise to me that trekking to the park with two kids in tow, dealing with sunscreen and sand and packed snacks and possible injuries from the monkey bars…it’s not my bag.  But, on a day like today, the clock is ticking.  My oldest has had enough PBS for the day and has started his morning refrain, “Mommy, what we doing?” 

We’re going to the park.