Mountain View Mommy: Sand, Trucks and Testosterone

May 25, 2007

What’s your type?

Filed under: Parenthood,Thinking — by mvmommy @ 3:45 am

The other day I was reading one of my favorite Dad Bloggers, MetroDad. He did an entire post about the “Eight Types of Playground Parents” in New York. I had to laugh. I could picture many of the mothers/fathers that he described – as I had seen their types in the park. Some I had trouble relating to, because they were definitely NY biased. But the entire post made me chuckle, and wonder what were the Playground Parents of Silicon Valley like? And where did I fall?

Ironically, about 12 hours later, another Mom Blogger that I love to read, posted a reply from this side of the country. Citymama responded to MetroDad with her version of Types of Silicon Valley Parents.

If you read it, it’s a good read. I laughed and started imagining some of my friends in these categories. It definitely hit the nail on the head, but I thought a couple categories may have been left out. I don’t know how I would describe what was missing… but I definitely didn’t feel like every parent out there was covered. Because if they were… where did I fall into her categorization?

I am definitely not her Techmama. And I am a FAR cry from the Millionaire Mom. Neither could I be dumped into Geek Dad. So that left… Co-Op Preschool Mom.

First of all, my kid is in a co-op preschool. So that does apply. However, it talks a lot about being ‘Granola’…. which I can honestly say I have NEVER thought I was. Granola typically means to me… hippie. And believe me, I am far from hippie.

So I told Nathan that I laughed at the blog, and thought I might be the ‘granola’ mom that she was talking about. I do read parenting books and magazines. I do love the co-op preschool that my kids go too, and I do learn a lot from it. I do err on the side of healthy snacks vs. non-healthy (not obsessively – ie. all food comes from Whole foods, nor do I make my own peanut butter or eat soy & tofu). And yes, I do talk to my kids about their feelings and try to get them to work things out with other kids vs. knocking their lights out with the sticks they are usually carrying around.

No I don’t hate working moms (as it was implied). Neither do I hate people with a ‘life’… whatever that means.. because I think I still have one. And I don’t have a go-cup with tea bags.

But somehow, after reading the blog, interpreting the blog, and categorizing myself – I came away sort of laughing, but sort of feeling slightly offended & made fun of. When I told Nathan this, he just laughed at me.

He asked what bothered me. And I replied “I am NOT granola.”

To which he simply looked at me and stated – “You may not have been before kids, but you definitely are now. Have you looked at what you are wearing today. A fleece, shorts, and flip flops. You might as well start eating up that bowl of granola.”

Sure enough, I looked down. There I was – fully decked out JUST like Citymama described her Granola mom. Her definition was “fleece vest, Teva sandals, kids with gender-neutral hair.” I was pretty damned close. Good God, please shoot me now.

March 26, 2007

the natural mood lifter

Filed under: Thinking — by mvmommy @ 3:42 pm

Who needs Prozac when you have girlfriends?

I haven’t blogged in over a week.  I have just been too tired.  The past two months have been a whirlwind of kids being sick, Emily’s day looming, the husband travelling/working/training for his iron-man, and generally feeling the need to be super mom while all this chaos was unfurling around me.

Last week I took a break to pull it together again, and bring some normalcy back into MY life – not as a mom or as a wife – just as myself.  Only me.  ME.

It’s nice to say that.  ME.  It’s easy to put me last because the kids need me.  It’s easy to put me last, because I try to be a good wife, friend, and life partner to my husband.  Sometimes, I just forget about me.  Until it comes and smacks me in the face and I decide that unless I get a little ME time, I might lose my mind.  That was last week.

So this is what I did to find myself again… I spent a lot of time with a lot of women I love.  I emailed close girlfriends and talked to them about things that were bugging me.  I called my best girlfriends and yelled about things that angered me.  I arranged ‘dates’ with girlfriends that I had been missing… and met them for brunch, dinner, play-dates, movies.  I went bowling with my mother, sister & aunt.  I went to the flower show with my grandmother.  I spent my time with women.  Women whom I love & admire. 

And it worked.  Sure enough, I feel rejuvenated and alive again.  Ready to bring on another month of sickness, travelling, training, mommy-hood, wife-hood, etc. 

It’s amazing what women can do for one another.  I find myself in awe of the friends I have.   Sometimes it’s easy to forget how great they are, until you take away the pressures of life and just share a little.   These are some of the things I re-learned this week:

…Sisters are hilarious, generous, and very competitive with bowling.  They will babysit when they are sick, and bring dinner too.
…Mothers are human.   They can complain with you about men, and can understand when you are tired of being mom.  They won’t judge you, and they will ‘forget’ the conversation afterwards
…Aunts are more than just your mother’s sister.  They are people who love you and wish they spent more time with you.  And with a little effort they could be a great person in your life.
… Grandmothers are amazing.   Seriously, amazing.  They know everything.  From sex and marriage, to gardening and dinner.  They know it all.  And if you just listen, you might learn something that could change your life.
… Old girlfriends give you a perspective that you need.  They get you out of your current world, and make you feel young again.  They bring you back to grammar school & high school.  They know your family and they know you.  They cut through the bull-shit that you tell them, and know what is really going on.
… New girlfriends allow you to soar.   They don’t have past preconceptions about you, and let you dare to be who you want to be.  They help you get there by giving great advice and by making you laugh
… Mommy girlfriends lend the support you need to get through the day.   They love your kids because they love you.  They don’t judge your parenting or your children, and they often teach you by example.   They let you perform ‘parenting experiments’ on your children AND theirs – to see what works and what doesn’t.
… Non-mommy girlfriends remind you of the ideals that you hold, and the life you want to live as a person outside of being a mother.  They remind you of what is at your core, and encourage you to embrace it.
… Best girlfriends do it all.  I don’t know how.  They just do.

All in all, I had a fantastic week thanks to my girlfriends (and my husband, who let me leave all week long to go do things for ME).    I learned a lot, and I hope I don’t forget it all.  However, I know I can count on my girlfriends being there to remind me when I do.

 

March 16, 2007

Emily

Filed under: Thinking — by mvmommy @ 6:21 am

I have been writing this post for two weeks now. That doesn’t mean it’s going to be a work of art, it just means that I have been thinking a lot and can’t seem to find the words to express what I want to. So I am not going to try, I am just going to write what I feel as I feel it.

Today is March 16th. Last month, when I did my calendar and put it on my fridge… March 16th was there. I knew it. I tried to ignore it. Every week, as I updated the calendar & re-posted it on the fridge, March 16th got closer. I ignored it. I have made a lot of plans for March 16th and around March 16th… hoping that keeping busy will help me in my attempt to ignore it.

But I don’t think it’s working. I don’t think I have been ignoring it very well. I have been constantly thinking about it. I think about it when I see pictures of adorable little blond haired girls. I think about it when I get Andrew out of bed in the morning. I think about it when I tuck him in at night. I think about it when I see our two boys playing together. I think about it when I put clothes away in the kid’s closet and I see that tiny little box that I have stashed in the top corner with things I haven’t looked at for a while. I think about it … I think about it… I think about it.

March 16th is the day when Emily died. It was 3 years ago. But it still hurts as if it was yesterday. Emily is Andrew’s twin sister. She died before we even got to meet her face to face. She died before I gave birth to her…but her memory is still here & it’s still raw.

I wonder how long it will be until it doesn’t hurt anymore. I am not very sure. Maybe never. It doesn’t hurt every day… but as March 16th gets closer… the ache in my heart gets more & more obvious.

Sometimes I wonder if I hang onto the pain, so that I won’t forget her. I don’t think so. I think that it just hurts sometimes and that is the way life is…. sometimes it just hurts. Yes, I appreciate the wonderful family I have. Yes, I know I am lucky to have the two beautiful boys that I have. I know all that. I am not forgetting the positives. And I am not taking them for granted either. It’s just that I don’t think there is any way I could ever forget her, or not consider her a missing part of my family. I wouldn’t want to. Every time people ask me how many kids I have… I pause. My heart screams THREE! But my mouth says two. When people ask me, are you going to try for a third child so you can have a girl… I just avoid the question. I have a girl. She’s here with me. You just can’t see her.

Her memory is not like a flagrant flashing red sign in my face everyday… but she’s there.

She is there every time I wear the necklace my dad gave me at her memorial. The one that has all my children’s birth stones on it. THREE stones, not just two.

She is there every time I see the pink azalea in my backyard. It’s the one my mom gave me on the first March 16th we spent without her. Every spring when it blooms for the first time, I think of Emily and cry. As it continues to blossom, I can see it from my kitchen window. And it makes me happy. I hate to see the last flower fall away, because I know I have to wait until next year to see it again.

She’s there. She will always be there.

Today is March 16th. It’s not an extraordinary day. It’s just Emily’s day. And I miss her.

February 28, 2007

Core Competency

Filed under: Thinking — by mvmommy @ 8:25 am

When Andrew was about 4 months old, I was at my Mom’s group discussing life with kids and staying at home. This Mom’s group is made up of 5 women. These women have subsequently become my lifeline throughout motherhood; but at the time we were just getting to know one another, and figuring out what we were going to do with the rest of our lives as mothers.

One of the ladies was telling us about her girlfriend (an experienced mom with 3 kids who were all older than our 4 month olds). She said that this woman told her that over the years, she came to realize that she is a horrible stay at home mother. No, that doesn’t mean she chose to go back to work. It means that she IS a stay-at-home mom, but she hates staying at home. She found that if she planned excursions for her & her children to go on, she was a great mom. Everyone would have a great time. She would enjoy the time spent with her children & they would enjoy her as well. However, if she was stuck at home for the day, she would go crazy. Likewise, the kids would too. This woman had explained to my girlfriend, that in time we would all figure out what type of mother we were… and when we did, we should embrace it.

At the time, I listened to the story & didn’t really get it. I myself was going to be a stay-at-home mom. And so far, after my 4 month initiation, I was loving being at home. I could sit for hours at home next to the playmat, staring at my child, watching every breath and every move. Yes, it was boring at times – but I was loving it. I couldn’t really relate.

As the months went on, our group of five ladies started settling into their paths. One went back to work full-time. One went back to work part-time. Three of us decided not to go back to work & stay at home. Of the three stay-at-home mothers, one spends most of the time at home playing with the kids, she rarely goes out. The second spends most of her time out & about with her children, at classes or friend’s houses. And I myself fluctuate somewhere in between. We still get together every week, but we bring a great variety of perspectives to the table. Each of us marvels at the other one, constantly saying things like “how can you deal with that, that would make me crazy.” It’s great! It’s the glue that holds us together & helps us all learn from one another.

It is because of these women that I have realized that I am not a stay at home, stay-at-home mother.

At first I didn’t understand why a quiet day at home would usually end up being one of the worst days of our week. The kids would act up. I wouldn’t be able to get anything done that I was trying to do around the house. Everyone would end up miserable. By the time 6:00 rolled around and Nathan walked in the door, there was a collective sigh of relief that another adult was going to be in charge… and that adult would not be me.

On the other hand, when we would go out… everyone always had fun. We would do things we wouldn’t normally do. We would explore things that were off-limits at home. No one had an agenda that wasn’t being fulfilled. Everyone just enjoyed each other and the time being spent together. And when we would come home for nap-time, I could get done everything that I wanted to before the kids woke up. For some reason, the whole scenario was just easier.

When I am with my girlfriends, we often compare our different situations… and I was distinctly getting the impression that I was not meant to sit at home. I thought I was, but I am just not that mellow. I have to be organizing. I have to be picking up, cleaning, cooking dinner, calling people back, doing laundry, checking email, changing diapers, folding clothes, taking out the trash, restocking diaper stations, etc. Each task gets a few minutes here & there, as I buzz around. This includes my children who get a few minutes of car racing, a few minutes of tower building, a few minutes of music & singing. Clearly they aren’t pleased with a few minutes. Likewise, I am not pleased with my inability to sit still before the urge to pick up that stray toy in the corner takes over. I end up feeling horrible about leaving them, but just can’t stop myself.

In the beginning, I didn’t have that urge/compulsion. I could keep things organized and play with Andrew. But now with two kids… the chaos is greater. There is more to juggle, and less time to do it in. And an organized home is the only thing that brings some sanity to my day.

Having realized this weakness, I also just figured out my strength – my ability to take my kids on adventures at the drop of a hat. The car is always packed. The diaper bag always stocked. Food is usually ready in the fridge to pack for a lunch on the spur of the moment. And we can be out the door by 8:15 if I am motivated. This is definitely my core competency… using my organization skills to get us out of this house!

Clearly, I need to be outside of my home to be a good mom. It doesn’t matter how we get out, just that we do. It can be to take a drive to the airport to watch the planes take off & land. It can be walking to the park and having a picnic. It can be running to the grocery store and letting the kids help me. Or it can be a big trips like to the zoo or museum. In the end, I need to do something that allows my kids to have my undivided attention, where they don’t feel like they have to fight with the laundry to get it.

Now that I know what I am good at… how do I fix what I am bad at? There are days that it is good to stay at home. The kids need it & I need it. However, I can’t just sit and play in the playroom for hours on end, with no agenda. It doesn’t work for me. So knowing that, I need to find some fun activities that we can do at home … like planned events. Things that will keep me involved and engaged… and not running to the next chore on the chore list. Any suggestions? I am up for them!

February 11, 2007

Hormones, the bane of my existance

Filed under: Thinking — by mvmommy @ 1:14 pm

Lousy.. that is how hormones make me feel.

Irritable. Weepy. Paranoid. Insecure. Tired. Frustrated. Depressed. Overly Sensitive. Not able to sleep. Did I mention lousy?

When I was a teenager, I remember my dad saying to me… “Are you on your period?”. I believe most every woman has been asked that question before, and has subsequently wanted to leap at the man who has said it to her… beating him senseless with her bare fists while yelling… I AM NOT ON MY PERIOD YOU STUPID JERK… I AM JUST PISSED OFF, UPSET, FRUSTRATED, (ie. fill in the appropriate adjective). At that age, I didn’t really understand hormones – I just thought my dad was being insensitive (which he was). I didn’t realize that I probably would not have been sobbing about some test I had to take, if it was a week later in my cycle. I would have just dealt with it & moved on. The degrees of my frustration would have been dialed down about 100 notches if I wasn’t hormonal.

Later during my early twenties, I still hadn’t caught onto the ‘hormone affect’.

Yes, I was a slow slow learner. But in my defense, it’s scary how truly upset you can get about something while hormonal, insisting it is not the hormones that are making you that way. I mean… if you are upset… aren’t you upset for a justifiable reason? It’s hard to take a step back, look at the situation, look at the calendar, and then ‘talk yourself down’ while telling yourself you might be over-reacting. Come on.. how many of us have that sort of self-control and self-awareness?!

Thus, I remember calling in sick to work some days because felt like I might be getting sick… lethargic, tired, like the onset of a cold. I remember thinking, this can’t be due to hormones, because I am not on my period. (As if you could only be upset when it was your period. That those were the only days when it was okay for a woman to have a case of the ‘crazies’. Yes, again, it took me a while to realize that my ‘crazy days’ are the WEEK BEFORE the actual event – why doesn’t anyone tell you these things!!!!) Those days I knew were times that I should stay home, in bed, under the covers, curled up in the fetus position – avoiding my co-workers for fear of bursting into tears OR saying something I might regret because I was frustrated and random, unintelligible words came flying out of my mouth.

Clearly, the ‘normal’ hormones that came with my periods were working out fabulously for me (insert sarcasm here). So we heaped on fertility drugs and pregnancy hormones, and I had a whole new level of hell going on in my body. Infertility is stressful enough not to have your emotions being toyed with by the insane hormone drugs. Can you say, weepy mess of a person. Yuck.

But then I was lucky enough to get pregnant! I was so deliriously thrilled that I couldn’t understand any feeling that wasn’t pure joy. I was just reading a blog entitled, “Do You Think Pregnancy Bites? You are not alone.” And I have to say, I rejoiced a little.

I remember feeling pretty low at times, and not really knowing why. I couldn’t seem to explain my behaviour and feelings to people, because I myself didn’t get it. How was it that I could want to be pregnant more than anything in the world.. and yet, be bitchy, upset, paranoid, frustrated, and all together miserable at the same time? I left most conversations with friends, feeling bad about myself, and trying to fix something. In fact, at one point I went to see a psychologist because I was sure there was something wrong with me. Even the doctors seemed concerned because I was that much of a mess… UNTIL… they saw me after having the baby. I was like Sybil- two entirely separate personalities. At that point, they pretty much looked at me, and said… yes, you do poorly with hormones. Diagnosis confirmed. We don’t need to see you anymore. Glad you are back. And, oh by the way, good luck with that.

A little late, but better than never, I finally realized that there are women who are affected by hormones and there are those that are not. And then there are some women that fall somewhere in between. Often those that aren’t cursed with the major upswings and downswings, can’t really understand the ones that are. It’s a shame. But like everything else, unless you have gone through it, it’s easy to judge … and hard to sympathize.

So with all this new-found knowledge about hormones and how they affect me, I am more prepared to acknowledge my craziness for what it is … ‘temporary insanity’ that will go away in 7 days, or nine months if I am pregnant. I often can explain my behaviour better to my husband (who by the way, knew all this stuff for the past 10 years and was just waiting for me to catch up). And I can respect my body and my emotions more as a woman. blah blah blah.

However, now that I have figured all this out… I am no longer just a woman anymore, I am a MOTHER. So how does a mother … who is feeling hormonal… be a great mom?

As a mother… you can’t be sick, so you definitely can’t be hormonal. You cannot take a sick day so that you can curl up in a ball and stay under the covers. You can’t be weepy and irritable with your children for no reason. You have to be MOM. Solid, stable, and definitely not crazy.

Not that it happened to me…. but let’s suppose. You are feeding your kids lunch. They are eating rice. They are toddlers, so, not very good with spoons when they are distracted by shiny objects. And for the 10th time in 5 minutes, someone ‘accidentally’ throws the rice on the floor. The floor that you just washed, and cleaned. And your husband is not home, so you have to be the one who patiently picks up the rice. But you want to scream because you are so tired of picking up rice. So you almost start crying because you wish they would eat their rice nicely. And normally, you would take the rice away and give them something to gnaw on, but there is nothing in the fridge because you haven’t gone grocery shopping yet. And they haven’t eaten enough of the stinkin’ rice, for you to simply say lunch is over and move on. AHHHA STUPID RICE!!!!! Clearly, you realize that you are being hormonal, and the rice is really not the issue. Also, you know that rationally your kids aren’t trying to taunt you with their rice throwing… they are just being toddlers. So what do you do?

If this ‘was’ me.. and I ‘had’ been in that situation… this is ‘probably’ what I did. Dad would walk in the door about 3 minutes later, to the aftermath of ‘Battle Rice’. Music would be blaring on the iPod in the attempt to get some aggression out without any yelling. Toddler #1 would be allowed to go outside in his pajamas, in the rain, with rainboots on over the footie pajamas. Toddler#2 would be dumped in a stroller, in the rain, watching Toddler #1. Dad would be told to ‘be in charge’. And Mom would sprint to the car to take a long car ride in order to re-group… waving to the three boys left behind in the rain, who are slighly perplexed, and have NO IDEA WHAT HORMONES CAN DO TO A MOTHER!

That is probably what I would have done if it were me.

February 9, 2007

Avoiding Regrets

Filed under: Thinking — by mvmommy @ 9:49 pm

A question I have daily is how do I avoid ‘parenting regrets’? You know, the ‘I should have’s’. For example, I should have:

* spent more time playing with my kids when they were younger
* thought less of getting in ‘me’ time, and more of ‘them’ time.
* worried less about dinner and more about the tower they were building
* let them go into the sandbox for 5 minutes before their nap despite the fact it would then take 10 minutes to clean off the sand from them before putting them to bed

Every day I seem to grapple with this question. Am I giving enough? Will I look back on this time and think I didn’t spend enough time with them? Will I kick myself for checking my email when I could have been racing cars for the 1000th time?

I don’t know how to answer this. I think I will have regrets. It doesn’t matter that I stay at home with them and have no daycare, nanny, or babysitter (other than occasionally family). It doesn’t matter that we don’t go out much on our own, without our kids. It doesn’t matter that I do play with them a lot, and we go on adventures and field-trips too. I am not sure that I can ever give enough, so that I will not regret any minute I don’t spend playing with my kids.

I know there will come a time, and probably in the near future, when they won’t want to play with mom anymore. When I won’t hear.. “Mommy, come play with me” every time I try to do something other than give them my undivided attention. And it is those moments I already feel guilty about. It’s those moments I miss already, and I haven’t even lost them yet!

However, on the other hand, how do you EXIST as a parent if you don’t have moments to yourself where you can completely checkout?

I admit, I do sneak off to the den to check my email when I think my kids aren’t paying attention. And yes, I am sometimes not listening when Andrew is talking to me, because I had my mind on something else. I confess, that Dora the Explorer goes on occasionally when I don’t have something important to do, but instead because I just wanted 30 minutes to take for myself and call a girlfriend.

And what about the non-frivolous moments? Those times in the day when I am loading the dishwasher, making dinner, or going to the grocery store. Since they are important tasks being done on behalf of the family… do they count as beneficial? Does that mean I will regret that time less, than the moments when I was hiding in the shower for one extra minute of warm water?

I rationalize these by saying, everyone needs a break. And that my family needs me to do some things – outside of playing with my kids – in order for it to function. In fact, making dinner & grocery shopping can be important learning experiences. And I do believe all of this is true. But when I know that these years go fast, and these moments are priceless….. should my breaks & obsessive need to have the house running smoothly wait until they are 5 and in kindergarten? Ridiculous? Maybe.

I love my kids beyond anything I could have imagined loving… and I don’t want to miss anything. And yet, on the other hand, I can’t just let go 100% and be a kid all day long every day. In fact, I find it hard to spend so much time at home with the kids and NOT think about all the things I should be doing to keep it clean, and efficient. Thus, the guilt. How do you know when you are balancing it right?

Sometimes I wish that being a parent came with a boss. One that didn’t interfere, but would quarterly give you a review of the job you are doing – that way you knew where your strengths and weakness lie. They could give you great tips that would help you improve, and you could work on it before your next review. Improvement eases the guilt… less guilt means less regrets… and you could settle into old age knowing you didn’t miss a beat with your kids. All is right with the world.

Now, how do I find that boss? (No, Nathan, you can’t volunteer.)

February 7, 2007

Having it all?

Filed under: Thinking — by mvmommy @ 12:00 am

Today I received an email from the mother’s club that I belong to. The email was entitled: Is It Really Impossible to “Have It All”. Usually I delete most of the emails, but this one intrigued me. So I kept reading. That was my mistake.

The first line indicated that the email was for mom’s who “have ‘big’ careers, say either a VP or above executive at a large public company, or an entrepreneur who has built a multi-million dollar business”. Then the emailer asks these people “is it really impossible to ‘have it all’… defining having ‘it all’ as a ‘high octane, challenging and fulfilling career and a wonderful family/personal life’.

Later in her email, she explains that she always knew it was possible to have ‘a mediocre career and preserve the well-being of your family’. Asking, if one could ‘have an extraordinary career’ and do that too? She also goes onto say that there are no women in her Rolodex that fit this description of having it all … except for a couple who have what she called ‘house husbands’.

I can’t tell you how fired up I am about the email. Seriously, I wish that person had posted her email with her own name and not anonymously. I would have a few things to say to her.

Who says that an ‘extraordinary’ career has to be “a VP or above executive at a large public company, or an entrepreneur who has built a multi-million dollar business”? What about someone who has an extraordinary career but is a nurse, or fireman, or teacher, or artist? What about someone who works in a flower shop because they love it (I found that to be an extraordinary career for myself)? I mean seriously, are VP’s and multi-millionaires the only careers out there that are considered extraordinary? If so, I am sorry to tell her that the percentage of people, not just women, that have jobs like that are very very small. Maybe THAT’s why she can’t find someone in your Rolodex who has it all!

And why can’t a woman with any career be good role model of ‘having it all’? Are they not a success at work because they don’t have a 6 digit income? Can’t we concede that it’s possible that people aren’t ‘compromising’ when they work in field that does not fall within her narrow parameters? Many women CHOSE their career. They weren’t forced into it. They didn’t opt out, because of their kids. AND they ALSO face the same issues when trying to balance their work, their family and their personal lives.

Thankfully, she doesn’t really talk about what makes a ‘great wife and mother’. A concept that is equally impossible to define adequately, unless you have walked a mile in each woman’s shoes. I guess I should be patting her on the back for not stereotyping that as well. Likewise, I bet there are few husbands I know that would really be ticked off if they found out they were being called ‘house husbands’.

In the end, she she does throw out two sentences allowing for the fact that there might be another life outside of her own personal views. Saying that she realizes that women can find fulfillment outside of corporate or entrepreneurial empires, and that the definition of ‘having it all’ is a personal one. But, this two second concession to calm me down didn’t really work, nor did it seem sincere as she kept barrelling on.

I guess my problem is that I often find that my ‘fellow mothers’ are the WORST at stereotyping and making other women feel bad about themselves and their choices. It is often another mother who has something to ever-so-nice to say about my career choice, my ability as a parent, or my skill as a wife. It’s as if they feel that by birthing a child, they are entitled to their opinions and that they don’t have to be sensitive or considerate about it. Prior to birth, they may have had some ability to sensor themselves, thus displaying an appropriate level of courtesy to the differences of others. But when that baby popped out, so did the filter from their brain to their mouth.

Ugh, there is so much to say, and I could go on for hours. Yet I am not eloquent enough to pull it off. Clearly she feels that only women in ‘big careers’ are the ones who face this issue. Frankly it is just her opinion, and she is entitled to it. I just wish that she had the sense to ask her friends in a private setting, not send it out to hundreds of mothers all over the bay area.

And even if it does make my blood boil…. I can only hope that what she really meant to ask was : can both people in a couple be at the top of their field -whatever it may be – and still have a successful and happy family life? (Thanks Shannon for putting it so nicely) The debate is actually a good one, but not if you make stereotypes about who can discuss the issue and who can’t.

I bet that there are millions of parents out there who wrestle with the issue of ‘having it all.”. And I bet those millions of parents… don’t all have millions of dollars in the bank. And I am sure their families are great, if not wonderful.

January 30, 2007

2007: the year of the Girlfriend

Filed under: Thinking — by mvmommy @ 11:49 pm

I am claiming 2007, to be the year of the Girlfriend.   

2004 was the year of the Andrew – filled with the amazing joy of becoming parents
2005 was the year of the pregnancy – filled with sickness, insomnia, and prenatal depression
2006 was the year of the Justin – filled with the rebirth of the joys of parenthood but with a whole new set of ground rules, and introduction to the chaos that is called ‘a family of four’

But now that everyone is sleeping well, eating well, not collapsing in a pool of tears when I move towards my purse (which indicates I am going to eventually be moving to the door), I am liberated once more.  

I have been using this liberation wisely and aggressively.   Every chance I get, I go out with my girlfriends.    Don’t get me wrong.  I don’t get many chances.  But if the window is cracked, I am going to find a way to squeeze my body through it and head to the nearest restaurant that has a bar, with the most available girlfriend I can find at that moment. 

This is harder that it seems.  Many of my closest friends have moved away to places that don’t require you to sacrifice your first born and a limb to live there.   So with those friends, we make phone dates.    However, for the girlfriends who are still living here (and have given up on any dreams of saving for the future), most of them are mothers now.  So one of us is always up to our ears in diapers, bathing kids, or putting them to bed.   And even when we plan to meet, someone’s child gets sick or husband gets home too late, and our plans are thrown in the toilet.  However, if the calendar’s align and we do make it out of the house, we have to cross the next hurdle.   What are we going to do?  The ground rules usually are: 
1. close to home – in case a child emergency calls us back
2. casual – because who knows if we are going to find the time to clean up prior to leaving the house… so a fresh shirt and deodorant will just have to do
3.  must serve alcohol – because what mother and wife doesn’t want to celebrate getting out of the house with a cocktail?
4.  must serve food – because we usually find that we are starving, because we have forgotten to eat most of the day due to chasing our children around
5.  must be fast – because despite our best efforts we all are tired by 10 at the latest.  It’s embarrassing, but you know it’s true.  And you know that when you get home, you still have to prepare for the next day… stock diaper bags, get car packed, layout clothes, set out food, plan meals, etc.  So again, fast is key.  Most moms I know can pack more into 2 hours than most people can in 5.

If you can master these hurdles, the pay off is so huge that you wonder why you aren’t doing this more often.    Being with my girlfriends actually makes me feel younger, more alive, and happier.  I am sure they are the secret to the fountain of youth.  

A couple of nights ago I went to dinner with a few friends.  I don’t think I have laughed so hard in weeks.  We weren’t in charge of anyone, and had nothing to do but enjoy ourselves.  And that is what we did.  We talked about serious things, funny things, and absolutely ridiculous things. We helped eachother through some emotional stuff.  We laughed at ourselves for our crazy parenting techniques.  We bragged about our kids to each-other.   We basically let out all the pent up stuff that was stuffed in the back of our brain, just dying to get out.   Only girlfriends can unlock that baggage, and let you feel normal for spilling it out there in front of them.  And only the BEST girlfriends can listen to it all, not make judgements, and better yet, make you feel normal for saying all the crazy things you just said.

I think I have fallen in love with my girlfriends all over again.  It’s almost like we are dating.  We are setting up times to meet.  Looking forward to them all week.  Calling one another giggling about past or future rendezvous.   Smiling, as we think back on something funny that was said.  And generally feeling like we are 21 again.   

That being said, girlfriends, since we are dating…. I would like you to send me some flowers, chocolate or wine for Valentines Day, please?  However, if you are really a good girlfriend, you know what I really want is another date with you (and I will share the chocolate and wine).   BUT, if you are really one of my best girlfriends, I don’t have to tell you what I want, you already know & you do it everyday.  Thank you.

January 28, 2007

Life outside of Primary Colors…

Filed under: Thinking — by mvmommy @ 5:22 am

Okay, Okay, I have caved. I will be the first to admit it. I am writing a blog even though I have previously insisted that I would not.

Yes, I said “writing a blog is no way to maintain a friendship”

Yes, I said “I don’t have time to write a blog”

Yes, I said “I don’t need the world to know my personal thoughts, only a select few need to know how crazy I am”

So, you might say ‘Traitor!’ ‘Hypocrite!’

Please let me explain. I am not writing this as a way for my friends to keep updated on my life. Yes, you can read it & chuckle at my mishaps. Yes, you may be entertained by my children. And yes, you might actually hear about something that I didn’t tell you personally via the phone or email. However, you should still expect to receive calls and emails and cards as usual. A friendship needs a personal touch, and I don’t expect my blog to do that. Okay? Okay.

However, I have decided that I need a life outside of primary colors.

If you have seen my house, then you have seen our living room. Which by a more appropriate name is the “playroom”. It is covered in blue mats. Why? Because I have boys, and boys destroy things, namely themselves. So the mats prevent their heads from looking like a map of the US Mountain Ranges. I digress. The floor is blue. The trucks are red (and by trucks, I mean about 100) . The hammers and tool-benches are yellow. Sometimes I wonder if there are other colors in the world. Oh wait, there is brown… that is the dirt on the floor from the sand and mud we have just brought in on the red trucks with the yellow shovel in the blue bucket.

I love my kids, I love my husband, I love my life… but sometimes I crave PINK. Yes, the color I grew up hating. I am not a girly girl. I was not into frilly dresses, or lots of makeup. But there is so much testosterone in my house, that pink is a refreshing change occasionally.

I find that I crave a creative and partially social outlet, that doesn’t involve building forts and digging in the mud. Yes, those are definitely fun too. However, sometimes it’s nice to drink a cup of coffee while it’s still warm and tell a friend about all the cute things your kids are doing (or not doing) without having to stop to yell across the room for one child not to hit the other.

So this extrovert needs a way to ‘purge’. The good, the bad and the ugly. The shades of things that I find in between blue, yellow and red. I find that I have bombarded my friends with stories that they may or may not want to hear. I have called family with thoughts that no person should have to listen to over, and over, and over, and over.

I have been reading many blogs by other parents recently, and I thoroughly enjoy reading their stories about their kids. I enjoy their insight into life, and keeping things sane in a job that has little to do with sanity. And I have found that just knowing there are other parents out there, that are making mistakes and still raising good kids, has made my job a lot easier.

If you are looking for great grammar, and perfect punctuation. You will have to stop reading. This is more of a stream of consciousness … and my own personal way of remembering the little things that float in & out of my days. The greys, the pinks, the oranges, the greens.

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