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The Full Circle

Before my son was born, I planned to take an eight week maternity leave from my job before returning back to working full time. Maybe even less, if I felt so inclined. I loved my job and I was very career oriented. I couldn’t imagine spending so much time away from what I had worked so hard for over the past several years. At that time, I worked as the Center Director of a local children’s center that offered preschool and child care services. I was responsible for all daily operations of the center, ensuring that we followed each and every detailed state regulation, and managing a staff of thirty employees. It was a challenge, but I loved it. I was very proud of my center and my staff. Unfortunately, it wasn’t exactly the kind of position that allowed me to take too many days off at one time, much less a lengthy maternity leave. I was afraid that in my absence, things would fall through the cracks. Not to mention, I’ve never stayed at home for eight weeks with a newborn baby and I figured that I’d be itching to get out of the house.

It’s amazing how motherhood can change a person. In the hours before my son was born, I sat in my hospital bed, talking to my Assistant Director on the phone in between contractions to make sure she was ready to take over for me. I was worried about work and wanted to make sure we had tied up any loose ends. After what seemed like a very long weekend, my 9 lb. 2 oz. son finally made his grand entrance and surprisingly, I didn’t think about work again for the next eight weeks.

It’s not that I didn’t care about my job and how things were going, but I had a lot of other shit going on. In the beginning, I was focusing mostly on how to walk up and down the stairs without an excruciating amount of pain and blood loss and trying not to pee every time I coughed, laughed, or sneezed. Over the next month, I spent the remainder of my time trying to figure out how to breastfeed in public without flashing my breasts to the entire world and what to do when my newborn shits all over the car seat while out running errands (in some cases, even an extensive amount of wipes are not effective).

The day that I returned to work was one of the weirdest, saddest days of my life. I’m not an overly emotional person and thus I blame the hormones, of course. I dropped him off that morning and entered my office for the first time in eight weeks. I didn’t know what to do with myself. My Assistant Director had done an amazing job covering for me. She made sure my first day back wasn’t completely overwhelming in regards to the work load. There weren’t huge piles of shit for me to take care of. There weren’t any major issues I needed to address. Honestly, I didn’t know what to do with myself. I thought that bringing my baby to the day care where I worked would be the perfect situation for me. However, without a lot to do to keep me busy that first day, I sat in my office, listening to my eight week old baby crying down the hall and spent the majority of my energy (which I had very little of at the time) resisting the urge to run to him. After about four hours into my day, I pretty much decided that this wasn’t going to work out.

It wasn’t even just the emotional side of things. The UPS campaign, “We Love Logistics” made me want to punch someone in the face. I fucking hated the logistics of being a working mother. I hated trying to get myself ready and the baby packed while my husband traveled for work. I hated trying to find someone to watch the baby after work for me so that I could stay late for staff meetings. I hated pumping in my office and storing little baggies of breast milk in the staff lounge refrigerator. I know that there are a lot of women that are able to make the transition to becoming a working mother easily and smoothly, but I was not one of them. And so, four months in, I put my career on hold to get my shit together.

Over the 16 months following my resignation, I held all kinds of titles such as stay-at-home mom, work-at-home mom, mommy/nanny, part-time working mom, etc.  I did a complete full circle when it comes to roles as a mother. I have to say, they all have their challenges. Being at home with children all day was not always easier than going to work full time. It’s been two years since I became a parent and I am JUST finally starting to feel like I’m adjusting. I’m happy to announce that tomorrow is my first day back in the saddle as a full time working mother. It’s taken me two years to trust someone else to take good care of my son and to not feel guilty for pursuing a career. And you know what?? I think I’m even going to make UPS proud. It’s only 2:00pm and I’ve already got our bags and lunches packed and clothes laid out for the morning. Who loves logistics now?

ups

I’d love to hear about your experience as a working mother, stay at home mother, or some crazy combination in between! Leave me a comment below about how you adjusted and any advice you have for my return to work!

The Parking Lot Show Down

I’m walking out of the grocery store, in a full sweat, cart overflowing, toddler squirming, trying to locate my keys while attempting to keep my kid from jumping out of the cart. It’s a Saturday morning, so the grocery store is absolutely packed. I only managed to get an amazing parking spot since I arrived here at the ass crack of dawn (or so it seems) and it’s gotten busy during the crazy amount of time I’ve spent trying to complete this errand. As I’m walking the short distance to my car, I can’t help but feel as though I’m being watched. I turn around and notice that a car is slowly creeping behind me while I’m pushing my cart, probably looking like the motherhood version of a bag lady, still sweating and struggling to end this god awful grocery shopping chore. I realize that the car’s blinker is already turned on when it finally hits me – this person is going to follow me and wait for my parking spot.

Clearly, this driver doesn’t have children because it’s obvious they have no idea how much time and effort I’m about to spend loading my entire trunk full of groceries and then attempting to fight the wild beast into his car seat.

I’m annoyed for several reasons. I was already feeling rushed, knowing that my toddler is a ticking time bomb, set to go off as soon as he finished the last of the snacks I packed. Now I’m feeling the added pressure of trying to hurry up so that this douche bag can have my parking spot. Plus, after taking a look around the parking lot, I notice that there are plenty of other spaces (just not nearly as close to the entrance as mine). But really, it’s not raining, it’s a gorgeous day, and this lazy Mother Effer is making me feel the need to rush even more than I already am, just to save  himself a few extra steps to the door?

Well, I hope that this guy’s time isn’t as important to him as his precious energy because it’s going to be at least 15 minutes before I am even thinking about backing out of this parking spot. And not because I’m just trying to be annoying or purposely slow (Ok, maybe a little….) but because it’s seriously going to take me that long to get myself organized.

I finally locate my keys and begin loading the 100 bags of groceries into the trunk of my car. On a side note, how is it possible to need this much food for a family with only one small child?? What am I going to do when he’s a teenager??? But I digress. All while I am loading the car, I am singing and entertaining the kid to keep him from losing his shit out of pure boredom. I can’t load him first because I have to walk 10 parking spaces away to put the cart in the little corral. I bet the driver who’s waiting for my spot is one of those people who doesn’t even put their cart in the corral out of pure laziness. I take my time loading the car and walk my cart down to the corral, toddler in tow. I pick up my son and walk back to my car, shocked that this person is STILL waiting for my spot. I realize at this point that I left the box of diapers on the shelf underneath the cart, so I walk ALL the way back to the cart corral carrying a 30lb kid and grab the damn box. (Now you are starting to understand why I’m  in a full sweat and why I consider grocery shopping a full fledged workout).

I get back to my car and realize that my son’s diaper is leaking. I lay him down in the back seat, change him, and then begin strapping him into his carseat, which is no easy feat.

Seriously, this person is STILL fucking waiting??? It’s impossible. He could have finished his shopping by now. But at this point, I guess, he’s committed. He’s waited this long. He is NOT giving up now.

As I walk around to the driver’s seat, I catch a glimpse of the driver. It was a man. Go figure. Only a middle aged man who prides himself on getting the best spot possible would wait this long. Or maybe a teenaged girl who doesn’t mind talking or texting on her cell phone for 15-20 minutes while she waits. Or people who don’t have kids in the backseat, I suppose.

The point of my story is this. Stop being lazy. But if you really feel the need to stalk someone walking to their car in order to get a good parking space, you should probably follow someone who doesn’t have kids (unless you have 20 minutes to spare).

 

5 Adjectives to Describe Toddler Behavior

At almost 21 months old, I think it’s safe to say that my son has officially crossed over into toddler territory. (Lucky me). During the past few weeks, I’ve done some very informal, unscientific observations of my child. I’ve determined that there are five adjectives that can pretty much sum up my toddler’s crazy behavior.

toddlerecard

 1.)    Impulsive – “Ready, set, go!”

Yeah… My kid’s idea of a good time is climbing three stairs and then attempting to jump off. I’m sure you can guess how that turned out. Unfortunately, my toddler lacks the “think before you act” part of the brain. His thought processes go something like this: “run, jump, throw, scream, hit, repeat.” It amazes me that not only does he know he’s not allowed on the stairs, he has been injured on them before. After a child does something that causes them injuries, I’ve heard parents say things like, “Well, you won’t do that again, will you?” But, you know what? They will do it again. And again. And again. And again.  Because they are toddlers and they are impulsive and they don’t give a shit that they got hurt the last time they tried it.

They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Jumped off the stairs, got a boo boo. Jumped off again, got a boo boo. Jumped off again, got a boo boo. Yup. Insanity.

 2.)    Irrational – “Cookies?????”

I don’t know about you, but I’m getting really tired of making multiple meals that don’t get eaten, followed by giving in and letting the kid eat toast for dinner because I’m too tired to give a shit at 5:30pm after a long day. So, my genius idea was to let the toddler choose his dinner. I mean, I get it. He’s a human and has little preferences. If I let him pick, maybe he’d actually eat it.

And do you know what he asked for?? Cookies, obviously. This was followed by a fifteen minute knock down drag out about not getting cookies for dinner. The tantrum, the tears, the whole nine yards. Totally irrational behavior over the simple fact that I denied his cookies-for-dinner request. Maybe I was the irrational one for thinking this kid was actually going to ask for something legit, like pasta and broccoli. Silly me.

3.)    Emotional – “Mommy, makeup for me?”

My son loves my makeup. At this age, he wants to do whatever I’m doing. So, naturally after watching me apply my makeup every single morning, he wanted to give it a try. After saying no a million times, I finally gave in one morning when my husband was traveling and I was late for work. I didn’t think he could open the compact (but then again, I always underestimate this kid). I let him hold my bronzer and a makeup brush so that I could at least throw some cover up on my massive, dark circles and some eye shadow on my overtired lids. After ten minutes, he looked up at me and I knew the sunkissed glow on his face was definitely not natural. And that was the end of allowing him to hold my makeup.

The following morning, when he asked for the bronzer, I had to say no. Not only is it totally ridiculous for a 21 month old boy to be covered in makeup, but that shit is expensive. The look on his face was incredible. You would have thought I told the kid that I threw out every toy he owned. He was legitimately hurt and sad that I wasn’t going to let him use my makeup. It was the saddest cry I’ve ever heard. The only thing worse than an overly sensitive emotional toddler is a PMSing teenage girl who just got dumped by her douche bag high school boyfriend. Just another reason why I am not having girls, FYI.

 4.)    Possessive – “MINE!”

The toddler started daycare a few months back and learned the importance of being able to scream, “MINE!” I can’t blame him. You’ve got to hold your own when it comes to fighting for the good toys. It’s like the toddler toy version of survival of the fittest.

In order to deal with him screaming “MINE!” all the time, I attempted to teach him to say, “My turn, please.” His language is limited at 21 months old, mind you. At a play date yesterday, I saw him snatch a toy from his friend and scream, “MY TURN PLEASE!” in a raging, near tears, I’m-not-sharing-my-shit kind of voice. He looked at me, pleased with himself, like he was proud that he used the words that I taught him (albeit he screamed them while snatching the toy). Not exactly what I was going for… Looks like we need a little more work in the possessive department.

 5.)    Aggressive – “Hit!”

As an early childhood educator, the more politically correct side of me would not call a child aggressive. Just more…. “hands on.” But let’s be real. Toddlers are sometimes aggressive. Not in a vicious way, but when you only have about 30 words to choose from, sometimes hitting is a much faster, more effective way to make a point.

The thing with the hitting is this – I can’t help but find it hilarious that this tiny toddler thinks hitting a 100lb dog is going to sufficiently prevent the dog from stealing the fruit from his snack plate. I’m pretty sure my constant giggling at his attempt at aggressiveness is probably only encouraging more hitting….

  *

As an early childhood teacher, I am totally aware that all of these crazy behaviors are completely normal and age appropriate. That doesn’t make it any more hilarious and challenging to handle, though. I’m already looking forward to Greyson turning three years old. But in the mean time, if you have a toddler that’s just as “normal” as mine, my advice is this: stock up on the wine, mamas. They don’t call it the “terrible two’s” for nothing.

 

 

Deal Making Mommy

DON'T WORRY. I didn't get a minivan (yet).

DON’T WORRY. I didn’t get a minivan (yet).

Last week, I got a phone call from my car dealership that I was eligible for a lease pull ahead in which I could turn my car in five months early for a newer, nicer version and still maintain a similar payment. While I was completely and utterly doubtful that this was possible, I decided to entertain this guy by setting up a meeting.

Because we didn’t have a sitter set up, we had two options. Either my husband was going to come with me and we were going to attempt to car shop with a toddler in tow (which sounds like hell for both me and the dealership) or I was going to do this alone. I know that car shopping can be challenging and that you need to have some serious negotiating skills in order to get a good deal. Really though, I spend twelve hours a day negotiating with children. Trying to make a deal with a car salesman can’t be THAT much harder. If I can convince a toddler to eat his veggies, I can definitely convince this douche bag that I deserve the lowest payment possible. Not to mention, I watch a lot of Million Dollar Listing on Bravo TV, which has really improved my negotiation skills. I think I could give Josh Altman a serious run for his money.

I spent the remainder of the week doing some intense research. I talked to tons of dealerships about comparable cars and leasing options. I read articles about what questions that need to be asked, like the total purchase price of the car, the residual value, and the interest rate. I learned about acquisition fees and studied terms like capitalized cost reduction. I picked out the model I wanted, the packages I wanted to add, and the interior and exterior colors I liked. Most importantly, I talked with my dad several times because, you know, this is the kind of things that dads live for – car shopping, examining mortgage rates, opening IRA’s and 529 plans, political discussions, etc. My dad even offered to drive in from out of town to join me, but I told him it wasn’t necessary. I was ready.

I pulled into the dealership, dressed to the nines and feeling confident. One of two things was about to happen. Either all of the sales guys were going to ignore me because clearly a young, clueless woman who was car shopping without her husband wasn’t going to have the balls or the permission to pull the trigger. OR – I was going to be mobbed because these guys figured I had no idea what I was doing. They were going to fight over the chance to screw me by confusing me with car salesmen jargon and hidden fees, then sell me an overpriced vehicle that they swore was “discounted” as much as possible.

Four men (actually, more like four 30 year old guys who looked like total tools) surrounded me as I entered the building. I felt like I was willingly walking into a tank full of hungry sharks just itching for the chance to destroy me. Brian, the guy who I had set an appointment with, waded through the crowd of men and greeted me. He looked around. I knew he was looking for my husband. Or my father. Or my sugar daddy. Because clearly, women aren’t capable of car shopping independently.

“Are you shopping…. alone?” he asked.

I laughed and explained that indeed, I would be shopping alone. I told him I was so graciously sparing him from having to try to sell me a car while I chased my toddler around the dealership.

Brian began our conversation by throwing around some ridiculous terms and definitions. I politely let him know that I knew what he was talking about. I pulled out my notes and I quickly silenced my phone so that he wouldn’t hear the texts and calls I had coming in from my concerned crew (aka, my husband and my dad).

I spent almost 3.5 hours at the dealership. I negotiated all morning and finally got the car I wanted for the price I wanted and no one else’s name was needed to co-sign for the loan. I have to say, I was pretty impressed with myself.

Brian walked me to my old car and helped me pack up my things (12 embarrassing girly CDs, a teddy bear, a few random toys, and a shit ton of change). He commented that my car looked like it was in good shape. Not too much wear and tear and pretty clean, too. That was, until I lifted out the car seat to reveal about 38 crushed up goldfish crackers and an entire carton worth of milk stains…. Yikes. Have fun with that, Brian.

I climbed into my new 2014 Titanium Silver Kia Sorento, also known as, my mommy mobile. Granted, I didn’t go as far as getting a car pool approved, kid-ready minivan.  But, you never know. Maybe someday this car will be sporting two car seats and we’ll be happy we opted for that hide-away third row seating. Either way, I’d say it was a successful day for this deal making mommy.

My Mom Ride. OOOH. I know you are jealous.

My Mom Ride. OOOH. I know you are jealous.

The Baby Bomb

Before I had my son, I was one of those expectant mothers who swore that I wasn’t going to allow baby gear to overtake my household. I wanted to maintain some sort of respectable adult space so that I didn’t feel smothered by the all consuming sense of parenthood all the time. I wasn’t going to remove my coffee table from my living room and get rid of every piece of fragile décor. I was just going to teach my kid to be careful and not to touch that stuff. (HAHAHA). I thought it was important to still have some order and organization and to avoid letting the baby stuff become the centerpiece of every room in the house.

As it turns out, caring for a newborn requires a LOT of baby gear. Let me rephrase that, it’s not that parenting REQUIRES a lot of stuff. You could probably get by without a wipe warmer and a shopping cart cover. However, there is a lot of baby gear out there that does actually make the job easier. If you are lucky enough to have baby crazy friends and family, most likely they will buy you every product you could ever imagine (and then some) for your baby shower. And so it began.

In the months leading up to my son’s due date, my husband and I spent every weekend putting together strollers and assembling infant furniture. You’d be surprised how challenging some of this shit can be. If you and your significant other can sufficiently assemble a crib without starting a fight, then I’d say you are on the road to a successful partnership as parents because building that shit is stressful. Ever gone camping and tried assembling a tent with your spouse? It’s a major pain the ass, right? Now try putting together a gliding rocking chair with four hundred bolts and moving parts and one tiny Allen wrench (not to mention trying to do it while carrying 30lbs of extra weight and a massive bowling ball in your uterus).

Little by little, our house became filled with baby gear and I hadn’t even had the baby. Greyson’s closet and dresser were filled with freshly cleaned and folded newborn clothing, most of which he never wore considering he was born the size of a toddler. The swing, the most important piece of equipment we owned, was built and plugged in. We even had the car seat put into the car weeks before my due date.

It happened so fast that I didn’t even see it coming. After we brought Grey home from the hospital, it was like a baby bomb went off and left debris consisting of diapers, dirty laundry, and breast pumps laying all over every inch of the house. There was a bouncy seat in my bathroom and a baby play gym on my living room floor. The bassinet took up half of our bedroom. My nightstand was buried in baby products that we might need during the night, like burp clothes, diapers, and extra clothes for nighttime blow outs.

Between the baby and the dog, my husband and I are left with rights to about two square feet of this room.

Between the baby and the dog, my husband and I are left with rights to about two square feet of this room.

As the months went by, the baby stuff continued to build up. Greyson transitioned to bottles, so my kitchen counter was consumed by bottle parts and drying racks. When Grey began taking baby food, we built the high chair. The living room was becoming overloaded with baby toys and walkers. As he grew out of things like the swing and the baby seats, our basement (which was formerly our workout room) became mostly a baby storage unit. And you can try to maintain some adult space, but most likely, you will submit to letting the toys take over. Don’t get me wrong; with some crafty storage ideas and some organization, you can hide it. But whether or not it’s tucked away in trendy wicker baskets or cute leather ottomans, you kids’ stuff is everywhere.

If you look closely among the debris, you can pick out pieces of our former workout room.

If you look closely among the debris, you can pick out pieces of our former workout room.

This weekend, I threw out all of the baby bottles and put the high chair in the basement. I was so happy to get rid of the some of the gear that’s been overtaking my household. In reality, I know that every item we remove will be replaced by something else child related. So while there are no longer eight bottles and a bulky sterilizer claiming space in my very tiny kitchen cabinets, I now have two shelves filled with multi-colored sippy cups and plastic dinner ware suitable for a toddler.

Before I had kids, these shelves were dedicated to displaying my shot glasses. Sigh.

Before I had kids, these shelves were dedicated to displaying my shot glasses. Sigh.

The truth of the matter is, when you have children, you basically sign a contract granting them permission to overtake every inch of the house, down to the DVR list. How am I supposed to record The Housewives of New Jersey when my list is constantly 99% full due to daily episodes Thomas and Friends? Unfortunately, it just comes with the territory.

So rather than trying to disarm the baby bomb, I’ve decided to just do my best to maintain the debris. I’ll try to keep it as picked up as possible, but I’m not going to beat myself up over having a basket or two of toys in every room in my house. And as it turns out, it’s pretty tough to teach a toddler not to touch things that are fragile and to stay away from sharp corners…. So for now, my coffee table and my decorative candles are safely put away in the baby storage unit until further notice. And you know what, I totally OK with that.