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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!

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….

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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.