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My Summer “Vacation”

“Oh, all you teachers. Must be nice to have the summer off every year.”

Yup, the three best things about teaching are June, July, August. Amirite? I’m just over here laying in the sun, sipping summer cocktails, enjoying some peace and quiet. Awesome, yes?

Unfortunately, I have no idea if that’s awesome because I’m home with three small children this summer.

Don’t get me wrong. I love having this extra time with my children, but hanging with three kids under five is not a vacation. So far in the two days I’ve been home this week, I’ve cooked and cleaned up six meals, prepared 45 snacks, washed about 40 bottles, wiped three different butts, watched YouTube videos of kids playing with toys, helped my kids MAKE YouTube videos of themselves playing with toys, and cleaned up dog puke twice. In just two tiny days, I’ve had one child fall off a bike and scrape his face, got soaked at soccer practice because I forgot the umbrella, and chased an escaping toddler halfway down the street. Sweet, relaxing vaca, right?

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In the past two days, I’ve taken three kids to three different doctor’s appointments, including the psychologist for my five year old and the feeding therapist for the baby (Yes, feeding therapy is actually a thing). Today I took my two year old to the pediatrician since he was up half the night screaming. Thankfully, it turns out he’s not sick, he’s just an asshole , um, a toddler.

Even as I attempt to type this, there is a baby spitting up butternut squash all over his play mat and a five year old who just announced that he “needs to go poop real bad,” so I better finish this shit up before he needs me to wipe his ass.

When I had only one child, summer was slightly easier. I made sure to plan trips to the zoo, play dates, picnics, and science projects. Last summer, I smartened up and signed up to teach summer school, which was really a decent balance between work and time at home with the kids. This year, since Owen was born, I decided to enjoy some time at home with all three children. They are only little once, right?

The teacher in me still wants to attempt the art projects and fun summer events, but doing anything with three kids is pretty much a total shit show the majority of the time. So far this summer, the only place I’ve taken all three in public is the pediatrician (which is an entirely separate post on its own). I’d consider taking them to the library, but I’m afraid I’d be arrested for the amount of money I owe in overdue fees. So last week, out of desperation, I piled them into the car without any plan in place as far as where we were going. I took them to the gas station where I bought them crappy fidget spinners, drove them through the car wash, and then ran through the McDonald’s drive thru for Happy Meals on our way home. Compared to a day at the children’s museum, I was feeling like this little trip out was pretty pathetic, but to my surprise, they were totally pumped. Who knew that a $7 ride through the car wash could be so exhilarating?

All jokes aside and despite the challenges, I’m obviously so happy for this extra time with my kids. I’m thankful that my boys are spending their summer at home, swimming with friends, eating popsicles, riding bikes, and running through sprinklers. Despite the fun, and for the sake of everyone’s sanity, I’m thinking that next year, it’s time to sign them up for a few weeks of summer camp.

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When Mommies Need “Me Time”

Back in January, I was the lucky recipient of the dreaded jury duty summons. Don’t get me wrong, I get it. It’s an American right and responsibility and so on. But to be honest, jury duty feels more like a major inconvenience than an important civic duty. From having to drive downtown at the crack of dawn, to having to pay for my own parking, and the sad $40 per day pay rate, it’s all pretty annoying. But honestly, when I received the summons, I looked at my number and I was pretty sure I had a good chance of not even being called in.

And I was wrong.

Sure enough, on the morning of my call to duty, I was told to report to the court house by 7:30am. I called in to work, got the baby off to daycare, and headed downtown. In true pregnant lady style, I showed up toting around a bag full of snacks and several bottles of water, knowing I had a long day of sitting around and doing nothing ahead of me. Since it’s not often that I have a full day of nothing to do, I also packed my iPad and a book I’d been attempting to read for the last year (or two).

After waiting in a very long security line and getting settled into a room full of 400 other people who were equally as thrilled to be there as I was, I decided to make the best of an annoying situation. I poured myself a decaf coffee and grabbed my book. To my surprise, I looked up at the clock some time later only to realize I had been busy reading for over an hour and a half. It occurred to me then that maybe jury duty wasn’t so bad after all. I mean, I couldn’t remember the last time I had an uninterrupted hour and a half to myself to just sit and read a book. And not only that, but I was actually getting paid $40 to sit there and enjoy some alone time (alone, besides the 400 other people in the room, of course).

By the fourth or fifth hour of the day, I had not only read half my book, but I had made some friends, enjoyed some adult time, and caught up on e-mails.

And around this time, I realized that I had been in desperate need of some time away from work and parenting. I mean – seriously – if you are enjoying yourself at jury duty, you probably need to get out more often. I couldn’t recall the last time I had taken some time to hang out with adults and do something that didn’t revolve around motherhood and career related responsibilities.

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So last week, when a fellow pregnant friend invited me to join her at a prenatal yoga class, I jumped at the chance. Now let me preface this by saying, I am definitely not a yoga junkie by any means. I’ve taken a handful of classes in the past, but that’s about it. I’m not a granola eating, meditating, natural birthing kind of person. I’m typically the person who looks awkward in the back row attempting to bend myself into bizarre poses and trying not to laugh as the instructor tells me to take deep breaths and release my fears and worries through my fingertips (and other yoga nonsense that makes me giggle). They are constantly telling you to let your mind relax, not to think about anything except being in the moment, but c’mon. We’re moms, ladies. I’m making a mental grocery list and planning my son’s birthday party as I’m standing in warrior pose. But I digress.

So although I’m not yoga master, I really wanted to go. I mean, jury duty was thrilling and all, but I needed some legit “me time.” I trudged through the frozen tundra after work last Monday night and made it to class with a few minutes to spare. I was the first mom to arrive, and I have to admit, I was nervous. The studio was very small – there wasn’t going to be any hiding in the background. The class was going to be taught by a doula and I was slightly nervous she’d spend the entire time trying to convince me why I should attempt natural child birth and how to breathe through contractions sans epidural. And even more, there were a variety of props set up at each person’s spot – blankets, yoga blocks, a few fancy pillows. I had a feeling I was going to be in over my head with this class.

As the women arrived and we settled into the start of class, the doula welcomed everyone and spoke to each pregnant mom individually, asking us how we were feeling. I know what you are thinking – last week I was totally bitching about people asking the obligatory, “How are you feeling?” when they don’t really want or care to hear my answer. But this was different. She actually wanted to know how we were feeling. She asked what parts of our body were hurting, how we were sleeping. She offered some stretches and sleeping positions that might help our aching backs. It was amazing. It was so nice to spend 10-15 minutes talking about the physical challenges of pregnancy with other women and have them actually listen and understand. Maybe this wasn’t going to be as yoga-meditation-crazy as I had expected.

The rest of the class was just as amazing as the first few minutes. It was extremely relaxing, not at all strenuous, and really enjoyable. The instructor was helpful and showed us how to use all the props to modify poses without making me feel like I had no idea what the hell I was supposed to be doing. I still had trouble shutting off my mind and not making mental lists, but I have admit, there were a few minutes that I was able to actually “be in the moment.” LOL. That yoga-dialogue will always make me laugh.

During the last fifteen minutes of class, the instructor shut off the lights and played some quiet music. She gave each mom a short massage, complete with lavender oil and a killer neck rub. While I would normally feel SO awkward accepting a massage from a random doula I had just met an hour earlier, I didn’t hesitate at all. What pregnant mom is going to turn down massage?! Certainly not this tired Mama. And it was wonderful.

After all, I guess what I came to realize is this. Every parent – pregnant or not – needs some time away. I learned this fact back when my son was born, but between play dates and bedtimes, time can easily get away. Rule of thumb: If jury duty feels like a fucking vacation, then you need a vacation.

So if you find yourself relaxing during your latest dental cleaning, or you actually enjoyed waiting for two hours in your doctor’s office solely because you haven’t had two hours to put your feet up in months, then you are in desperate need of some “me time.” Schedule yourself a massage, go grocery shopping without your children, or plan a night out with hubby. You deserve it, ladies.

My Brief Blogging Break

So over the past two months, you may have noticed that I’ve been a little MIA from the blogosphere. I’m sure many of you were really concerned that I finally fell over the edge of the mommy mountain and decided to give up blogging AND parenting all together due to the out of control chaos involved in raising children. Or maybe you just assumed I’d finally checked myself into rehab due to the over-excessive, toddler-induced wine drinking that takes place around here on a regular basis. Don’t get your granny panties in a bunch. I appreciate your deep concern, but no need to worry. I haven’t thrown my child to the wolves. I’m not stuck in a permanent pinot grigio hangover. I’ve just been pretty damn busy, and I’m sure you can all relate in some way or another. So let me catch you up to date.

I know I’ve bored you to death with the topic of kids and careers in the past. I’ll try not to get to long and drawn out about it again at the moment. But, let me just say, kids + careers = chaos. I’m going to try to make this long story short. I’m a certified teacher by trade and I worked in the field of early childhood education prior to having my son. After he was born, I made the decision to stay at home for a year and then attempt to transition into a position in the school districts. In case you aren’t from New York State, I will fill you in on a little secret. Getting a teaching job in this area has pretty much the same odds as winning the lottery, getting struck by lightning, or getting pregnant with quintuplets naturally. It’s damn near impossible. So in September, I started working as a substitute teacher and then eventually took a full time teacher aide position in hopes to get my foot in the door.

Well, I got my foot in the door all right and then had the door slammed several times (leaving me with a figurative sore foot and a disheartened outlook). In the past two months, I’ve gone on six job interviews for various positions and haven’t yet secured a full time teaching position for September. As of right now, I’ll be returning as an aide in the fall. Which is totally fine, of course, but I was hoping for my own classroom.

Now besides the fact that I clearly believe that I am the most amazing, dedicated teacher on the planet, I also believe I deserve a position solely based on the amount of work that goes into trying to search for a job while raising a child (and working full-time). Just attempting to use my laptop to complete job applications with a child in the house is challenge. If you are a parent, you get what I’m saying here. My toddler actually believes that every electronic device in this house belongs to him and serves no other purpose than the play Thomas the Tank Engine videos on YouTube. So trying to convince him to give me a few minutes to write a cover letter hasn’t gone over very well. To be honest, I have no fucking idea what I’ve even applied for because I’m trying to move so quickly while working on the computer, attempting to finish an application before a computer coup d’é·tat organized by the toddler occurs.

Then, of course, there is the actual interview. Printing resumes, creating folders, coordinating a babysitter. It’s exhausting to think about. And trying to get out of the house on time in a freshly pressed suit without being attacked by greasy fingers and dog hair is pretty much like a mission straight out of the motherhood matrix.

Considering the amount of effort it takes to get an interview scheduled and actually get there in a presentable manner, I should be handed a position just based on the fact that I showed up.

Sadly, it doesn’t work that way. And with all of the effort I’ve been putting into finding a teaching job, I was forced to take a little time away from my website. But here I am, back at it. I’ve decided not to let the job search get me down and to continue to work on the things I enjoy – like blogging and drinking wine. Oh, and parenting, of course.

So stay tuned. Lots of tales about the tireless toddler are on their way.

Family “Vacation”

Tonight, I got home from “vacation” and I feel like I need a vacation. The family that I nanny for was off this week, so Greyson and I had a few days to ourselves. Unfortunately, Matt had to travel for work, so the baby and I were on our own. I decided to head to my mom’s house for the week for a little relaxing vacation to visit with the family. I learned two things. First of all, visiting with your family is not exactly vacation. (No offense…. I love you guys…. But you’re crazy). Secondly, there is nothing relaxing about traveling with a baby, especially without your husband.

Matt’s flight out was scheduled for 6:00am Monday, so I figured Greyson and I would head off to my mom’s sometime mid-morning. I didn’t want to plan too meticulously so that I wouldn’t be stressed about getting out of the house at any particular time. We’d get up, take our time, and go. It sounded simple enough…

I literally started getting ready when Grey woke up around 5:45am. The next thing I can remember is sitting behind the driver’s wheel, sweating and cursing. What the hell just happened? It’s 10:00am – Seriously? Where did the last four hours just go? It was a blur. It would take way too much time to tell you the details of what went down during that four hours but I’ll try to give you a shortened version. It went something like this: me running sprints through my house, throwing clothes around, dragging suitcases through the snow, herding Greyson and the dog into the car, wiping tears (both my own and the baby’s). It’s a miracle that we made it out of the house. Finally, the dog was dropped off at the vet and Grey was resting in his car seat. I was on the thruway. I was also ready to fall asleep at the wheel. THIS is “vacation?”

Staying with my mom while my husband was out of town sounded like a really good idea. I wouldn’t be alone all week and I’d have someone to help me with the baby. What I forgot about when I made these plans is that while my mother is amazing and loving, she is mostly insane. In a good way. I have a baby who is extremely scared of most people, but he absolutely loves this woman. For good reason, obviously. I mean, she makes wild faces and funny noises. She’s completely embarrassing in public. She talks way too loud when she’s on the phone. She stomps around in her New Balance sneakers and yells at her dog when she barks too much. I mean, she’s hilarious. What’s not to love? The only way I can explain her is over-the-top extreme and usually close to overdosing on Diet Pepsi.  She’s the kind of mother who is generous to the point where if you mentioned you liked her coat, she’d remove it and insist you take it. I’m pretty sure I have never seen her eat an entire meal, but she has a kitchen full of food and will force you to eat as much as possible and take the leftovers home. I spent three days at her house and gained four pounds. Thanks, mom. But all in all, I know she’d do anything for me. Spending three days with her was the precise combination of wonderful and exhausting.

Besides trying to pack the 123,890 items a child needs while on vacation and enduring the madness that is my mother, I realized that another challenge of traveling is spending time in other peoples’ houses. Houses that are not baby-proofed. Looking back, like most foolish first time parents, I remember saying that I wouldn’t let our home become overcome by toys when Greyson was mobile. I remember saying that I wasn’t going to get rid of every dangerous thing in the house – I would simply teach him not to touch it. Well, let me give it to you straight. When your kid starts getting into everything, you will plant toys all over your house to try to distract him opening the doors of the fireplace and pulling picture frames off your shelves. You will lock everything possible –cabinets, toilets. You will move the garbage can into the pantry. Maybe you will even replace your coffee table with a play mat. If you are like me, you’ll do whatever it takes to keep your kid from trashing the place. Unfortunately, when you go to other people’s homes, they are not prepared for the kind of damage that a 25lb one year old can do in a very short amount of time. At my mother’s house, Grey emptied every single one of her kitchen cabinets about 47 times. He managed to put teeth marks in the wood on her piano. He even took a shit on her bathroom floor before tubby time. When we walked into my dad’s house, Grey immediately went straight for the fire burning in the fireplace, managed to get stuck in the Chihuahua’s dog crate, and shredded every magazine on the coffee table. A toddler can ruin things in your house that you didn’t even know you owned. It’s impressive, really. After chasing Grey around other people’s houses for several days, I was ready to get back to our baby-proofed place.

While my week was extremely busy and a little bit stressful, I have to say that it was awesome to be able to spend some quality time with the fam. As we headed back home, Grey slept peacefully in his car seat. Apparently all the action tired him out as well. Next time I go to visit my family, I will remember that the most relaxing part of vacation will be the quiet drive home.

 

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