The Many Rules of Brushing your Teeth at my new site, Just Hopeful

Hi! Please check out my latest blog post, The Many Rules of Brushing your Teeth, over at my new website, Just Hopeful.

When you’re at Just Hopeful, take a look to the right of your screen for the SUBSCRIBE box. That’s the same as Following which you’re doing for Make It As A Mommy. I hope you’ll go ahead and subscribe (follow) me at my new site, Just Hopeful.

Becoming Just Hopeful

I am happy to announce the launch of Just Hopeful! With this announcement, I will making all of my upcoming posts at Just Hopeful and not Make It As A Mommy. My content will stay the same; I’m still Trekking Through Mommyhood and (thankfully) Surviving and will continue to write about being a full time Mommy and a full time employee. But I’ve also learned that I’m also Trekking Through Life and would like my blog to reflect all of my experiences, as I choose to write about them. I hope that if you followed me at Make It As A Mommy you will also choose to follow me at Just Hopeful. See you there! logo-just-hopeful

Afraid of the Dark

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Anyone who lives where I do right now is probably shaking just a little bit. An actual tornado watch was just issued (and thankfully it ended a minute early) for my area. I know I’m not supposed to tell where I live and I don’t want to get specific but I live in New Jersey. We don’t have tornadoes here. That’s for Dorothy and Auntie Em out in Kansas, not Jersey.

My 10 month old is sleeping through it – PHEW. My 3 and a half year old was scared but never came screaming from her room. Me, petrified. At the first loud crack of thunder I literally jumped a foot in the air and started running down the hallway to where my husband was teaching our daughter how to brush her teeth with big kid toothpaste (look for a post in the future about how to manage my serious pet peeve of globs of toothpaste in the sink with a child just learning to spit). I knew that I couldn’t let her see my fear so I managed to slow myself down and smile at them and then disappear – with a pounding heart.

My older daughter doesn’t have many fears. She loves roller coasters and the ferris wheel and the beach and all of the things that kids should love. She is afraid of the dark, bugs and loud noises. Right now, that’s it. My husband is convinced that I made her afraid of these things, after all, I’m afraid of them too. (Yes, I know it’s silly to be afraid of the dark but, as an adult, I know what can be lurking in the dark.) I try to explain to him that kids are scared of things. She’s 3 and while she is brilliant (of course) and advanced for her age (just ask my husband!), she’s actually 3. A very normal, adorable 3 year old.

She did pretty good tonight. I would have stayed with her all night but I didn’t want to give in to my fear and help to grow hers. I know that if she came out of her room in tears I would go climb into bed with her and hold her for as long as it took. But if she wasn’t giving into it, I wasn’t either. My husband did a pretty good job tonight. Normally he doesn’t allow for her fear at all. It’s incredibly frustrating for me. But tonight, he was soft and that was nice to see. During bedtime routine he taught her a trick – put a pillow over your head to protect you from the thunder. It was cute to see them play together. But then 10 minutes later she came out and somehow he didn’t tell her to just go to bed. He went in, tucked her in, held her hand for a couple minutes and came out. I’m happy to say that the rain seems to be settling into a regular rain storm and that we haven’t heard from her since.

Goodnight, Sweetheart

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Some women can be full time stay at home moms and some can’t, but we all share one thing: we relish our time to ourselves. For me, my time to myself is at work. I’m not “out doing whatever I want” but its Me and not Running-Ragged-Mommy Me. I try hard not to work evenings or weekends, this is my time to be a Mommy. Not only do I love it but I believe in the responsibility of being a Mommy. I’m happy that I work but I miss my kids – and the fun we could be having – when I’m at work. However, sometimes working at night or on the weekends is inevitable.

When I work at night, my husband will leave work an hour early to pick up the kids from day care. I love these nights out. They don’t happen often but when they do, it’s relaxing to be out to dinner (even a working dinner) without worrying about what the baby is touching (eating) and where the 3 year old is off to. Lately, when I’m out, my husband will gather the girls and call me at bedtime so that I can say goodnight. It’s funny, I’m gone for one working day and dinner but when I see it’s him calling, my heart skips a beat because I am so excited to talk to Sari and get the report on her and her sister’s day. (The little one is only 8 months old so no words from her yet!)

Then the weirdest thing happens, I hear her voice and my heart aches with missing them. I say it’s weird because I asked for work and its only one day, but still I ache and am close to tears.

These goodnight phone calls have given me a glimpse into what used to be my husband’s every day. At his previous job he didn’t believe in work hours. He is in a 24/7 field and there were times when he would sleep at work. It sucked for him, for me and for our daughter (at that time we only had one) who I knew he was missing fiercely. So I would call him and have Sari tell him all about her day. Cute, I thought. Keeps her bonded to him when he isn’t here, I thought. I also thought it was hard for him to understand what she was saying so I would repeat just about everything she said.

Well, now I know first-hand just how hard it is to understand! One night last week I had a blogging seminar. I’m enjoying writing this monthly blog and want to learn as much as I can so that it can grow and, quite frankly, so that I can continue growing. So, that day my husband picked the kids up from day care and I went to the seminar. He called me at bedtime just like I used to do for him. When I heard Sari’s voice, my whole body melted and my heart literally ached for missing her and her little sister. And then… conversation. Joe prompted Sari to tell Mommy all about her day, just like I used to do for him. Wow, you really can’t understand what a child is saying on the phone! Face to face, I understand about 95% of what my daughter says. On the phone, I understood about 5%. I wish I was exaggerating. I kept asking her to repeat what she said which was frustrating for her and only occasionally did my dear hubby repeat for me what she was saying. By the end of the conversation I just wanted to get off the phone. I went from tears to pulling my hair out in 3 minutes flat.

I think its good for us to enjoy being on our own and good to miss our kids while we’re away from them. As adults, we deserve time to ourselves to grow as people. It’s important for our children to see us develop new passions. After all, one of our dreams is for our children to become happy adults with full lives. I just wish it wasn’t so hard.

Look, I can Juggle! I think…

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My oldest, 3 years old, recently called out my name and said, “MOM! LOOK!” (It had been her third ask so the scream was necessary to get me to turn my head.) I said, “Ok, I’m looking, what’s up?!” She smiled big and said, “Look, I can juggle!” She then proceeded to throw 3 balls into the air and watch them hit the floor. Then she said, “Oh no, maybe again.” She did this a few times and it was hysterical. Of course I had to get it on video for her father where she actually tried to catch the balls on their way down. Absolutely adorable!

So why when we, as adults, try to juggle, it’s not so cute? Granted we’re not usually juggling balls. We juggle children, work, marriage, family, house, friends and on and on. When we drop a ball, something comes crashing down and the giggles don’t usually follow.

Last night was an especially difficult juggling act. It was bath night and my husband had a happy hour with all of the managers at work so he wasn’t coming home. That means I pick up the kids, make dinner, get them bathed, get them to eat and do two bedtime routines – all in less than two hours. Needless to say, I had been stressed about Wednesday night since Sunday when I noticed hubby’s happy hour in the calendar. In an effort to make my evening a little easier, I planned to leave work at 4:00 p.m. instead of 4:30 p.m. SIGH, what is it they say about making plans?

Major deadline crunch at work. I had an article to write for a playbill for one of our clients. Deadline was Tuesday; article was written Monday and sent to the company I wrote about for approval. Tuesday mid-morning, I find out they would prefer no article at all. Now I have to write a new article on a different company and my deadline was end of business. Thankfully, the marketing guru we work with who handles the printing gave me one extra day. So now I had the article to write and the company I was spotlighting to read it, add content and approve. And I had to tell them we had one day to do it. They were grateful for the article but not happy about the deadline. Let’s add guilt to the stress now. We started the conversation on Tuesday afternoon. Tuesday evening, I delayed dinner for my 7 month old in order to email the article to the company who understood the deadline. Wednesday morning, I sent a friendly Good Morning and reminder about the article. By Wednesday at 2:00 p.m., I hadn’t heard from them since the morning so I sent an email. Then I called at 3:15 p.m. trying not to nag but letting them know I would be leaving by 4:00 p.m. and hoping to have the article by then. Luckily, the woman working on it was also leaving at 4:00 p.m. and wanted it off her plate. But, by 4:15 p.m. I gave them all my boss’s contact info and left. Bring on the juggle!

The craziness all of you mommy and daddy’s reading this know too well began now. The juggle that really prompted me to write this post! I arrive at day care stressed about the article to find everyone outside playing. You’d think they’d all be happy to be running around outside in the gorgeous weather. Nope! My 3 year old was crying and the day care teacher tells me she laid down to nap but never did. She screamed for the next half an hour until I bribed her with the Frozen CD if she actually stopped crying. Finally she stopped and on went the CD. Home for baths initiated more crying and more bribes. This time it was Jake and the Neverland Pirates. I got so desperate that I threatened to take away Jake (we’re on a first name basis now) for the rest of the week if she didn’t just get in the bathtub already. Of course, she’s 3, she doesn’t know what a week is. So I counted out the days on my fingers and when she saw that next week was 4 whole days away, she got in. And got happy playing! PHEW! The 7 month old, however, was not. She started crying in the bathtub for the first time in months. UGH! Double UGH!

When I took the little one out and dried her off, I began to feed her her dinner. And then I looked at my phone and saw that emails had finally begun about the article. I was so relieved to receive it but couldn’t figure out how to feed the screaming, starving 7 month old and respond to emails. I realized in that moment that I was going to have to choose work or kids. I just simply was not going to be able to keep all of the balls in the air. Thankfully, I had back up. My boss is actually very understanding about my torment with my juggling act. She should be, she’s my mother! So she stepped in and handled the rest of the article. After I got both of my kids fed and somehow managed to shovel food into my mouth (the chicken I was re-heating was under-cooked by the way so mac and cheese became dinner and not a side. I am the world’s worst cook!), there was still the dishes to do and bedtime. And a big glass of wine for Mommy!

I realize this is all part of the deal and working is a better choice for me, both for my sanity and my bank account. I do wish it was a little easier and that I could juggle more but contrary to most people’s beliefs, even mothers only have two hands.

(By the way, emails about the article were going back and forth until 10:30 pm. But I didn’t see them – I was asleep by 9:00 p.m. Thank you Mom!)

If You’re Happy and You Know It

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I just looked back at the handful of posts I’ve written. One of the first was about my fear of being a full time stay at home mom (SAHM). Funny how life changes … I avoided that fear as I now work full time.

It’s, of course, been replaced by a new fear. (Why would we ever just live our lives and not stress over every detail? But I digress.) I have this overwhelming obsession with never being late to day care to pick up my kids. If I arrive after 5 (it closes at 5:15), I feel like I’m late. The fear? That my daughters will ever think I’m not coming. When I was a little girl at camp, my parents were late once to visiting day. I went to camp for 10 years and they were late once.  Maybe 10 minutes or something but definitely after all of the parents had gotten there. I was at volleyball when I saw them coming across the athletic field. I honestly thought they weren’t coming and I remember exactly how I felt. I was 8 or 9 when this happened and I can’t handle my daughters ever feeling it. My daughters are only 3 years old and 5 months old and when I arrive at day care the 5 month old is usually sleeping and the 3 year old is having the time of her life. In fact, she’s having so much fun it’s usually difficult to get her to leave for home so why am I projecting this fear on her? She always runs over to me and hugs me and screams, “MOMMY!” But, she then goes immediately back to playing. She does not notice if I’m late.

I often wonder why we can’t just be happy. Or maybe why I can’t just be happy. I got what I wanted. I’m not a full time SAHM. But working full time and obsessing over every detail of my children’s lives has left me insane. My house is a disaster. It’s literally the last thing I think about and the truth is, I am a slob. I always have been. Except now I am completely stressed out that I’m teaching my daughters to be slobs. I wish my husband would pick up the living room sometime. It’s not like he does nothing. He makes dinner and does the dishes and puts the 3 yr old to bed. But then he goes to bed. The guilt over the house is eating me up. Being a slob, normally mess doesn’t bother me but the mess a 3 year old makes is too much even for me. Thing is, I’m just as exhausted as my husband. Once both kids are in bed I can barely move so the living room doesn’t get clean.

There’s more of course, when would that be all that’s on our plates? These days I think I’d be happy working 3 or 4 days a week and staying at home the other days. Then I realize that I’ll find something wrong with that scenario too. I enjoy the freedom of being at work. I trust my day care completely. I enjoy the independence. I would be ok with not having the exhaustion and overwhelming part but, as my father always said when I was little, “When you walk down the great valley of life, you can’t always get what you want”. (Yes, that was one of the most annoying phrases to grow up hearing all the time!) So it’s time to embrace my world and be happy. I’ll just remember my glass of wine that is needed at dinner every day!

PS Anyone want to come organize my house and teach me how to change my slob characteristics? 🙂

Know It All

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Have you heard this before, “You want to be a writer? Write about something you know.” So I’m writing about being a Mom, something I know all about. Of course I only know what I’ve already experienced and hopefully I’ve made the right decisions along the way. One of those decisions was to go back to work full time. No more Stay At Home Mom for me. Is it wrong to say I’m happy? I miss my kids tremendously (and the control I have over their schedules). I went back to work at 5 weeks post-partum (definitely too soon but I didn’t have much control over that) and now I think I’m a better mom and person because I have time for my own creative outlet. Sounds selfish to say it out loud but I know that 90% of you moms reading this know exactly what I mean.

I want to quickly illustrate just how crazy life got for us in September. Hopefully it’ll shed a little light on why my head is spinning as I try to hold tight onto anything I may know or have known or am learning. Our beautiful Jaclyn came 5 weeks early and we were not prepared at all for that. I was in the hospital for the standard 4 nights after a c-section and Jaclyn was there in the NICU for 11 days. She was the easiest NICU case there, thank g-d! She was born on September 19th and came home on Monday, September 30th. Friday of that same week my husband was laid off. We can’t decide if they were being nice and waited until she came home from the NICU or if they would have laid him off 1 month before a new baby came had we not gone early. Either way, the company made their choice and lost an amazingly dedicated employee. That put us in scramble mode for income as I was a Stay At Home Mom. Enter my mother… she found herself in a pickle right after this happened. She needed help in her business and thankfully I was able to step in. Hence going back to work at 5 weeks post-partum.

So now I’m a full time, working mom with 2 kids. The last 2 months have left me with a feeling that I just can’t wrap my brain about what I know any more. How do you keep it all straight? And I know that I’m supposed to know everything – Mom’s are the go-to for an answer to everything, right? Even at my age I still call my mother for anything I may be unsure of. Let’s see… I should know everything about being a Mom, a Wife, a Friend, a Sister, a Daughter, and now a Full Time Employee who knows what she’s doing at work. Did I miss a role here?

What a learning curve this is! I’m curious as to how this all will affect me: what will become less important to me and my every day, who will I surround myself with, what will these experiences be like as I’m doing all of it and who I will be in 5 years. And let’s remember… I work for my mother! So we have to both learn how to stay in the close mother/daughter relationship we have while we learn how to act as boss/employee.

She and I have tried this before. Many years ago before I met my husband and had my kids and, in my mind, had a true grasp of what responsibility actually is. It did not go well. Let’s just leave it at that. This time, I’m happy to say that it is working. We are able to keep work and life separate. We are still as close as can be and I’m doing a good job at work. At least she keeps telling me I am!

What I didn’t expect is that it’s changing how I see my mother. She worked when I was young and my whole family could never (still can’t) relate to the amount she works. She has this incredible passion that I can actually see now as opposed to just hear her talk about. It hasn’t been smooth for her as a working mom, even with adult kids. She works ALL of the time and we could never cut her any slack for it. Now I can and I do – much to the chagrin of my family. I have no idea how she gets it all done. It makes me wonder if I’ll ever be as amazing as she is and it’s giving me more to strive for. I hope to share this passion with my daughters and instill in them a strong work ethic. But being a parent and in this situation now, I hope that I can find a better balance between work and family so that there is no resentment towards me as the working mom. I hope to be able to acknowledge the changes that will occur within my family over the years and with our family needs so that I can continue to keep the balance. That could mean working less or working more but not working ALL of the time. I hope to show my daughters that we can be powerful as working women and loving as mother’s at the same time. Thankfully, I work for my mom who will let this “employee” take off for doctor’s appointments and school recitals and sick kids and anything else that pops up. She’ll be taking off for those recitals too – after all, they are her grandkids!

So what do I know? I know I married a good man. I know my children are beautiful and watching them grow is a gift. I know that I am blessed with a family I like to be with let alone love. I know that having people to rely on is imperative in life. I know that I enjoy working and will continue to work forever. I know that I don’t know it all and that I have so much left to learn. I know that I’m looking forward to that learning and to teaching my daughters what I’ve learned. I know that watching them learn is the coolest thing ever. I know that I’m happy, even with the everyday drama of life and that this may be the only roller coaster ride that I don’t run screaming from.

Crying at My Heart Strings

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Oh my heart tonight is breaking! The scene: Joe, my husband and wonderful father of our daughter, is in with Sari reading as always before bedtime. I’m on my computer. This 20-30 minutes before bedtime is literally the only time I have to myself when I’m home with Sari. So Joe is fully on duty. Its usually the most wonderful time for me and him.

Tonight, however, is another story. Sari came out of her room and asked me to take her to the potty. Well, I’m on the computer sitting down and really planned only to get up for my nightly post-bedtime ice cream. So I told Sari that Mommy is busy and that Daddy would take her to the potty. Joe has no problem with this. Up he gets from her bed and then the hysterics begin. Sari wants Mommy and immediately went into crying and screaming. Had she just asked nicely, I would have done it. But as soon as she started screaming crying, it became a battle and I couldn’t give in. DAMN! Because it only got worse.

She proceeded to scream with such force that at one point she almost threw up. All over who is taking her to the bathroom! (I should tell you that she did not nap today so she is very tired.) Anyway, I wanted in to her room and Joe wanted me not to be seen at all. Enter the fight with the husband. I just couldn’t stand by and not help or try to talk her down or something. I still wasn’t going to take her to the bathroom but I wanted to talk her down, if I could. Joe pretty much stood directly in my way to keep me out.

She finally came out of her room. We both knew that a full bladder was going to win eventually. I was in the hallway when she came out so she looked up at me with those crying eyes begging me to take her. I tried a compromise. I told her that Daddy was going to take her but that I would take her empty sippy cup to the kitchen and would meet her in the bathroom. That worked for her – not for my husband. No compromise, no giving in to the tears. This is, apparently, what has been decided is my major fault as a parent.

I finished in the kitchen and noticed that my husband had closed the bathroom door. Sari was in the bathroom still freaking out. I was outside the door trying to decide what to do. Walking in to comfort my daughter would cause a rift between me and Joe. But I’m a mother and a softy so of course comfort won. I could not stand there and listen any longer. It was too intense for me. I never had any intention other than letting her see that I was there. Well as soon as I opened the door, Joe looked at me annoyed and said, “This is feeding her crying.” In a tone of course. I responded with, “oh, yeah, this is my fault.” To which he said, “I’m not saying its your fault.” You have now heard our standard fight. Just imagine the not-so-pleasant tones of voice we were using. Sari looked up at me hiccuping from crying and told her Daddy she was all done. He helped her down and she trotted off to bed as if nothing had happened.

It’s literally 15-20 minutes later. Sari is in bed and so is Joe. There is no more drama between any of us. When Sari said good night to me I gave her a big, tight hug. She just said, “It’s bed time mommy, put me down.” Why am I the only one who seems to be affected (effected?) by this? I almost broke into tears at how sad she was while on the potty. I hate when the day ends this way! My sleep is restless on nights like this but no one else’s is. I guess I should write it off to wanting to be a good mommy and a strong mommy and a woman true to my heart – a heart that will be better as soon as I get my bowl of ice cream!

Shore House

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Me and My Sister with our Families

Me and My Sister with our Families

I am very close to my family. We actually like being together. Yes, we have our not so fabulous moments but mostly we have fun together.

My parents have a house in Ventnor and we go as often as we can. It’s my parents in one room; my sister, her husband and their 6 year old daughter in another bedroom; Joe and I have a room and Sari has a room. It’s a full house.

Does it seem odd that my 2 and a half year old has her own room while my niece sleeps with her parents? That’s what this thought is all about – different parenting styles.

We all know there are so many ways to raise kids and everyone has their own opinions. So how does it work when 2 very different parenting styles live under one roof?

My husband and I are pretty strict. I think we’re fun parents and we’re definitely loving parents but we’re strict also. We don’t mess with bedtime or teaching Sari what we believe is the proper way to treat others. I’m pretty proud and impressed that she’s now responding when I say 1, 2, 3.

My sister and brother-n-law have taken a different approach in how they discipline. So what happens when we spend a weekend in the same house? It’s interesting at times however it’s refreshing to see that we can respect each other’s styles. Well, mostly! Sometimes we butt into each other’s business and parenting and sometimes it does not go well. But then there are the times we learn from each other and our kids learn from each other too.