Sunday, October 19, 2014

Some Real Talk {ten nineteen fourteen}

Time for some real talk, m'kay?

Let's have some real talk shall we?

I've been trying to write since Saturday night. My little Chrome book that could, has decided that it cannot. I'm trying to reset the entire thing as we speak, but Saturday night was a big cluster of me cussing and crying about all the writing I wasn't doing.

It's been tough since I took this full time gig to get any kind of writing done. The plan was to spend Saturday writing, since it was my first Saturday off in almost a month. But then when Saturday got here I realized that there were one hundred and one things that needed to be done as well. Like buy some new work clothes, make a trip to Trader Joe's, and a the last minute a birthday party we forgot about. We never made it to Traders, but we did have lunch at the Habit, as a family. The Hubbs idea, and it was an excellent one. So my Saturday was spent running the errands that I didn't have time for during the week. And then, at nine o'clock last night I sat down to hammer out my thoughts and, BAM. No laptop. I fought with that thing for almost an hour, gave up and turned on the episode of The Mindy Project that I had missed. Because of work. 

I realize that for most people, not blogging or writing on a daily basis seems like no big deal. And I guess when you boil it down, like say in comparison to saving the world, or at least making a dinner that doesn't use a microwave, it's small potatoes. Unless you are a writer. Because when you are a writer, your brain never stops writing. In fact it continues to write until you can no longer sleep, or make a decent to do list, because your brain is full of stories. Fiction or non-fiction. It doesn't matter. Soon all the stories take over.

I try to write out the ideas. I try to make lists. I try to keep a schedule. But life. Life is so full and chaotic. When I'm not working I'm momming, and when I'm not momming, I'm sleeping. I even contemplated starting to work out again, and then realized, when? When I'm supposed to sleep or eat or watch TV with the Hubbs? And in case you are wondering, watching TV with the Hubbs is one of my favorite things to do.

I was talking to my best friend the other day and I told her that I'm really proud of this blog. Lately, you probably couldn't tell. It seems kind of desolate after the last three years. Still, I'm proud at how far my writing has come, but I'm and I'm proud of the fact that I'm still writing it. Even if it's only once a week. Because it's rare that I stick with something for so long. That's how I know it's more than a hobby or something fun that I I like to do. Writing is now a part of me. A part of my life. Something that I want to do, but honestly something I must do. Like breathing and eating, I also must write.

Which brings me to now, Sunday night, after an eight hour shift at the store. A late dinner of soup and grilled cheese. The kids need a bath, we need to read stories, and I really want to watch Thursday's How to Get Away with Murder. I have blog posts to write, ideas to flush out, but honestly, I'm tired. I'm taking this twenty minutes to write my heart out before I set up some "posts": the "Instagram" re-caps, the "life lately"s. Because my brain and my heart are currently in two different places. And for now that has to be okay. My hope is that I will find the time to write, just a little every night. If my laptop cooperates, maybe I can edge out some fifteen minute moments. Some days that is all I need. 

But I do need to be here. Even if it's for just twenty minutes. These days I'll take what I can get.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Farewell Committee

A weekend selfie before mom leaves for work.

I’ve got my own farewell committee. For the last few weekends that I’ve had to work, the girls have decided that they want to wake up with me. So as I’m getting dressed I’ll wake them. I tell them that I’m going to get dressed and eat breakfast and that they can join me if they like. Usually Mac asks for “five more minutes” and Caitlin will pop out of bed bleary eyed and disoriented. They will follow me into the living room and sit with cartoons while I prep my lunch and eat a quick breakfast. They will follow me around and tell me funny stories about their plans for the day. They will ask again and again when I’ll be home, and what we will do when I get home. It takes everything I have not to respond with sleep. Because sleep is always on my to-do list.

They are crying less and less as I’m leaving, which is a very good thing. The first few months after I went back to work were the hardest. Leaving them during the week is one thing. Leaving them on a beautiful Saturday morning is another. But most days we have smiles and cuddles and promises of things like dinner out, or watching some of our favorite cartoons on DVR when Mommy gets home. The working weekend mornings are changing and so am I.

It’s got to be strange to have a mother who works on the weekends. Actually the entire family has had to re-think how we weekend around here. The Hubbs and the kids were a little shell shocked when I had to start putting in eight hour days on the weekends. It’s strange for me too, but in a different way. I don’t have to worry about child care on the weekends. Dad takes over and rallies the troops. I don’t have to worry about lunches to pack or breakfast to make. So it’s with some ease that I’m able to walk out the door most Saturdays and Sundays.

Saying good-bye to their little faces is still hard. I’m not going to lie. The girls totally understand weekends now. They know that they have no school and can waste the day away if they want to. And for the most part they do, but now they don’t get to waste the day away with me. They waste the day away with dad. It’s taken me a bit to get okay with that. In the beginning I was super jealous of their weekend adventures, but not so much anymore. It has been so good for The Hubbs to have those adventures with the girls. Not that he didn’t have adventures with them before, but their lives have been very mom-centric. When you stay home, it’s unavoidable. It’s always been, “Dad’s got to work so we will go without him”. Now lately it’s been, “Mom has to work, so we will go without her”. It seems weird to type that, just like it’s still a little foreign to live it.

So imagine my surprise and delight when Mackenzie decided that she wanted to start walking me out on Saturday and Sunday mornings. "I want to wave to you from the door mom", is what she said. Since there weren’t any tears, I decided why not? Even if she is rocking miss matched pajamas. Even if her hair is a mess. Big sister had to get in on the act too, in her undies no less. The Hubbs came out to see what the big deal was, and I snapped a picture. This is my farewell committee. They may not be super excited for me to be working my weekend away, but they are trying to make it easier. They are trying to distract me from thinking about “missing out” and “mom guilt”. They do a fantastic job if you want to know the truth. Plus it makes my job as a mother easier knowing that they are happy. Happy even if mom couldn’t go to the pumpkin decorating party on Saturday morning. Happy even if mom couldn’t go out to lunch after, or shopping for a new door lock, or just to play in the yard with the neighbors. Knowing that they are happy makes me happy and makes me better at my job, both at home and at the store.

Trust me, it’s not picture perfect. This was the day Caitlin combed her sisters hair with Moroccan oil, and it looked like Mac hadn’t had a bath in a month. It was also the Saturday that mom came home too tired to do anything but sit on the same spot in the couch for an hour. Or that we had “whatever we could forage” for dinner. And all of those things are okay, as long as we are happy.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Tuesday was my Saturday

The truth about retail is that the hours suck. When you work at a store that is open seven days a week, your “weekends” are never traditional. Ask anyone that works retail and they will agree with you. It’s not a secret, it’s just a fact.

Last Tuesday was my Saturday. Minus the sleeping in part because I had to take my kids to school. Minus the slow morning where we lazed in our pajamas. Minus the part about spending the day with the kids. Still I made it my Saturday. I refused a shower. I wore clothes from yesterday that were miss matched, and then proceeded to sit in the recliner and talk to my bestie. Then when that was done, I watched Homeland on my DVR which was amazing. Also did I mention that both kids were in school? So again, it was my Sunday, but the kind of Sunday where the kids do their own thing.

Mackenzie took a three hour nap after preschool and I filled that time by laying on the couch flipping between Grays Anatomy (duh) and Twelve Years a Slave. Twelve Years a Slave was a little heavy, but it was still pretty amaing. I started the laundry, decided that grilled cheese was a good dinner anywhere, and took a sleepy Mac to pick up Caitlin. With dirty hair and cutoff shorts.

I just couldn’t do it on Tuesday. I was tired, or more to the point, I was exhausted. I tried really hard to be productive, but why? Other people laze and lounge on their weekends. Why having my Saturday, actually be a Tuesday make any difference? Because it’s still Tuesday and you still have to an adult and do adult things like pick up and drop off and feed your family. You can’t just give up and lay in bed all day, which if I’m honest I tried. But days of during the week are just an entirely different animal.

By the end of the day, Tuesday felt just like any old regular Tuesday. The kids had to be fed. There was homework to do. We all needed baths (including me, because well, um). We all had to get to bed at a decent time, since mom had to be at work at six. Yes. Six in the morning. But that is just a special schedule because all our Christmas stuff came in last week. Yes, Christmas stuff.

Retail ain't for sissies, let me tell you. But I knew that when I signed up. I wasn’t shocked to learn that I’d work most Saturdays and Sundays. But I won’t lie to you, it’s hard leaving your family on those days. But when I do get a cherished Saturday or Sunday off, it really pays off. We may not do something “fun” by definition, but we are changing the definition of fun. Fun is now going to the grocery store all together, getting lunch somewhere we wouldn’t normally go, or even getting hair cuts. I’ve learned to really be in those moments on the weekends when I have them. And when I don’t, I’ve learned to relax on the Tuesdays and Thursdays. Usually my mid week days off are jammed packed, but every once in awhile I’ll get a day where I can relax and pretend that it’s a Saturday. 

Like today. It’s Monday and I’m off with no where to go at the moment. Still I got up at six and got the kids out of the house by eight. Then we went to dance and Costco. Now I’m home and writing, and soon I’ll have another kid to pick up. Not a load of laundry done. Dishes are still in the sink, and who knows what we we will have for dinner. And of course I rolled out of bed to do all of this. My hair is crazy and I’ve got bags under my eyes. Maybe I’ll shower before it’s time to get Caitlin. Maybe I won’t. All I know is that doing the minimum right now feels good. In fact it feels like a Saturday. Almost.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Mommy has Homework too

Last week as I was trying to squeeze in a blog post for the week, I pulled out my laptop at the dining table while Caitlin did her homework. We were chatting, me kind of chatting, because when the word strikes you, you type, when she stopped and said,

“Mommy, can you stop typing?”

Cue the dreaded mommy guilt.

I get it. I’ve been working a lot since my promotion and this is all new to them and this family as a whole. Especially Caitlin who was born to a mother too damn anxious to do more than one thing at a time. But as she grew, I grew too. I grew into a multi tasker and a writer and a kind of okay cook. I grew to be less anxious, and with time I became braver. All the things that I needed to get me to here. A full time working mom, who is still trying to launch a writing career; run a girl scout troop; be a good wife; and be a kick ass mother. But I can tell she is pretty confused at how her crazy, scatterbrained, fumbling mom, could pull any of that off.

So as the mommy guilt settled in I replied,

“Mommy has homework too”.

I went on to explain that mommy still wants to write stories on her blog. That her new job is important, kind of like school is important for her. But there are still other things that mommy wants to do, and in order to do them, I have homework. Still pushed the laptop to the side and helped her with word problems, which in my opinion are ridiculous. Who cares how many apples Sally has in comparison to Bobby, and who cares if Sally gives them to Issac so how many does Jill have? Tell me that is not an honest assessment of word problems. I helped and discussed and even joked about word problems and we made up a few of our own. Then I gave both girls a bath, and Caitlin read a story to us, and then I read a story to them, and finally when they were asleep and in bed, I picked my laptop back up.

There will always be the internal struggle of am I doing this right, am I devoting enough of me and my time to this mothering life. There will always be that voice in the back of my head that says, “give up this blog”, “you have more important things to do than type away at this keyboard”, but I know, deep down that the voice is wrong. There are a million mothers who work and mother and write or blog or dance or cook or run million dollar empires. That is life. And even if many mothers I know aren’t running million dollar empires, they are running family empires of their own, with brilliant and well rounded children, happy husbands, and sometimes the occasional Etsy shop. Some of them home school, some of them coach dance, some of them volunteer for their churches. Every mother has that internal struggle of how much time can I give, and how much can I take for myself?

A wise friend once told me that taking time for myself would make me a better mother. I can jive with that. There is some truth there. Taking time for yourself is so important. We tend to sacrifice ourselves and our time. Like I’ve written about, I’ve been doing things for motherhood for awhile. But recently I’ve been doing things for me, more and more. In the beginning, this blog was my escape, my therapy, my little slice of Megan. Then it grew into something more. It’s a major accomplishment that I”m still writing it, somewhat daily after almost four years. I’m quite proud of that.

But even with pride comes the guilt. The nights I should be doing any number of things, but instead I’m writing. Typing away as the kids play and eat chips and watch terrible television. I recently saw an old episode of Grey’s Anatomy and it was one where Meredith had just adopted Zola. And of course as any new mother knows, holding on to your old life and trying to do you new one is damn right impossible. So there she was, dropping Zola off at Callie and Arizona’s again, and she meets Callie at the door with tears in her eyes. It’s what Callie says that struck me most. She said something like, “no, no, no. Don’t. Don’t do that. It’s good for her to see you work. It’s good for her to see YOU”. That stuck with me. No matter your work, it’s good for your children to see you do it. It shows them that you are more than just mom, you are a person. Kids need to see that. They also need to see that we make mistakes. Because mistakes are okay, as long as we learn from them. So while we may be inundated with guilt, it’s good for them to see us work. It’s good for them to see us commit. It’s good for them to see us fail, to see us get up and try again, to see us work so hard toward that end goal, no matter what it may be.

Even today as I try to squeeze in time to write, while the laundry tumbles and the kids eat grilled cheese, I’m working on me. This is my homework. Even if it has little to do with my day job, it has everything to do with my all the time job, which is being a mother. So while I try to eliminate word problems from my life (because I don’t care how many candies Joey has), I’ll keep reminding myself and my girls that mommies have homework too. Because even after all this time, I’m still working on me.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

In the Name of Motherhood

Seven year old birthday parties are just as loud as you'd expect.

A few weeks ago I spent my Friday night at a birthday party full of seven year old kids. It was as loud and ear drum shattering as you would imagine. Boys and girls giggling and screaming and playing tag in the middle of the birthday girls living room. Music and movies blasting at movie theater decibels. And there I was, one of the lone parents, sitting and talking as our kids ate movie food and chocolate. Lots and lots of chocolate.

Most of the parents dropped of their kids. We, unfortunately are not there yet. My seven year old still wants mom to be visible in a strangers home, and I can’t blame her. This was our first time at the birthday girls home, her parents and siblings are wonderful. The other parents in attendance were my kind of people. The kind who look the other way when double chocolate cake is served right after the movie style candies that were passed around less than an hour before. It’s not that it wasn’t fun, it’s just that it wasn’t my idea. My idea was to have gone home after working my six in the morning shift and put on yoga pants and lay on my couch. Maybe write a little, most likely read something, or even better catch up on my DVR. Instead, there I was, doing my best for motherhood.

It’s what we do as mothers. We do all things in the name of motherhood. We forgo showers and hot dinners. We never eat the last (insert treat that the kids will cry buckets for if they are gone here). We always eat last, no matter the occasion (even our birthdays). We go to bed last and get up first. We get that overnight feeding, that lost paci, the much needed cough suppressant at two a.m. We do all these kinds of things for motherhood. For our children, and in the name of being good mothers.

We also smile. And lie. We say things are “fine”, and that we are “wonderful”. We say and pretend that motherhood is everything we ever wanted. When the truth is our children are everything we ever wanted, but motherhood kind of sucks. Our children are amazing and beautiful and fulfilling. First feedings and bonding and snuggles are amazing. Night waking, sleep training and being shit on, are not. So instead of admit that not everything is glorious, we lie. We smile. And we do it all for motherhood.

We also do it for our children. I stayed at that birthday party because I knew it was what Caitlin wanted. And if she is ten and still wants me to hang out at some kids birthday party, well I guess I’ll chill at that one too. I’ll always make sure that we buy the right waffles, even if it requires the extra trip to Walmart. I’ll make sure the crusts are cut off even though I swore I would never be a crust cutter. I’ll still forgo a shower to get them to school on time, I’ll eat a cold dinner so that they are fed on time and before they melt down. I’ll continue to play musical beds every night, because one child climbs in and one adult leaves then another child climbs in and another adult leaves and then the kids come looking for us, and so on. I’ll even give them my last organic fruit juiced sweetened three dollars a quart lemonade from Whole Foods, even if it’s the only kind I can drink, even if it’s over a half an hour trip to Whole Foods, even if all I really want is some lemonade. Because I’m their mother. And as far as I know that’s what good mothers do.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a saint and I’m not always self sacrificing. I’ll choose Greys Anatomy marathons over trips to the park any day. I’ll also be the first to ask if I can “drop” off my kids at a party. But sometimes the things I do for motherhood pan out. I’ve made new mom friends. I’ve seen my daughter blossom and make friends. I’ve even met some pretty cool kids. Doing things for motherhood has taught me a lot about myself. It’s made me braver. It’s made me care less about things like make up and designer handbags. It’s made me realize that the rewards are always greater than the sacrifices. So we play musical beds, so I have to eat last sometimes, so I may or may not have clean hair. My life isn’t perfect. It doesn’t have to be, as long as what I’m doing is right for my kids.

I may not do all the things, and most days I may only do one thing, but for the sake of my children, I do them for motherhood.