This Month's Topic: Focus on Finance

Things that go beep in the night

Your heart rate instantly quickens. Your breathing shortens. Your blood pressure rises. All because of one noise. One noise coming out of a little box next to your bed. The monitor.

Not my actual kid on the monitor, but I'd watch this one neurotically too if need be.

Not my actual kid on the monitor, but I’d watch this one neurotically, too, if need be

I don’t know if I’m just a light sleeper or if, perhaps, I’m a tad bit crazy, but for me, that monitor rules the night. The monitor rules me.

It doesn’t matter if the kids move around in bed, make a soft noise, whimper a little or start to wail, the same reaction happens every time. It’s automatic and just terrible.

And once that automatic reaction occurs, I’m up for at least half an hour. It takes that long for my body to settle back down. I’m wide awake (at least my body is). And if my body is wide awake, my mind starts to race. And when that happens, good luck. It could be hours before I sleep again because I start going through my to-do lists, my plans for the next day, and, then, the general, completely irrational fears that I keep in my back pocket for just such occasions. OK, I guess I am more than a tad bit crazy.

However, I think what bothers me the most is that, as upset and disturbed as I am by the noises coming out of the monitor; my husband has no reaction whatsoever.

Take last night, for example.

The time: 1:23 a.m.

The culprit: This time, it wasn’t either kid. It was the actual monitor that ruined my deep REM cycle. You see, it wasn’t plugged in. Da Da Daaaaa.

So, at exactly 1:23 a.m. (I know because that’s how quickly I go from deep sleep to wide awake, I actually think to look at the clock and remember the time the next morning), the dreaded dying battery beep rang out loud in the room.

I paused and waited for Adam to react. The monitor is actually on his side of the bed, mostly because I become so paranoid about the darn thing that it actually disturbs my sleep even more when it’s next to me if that’s possible. I am constantly making sure I’m scanning, clicking the video button to check on the kids, checking the volume… you know, the usual.

I love the man, I really do!

I love the man! I really do!

Anyways, as I laid in bed waiting for Adam to react, the thing beeped again. Very sweetly and very gently, I tapped Adam and said, “Could you please plug the monitor in? It’s dying.” I swear I was sweet. I swear because I’m very cautious about monitor wars in our house. If I make Adam too upset about the whole thing, it will end up back on my side of the bed. That cannot happen.

So Adam stirred and turned toward the monitor. Then all went quiet. He’d fallen back asleep. The thing beeped again, and I gritted my teeth. “Adam,” I said. He moved again, this time I heard his hands on the table. Good, I thought.

Then, once again, nothing. The man is a freaking LOG! The monitor went BEEP. My blood pressure went up a little higher. “Adam,” I called, not so sweetly, but still softly, “could you please plug the monitor in?”

I heard a scuffle, something fell to the floor, more movement and then a BEEP again, taunting me and, apparently, lulling Adam back to sleep. OH, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!

“Adam! Plug the darn (only I didn’t say darn) monitor in, for God’s sake!” He was up that time, the monitor was plugged in and, I swear to you, the man was back asleep before you could say, “Monitors are the worst.”

So, there I was, wide awake, muttering to myself and to sleeping Adam, just a ball of stress and frustration. So much for a decent night’s sleep.

And Adam? Well, Adam wouldn’t even remember the incident in the morning.

Lucky bas…

Anyways, I know that my monitor hatred is only matched by my monitor love. The monitor helped me let my kids cry it out. It tells me if my kids are making noises in their sleep or if they’re wide awake. It’s basically my peace of mind.

Until it’s the reason I’m losing my mind.

But love makes us all crazy sometimes, right, Adam?

If there’s a secret moms’ society, I want in

I have a confession: There are moms at my kids’ preschool I envy.

You probably know who they are. They’re the moms wearing the trendy clothes, the perfectly done hair that spent all morning in hot rollers. The makeup, the knee-high boots every day. They’re the moms toting two or three kids behind them but somehow don’t seem to be hurrying them along, who have time to smile a “hello” at the people they pass and, generally, look happy to start the morning.

I’m not saying I never make an effort. Sometimes, I do. And I’m not saying I’m never happy in the mornings. Sometimes, I am. But to maintain that level of execution every day just leaves me in awe. On the days I do put myself together before drop-off, I feel more at ease walking the kids into school, more friendly, and slower in my steps.

Most mornings, though, I feel a little manic. It feels like I’ve climbed Mt. Everest just getting the kids up, clothed, fed, brushed, jacket-ed and out IMG_0306the door without missing a step, or without falling into the minefield of tantrums or last-minute potty announcements along the way. And then, once we’re finally careening into the parking lot (and, no, I’m not actually careening into the parking lot… most of the time), I’m calling reminders over my shoulder to the kids, instructing Brayden to unfasten his seatbelt once I put the car in park, rushing out the door to get the kids out, hurrying Anna into her coat, making sure the kids’ backpacks are on their backs, grabbing hands and rushing toward the school. I’m too embarrassed to make eye contact with the put-together moms leisurely walking out of school, who’ve already done everything I’ve done but have somehow managed to do it faster, better and while looking great, too.

How do these moms do it? I wonder. EVERY day?

I have a theory: I’ve decided there must be a secret society, complete with handshakes and off-the-radar meeting places, where these moms swap best practices. I imagine it going a little something like this when they’re meeting with new initiates:

“No, Kelly, you don’t have to get up at 5 a.m. Silly! Who’s ever heard of such a thing! Why, then you’ll just be exhausted by 3 p.m.!”

(Much giggling among current members here at initiate’s naïveté)

Or,

“You want your kids to look like they just stepped out of a catalog every day, too? Oh, honey, piece of cake!”

(Many knowing smiles exchanged here and nodding among the current members)

“The secret is…”

WHAT? What is the secret?

That’s what I want to know. There must be some way to make it all look so effortless. That, or the beautiful, effortless girls from my school days have followed me to mom-hood and are still making me feel inferior… . Yeah, that’s probably it, actually.

But I’m not giving up on my theory that there’s a secret society, and, to whoever runs it, please know, I’m not trying to call you out, I just want in!

No, seriously.

My Forever Friends

It was a recipe for disaster: My husband, dad and brothers-in-law left for a ski trip to Vail Wednesday morning (yes, the morning of New Year’s Eve) and weren’t coming home until Sunday. My sisters and I were gearing up for a long five days (and a long four nights) with our very young children alone.

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Our New Year’s Eve “party”

We were determined to do things together, so we wouldn’t feel lonely and crazy from a lack of adult interaction, but we were scared of what that might look like. Four adults (my mom graciously offered to help anyone and everyone who needed it) and six kids 4 and under promised to ruin any chance for a meaningful conversation or, really, any chance for a second without someone screaming.

Now, though, roughly 24 hours before the guys come home, I’m surprised to discover that while, yes, someone has always been screaming, opportunities for conversation haven’t been lacking.

My mom and sisters and I have always been close. I don’t know if it’s because my mom only had girls, my sisters and I are close in age or some unknown variable I’ve yet to discover, but when we’re together, it’s like the song, “We don’t even have to try, it’s always a good time.” Corny, but true.

If we’re out together without the kids on a girls’ trip or girls’ dinner – trust me, we snuck in a girls’ dinner before the guys left and are already planning a summer girls’ trip to NYC to make up for this Vail bull**** – we commiserate with one another, we bare our souls, and we laugh. A lot.

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Another New Year’s Eve “party” picture

When we’re with the kids and in the thick of it, and one of us is yelling to the other to help because a kid just sneezed and has green snot dripping down her face, someone’s kid is screaming because her mom just walked out of the room (how dare she?), or someone’s kid just barreled into another kid and stood up, unfazed, asking, “Why is she crying?,” we laugh. A lot.

You might think it’s because if you don’t laugh you might cry, and that’s true to some extent, but, really, we sincerely enjoy one another’s company. We can say anything without worrying about whether someone’s judging us (because they are, just loudly and jokingly), we know everything about one another – the good, the bad and the ugly – and we can quote movie lines until the cows come home and laugh just as hard each time.

I’m not saying there aren’t times when too much togetherness causes some harsh words or hurt feelings, but those times are swept under the rug, forgiven and forgotten.

These past few days, we’ve complained, we’ve chased kids, we’ve yelled at kids, we’ve cried some ourselves, we’ve discussed hard-to-discuss topics about potential problems with our children, and we’ve still managed to laugh. Because if you can’t laugh you might cry, and because we’re happy we’re together.

There has been frustration, there has been sadness, there has been humor and there has been beauty, but I can honestly say that there has been no loneliness.

As Sarah said in her post last week, the best gift you can give your child is a sibling, and I’m so grateful my parents gave me mine.

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Jill and I trying to fit in during our last girls’ trip to L.A.

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The four of us at a girls’ dinner

 

A New Year, a Forever Friendship

I’m sitting here, Jan. 1, 2015, listening to my kids play a top-notch game of pretend. People are getting captured, there’s an ocean involved, and I’m pretty sure I watched Sophia grab a toy frying pan on her way into a major battle in the princess tent.

IMG_3788All in all, life is good.

These past few months haven’t been the easiest for me. Pregnancy is not my friend, it seems, which I knew from my pregnancy from Sophia. I can’t blame anyone for the situation but myself (and Adam, of course). We knew what we were getting into this third time around. Our eyes were wide open. I knew I would be pretty miserable, and I am. It turns out my body is great at growing babies. I grow them big and I grow them strong, and I’m so proud of that. But, it also turns out that my body takes a pretty big hit for it (like everyone else’s, I know). My pregnancy woes run the gamut, but I won’t go into too much detail because you don’t need to hear about it. Let’s just say, Adam gets an earful most nights, and he will definitely help me remember why we will not try for a fourth. I have made sure of that.IMG_0524

But amidst all the pain and discomfort, I know we have made the right choice in going for a third. I know by the friendship my kids have formed and the wonderful times they have together. Not with me, not with Adam, but with each other. I actually think the pregnancy has been a big proponent of this friendship. The less fun I am, (and I’ll be honest, most of the time, I’m a pretty big drag), the more the kids depend on each other. It’s actually pretty perfect.

Don’t get me wrong, there are REALLY tough times, too, between siblings. Just this morning, I found myself screaming, literally screaming, from the bathroom to “Leave each other alone!” Not the best way to start the new year… .

IMG_0623And, I also know the happy moments don’t last long. In a minute or so, I will hear a thump, a cry, and an argument of who-did-what will ensue. It’s inevitable.

But I do know that this Christmas my kids received TONS of gifts, too many to count (it was kind of ridiculous, really), and the gift they have enjoyed playing with the most this last week has been each other.

So get ready, little boy in my belly. You have two best friends eagerly awaiting your arrival. And although I’ve tried to explain to them that you won’t be able to really play for a few years, I’m pretty sure you’d better come out prepared to take a ride on a boat (laundry basket), through the ocean (sunroom), and onto the island (couch) upon your arrival home from the hospital. Mommy will be supervising the whole thing, I promise.IMG_0424

These next three months will be the longest ever, but another sibling means I get to hear more of Noah shouting, “Let’s try this again, Sophie!” or “I’ve got you!” with such delight. And, when I ask Sophia what she wants to do that day as I lift her out of her crib and she responds, “Play with Noah,” I’ll know it’s all worth it.

IMG_3202Man, is it worth it.

So my New Year’s resolution is to survive the pregnancy, and then, even when I’m feeling better and more up to the challenge of playing pretend and crawling on the floor and through tents and tunnels with my kids, I want to remember to step back and let them do their own thing, too. They don’t always need me.

They’ll have each other.

The Decision to be Finished

The decision to try for another baby has been the hot-button topic of conversation among my family and friends lately.

Some of them have one and are trying for a second. Some of them have two and are trying for a third. Either way, I think it’s safe to say that roughly 98 percent of my family and friends want at least one more baby.

“My mom told me not to think about how hard it will be with three kids,” one friend told me, “but about how many family members I want around the dinner table at Thanksgiving 10 years from now.”

Another friend said, “I would just regret not having another one. I would always wonder about it.”

“We’re just on the fence,” still another friend said. “We think we’re finished, but we can’t be sure. We’re going to give it a little while longer before making the final call.”

With 98 percent of my family and friends thinking this way and voicing these opinions to me lately, I feel a little bit like I’m missing something, like Brad Pitt’s sensitivity chip only it’s a maternal chip that I had but have now lost, or maybe still have but it’s been tempered a bit.

I don’t want another baby.

There, I said it. It’s something I’ve known since the day Anna was born if I’m being completely honest.

It’s a truth I can’t feel guilty about because I know it’s the right decision for me and my family. It must be right because there’s no pull for me, no new-baby tugging, even now amidst all of this new-baby DSC_0647conversation.

And don’t believe for a minute that the conversation is one-sided. I bring it up as much as anyone. Because I’m interested. Because I’m happy for my friends and family who want another baby, and I like to hear their reasons for wanting another one, if only because their reasons that used to resonate so deeply with me are now foreign to me and I wonder why.

Wouldn’t another kid at the Thanksgiving dinner table 10 years from now be nice? Of course, I answer myself. Why not?

I may not now, but will I regret not having another baby down the line? I don’t think so, I reply carefully, but there’s no way to know for sure, is there?

Did I jump the gun on making the call too early? What’s the harm in waiting a year or two and seeing how I feel then? What is the harm, I ponder. Surely, there isn’t any.

Yet the questions for me stop there. I want to know what I’m missing, what’s changed for me, why I’m suddenly the odd man out in this baby game that used to be all I could think about, but the curiosity is mostly scientific. There’s no heart in it for me because my heart sees our family as complete and can’t entertain a discussion of anything different.

IMG_4503What I’m left with, at least a little bit, is envy. Not of another baby but of the desire to have another baby. I have to believe my lack of desire is a blessing in that my heart made up my mind for me, but it would be nice to be tempted, to feel there was some void not yet filled, some ache not yet soothed.

Luckily, from my place planted firmly on one side of the fence, I’m going to have a very good view of the other side, and I plan on visiting my family and friends there often.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Letter to the Woman Who Looks Down on Me and Isn’t Sorry

To the woman who looks down on young women with husbands and kids and isn’t sorry:

I know that your name is Amy Glass. I know that you think women who choose to marry and have children aren’t exceptional, aren’t capable of being exceptional because they chose to get married and have kids.Screen Shot 2014-01-28 at 9.35.03 PM I know that you think raising children is stupid and unimportant. And I know that you think that because literally anyone can get married and have children, it shouldn’t be celebrated; in fact, you think those women should be lambasted for choosing to do something so average, so common, so easy, instead of choosing to backpack on their own across Asia.

I’m not going to go off on a vitriolic rant here about how you’re a horrible person for saying these things. You’ve received enough negative press as it is and way too much attention.

What I don’t understand is, who are you, Amy Glass? Why do I only know your name and that you’re a self-professed “powerhouse” (what does that even mean?) and “lover of start-ups, big ideas and the future”? What does any of that even mean? Why, when I Google you, don’t I find information on you? Where do you work if you’re such a powerhouse? What do you do? Why haven’t I come across a single news report about your backpacking trip across Asia, or a single press release quoting you as the head of the – as you would lead me to believe – billion-dollar company you run?

Because the truth is, when I Google you, do you know what I find, Amy Glass? Nothing, except for other Amy Glasses who are unfortunate enough to have the same name as you and are now forced to change their bios so they’re not confused with you. And do you know what I think?  I think that you’re a coward, Amy Glass. Whoever the hell you are.

I read your blog a few days ago, and I admit (as much as I hate to) that it gave me pause. It made me angrier than I would’ve liked and I thought about it more than I would have liked. I Googled you expecting to find some big-wig feminist executive. A person who might make me at least feel that what you do gives you some credibility in the world. Instead, I found nothing.

You’re a coward, Amy Glass. I’m sorry, but you are. We do live in a country where everyone’s entitled to their own beliefs. And don’t wave your apparent love of history in our faces. We’re aware that Voltaire said, “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.” But there’s a problem with that in your case, Amy Glass. We don’t know who you are. We don’t know your platform. You’re a coward, Amy Glass. You sought attention and decided to rile some people up. Great. Mission accomplished. But to not even have the courage to stand behind what you said? It makes me think of the wizard of Oz. A wizard who was only courageous and powerful when standing behind a curtain.

I thank you for that cowardice, though, Amy Glass. I’m glad I can find no trace of you in cyberspace aside from pages of negative press in response to one blog you wrote one day of your life. You’re nothing. And, thankfully, since you’re nothing, you can be forgotten.

Coward.

shattered glass

 

Double Standards

When Sophia was born, I was surprised. I wish I could say I knew she was a girl, just because I was the mom and moms know these things, but I didn’t have a clue. I swore that Noah was a girl and I knew that Sophia was a boy.

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But, that confession aside, when Sophia was born I was very surprised and extremely ecstatic. Now, we had one of each! We had a boy for Daddy and a girl for Mommy! Adam would show Noah all about sports. He’d take Noah to the hardware store with him and, eventually, out for his first beer.

Sophia and I would do girly things… nails, hair, big school dance dress shopping, you name it! (OK, to be honest here, I’m not that girly and most girl things don’t really sound too wonderful to me. Not in the least. But darn it, we’d stick it out together and do… something. And by golly, it would be just us girls.)

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I know, I know. I sound very narrow-minded and one-dimensional here. Obviously, not all boys like sports and not every girl enjoys shopping (case in point right here). That said, in those first few hours, maybe even weeks, when we welcomed Sophia into our world,  I thought about my kids in a world of black and white: Sophia, the girl, and Noah, the boy.

I started to notice that I was acting that way about a month in. Since both kids’ sexes were a surprise, we had a gender-neutral nursery, and I immediately wanted pink. I decked out Sophia’s room with little pink touches all over the place.

We had gender-neutral clothes, toys and blankets, which was fine for Noah; greens, browns and yellows seemed to suit a boy, but Sophia? Sophia needed pink. After one too many people mistook her for a baby boy, I began putting headbands on her sweet little head, something I swore I would never do.

For Christmas, though, I thought I was being a rebel. I wanted to give Sophia her very own dump truck. Noah has a John Deere truck that he loves filling with his favorite little guys and driving it around the house. Sophia steals it any chance she gets. I thought, “Way to Go, Sarah! A little dump truck for your little girl. You’re so cutting edge!” But the dump truck was purple and pink. And I filled it with Disney princesses. And, it turned out, Sophia couldn’t care less about it. She much prefers her brother’s truck and toys.

IMG_1084Obviously, I was beginning to notice the gender roles and double standards, what with my dump truck gift and all, but I don’t think it really hit me how difficult this situation would be until one day at the very end of December. Sophia was, as usual, wanting to play with her brother and his toys and Noah was, as usual, trying to gather all his toys and get the heck away from her. I decided to help him out for a change (most of the time, I try to have him be nice and share something), so I picked up Sophia and stood her behind her baby stroller. I said, “Come on, Sophia. Push your stroller and baby into the kitchen and help Mommy make dinner.”

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I stopped dead in my tracks. That was quite a mouthful.

I would never say that my little girl shouldn’t play with dolls. And I have Noah come and help me cook in the kitchen all the time. So, really, nothing was wrong with the statement. It was just the whole thing combined that really took me off-guard. And I felt guilty. I felt guilty because I worry that no matter how “cutting edge” I try to be as a parent, I will never completely let my kids just be kids, no matter their gender, or will always, somehow, push each kid in a gender-based direction. A boy push for boy things and a girl push for girl things.

Because even though I’m not the most girly girl, the truth is, I’m pretty traditional. And I guess that’s pretty obvious. I mean, I LOVE being a stay-at-home mom. I love cooking for my family and making sure things are taken care of around the house and for my family. And it’s all me, too. Adam would support any choice I would make in this life of ours. No, I, Sarah, LOVE the “traditional” role in which I’ve put myself.

So it makes sense that I already find myself struggling to find the right words and actions when faced with a situation that could easily be very gender black and white for me.

IMG_1177But, I’m working on it.

For instance, Noah is a very sensitive boy, which makes sense. Adam and I are both sensitive people. But, when Noah gets hurt and cries or when he gets scared of Mr. Grinch, I find myself so tempted to tell him to tough it out. Life’s hard. Get a helmet. Shake it off. But that’s not fair. He’s a boy, but he’s more than that: He’s Noah. Noah the person.

And when I stress that my sweet Sophia is large for her age – we’re talking 95th percentile in weight, height and head size – and won’t that be difficult for her when all the other girls are dainty and petite – obviously, not the case in real life, but I can’t help thinking it – I have to catch myself and remember that there’s so much more to my girl than her gender. She’s a person. She’s Sophia.IMG_1847

It’s been just about 11 months of having one boy and one girl in our home, and I’m not going to lie and say things are completely gender neutral in every aspect. I still will absentmindedly put Sophia in front of her princess castle to play, and I love dressing her up in a beautiful outfit. And I still call Noah over to play with his Jake and the Never Land Pirates treehouse and love dressing him in boy sweats and T-shirts. Sophia has pink and purple sippy cups, and Noah has Cars’ cups. And, while combing their sweet, soft hair at night after bath time, I go on and on about how beautiful Sophia is and how handsome Noah is.

However, I am working on my awareness and I promise to you and to myself that if Sophia asks for a train table in her room or prefers to push the lawn mower instead of her stroller, I will happily acquiesce and encourage. And if Noah likes putting Sophia’s headbands on his head while getting dressed and loves princess movies over Pixar, that will be just fine with me. And, even if it’s not, even if it’s difficult, I will do everything in my ability to never show my kids I feel that way.

After all, it isn’t my job to decide what my kids will love in their life or what will make them happy. It is my job to help them find love in their life and give them every opportunity at happiness.

And Baby Makes Four

Positive Preg TestWell, I think it’s finally safe to say that WE ARE EXPECTING AGAIN! I am excited to finally announce that we will be adding a new member to our family in early August. We cannot wait!

That said, I am finding out that learning you’re pregnant with No. 2 is a little less dramatic than finding out you’re pregnant with No. 1, at least for me.

With Austin, I took one test and that was all the proof I needed. I was ecstatic and couldn’t believe that we were pregnant and wanted to immediately go out and buy little onesies and socks.

This time, I took about 10 tests because I honestly couldn’t believe it and am still having trouble thinking about a new baby joining the family. It isn’t that I’m not excited. I am beyond excited! I can’t wait to have a new baby join our family, and I think it’s going to be wonderful to watch Austin become a big brother. I guess it’s just that I don’t have time to focus on this new baby like I did my first.

Obviously this nut needs a sibling!!

Obviously, this nut needs a sibling!

I find myself actually forgetting that I’m pregnant. (Is that normal?!) If it wasn’t for the vomiting and constant hangover feeling, I would probably go hours without thinking about this new baby.

I think that for me, actually, the lack of focus is a really, really good thing.

I know I’ve mentioned it in the past, but I’m a bit of a worrier. My family would probably exchange the word “bit” with a different word, but let’s just say that I spend 90 to 95 percent of my time worrying about something. Pick a week and you can pick a topic, basically. Needless to say, pregnancy is not my best time. I hope that this pregnancy is better, though, because I won’t just have one baby to worry about. I already have Austin, and he takes up plenty of my hours spent worrying as it is, so having two kids should allow me to spread the worrying love a little.

Over the next six months, I’m going to do my best to not drag my crazy issues into this blog, but I can’t promise anything!

A Lesson from Candy Land

Recently, I’ve taken on a little more freelance work. Nothing crazy, but enough to keep me busy at nap time every day and on Monday and Thursday mornings when I use a babysitter. I’ve enjoyed the work, honestly; I’ve enjoyed having some time to myself each week to use my brain, instead of just my grilled cheese-making skills, which, if you know me, you know to be subpar.IMG_4640

Last week, however, I had a pretty big freelance project on my plate. Trying to plan ahead and prepare, I’d asked my mother-in-law to pick up the kids from the babysitter’s Thursday afternoon and watch them the rest of the day, and I’d asked my mother-in-law and my mom to split up the day watching the kids on Friday. I’m glad I set it up that way. If I hadn’t, I probably would’ve had to pull a few all-nighters. And I’m incredibly grateful to my mother-in-law and mom for helping out.

What was interesting about the arrangement, though, was that it was the first time I’d worked two days straight since I quit working full time two-and-a-half years ago. And what was really interesting, for me, was that as much as I do miss working sometimes and toy with the idea of eventually working two or three full days a week on a part-time basis, I found I missed my kids. I even wrapped up the day early on Friday, just because I realized suddenly, as I sat there on my laptop at the library, that all I really wanted to do right then was go home and play Candy Land with them.

It’s a good eyeopener for me. It’s a good reminder that I stopped working full time for a reason and that, even though I might work part time in the future when the kids are in school most of the day, right now, I’m right where I need to be.

It’s hard to be a stay-at-home mom. Most days, you want to pull your hair out and try to keep yourself from shouting at your kids because it can be just so darn frustrating trying to reason with toddlers who don’t know how to reason yet. But it’s hard to be a working mom, too. While you get to interact with grown-ups who are pros at reasoning, you also are in charge of making sure your responsibilities at both home and the office are running smoothly. And that’s no small feat.

IMG_4641And yet, maybe it’s even harder to find that elusive, perfect balance of stay-at-home mom and working mom that I know I’ve blogged about before and that I do often fantasize about. It may be elusive and too-good-to-be-true, but I still think it’s an aspirational dream worth striving for. I want to work. I want to use my brain and think about things that aren’t related to diapers or preschool or cleaning up messes or “Dora the Explorer.” But I don’t want to miss a thing with my kids either. I don’t want to have whole days where I don’t see them, where I don’t hear Anna telling me that I’m her best friend (something she’s telling anyone who’s close to her a lot lately, for whatever reason), where Brayden’s not asking me to play Angry Birds on the iPad for the tenth time that day.

It’s a personal choice for everyone, and not one choice works for everyone. I know that. I’m just glad that last week, I was reminded that the choice I made two-and-a-half years ago was the right choice for me. It will help me the next time I’m trying not to pull my hair out and dreaming of a quiet office somewhere far, far away. It will help me take a deep breath, remember why I’m doing what I’m doing, and ask my kids if they want to play a game of Candy Land.

 

 

To My Old Man

Today was Adam’s 30th birthday. I asked him if, 10 years ago, he could have imagined we would be where we are right now.

He replied, “I didn’t think I’d still be alive.”

IMG_1203He was joking, of course. Although, with the amount of “frat fun” he had during the first few years of college, I could see a little truth to that statement. Thankfully, he is alive and going strong at 30.

“Seriously,” I said, “Could you ever imagine being here? A wife, two kids, a house, a dog, a minivan? The works?”

“I guess I could see myself being married by now, but all that other stuff… not so much.”

Anyone who knew Adam in college would agree that it is pretty surprising that he’s in the full swing of family life. It’s funny when we catch up with some of his friends from college, they always say, “I can’t believe you are married and have kids! That’s so crazy!”

Looking back to when we first met, as freshmen in college, I, too, can’t believe we’re in this place. The first official time we “hung out” was over a beer pong game. On our first date, we used fake IDs, and the waitress, God LOVE her, called Adam out, saying there was no way this 19 year old kid was 24 (ahem, Jonah), but, I think because she felt sorry for us, she gave him the drink anyhow.

It seems like forever ago. And I guess it was. Now, when I talk to some of my cousins and friends of the family, I get so jealous and nostalgic for their college life. College life was awesome. Don’t get me wrong, you have your share of worries, heartbreak, stress and all that other fun stuff. But none of it couldn’t be worked out with the help of some great friends, a coffee shop and maybe even some delicious breadsticks. College was full of drama, but it was the kind of fun drama that kept life so interesting and exciting.

Oh, do not misunderstand. My life is full of drama. And it is certainly exciting at points. But it is so different. And, like Adam’s friends, I find myself having a hard time believing I’m even living this life.

kauffman14_014It’s like how turning 30 just sneaks up on you. You’re going along, thinking life is dandy as this 20-something year old and then, BAM! You’re 30. You age a decade in one day (or so it seems). And you feel… old. And tired. And pretty bewildered, actually.

After talking to Adam, I wondered the same question about myself. Did I see this life coming? Did I expect to be in this place by 30? My 20-year-old self would have said, “YES!” but I don’t think she knew exactly what a husband and kids meant. It was my plan all along, to get married and have a family, but did I really know what it all entailed?

I do now. Well, I know more. I’ll never claim to know it all because every single day (and I’m talking literally here), every single day I am surprised by something.

So, I asked myself the next question. The question I have yet to ask Adam, but I’m sure he’ll answer it well because he’s very much the politician about these things. So much so that I don’t believe a lot of his answers most of the time. (I’m not complaining; I know that a majority of the time, I couldn’t handle the truth anyways. I appreciate any cushion he chooses to give me.)

I asked myself if I have any regrets about where my life is now.

I stumped myself. I actually stalled out for a minute in my mind.

Regrets? Sure, I do.

I wish I had traveled the world more before having kids. I wish I still had a job some days. I wish I had gone further with my education. My wish list could go on and on.

But, for every regret, I think: Heck, 30 isn’t dead. Thirty is just about one-third of my life. I have, God willing, 60 more years to live, give or take. I have plenty of time to address these regrets and do something about them.

And the truth of it is, if I had done anything differently, I wouldn’t have ended up with the family I have now, and I will never regret them. Never. Even when I watch Noah pick his nose and eat what he’s found (truth). Even when Sophia becomes a hormonal teen (it’s going to happen). Even when Adam and I wake up in the morning and both groan as we sit up in bed because our old bodies just hurt. (It already happens.) Through it all, they are my life, my main characters and everything else is a side story.

So, to the leading man in my wonderful life, happy birthday, and thank you for allowing me to be a huge part in your life story. I promise, I’ll do my best to make sure you won’t regret it.