Sunday, June 23, 2013

Embarassing Moments and Facts

We all have these moments that we wish we could erase, but when you really look back on them, they're all pretty funny. I'd imagine that the many wonderful people in my life who I have known FOREVER could add to this list. If they'd like to, I hope they'll be kind and email them to me first. These were just at the top of my list, and the ones that popped up in my ever-diminishing memory.

Mint Green Half-Slip

When I was in junior high, we had someone important come to the school, I have no idea who it was or why they were important. We students were told to dress nicely on this particular day. I wore a skirt, it was 1982 or so.  I borrowed my mom's half-slip, because people used to wear slips back in the olden days. Where have slips gone? Don't get me wrong, I hate them. Slips and pantyhose were highly uncomfortable and the norm for so long! Anyhow...the slip I borrowed from my mom was mint green (why?) and too big.  The elastic was probably wearing out as well. After our assembly with our Very Important Visitor, I was standing in the hall outside the office with my then and now best friend, Renee.  Something that was said made me enthusiastic and I started to jump up and down. As I did, the slip slipped down my legs and pooled around my ankles in a sad little mint green pile. In retrospect, I feel like my reflexes were lightning fast, I remember I grabbed it quick and stuffed it into my backpack.  A lot of people saw though...I don't miss the half slip. Renee will never let me forget the half slip, 30 years later!

Eye of the Tiger

There's a part of me that is twistedly proud of this one. In 7th grade, I was in the marching band as a Tall Flag girl. I remember that our uniforms were atrocious and not just in a "it was 1982" way. We hated them then and begged the powers that were to change them to no avail. The top was white cotton with puffy eyelet sleeves and the skirt was pleated green and white, just above the knee.  We marched down Lake Avenue as part of the Old Fashioned Day Parade in Altadena. I should probably be more embarrassed of this than I am:  Hand me a broomstick and I can still perform my entire routine to "Eye of the Tiger". Back then, Eye of the Tiger was not a cheesy ironic song, it was NEW and POWERFUL. We were cutting edge. What ever happened to Survivor?

Night Train, Cool Ranch Doritos, and a Yugo

I already wrote an entire post about this infamous night, but it deserves at least a mention. 15 years old, club in Hollywood, a bottle of Night Train, a Big Grab of Cool Ranch Doritos, a friend who bolted, and no ride home. All kinds of cringe-worthy and proof that God exists, merely because my sorry ass survived that night unscathed.  Kind of.

Vomit Jeans

This doesn't require a lot of explanation as to why this is horrifying, other than the fact they existed. In college, I had a pair of jeans I wore out partying a LOT.  They were awful by today's standard, very high wasted, light colored denim with a button fly. I'm fairly sure they were tapered as well. The jeans themselves weren't to blame, that was the style in 1989-1990.  The sad fact is that we named them my Vomit Jeans. Why, you ask?  Because nearly every time we went out, I drank to the point of vomiting profusely and I always seemed to be wearing those jeans.  I was such a graceful, classy thing. It became part of our ordinary vernacular, as in, "I don't know what to wear tonight, are you wearing your Vomit Jeans?"  I remember I wore them one night to a bar in Los Angeles near USC.  For those of you who know LA, this is not a safe area. However, we knew the owner of the "502", which is the police code for drunk driving. (Lord, this becomes worse and worse as I remember it.) We referred to it as "The 5-0" because we were cool like that. One night at the 5-0, many, many drinks were handed to me. So I drank them. They were shots of something, I have no idea what it was, other than they were guava flavored. Naturally, due to what we were doing and what I was wearing, I barfed a lot that night, and my jeans were re-christened.  Holy moly.  To this day, I can't stand the smell of guava, a fact that my dear friend Lisa knows well.  A lot of hair products smell like guava. They had fresh guava in Hawaii, people have offered me fresh guava juice. No, no, I'm good. Can't do it. The jeans were finally retired at some point in 1990, due to my many falls which resulted in the jeans (and my legs) being shredded beyond redemption.  Yikes.

The Stripper (gross)

When I was in college in San Francisco, we'd rented a very cool house just a few blocks from school. At one point, a roommate moved out and a putrid one moved in. I continued to live with this putrid roommate in an apartment in Burlingame for a year after graduation. That was 1993-1994, or what I like to call "the worst year of my life".  In any case, this was before that. It was my birthday and we were all at the house hanging out. Then a cop knocked at the door and I opened it. My roommates were colorful, and we all did some ill-advised things back then, underage drinking among them. The cop was super convincing and I actually let him in, to have him tell us he'd have to take us in. Yes, the cop was a stripper, ordered up by my putrid roommate.  I was not amused in the slightest, I was upset! My heart was in my throat, the lease of that house was in my name, I thought that would be the worst birthday in my life (it must have been my 22nd). The stripper was gross, as all male strippers are in my opinion. Sorry, has never done anything for me, I think they're absurd. I tried to be a good sport, but that was an awful experience. There wasn't enough alcohol in the world to make that night funny to me. I curse you, putrid roommate.

How Lights Work

Sadly, cringe-worthy moments weren't just reserved for my youth. This one happened maybe four years ago. I was in my office at one of my schools, and one of the fluorescent bulbs had burnt out in the ceiling.  I had two lights in that office, and now one of them was out and it was way too dim in there.  The head custodian is an awesome guy, very helpful, and has always helped me out when I've needed it.  He happened to be walking by, so I called out to him.  "Hey, sorry to bug you, but when you get a chance, can you replace that bulb? It's a little too dim in here."  He looked at me, then reached over to the wall and flicked on the other switch. The light came on. I groaned, "Ohhhh, my god." and put my head on my desk. He laughed. I confided in him that I'm really not that smart and not to tell people! I've been at the school for 8 years now, and he won't let me live that one down, nor should he! (insert 'how many psychologists does it take to change a lightbulb' joke here)

The "Other" One

I was still new at one of my schools when this one happened and was still trying to get to know the staff. There are a LOT of teachers and para-educators and administrators to get to know, and I'm usually pretty good with names. I knew that one teacher had gone out the prior year to have her first baby, and this was the first day back in the new school year.  We were all lined up, loading up our plates with food the PTO provided for our breakfast. I was next to a teacher who looked familiar and I said, "Oh hey! How is your baby?"  She laughed and said, "It's the other one."  What did she mean?  She meant it was the other black woman teacher who had had the baby and I wanted the floor to swallow me. Nooooooooooo.  I clapped my hand over my mouth and said, "Oh no..." and she just laughed. As I tried to apologize, she assured me that it was totally fine and she wasn't offended at all. I remained mortified for the rest of the day and kept trying to think of ways to redeem myself.  My wise co-workers and friends assured me that I would make it worse if I tried, so I let it go. Goodness...can I please not be the chick who thinks all black people look the same? Cause I don't, and anyone who knows me knows this. 7 years later, this teacher knows who I am and is a lovely person with a wonderful sense of humor, thank GOD.

Whodini Has No Place in an IEP Meeting

Before I had a smart phone, I had a lot of fun choosing different ringtones for my cell phone. Sometimes I would waste time messing with it and forget what I'd chosen.  I'd also often forget to silence my phone while in IEP meetings at work, which tend to be fairly serious affairs most of the time.  So I was in one...and my phone rang: "Now the party's jumpin', the place is packed and when the crowd's like this, I'm ready to rap, but before I could bust a rhyme on the mic, freaks are all over me like white on rice..."   Yep...I was in the midst of explaining the results of a child's psychoeducational evaluation when my purse started to sing "The Freaks Come Out At Night".  I deftly reached into my purse under the table and silenced it, then looked around confused with a "whose phone was that?" look on my face. That will never happen again. 

The Bee

Oh, and today I sat on a bee. And it stung my leg. We were at a birthday party for some of the kid's friends, and I was sitting in a chair eating. Suddenly my leg started to hurt and it puzzled me. What? Wait...did I pull a muscle there yesterday when I was scrubbing my bathroom floor? Man...that really hurts. Weird. I walked inside and went into the bathroom to look in the mirror. Yep, something had definitely happened, as that part of my leg was red and swollen. When I came back outside, I noticed a honey bee flailing about on the ground below my chair. I stomped on him.  What is embarrassing about this, you might ask?  It's that it took me an extremely long time to figure out what had happened. Honestly, I sat there for 5-7 minutes just wondering aloud why I was in pain. 

I scare myself sometimes.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Thicker Than Water?

Growing up sucks. And I’m not just talking about adulthood and all of the trappings and responsibilities and debt that go with it. I’m talking about emotionally growing up, and I’m still in the process. There are some truths, MY truths that I’m grappling with to the point that I’m a little uncomfortable writing about them. The fact that this makes me cringe is probably a fairly strong sign that I should keep going, keep writing, and get all this out of my head.

Blood is thicker than water. Family should come first, and will always be there for you. It’s a requirement to maintain relationships as you get older, and work hard at staying close to your siblings! Right? Well, as I’ve gotten older and my relationships with my remaining family have undergone a lot of changes, I’ve adjusted my beliefs about this. I do believe that it’s important that I maintain my relationships with my siblings, but I no longer believe that these relationships need to be close, as far as my definition of “close” goes.

  • Close: A relationship that incorporates total trust. A relationship in which you can share your true feelings, your weaknesses, your fears and pain. Someone who will support you in your bellyaching, but tell you when it’s too much. Someone who will celebrate with you when wonderful things happen. And this relationship is reciprocal, you will listen to the other person and be just as present and supportive as they are to you.
I am really blessed and always have been with the friendships in my life that I have managed to maintain. With two especially, we have gotten even closer over the past few years as we have all dealt with deaths and divorce. These sad things have re-solidified the bond that’s always been there for over 20 years. These two are my go-to people. I have other close friends as well, and consider my husband my best friend.

I think I truly trust maybe 4-5 people. These are the folks I’m “close” with, and none of them are blood related. I’m friendly with a lot of people, partially because of my job. But true openness and candor is reserved for just a few. I’ve spent the last few years feeling guilty about this fact. My truth is that I’ve spent a huge chunk of my life trying to be “close” to my siblings. Now at 43, I think it’s time to accept that it’s not going to happen, at least not in the way I’d always hoped.

I thought that I had a very close relationship with one of my siblings for most of my life. However, when our father died three years ago, a lot changed. I don't particularly trust this person, and I no longer feel that I’m being paranoid, or over-sensitive, or immature about this decision. I think I’m being smart. I love them, and want the best for them. I am trying and will continue to try to maintain a decent, civil relationship, but it will never be close again. That has to be okay and I need to accept it. We exist in different orbits and see the world completely differently. While I try to be supportive and non-judgmental, I’m sure I fall short. And I am most definitely judged, a fact of which I have myriad examples that I won’t go into. I don’t believe I’m respected, or even liked very much, to be honest. I know that I have disappointed this person over and over and over through the years because they have informed me of this. There is a standard I can’t reach. Apparently I’ve never been able to reach it. Realizing this was somewhat freeing, as I no longer think it’s necessary to try to meet these expectations. It’s made me reflect on all the years, decades in fact, during which I have turned and twisted myself into knots trying to stuff myself into some magically shaped box in order to please them. That’s clearly been a failed endeavor. So, here we are today. I care about these people, of course I do. But will I ever really expose my feelings and open up completely to them again? It doesn’t look promising.

My relationship with my other sibling has improved a lot over the past few years, as we didn’t grow up being close. The lines of communication have gotten better, and we’ve both been able to share more. However, I never really know what I’m going to get from this individual. I’ll be feeling secure and happy with things, and share a little too much (in retrospect). Then I’ll get walloped. It’s happened numerous times over the years, and I’m not going to pretend that I haven’t fought back. There have been times when our disagreements have gotten truly ugly, with endless bickering emails and letters. I will say that now, I try very hard to remain neutral and deal with things calmly, even when upset. It seems to work most of the time.

One of the reasons for this necessary distance was born out of the fact that I am the youngest of three by quite a margin, 5 ½ years for one and 8 ½ years for the other. The three of us didn’t grow up together, or even with the same parents. I have no recollection of my parents ever being together, while one of my siblings lived within an “intact” family for 12 years. My parents divorced and my other sibling moved out of my mother’s home at 14 to go live with our father. Of course I spent a lot of time at my dad’s house, and got to see my sibling on a regular basis, but my mother had primary custody of me. From the age of 10 until I moved away to college, I lived with my mom and boarders that rented the extra rooms in our house. My upbringing was weird, and unconventional. My mom and I have discussed this and I’ve made peace with it. On the brighter side, my humor and sarcasm are direct results of my childhood, and those traits have kept me afloat forever. One of my siblings has said that I’ve never “left” mom’s house and “whatever happened to you there”. I was also encouraged to “fix whatever it is in you that’s broken.” Wow. Well, you know, it’s not a choice I would have made as a parent, to have my daughter alone with strangers for 8 years, but nothing happened to me. As someone who has been in counseling at least a dozen times, and over-thinks everything, and chose to become a psychologist, I can say with 100% certainty that I came out of that living situation un-abused. It’s been a well covered subject.

I’m on great terms with my mother, and that hasn’t always been the case. We’ve had our own jungles to navigate through, and I think we’ve come out on the other side. I truly enjoy her company and am grateful for the relationship we have now. But I wasn’t “close” to my mom growing up, so it’s still different. We had amazing moments and trips that I cherish, and I’m thankful for many, many things that she’s taught me. There wasn’t that close bond when I was younger though, and I think she’d agree with that. I don’t distrust my mom by any means, but she’s not particularly interested in hearing my woes. It’s just not her bag, and I get it. I absolutely love and respect my mother.

I’m also acutely aware that a lot of the changes and realizations coincided with my father’s death. It’s been three years now, and I was exceptionally close to him. In a lot of ways, we may have been too close. He confided a lot in me, too much probably. Ours was a complicated relationship, but very close nonetheless. His listening skills were unparalleled. He knew, welcomed, and loved all of my friends. Sometimes I think that some of them miss him as much as I do. That loss hit me extremely hard, even though he’d been suffering and we expected it. He was my touchstone, and I could go to him with anything. Sometimes his responses would annoy me, and he liked to talk about what was going on with him, a LOT. But we had the kind of relationship where I could say, “Dad? You’ve told me the same story now like four times, can I have the floor?”, and no one would be offended. He found humor in normal, day to day life. We had fun together, he was always silly. I remember once when there was a spider in my room and I was being a total girl and wanting him to come kill it. He came in my room, looked at the spider and said, “Oh. That’s just Rupert.” and walked out. Then I felt like I couldn’t kill it, because it now had a name, and a really cool name at that! Rupert hung out for awhile. So the loss of that bond took a chunk out of me.

With our father gone, things got really odd between me and my siblings. We really only sat down once, all together, to divide up duties and choose a date for the memorial, and that was the day after he died in the house he died in. I understand enough about grief now to understand that people react to death in a lot of different ways, but I was sad and disappointed. I had hoped and expected that the three of us would sit down more than once and remember and talk and laugh about dad. I remembered when we went and spread my grandmother’s ashes in the ocean off Laguna Beach. After her ashes were gone, my mom and her siblings all hugged in what looked like a huddle on the boat. We never huddled. We still haven’t. The first Thanksgiving after his death, we were all together and no one even mentioned his name. Maybe we were all waiting for one of the other ones to bring him up, I don’t know. That bond, that we had all lost our beloved father, has never materialized. I tried once, shortly after his death. I was having a really difficult time one day and I shared it with one of my siblings. The response I got was that I should be happy we had him, not sad he was gone. I understand that sentiment, but on that particular day I was just incredibly sad. My sibling made the analogy of having a really amazing dessert like crème brulee. Shouldn’t I be happy I got to eat this amazing treat and not be upset that it was gone? Hmmmmm. Dad as custard. I realized at that point that we were not on the same page and that we both were grieving in vastly different ways. Yes, I am more emotional by far, but DAMN. Crème brulee?? He’d been gone less than a year. Watching dad die for four years was excruciatingly hard, and I know it was awful for all three of us, and three years later we still have never all talked about it. That makes me sad, but it also makes me feel extremely guarded.

Another point of contention, at least with one sibling, is that I moved away from LA. I moved to San Francisco when I was 20 years old and never looked back south again. It was the single best decision I have made in life. However, one sibling feels as though I was running away from my family. I honestly don't  understand this outlook, I think people are supposed to grow up and move and go about their lives. I wasn't running FROM anything, I was running TO the life that was waiting for me. However, I have been accused of abandoning my family more than once. My mom has said it's because I'm missed-maybe. It's not as though I haven't kept in touch via phone, email, and visits. Hell, I only live 300 miles away too! I have a cousin who moved to a different country and has made his life out there and it doesn't appear to be an issue. I love my family, but I will never regret moving from LA. In addition to needing to go carve my path and decide what I wanted and who I was, I'm not a big fan of LA. I can have an opinion.

So I am in the process of re-framing these relationships. I think as adults, we can form our own families. My priority is with the one I've created with my husband and my children. I'm lucky to have the friendships I do, and they will remain family in my life until I die.  I want relationships with my siblings, but my outlook and expectations have changed. Theirs may not have changed, and I'll have to deal with that when the issue arises. I am dead tired from trying to please people, and I need to stop. I can love people without doing back flips and agreeing to things I don't want to do.  I also need to be prepared for this to be perceived as "not good enough". Oh well...I'm 43 and don't really have to answer to anyone but God and myself.

One of my favorite movies with some of the best lines EVER is Garden State. One scene has resonated with me for years. The main character has returned home for his mother's funeral and is talking about the idea of home:

"It's like you feel homesick for a place that doesn't even exist. Maybe it's like this rite of passage, you know. You won't ever have this feeling again until you create a new idea of home for yourself, you know, for your kids, for the family you start, it's like a cycle or something. I don't know, but I miss the idea of it, you know. Maybe that's all family really is. A group of people that miss the same imaginary place."

Sometimes I miss the imaginary place too, but I'm living my life today, where I live now.  And I don't want to go backwards. I hope in time that we can go forward together, but if not, that's okay too.

Monday, June 10, 2013

We women ruin EVERYTHING.

So it's been all over the news that women are increasingly becoming the breadwinners in families.  Well, that's cool, a lot has changed since I was little and...wait, what?  This is a bad thing?  It ruins marriages, makes women abort their babies, and is the reason education is swirling rapidly down the drain? 

Oh.  So it's MY fault.  Who knew?  Well, apparently the folks at Fox News are amongst those who know it's my fault.  **Those who know me know I'm not a fan of Fox News, but the intent of this post is not to bash them. 

Working Women Ruin Marriages

I truly enjoyed watching a clip of Megyn Kelly school two men commentators recently on Fox about this very topic. Kelly challenged Lou Dobbs over his comments attributing women's role in the workplace to marriages "shattering" in society."Why are you attributing that to women in the workforce?" Kelly said, interjecting. Dobbs responded with, "Excuse me. Let me just finish what I was saying, if I may, oh dominant one!" WOW, dude.  Condescend much?? That was such a snide, uncalled for remark. These people were not in the same room when this exchange occurred, which is probably good.  If I had been in Megyn's shoes, I would have lunged for that guy.  It's best I'm not a news anchor or in the public eye in general due to my temper. Mr. Dobbs cited some study, of course, but never really adequately elaborated on his point. (I've found that statistics can be enlightening, or absolutely worthless. It was in grad school when I really learned this, after reading a study in which there was one child subject. How that even got published, I will never know.) With regard to Ms. Kelly,  I may disagree with her on many issues, but she is a hardworking, professional woman. How did I feel about Megyn Kelly this time?  Amen, sister! I actually admired her restraint, although I think Dobbs didn't need much help looking stupid.

With regard to shattering marriages, I know everyone is different, but my career helps sustain my marriage. Financially, you may be thinking.  Nope.  My husband has his own business and is usually home in the early afternoon. As much as I love and adore him, if we spent that much time together every day, we might kill each other.  So...score one for marriage!  Next

Single Moms=More Abortions??

Eric Bolling, also a Fox contributor, brought the crazy train around in this direction:  "American family is breaking down. Women are forced to go out, be the breadwinners for families. That's why the number's skewed higher now. Here's another offshoot of that: If you are a single mom, breadwinner of the family, and you get pregnant, aren't we pushing towards more abortions? It seems like we are."

Wait wait wait...what are we talking about here?  Single moms being the primary breadwinners? Isn't that done out of necessity, isn't that common sense?  And it's not always the case my any means, but why does this brick wall of blame all topple over on top of the moms?  Why are they single moms?  Maybe the dads split, or are deceased, or are in jail, or were abusive, or were never involved in their child's life in the first place. And it's the single mom's fault?   Bread winning moms are going to have more abortions?  Aye, carumba. Here are just a few points to prove this dude WRONG, and wrong is the nicest word I can think of:
  • The single moms that I know aren't really even into dating, let alone sex. It's not that they don't want to eventually find another partner to share their lives with, it's that they have no TIME.  Raising kids solo must be insane, I don't know how some of my friends do it.
  • Why does being a single mom equate to being an irresponsible, uneducated trollop? Are they just gallivanting about, having sex with whomever? 
  • Let's take a single mom, for argument's sake, who is very sexually active.  Y'know, they have this new earth-shattering thing out now, that's fairly easy to access.  It's called BIRTH CONTROL.
The undertone of what this guy said was pretty damn insidious, I can picture who he's thinking of. I have worked with single moms who have numerous children and they seem unaware of how they came to be.  I've used this analogy before...some women wake up pregnant in the same way the rest of us wake up with a pimple. "Whoa...that wasn't there yesterday!" I'm truly not trying to be judgmental, and I haven't walked in their shoes.  However, I have enough experience in my profession to be able to reference several women like this. They break my heart. BUT, more importantly for this particular point, these women aren't working. So there that is. 

It's the height of arrogance and tremendously insulting to suggest that having more single moms who are the ones bringing home the bacon (duh) will lead to more abortions. We are half of the WORLD.  How can Mr. Bolling know women so well? What a gift he must have, to be able to know the habits and intentions of every single working mother out there.  Ug...again, NEXT??? 

Education is Failing Because Mommy Works

Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant was participating in a Washington Post Live event focused on the importance of ensuring that children read well by the end of third grade. In response to a question about how America became “so mediocre” in regard to educational outcomes, he said "I think both parents started working. And the mom is in the work place."  Interesting.  I'm a full time working mom who works in the schools, so I have some opinions about this mindset. I will acquiesce that in order for children to do well in school, they have to have parent involvement.  This does not mean it has to be mom only, nor does it mean that the parents can't work outside the home. Kids need a parent (or another caregiver) to read with them, check their backpacks, and supervise homework. It's monumentally important to show up to their school events, although I know how hard that can be for a lot of working folks. The main thing that children in school need are reliable adults around them to instill the notion that school is important.  The family should be in a partnership with the school, but that doesn't equate to mom having to be a housewife.

Education isn't where it should be in this country, I don't think anyone could dispute that. However, I can think of at least a dozen other reasons that education isn't doing well in America.
  • Education in this country is horribly underfunded, and when cuts are made, education gets slashed first. A number of amazing programs are grant funded, which means they can vanish in a heartbeat.
  • Teaching is an incredibly difficult gig, and they aren't paid what they deserve. They get very little respect these days. The amount of abuse that some of my favorite teachers have to endure by unruly parents would truly shock most people.
  • There are horrible teachers out there. Again, I try not to judge, but this time I am. I have witnessed and heard awful, shocking things that teachers have said to parents and students. I know of situations in which the teachers do very, very little. Guess what? With only two years to tenure, once that is established it's nearly impossible to let a teacher go. I could name a number of fire-able offenses that I know of, because people tell me stuff. In the private sector, these folks would be gone

To Work or Not To Work?

**Disclaimer: I have many friends who are amazing people who have chosen to stay at home and raise their children. Yes, all moms are working moms, and many of them find side jobs that they can do from home. I love y'all and you know who you are.

I could not stay home to raise our kids if we hit the lottery. I am not creative. I don't scrapbook (I'm being serious, not mean). I am not particularly ambitious or good at thinking up cool things to go do.  It is VERY easy for me to stagnate and once a couple of days have passed and I've just been ambling about my house, it's common for depression to follow. I don't know why, I'm jacked up! provides structure for me, mandatory structure.  I need it for my own mental well-being.  If I don't take care of my own mental well-being, I'm not as good of a mom.  There's the added bonus of a good salary and health benefits for my family, and once in awhile, I do feel like I'm helping people and doing my part to help the children in my midst. I adore my co-workers, and I'm a social person.  I truly enjoy being around people most of the time. Staying home just wouldn't have been the right fit for me and our family, and I don't think that's a bad thing to admit.

I make more money than Mike does, so I guess I'd fall under this "breadwinner" banner. Mike also has absolutely no student loans, so if you really boiled it all down, we're probably fairly even. Bringing home a bigger check has never been an issue for us. I didn't to graduate school for the glory of it! I went because I had to in order to have the career I've now had for 16 years. It was a means to an end and despite the burnout and the stress, I do know that I'm doing what I'm meant to do.  I still want to write though!

Being a mom that works full time outside the home is incredibly hard.  It was actually harder when the kids were babies. I took three months off with Maddie and four with Stephen when they were born. As much as I did love having that bonding time with them, I also started to go batty, especially since newborns have such a schedule!  It wasn't as though I could plan that much anyway, and I was terrified I'd screw something up.  Once I did go back to work, leaving my baby in the care of someone else kind of felt like lopping my own arm off, and nothing was worse than hearing my child cry and knowing that I had to leave.  There were many, many teary commutes in those days.  Then, being exposed to other kids, they start getting sick, like ALL the time.  What followed was usually the argument about whose day was more important and who could take the time off from work. I still feel like my kiddos want ME when they're sick. It's entirely possible I'm wrong, but I think it anyway. So is it hard?  GOD, yes.  But, to quote my mom, "you can do hard things."

My mom was a big time feminist in the 70's when I was coming up and worked outside of the home a lot. I wish she'd been around more, I could have used some supervision for sure! However, what came out of that for me was resilience and independence, and the knowledge that I could pretty much handle myself no matter what happened. You know those kids who are totally over-protected, the ones who have "helicopter moms"? That was as far removed from my experience as a child as you could imagine. So yeah! I wanted her around more, and with my own children, I'm home by 4 or 5. I intentionally pass up evening activities with church or friends in order to be there for their evening routine. I think that's really important.  One time my mom said to me, in regard to working and raising children, "Oh, I remember those days! It's like running in a marathon that never ends."  YES. I can't think of a better analogy, that is exactly what it feels like. 

Working with children for 16 years and then coming home to mine is also exhausting, but it's worth it. I know my children's teachers well, I know who all of their friends are, and get up to the minute updates of all the 6th grade girl drama. That last one makes my eyes cross most of the time, but I still listen. I recently realized that our son wasn't exactly killing it when it came to spelling, so I started to quiz him.  He improved dramatically and I should have done it sooner. I think in our particular situation, it helps that I'm in education in the same district they attend. They are both aware that they can't make a negative move without me finding out about it and there being pure hell to pay.

We are incredibly blessed and in a very unique situation. I work 37.5 hours a week (but of course it ends up being more than that).  I know working parents who work 50-60 hours a week and commute daily to San Francisco, which is two hours each way with decent traffic.  My heart goes out to them, I can't imagine it. They don't get to see their children as much as I do, some of them don't even get to tuck their children in at night.  Mike is home when our kids get out of school, and he starts them on their homework and checks in on their day. So far, we are lucky to have children who do great in school and pick up new information relatively well.  How often does this type of scenario happen? I can go on field trips, I can run over to the school for an awards assembly and it's no big deal. Another amazing stroke of luck is the fact that I live within ten minutes of the schools I service, as well as my own children's school.  Our deal is not typical, and I acknowledge that and am beyond grateful.

For all of these gifts that I have been given, I am sure of one thing as a working mom.  Well, I'm sure of several things.  If something awful ever happened and I became a single mom, it's unlikely that it would be due to Mike leaving because I have a job. If I ever become a single mom, I will not suddenly become a self-involved floozy who indiscriminately begins having unprotected sex which would lead to several abortions. If I ever become a single mom, you best believe that my children would not suddenly earn F's and drop out of school. 

The family unit, however it looks, is incredibly important to our country and our future. However, I take major offense to the notion that I'm the one destroying it due to the fact I have a career. Take it easy on the women, folks.  Our lives are hard enough.