Thursday, August 29, 2013

Just as it Starts to Get Easier...

I don't know if I write about it enough, but being a stay at home mom is HARD work.  I'm not saying it's harder or easier than working, or doing anything else.  But in and of itself, it is a hard and exhausting job.

I have found that the level of difficulty ebbs and flows according to a number of factors.  Age of child is probably the most important one.  0-4 months is very difficult, 4-9 months is easier, then it gets difficult again as the child gets mobile, with the level of difficulty peaking around 18 months - 2 years of age, particularly if said child is what I like to call a "runner."  In my experience, things start to get calmer around age 4, and after that, I can't tell you.  I'm still living it.  

Having two children only further complicates things, as you are dealing with different ages, and different levels of difficulty, at the same time.  My kids tend to yo yo off of each other in terms of who gives me the most trouble.  For a long while there it was Braden (see post about his hitting phase) - he gave me a serious run for my money for a year or so, until he slowly became cooperative, accommodating, and the most loving kid in the whole world (see post about the sweet nothings he whispers into my ear).  Casey, on the other hand, was our "angel" baby, until he wasn't anymore (see post about his transition from angel child to slight terror).  He hasn't yet grown out of this "terror" stage, and his terror is now, sadly, directed at other children who dare to come within two feet of a toy he has claimed as his own.  But generally, he is getting more manageable.  He is no longer a runner, he sometimes follows direction, and overall he's just a joy, so I can ignore the other stuff.  

The boys' first official day of school was today.  It was anticlimactic, really.  No tears.  No separation anxiety.  Just hugs and goodbyes and anticipation.  Their new schedule means that I have my mornings to myself - from 8am-11am.  Three whole hours.  It is the first time in five years that I haven't had anyone to answer to for a regular, set time period.  To say it is freeing is an understatement.  I can go to a doctor's appointment without worrying about child care.  I can watch the Today show.  I can get some work done.  I can play the suburban housewife and shop at Target and get my nails done.  Or I can just lay in bed for a couple of hours.  The luxury of it all!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Plagues of Back to School Season

Just last week I was sitting on the beach in Ocean City, New Jersey, taking in the sun and the summer and the slow pace of it all.

Today, both of my kids started school.  Crazy. 

There are a million things I could say about this, and in the next few weeks, I will probably find some way to say them.  The tears, the transition, the fact that this means that this means I will have another BABY this season.  But for today, I’m going to focus on something else. 

The germs. 

When both of my kids started school at age 2, the onslaught of disease began.  Norovirus, roseola, hand foot and mouth, strep, Fifth’s disease, croup, and every cough and cold known to man.  And I’m not surprised.  At preschool drop-offs, I would scan the room and see snotty nosed kid after snotty nosed kid.  Then I would see my child suck on a toy after one of the aforementioned snotty nosed kids dropped it, and within days my child would himself become a snotty nosed kid.   I suppose it is par for the course, but man, did it suck.  As the kids get older, the frequency of diseases and snotty noses has decreased, which is nice.  But it still doesn’t stop the dread I get when I get one of those “notices” from school. 

You know the ones.  They have a little smiley face or an apple.  They look all happy, until you read the fine print: “We’d like to inform you that a student in your child’s class has come down with [insert name of deadly plague here].  Please contact your doctor if your child shows any symptoms of [insert name of deadly plague once again].” 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Your Turn - Sara's Story

"Your Turn" is a series of posts where readers share their stories of parenthood, work, the struggle for a balance, or just life generally.  If you are interested in contributing a story, please email me at, or click here.

"Good morning, Professor!"

As I heard my name from across the law school classroom, I couldn't help but smirk at my title. Just twenty minutes prior, I was trying desperately to get out of the door in time for class, only to find my two-year old son drawing crayon circles all over one of my student's briefs that I had left out on the kitchen table.  After waving frantically on multiple street corners, I finally found a cab, realizing only once I buckled my seat belt that my newborn daughter had left a huge blob of spit-up on the corner of my white silk blouse.  Oh well, class started at 9:00 am, and there was no turning back now.  If anyone noticed, I could always just pretend it was foam from the vanilla soy latte I would have loved to get if I actually had time to stop at Starbucks before I left.

This is how it goes these days.  But I wouldn't trade it for anything.

No one told us women before we endured the rigors of law school that the legal world isn't always the most family friendly profession.  And once I became a mom, I knew I could no longer stress about meeting my billable hours while trying to get home in time to put my son to bed.  But I was told that a law degree opens doors and could lead to endless possibilities.  So I thought about what I was passionate about and set out to do something I had always wanted to do - teach law.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A Relaxing Vacation with Kids - An Oxymoron?

Last August I went out to lunch with two of my closest friends in DC, along with our kids.  It was a beautiful August day, we sat outside, and our kids were well behaved.  In short, it felt almost like I was on vacation. So much so, that I had an idea:  This time next year, why don't we all go to the beach for a week with the kids?  If we're hanging out here in DC, we might as well be hanging out at the ocean!

Months went by, filled with casual conversation about a potential beach week, and then in January we got real about it.  We researched beaches, houses, and prices, and we actually booked it.  It was predominantly to be a week with just the moms and the kids - our husbands could probably only take a couple of days of of work, anyway.  A weeklong playdate, really.  Six kids.  Three moms.  Easy enough, right? Relaxing?


Friday, August 16, 2013

Child Care Woes

When I got the news earlier this week that I had to devote four hours of my day to the glucose screening (which came back negative, by the way), my first thought wasn't of the needles or the discomfort or the ramifications of gestational diabetes.  It was - who is going to watch the kids?  

These days, with frequent OB appointments and occasional work demands and a lack of school/camp, I find that I am asking myself that question more and more often.  And given that I am adding one more kid to the mix somewhat soon, it is stressing me out big time.

One of the things I hated the most about working and having a child was the child care issue.  We opted for a nanny, and for the most part, things went smoothly.  But there was always the occasional hiccup - when the nanny's mother died and she had to leave for two weeks unexpectedly.  When I needed help later into the evening and she couldn't stay.  When the nanny got sick.  When I needed to work on what was supposed to be my "day off," and the nanny had another job.  Ultimately, my job was the one that was sacrificed, and I would work from home, or take a day off.  Other times, family from out town would come to visit and fill in. It always ended up working out, but the anxiety of a child care fail hung over me at all times. When I quit my job, I had a huge sense of relief that I didn't have to worry about "those kinds of things" anymore.

But alas, I was wrong!  In some ways, the child care issue is harder as a stay at home mom, because when I need someone, I don't have someone waiting in the wings to go to.  I have gone through countless babysitters, ranging from high school to college to middle age, and no one has really stuck.  Some have gone away to college or moved or taken on other full time jobs.  Others have flaked out so many times I have blacklisted them, or have passed out on the job at the sight of blood (true story), or, most recently, have stolen my husband's spare coin stash (very disturbing).

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Sugar Fail

I hate failing tests.  Especially when they involve gross sugary drinks and needles and blood draws.

I heard the news this morning.  I FAILED the most annoying test in the course of a pregnancy - the one hour glucose tolerance test.  And what reward do I get for FAILING this test?  Yet another test!  Three hours long!  (Plain english translation - there's a small possibility that I have gestational diabetes - further testing is required).

First, lets go over the joys of test #1 (which I FAILED).  At around 26 weeks, we pregnant ladies get to chug a ridiculously disgusting sugary drink, that sits like a pit in the bottom of our stomachs. Then we get to wait, exactly one hour, in a gross and overcrowded medical lab, and get blood taken.  Then, some of us, I don't know, like myself, reward ourselves afterwards with a cheeseburger and fries.  (I was craving salt).  Approximately 80% of us will pass this test and never look back.

That means 20% of us aren't so lucky.

I have done this test twice before, one with each previous pregnancy, and passed.  I assumed this time would be no different.  In fact, yesterday, as I was chugging down my sugary drink, I took solace in one thing, which I confirmed with my OB:  So assuming this test goes well, is this the last time I have to get blood drawn during this pregnancy?  

Why yes it is!  he told me.

Why, oh why did I ask that question?  I jinxed myself right there.

Friday, August 9, 2013

What Kind of "Opt-Out" Poster Child Will I Be?

Is it just me, or is the whole stay at home mom/working mom debate EVERYWHERE now?  It seems like every other day there's a new article in the Atlantic or the New York Times or Huffington Post or [you name that news medium] about women leaning in, opting out, or scaling back.  Don't get me wrong - I think it's great.  I love the debate, and for the most part I love the articles.  When I find good ones, I share them on Twitter and Facebook.  Occasionally, if one particularly strikes me, I write about it.  Like today.

Earlier this week the New York Times ran an article titled "The Opt-Out Generation Wants Back In."  This article profiles several women who, over a decade ago, decided to opt out of the work force to stay at home with their kids.  (They were profiled in an article back in 2003, which you can read here).  Most of the women left high paying, highly successful careers because the balance between work and family was too hard.  They did so willfully, and hopefully.  They wanted more time with their children.  Sound familiar?  The article asks, and answers, the question - what became of them?

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Travel with Young Kids (or in my case, wild, loud boys)

This past weekend I drove myself to Chapel Hill, North Carolina and back.  The drive was nice, and I actually looked forward to it.  It's ironic, because I remember there was a time when I used to dread long car trips by myself.  I would get nervous and feel dread and make myself special "mix tapes" to stave off boredom.
My, how things have changed.  Now I view a long car trip by myself as a luxury.  Hours to myself, with no one to bother me?  Being able to listen to whatever music I want?  Or call whoever I want? Or opt for silence, if I so choose?  Ahhhhh.  Heaven.  

I suppose it's the contrast to travel with my children that makes a solo trip so enticing.  

We are a family that travels fairly often.  All three sets of grandparents live other states, as well as aunts and uncles and cousins and friends.  We also like to take vacations when we can, and I try not to limit myself based on the burdens of the journey alone.  We haven't flown the kids to Europe (yet), but I won't let a longer flight or drive keep me from going somewhere.  

But that doesn't mean it's not painful at times.  

Friday, August 2, 2013

Old and Pregnant and Sober at a Bachelorette Party

Pregnancies always seem to be ill timed with major events - perhaps because in a nine month period, there are inevitably some.  But this pregnancy, there is a major, major event - my younger sister's wedding.

One of my first thoughts when I got the positive pregnancy test was - will this conflict with my sister's wedding?  Thankfully, no.  I will be 34 weeks pregnant when my sister gets hitched.  I will be a fat, sober bridesmaid, but I will be there.  Huge sigh of relief.  

But I will also be fat and sober for the events leading up to the wedding as well, one such event being this weekend - the bachelorette party.  

As my sister's maid of honor, I was in charge of organizing the bachelorette party and corresponding shower. I took on this responsibility with excitement - after all, I am a planner.  I invited all of my sister's friends, booked hotel rooms in Chapel Hill, NC, made dinner reservations, and picked out shower invitations.  I have to say, it was fun!  

But as the bachelorette party approached, reality hit me - I am old, pregnant, fat, and sober.  In a college town.  At a bachelorette party.  

First the old.  

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