Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Can't We All Just Get Along?!

The other day I overheard a conversation between two women that went something like this: I heard the new Principal is a mom, of young kids.  My ears perked up a bit because my oldest is starting kindergarten in September. I am nervous and excited and of course eager to learn as much as I can about the school, the teachers and of course said new Principal. My first thought was oh good a principal with young kids will be great. She will understand our worries and concerns because she will be going through a lot of it at the same time. Apparently that was not the direction these two women were taking the discussion.

Instead what followed was this: “She must be super selfish. I’m sorry but my family comes first and there is no way with young kids that she should be taking on an administrative job like that. It takes up way too much time, something must be wrong with her.”  Hearing this literally stopped me in my tracks. I pretended to be gathering up some of my boys beach toys so that I could listen to more of what I refer to as utter nonsense. I won’t bore you with the details but I will tell you neither one of these women thought it was okay for another woman with young children to have accepted a Principal position of a school. I know what you’re thinking, but guess what these women are not stay at home moms. No, they are both working mothers and here they stood tearing down another woman for doing just that.

It left me scratching my head. I sat back in my chair and all I could think was I don’t get it. Here I am a SAHM and I am constantly thinking that it’s the working moms against the stay at home moms and vice versa at least that’s what the media has us all convinced.  Then it hit me.  It’s not the working moms vs. the stay at home moms it’s women.  It is women tearing down other women and I for one think it needs to stop. When I sat back down I looked around. I was looking for a flipping time machine.  I mean that would have explained it right? I had accidentally gotten into a time machine and traveled back to 1950. I looked and I looked but I couldn’t find one.  

Even without the time machine the conversation struck a chord with me and brought me back in time to when I was pregnant with my oldest. I will never forget the words that came out of my boss’s mouth. When I say never I mean it has been five years since I left that company and there are still times I have nightmares about it. (Yes it was that bad).  I was working in corporate sales and when I went into the Vice President to tell him I was expecting I was met with these exact words: “Great. Well I guess this becomes OUR problem now. (Picture me sitting with my mouth wide open in complete and utter shock) He continued on to say: What I mean by that is raising a child is a woman’s job. We all know that. I mean your husband might say he is going to help but if your kid is sick YOU are going to be the one calling out and if your kid needs to be picked up early YOU will need to leave early. So you see it becomes our burden as well.” Oh well when you put it that way jackass it sounds much better! I left there that day knowing that I would NEVER come back there after having my child.

For the most part it’s still a man’s world out there and I think that we women are partly to blame for that. We need to have one another’s backs instead of talking behind them. We need to remember that we do not know everyone’s circumstances or why they make the decisions they do.  We need to remind ourselves that our decisions are our own and not just stick to them but be proud of them. Giving up a career to raise your children does not make you less than those who don’t and moving forward with a career after having children does not make you less than those who don’t.  There are those who don't have the choice. Going to work to pay bills and put food on the table should fill you with pride not guilt.

There are many things in life that I am unsure of but I can tell you with 100% certainty that if the new Principal was a young father the conversation between these two women would have went very differently.  No one would ever accuse him of being selfish or not wanting to spend time with his children. No one would ever say what was he thinking? Everyone would just assume that his wife had the house covered.  Worse than that everyone would talk about how ambitious he is and how great it is that he is finding his success.

We all deserve to reach our goals. We all deserve to have dreams. It doesn’t matter if your dreams consist of staying home with your children or heading out and having a huge career they are your dreams and no one should take them away, make you feel guilty about them or worse yet say you can’t have them.  As women we need to stand together and say enough of these “mommy wars” already.  I don’t know about the rest of you but I have enough wars going on with my 2yo (EAT YOUR BROCCOLI), my 5yo(PUT ON UNDERWEAR), my dog (STOP LICKING YOUR PRIVATES), and my own mommy guilt(MAN I SUCKED TODAY!) I certainly don’t need anyone else stepping in to help out. One thing I can tell you with certainty is that I am looking forward to meeting the new Principal.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

No One Ever Said It Would Be Easy

Parenting is scary and don’t let anyone ever tell you different.  We all come into it in our own way but once we’re here we are all pretty much looking around thinking okay now what? From the moment you bring a baby home it’s a series of trial and error. Why is this kid crying? Has he had enough to eat? Does he have gas? When will he sleep? Why won’t he sleep?

Then it’s onto the: ugh what is he putting in his mouth? Oh no he just bumped his head.  Oh please don’t touch that. In between all the “No don’t do that’s” are laughs, giggles and tons of smiling. There are many nights in those first stages that you lie in bed at night thinking: Do I even have a clue what I am doing?! Trust me. You do. You’re doing a better job than you think.

Slowly the days turn into months and the months somehow quickly turn into a year. Where did that year go you think to yourself? After that the years seem to literally fly by at a pace faster than any parent would want or wish for.  My oldest is five and while I realize that this is not old, I can tell you the past five years went by in a blink.

I hear all the time how the teenage years are difficult, not just difficult but more trying than any age we have faced up to that point. You know something? I believe it. The teenage years frighten me more than the thought of impending labor ever did. The thought of my boys slipping away from me in the ways I take for granted daily now does not sit well. My boys are constant cuddle bugs. They want hugs and kisses and they WANT to talk to me. They WANT to tell me every little thing about their day from the moment they wake up until the moment they go to bed. I know who all their friends are. I know who their friend’s parents are.  I know what they eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I know where they are ALL THE TIME.  

The very thought of wondering where they are or who they are with is nerve wracking. I turn on the news in the morning and it’s constantly filled with stories about kids who have gone missing or died from a drug overdose. I find myself looking at my boys innocently playing with trucks on the rug while I make pancakes and I think why do things have to change? Why can’t we stay in this little bubble forever?

Knowing that I have to let them out into the world is a reality. Trust me I know. The last thing I want to be is one of those helicopter mothers. The last thing I want to do is drive my boys away. I know that I have been able to find the balance up to this point. I have been able to allow my boys to try small things on their own that allow them to feel some freedom. I have watched as my five year old has had his feelings hurt and prevented myself from butting in. After all he needs to learn how to stick up for himself.  I have looked on as my two year old attempts to walk down the last three steps himself. I hold my breath and watch as he does it each and every time.

I know with each passing year what we have now will change. I can only hope that it will change in ways we are all okay with. I will stay determined to raise two boys into men who make this world a better place. I will continue to raise two boys into men who treat everyone they meet with respect. I will continue to encourage them to talk to me even if that means 18 stories about a butterfly in a hour.  I will continue to be the best parent I can one day at a time, and as I do that I will take it all in. I will hold onto the hugs for as long as I can.  Like I’ve said before the days can be long but the years…the years seem to go by in a blink. Parenting is not easy. No one ever said it would be.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

It Comes With The Job

It comes with the job. I knew that when I met him.  It’s not something I will ever be okay with though. It comes with the job. I knew that when we decided to have children but I will hide it from them for as long as I can. It comes with the job. I hear this in my head from time to time. I hear it on the news. I read it in the paper but to me it is so much more than a job.

To me, it is the thing that my boys have adored from the moment they could talk. They beam with pride when we visit daddy at work. They want to be just like him.  My oldest tells all his friends about his daddy and what a hero he is. He is a hero. He is a fire fighter.  To my boys he is the guy who gets to ride on a fire truck at work, wear a uniform and cool boots, climb ladders, and put out fires.  To me he is the center of our family. He is the one my boys jump up and down for when he comes home. He is the one who sits at the dinner table and completes our family of four. He is our rock. He is our heart. He is our hero.

I know however that he is also the guy running into the burning building when everyone else is running out. He is the one cutting a hole in a roof of a building that may collapse. He is not alone. He is surrounded by fellow firefighters who are all doing the same. 

On our wedding day his Lieutenant at the time and fellow firefighters pulled me aside and made me a promise. They promised me he would always come home. They promised me that they would always be safe and they would always get out. I know they meant this. I also know that somewhere there is a sealed letter written to me that I don’t ever want to receive. It’s a goodbye letter should the unthinkable ever happen.

I kiss him goodbye before his shift and I don’t allow myself to think about the danger. I can’t. I would never sleep again if I did.  Instead I watch my boys play with fire trucks, and pretend to put out fires with the hose and I laugh at their imaginations. Deep down part of me hopes they will outgrow this stage because to be perfectly honest I don’t think I could handle all three of the men in my life being firefighters.

There are men and women all over the world who do things for a living that many of us wouldn’t dare imagine. Police, Firefighters, EMT’s, Nurses, Army, Navy, Marines, Social workers and the list goes on. They are beyond brave. They are selfless people who think of others before they ever think of themselves. We think about them from time to time. We think about them when a tragedy hits the news. We think about them when something happens that hits close to home.

The people who love them however think about them constantly. We are proud of them. We are worried about them. We love them.  The news about the 19 firefighters who died in the Arizona wild fires hit the news on June 30th. It’s been exactly 17 days since the lives of their families were forever changed. While the rest of us were going to fireworks and celebrating the 4th of July their families were grieving. They are not alone. It happens more often than you think or that I care to admit to know.

I would like the families of these brave firefighters to know that I am thinking of them on day 17 and I will think of them long after today. I would like them to know that their sons, brothers, husbands, boyfriends, friends, grandsons, nephews, cousins, fathers are not forgotten.

I would like the 19 men who died that day to know that across the country there are two little boys who think you are all braver than any superhero they could ever imagine. I would like to thank them. I would like to tell them they will not be forgotten.  Being remembered comes with the job.

Photo Credit: Rebecca Wilks
*Printed with permission*

This post is dedicated to the 19 men who lost their lives in Arizona on June 30, 2013.


Friday, July 12, 2013

Talk To Me In 30 Years

The other day a friend apologized to me on Facebook for running up to me at a swim meet asking me a question and running away to chase her two year old. She was worried I thought she had been rude.  After reading what she wrote I immediately had to think…wait when did she ask me a question, what was it and did I actually answer her?   You see I also have a two year old and I have decided that they are giant CB’s. (No, no get your mind out of the gutter) Two year olds are giant CONVERSATION BLOCKERS.

I mean honestly I cannot remember the last time I was able to have a full conversation or complete a full sentence with someone else when my two year old is around.  I’m pretty sure there have been at least 5 to 85 people in the past two years who I have completely lost contact with simply because they have become convinced that I either have a severe case of adult undiagnosed ADD or that I am always on the verge of a mini stroke. I can’t complete a flipping thought to save my life. I repeat myself. I walk away from people mid- sentence. I walk away and never return or by the time I do actually return the person I was trying to talk to is gone. I forget things, constantly.  I mean if it’s not written down in giant letters, with blinking lights and hanging on my actual forehead I will forget all about it.  This is not a reflection of how important I think things are. It could be my very own birthday and I will seriously forget it. It’s awful. So I want to apologize now. Here goes nothing.

Dear (Insert name here)

I would like to say sorry. I am so sorry that while you were telling me all about one of the most important parts of your day, week, year my two year old thought it would be a perfect time to take a massive poop and announce it to all who were in a 280 mile radius of us. I am sorry that while we are trying to have a very serious conversation about real estate, politics, spouses, careers, reality TV, Dr. Visits, restaurant reviews, a new wine you recommend (do you have some with you now?!) home renovations, family, money, and vacations my two year old repeatedly yelled mommy at the top of his lungs until we both could no longer ignore it.

I am sorry that while we were trying to catch up about life in general my two year old was asking for a snack as if I haven’t fed him in 5 days, 6 hours and 3 minutes. I’m sorry that by the time I got him said snack I literally forgot what we were talking about so we both put up the white flag and surrendered to the fact that we may never know what we were talking about. The conversation we were attempting to have has been put into a secret vault that only toddlers hold the key to.

I am sorry that the friend, sister, daughter, cousin, wife, niece, granddaughter who used to listen to you without any distraction is suddenly like trying to talk to a puppy, on crack, who just saw a squirrel and possibly has to pee. 

Please take note that this is in no way a reflection of how I feel about you. This is just me…oh crap my kid is chucking sand at another kid, oh shit he’s under water, oh my god how is he already up by the playground, HEY PUT THAT ROCK DOWN MR.!!!, What are you eating now??? Is it actual food??? Okay sorry where was I? And THIS is exactly what I mean. Just know that I miss you and I promise when my child turns 3 33 I will be able to sit down and catch up on all the awesome things going on in your life. Until then it’s literally going to be a crap shoot. See you soon in 30 years, for now I surrender to the toddler.


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

My First Friend

I grew up with one sister, who is three years younger than I am. I tortured her growing up, but if anyone else messed with her they had to answer to me.  We played all day together…mostly whatever I decided we were going to play but we laughed the whole time.  We got on each other’s nerves but made each other smile.  I don’t remember my life before my sister was born.  Even though I was here for three years before she arrived I always knew her. She was my first friend.  Siblings have a connection that no one else can understand. 

My sister and I can argue but we move on as if nothing ever happened.  We are there for each other through the good times and the bad times.  Friends have come and gone but my sister was always the last one standing, waiting, ready to play when all my friends went home, ready to pick me up when boyfriends broke my heart and cheer me on when success came my way.

When we were little we would play in the backyard for hours together. We would play with our dolls and giggle through our walls until our parents finally said enough time for bed!  Vacations were always fun because we had each other. We would swim all day, watch movies, laugh ourselves to sleep and do it all again the next day.  I spent my whole childhood with no real understanding of just how important my sister would be to me.

I went off to college and my sister stayed behind to finish high school. I missed her all the time.  By the time we were in our twenties we were best friends. We would get ready together, go out together and not a day went by that we didn’t talk to each other. We got each other through bad jobs, awful break ups, and finally both found our happiness. We stood at the altar for each other at our weddings, we got each other through miscarriages and jumped for joy when we were both pregnant. We were both there when our first children were born.  We are the godmother’s to one another’s first born.

She is still the first one I call when I need someone to talk to.  Now that I have two children I know that our parents must be so happy that we are as close as we are. I watch my boys play together and all I can think is be there for one another. There will never be a friend who will understand you the way your sibling does.  There is nothing that brings a smile to my face quite like watching my boys play together, listening to them laugh together, and simply knowing that just like me my oldest doesn’t remember life without his brother. Sometimes when history repeats itself it’s pure perfection.