Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Motherhood & More: Finding a balance between work and play*

I’m not entirely sure how I’m going to survive with my children home for the summer.

I always say that. Every year. And every year we do fine, with mishaps here and there, fights and squabbles and whining. Normal, everyday stuff.

It’s just, I never know what to do with them.

Going places every day isn’t an option. Also, my kids aren’t the best behaved in public places. I have a runner, who has been a runner since she was able to run. So I still am overwhelmed when I leave the house by myself with both kids. I am working on that myself and still (always) working on the behavior of the runner.

But I vow to get out more. We are members at the local gym/pool and so I see a lot of that sort of thing in our future. Free childcare while I run on a treadmill most definitely will draw me in. And also both kids now can swim without floaties, so it will be easier to take them to the pool by myself. And maybe now that they’re older I can relax a bit, too.

And of course there’s always the library. And maybe the zoo.

But there still will be many hours and full days where we spend our time at home. And I’m not the best with developing activities for them to do. A large part of me believes they need to discover that themselves. Absolutely I will facilitate and play with them when I can. But I think they need to make things up themselves, to create their own games.

Added to all of this, for the first time, I also will be working part time from home. It’s going to be a struggle not to just set them in front of the television or a tablet so I can work. And, honestly, that probably will happen many, many times.

My kids don’t do so well with a bunch of screen time, though. They usually start acting out and generally being little meanies to each other and to me.

So I will have to write out complete sentences and thoughts in between games of Go Fish and perform research while also making lunches and kissing booboos and cleaning up the endless Legos strewn about.

Oh, I can’t wait. I’m so, so excited. Thrilled, even. Ecstatic. And every other hyperbolic adjective I can come up with. I’ve always wanted to work from home doing something I loved and somehow I was lucky enough to get just that.

But I’m also terrified of my children being home from school for the summer. I don’t know quite how I’m going to manage having my kids home all day, every day while still producing quality work. I suspect there will be a lot of late nights in my future and a lot of begging for help from friends and relatives.

And in between all of that, maybe we’ll have a bit of fun and create some lasting memories.

And hopefully they are good memories and not ones of me yelling at them to go play outside so I can get some work done.

I can’t wait.

*This column originally published in The News-Enterprise on May 27, 2015.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Honestly I'm a bit surprised he didn't pat me on the head

I went to the doctor on Saturday because I had a deep and terrifying fear that I was cursed with strep or the flu.

This is because, of course, my son tested positive for the flu and my daughter had strep.  I had a sore throat and stuffed up head and ridiculous coughing and sneezing and so I was pretty sure I had something.

We'd just come off a week of staying away from home while we ripped up the gross carpet that covered our original wood floors, then scraped off glue, then said screw it, we'll just sand it all off, then sanded, sanded, and sanded them again.  And then stained them.  And then added coat after coat of polyurethane.  It was all hard and painful work, full of bruises and tears and sore muscles but it is so worth it because they are gorgeous.  But we were in disarray.  No furniture in the kids' bedrooms or in our living and dining rooms, and other areas of the house piled high with furniture.  I do not do well in disarray and I do not do well staying away from my own house and it makes sense that my body was like, screw you, I'm going to punish you for all the trouble you've brought on us.  And my children are just like me, so it was a given that we'd all end up sick.

So, as I said, when I found out my children had contagious sicknesses I figured that since I felt so incredibly shitty I, too, was a harbinger of the icks.

But it turns out that no, I've just got a cold.  A miserable, achy cold.  A cold that wants me to lay in bed all day and sleep.  But still, just a cold.

The doctor I saw wasn't my normal one because that office is closed on the weekends.  I went to Urgent Care and waited and waited and waited, which I expected and so brought a book with me to pass the time.  I'm currently reading How to Be a Woman, by Caitlin Moran, which I highly recommend.  I discovered Moran after picking up How to Build a Girl, which I loved, loved, loved.  It was funny and sad and uplifting and vulgar and all the things I look for in a book.

How to Be a Woman specifically deals with issues of womanhood, or what it means to be a woman and "why female rights and empowerment are essential issues not only for women today but also for society itself," according to the back of the book.

So I've been waiting in the exam room for 35 minutes, reading.  The doctor finally comes in, and asks me what I'm reading.  I tell him the title, and he looks at me in the most offensive way - as if to say "Oh, honey. How stupid do you have to be to read such a thing?"

I felt a little insulted, and I do what I normally do when I feel insulted - I attempt to explain away my behavior that has caused such insulting derision in the other person.  "It's essays," I said, as if that makes my reading more flippant and less bra-burning feminist.

But what is ironic is that the chapter I was reading was entitled "I AM A FEMINIST!" and encourages readers to take back the word feminism as something positive.  For example: The more women argue, loudly, against feminism, the more they both prove it exists and that they enjoy its hard-won privileges. 

What she's saying is that without feminism, women wouldn't have the ability to argue in a public forum at all.

Because for all that people have tried to abuse it and disown it, "feminism" is still the word we need.  No other word will do.  And let's face it, there has been no other word, save "Girl Power" - which makes you sound like you're into some branch of Scientology owned by Geri Halliwell.  That "Girl Power" has been the sole rival to the word "feminism" in the last 50 years is cause for much sorrow on behalf of th women.  After all, P. Diddy has had four different names, and he's just one man.

So I'm in the doctor's office, apologizing away my reading habits, and he then informs me disdainfully that "All you need is a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T."

And then I punched him in the face.*

*Not really.  Actually I waited there a lot longer for them to do tests and determine that I am, in fact, not cursed with the plague so I looked like a hypochondriacal woman who needs to be patted on the head and then he wrote me a prescription for codeine-laced cough syrup that I told him I wouldn't even fill, much less take, because if I'm not truly in need of antibiotics then I will power through with hot tea and not drugs.

But I wanted to punch him in the face.  Or at least kick him in the junk.