Thursday, August 28, 2008

One Down... many more to go....weeks that is.

So we made it through our first full week of school (well, we will tomorrow anyway - I hope I didn't jinx that by typing this the night before).

Here's the recap:

Crying fits: 1
Trips to time out chair (he likes to push kids out of the way when he wants something): 2
Giggles: too numerous to count
Dirty knees (I always say, "A dirty kid is a kid who's having fun!"): 10
Bug bites: 6
"Mommy I drew sumfing."s: 4
Lunches eaten: 5
General exuberance: infinite

and now...

Vomit: twice
Screaming: 80 decibles
Shrieking for mommy: 56 times
Lunches eaten: 0
Tear stained cheeks: 10
Hyper-ventilating: daily from 7:30 - 8:00am
Calls to counselor for assessment: 2
General anxiety: infinite

Are ya' seeing a pattern here?
Uh yeah. Me too. Got any advice? 'Cause at this point, advice....priceless!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Life from Both Sides Now...

Joni Mitchell would be proud. I've seen life from both sides now. There were no bows and flows of angel's hair (except for a few bows perched atop ringleted curls), and unfortunately no ice cream castles in the air. But there was a milkshake reward for a successful first day, and a lot of deep sighs on my part. And in the end, I must admit, I really don't know this all.

Translation, the kids and I have transitioned from a 'stay at home mom' family to a 'working mom' family. Granted, we're still adjusting (5:45am wake ups, rushed breakfasts, tears at separation on both parts, and general exhaustion), but we're making it work.

That is not to say that there weren't snags along the last week when I got in my car for my first day back at work in 4 years and the battery was dead. It was one of those moments where you throw your hands up and say, "Yeah, ok universe, I get it, but I'm going anyway." That of course was followed up by the car needing to be in the shop the morning of the kids' first day of school. You know that guy Murphy.....I hope he's getting royalties on those laws of his.

In any case, we all had our first 'official' day of school this morning, and we managed. I knew we would. But I now have a greater appreciation for both sides of the great 'Mommy Debate'. As a stay at home mom, I struggled with the tedium of life with two kids under 3. You know, the wiping and the babbling and the cleaning and the isolation. I was lonely, starved for stimulation, and desperately seeking outlets for both myself and the kids. I thought I'd found it in that greener patch of grass, just over there, on the other side of that shiny new white picket fence. You know, the one just outside the playground and inside the office park.

Well, I've been there. I had lunch there. I sat awhile. I even left my kids in a different patch of grass while I went and explored the supposedly greener one. And it was hard. The emotional pull that I felt for my children was more overwhelming than the adjustment to a new job and life back in the work force.

All day, my children were not far from my heart or my head. And since I work as a teacher in the same building where they are schooled, I am in a constant state of anxiety, wearing my 'mommy ears', listening for their cries, struggling with the desire to check on them vs. my obligations to my own students. I spend my day poised to respond to my own students' prepubescent issues, and the separation anxiety of my young children as well.

And the exhaustion.....not from the work. The work is wonderful, inspiring, stimulating, everything I'd hoped it'd be. No, not the work. The emotional pull is exhausting. The emotional prep work that must be done to acclimate two young babes to the culture of the working mom is, dare I say, debilitating at times. And my desire to be back in my living room, rolling around with them, pretending to cook eggs in the plastic kitchen is nothing short of surprising to me.

And so, you stay at home moms out there, the ones who are desperately seeking the outlet of the working world, and thinking that that patch of grass will be so much greener than your own.....I have news for you. I have news for all of you, working and stay at home moms alike, neither side is greener. Neither is easier. Neither is better. In the end, they're just different patches of grass, equally difficult to navigate, equally demanding, but entirely different.

And accomplishments in both, however big or small, are equally worthy of praise.

Kudos to all you moms out there. All of you who are wiping, or typing, or teaching, or playing, or cleaning, or writing, or computing, or driving, or carpooling, or consoling, or crying, or hugging, or whatever. Your work is important. Your work is matter which patch of grass you may find yourself in.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Cast Away Conundrum

C'mon, you know the movie.

The one where Tom Hanks had to lose 50 pounds in the course of shooting just to make his character's, "Lost," experience look believable. You know...the coconut-eating, tooth-extracting, raft-building, "Wilson"-loving survival story of 3 years on a deserted island. Yeah....that one.

So it's on cable down here about every three minutes on every third channel. I don't know....something about southerners and deserted island themes. They love, "Lost," too. Maybe it's because they recognize how miserable it can be here sometimes and figure if they're gonna' suffer through this kind of living, they might as well make it adventurous. Who knows.

Anyway, you know how at the end of the movie he goes to see Kelly at her house and realizes that she's married with a kid? But at the same, he and she both realize that they still love each other; that they are each other's loves of their lives. Here's what I don't get.... do you go on living your life knowing that the love of your life is out there, loving you back, and you just can't be with them? Or more aptly, how do you go on to live a happy, fulfilling least as far as realtionships are concerned?

It's a conundrum to me.

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggety-jig

Fat pig aside, unless you include the spread of my booty after 2 kids back to back, the house is coming along.

We finished the floors a while back. The walls were painted a rich buttery color that just about makes you want to lick them, care of the guilt-ridden builder who admits to its total crap of a standard in workmanship. And furniture arrived today. New, colorful, cozy furniture.

Almost feels like "home" again. Almost.

Except that now....I think we just outgrew it. Oops.
(I'll post before and after pic's soon.)

In Case You Were Wondering...

Emma did NOT cry at all when I dropped her off at school today!

And there are no words to express how happy that makes me.

Two months ago, the hysterics were so bad that she would make herself vomit, and I was told by a 20 year-veteran kindergarten teacher that she'd never seen anything like it.

Today. Nothing. Sure, she was still anxious, but maybe, just maybe that little head of hers is wrapping itself around the fact that she can be safe and secure around other people.

Here's to big accomplishments.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Hi Rock, Meet Hard Place

I'm there. In the middle of the proverbial rock and hard place.

On the one side is my childrens' education....or rather, the opportunity to improve said education via pricey, uber-liberal, exceptionally stimulating, private montessori school.

On the other is my own education...or rather, the absolute necessity for me to return to school in order to pursue my desired career change.

"Uh ok," you say. "What's the big deal here? I don't see the rock and hard place? Just send the kids and go to school yourself, duh."

Yes, and if it were that simple, I wouldn't be sitting here writing this would I?

See, the school is ridiculously expensive. And the only way we can afford to send them there is for me to go to work as a teacher at the school and thereby procure the 50% discout. FIFTY percent people.....for my children to have quality, private school, montessori education in a state where public education is no more effective than a fart in the wind.

Of course, going to work there means putting my own ambitions on hold....once again....until the hubby is making a little more cash, and my own salary increases enough to justify paying for both their school and mine, as well as the babysitter to watch them on the off hours that I would squeak in an education.

That's the rock.

Here's the hard place.

The other alternative is to skip the pricey, uber-liberal, montessori school for now, and let the kids suffer through public school while I go finish up some education of my own. After about 3 or 4 years, I'd be in a new career making more than enough money to pay for said school outright w/o the help of a 50% discount.

But my kids have to suffer through SC public schools. And let me tell you, suffering it will be. The schools here are deplorable. I already know of deficiencies in the education of kids I've met relative to my friends' children in other states. It's frightening. And I DO NOT want my kids to suffer through the incompentencies of bad teachers in a bad system.

But I also don't want to put my life on hold any longer than I already have. When the hubby and I had kids, the deal was that I would stay home for their first couple of years, then head back to school or the workforce to continue fulfilling my own goals and ambitions. We both felt that by the time they were 3 they would be old enough to handle and benefit from a nurturing school/care-taking situation.

And I've found one. And it's perfect. But like I said, the only way to make it happen is to sacrifice more of myself.

Hello rock, this is the hard place, and I'm Danielle. Right in between.

And what was I saying in that last post about moms struggling with anxiety, depression, and the loss of self?!?


I worry.

I worry about my kids, especially Emma's incurable anxiety and insecurity at being separated from me.

I worry about our finances, especially in light of some newly acquired medical bills.

I worry about every little creak and crack in our house that I'm sure is the next item to reveal it's faulty design.

I worry about my marriage.

I worry about the clicking noise our car makes.

I worry about the diffuse abdominal pain, bloating, severe acid reflux, and nausea I continue to have even after my recent appendectomy.

I worry that my professional life is not where it should, or where I'd like it to be at my age.

I worry.

And all this worry is like a wart on my psyche. A really annoying, obnoxious, embarrassing-there-for-everyone-to-see wart that showed up right around the time I had children.

I never really worried before I had kids.

True, I had my share of everyday stresses. But as a single, childless woman, I just didn't worry about things like cars, and finances, and jobs. I just kind of lived. And whatever came my way, I knew I could deal with it.

And lately, it's become obvious to me that I'm not alone in feeling this way. So many of you mommybloggers out there are writing about your own struggles with anxiety, or depression, or the difficulty of balancing your desire to do right by your children yet still have a fulfilling life of your own. The numbers are overwhelming. In fact, I'd be hard-pressed to find a mommy blog that doesn't mention these issues at some point in its archives.

So what is it about having kids that changes us so?

Why is it that the pure, unadulterated love you feel for these remarkable little beings also comes with it's own double-edged dose of anxiety, sadness, and struggle?

And how can something as pure, sweet, and wondrous as the relationship between mother and child cause so much angst?

The only thing I can come up with is that in having children, we are no longer ourselves. We become more than ourselves. And while we grieve the loss of our previous identity, we begin wearing our hearts on their sleeves, making ourselves that much more sensitive and vulnerable to the world around us.

I'm alarmed by my own struggle with depression and anxiety since having children, as well as the apparent glut of moms who share in it. And while I know that some of the worry and fear and sadness are really just indications of the unbreakable love I feel for them...that we all feel, I can't help but it possible to be a sensitive mom without being a worry-wart?