Wednesday, August 26, 2009

You Look Good! ... For a Mom!!!

After spending 22 minutes of slight, almost sweaty morning chaos attempting to look better than pathetic, I walk at the door looking and feeling good, not great.  I know this current package of me is a quarter of who I used to be in the looks department. I mean back then I could spend hours accessorizing, fluffing, tweezing, curling, being adventurous and bold all to best reflect my inner personality.  Now, as most of you know, I am lucky if I get to shower, wash my face, or brush my teeth every morning!  And getting dressed, forget about it! I try really hard to buy pieces of clothing that are cute, in style, works for my body, and is kid friendly but really I am so far from stopping traffic or even getting complimented from my husband.  

After hearing this three times in one weekend, I had to pause and think about it for a minute. 

 "You look good... for a mom!" 

At first it sounds like a really nice compliment.  I know I try, sometimes.  After a few, I can't help but feel there is something wrong with the phrase. "..For a Mom". Is that the lowest tier of beauty and style? Where does that lie? What does that mean? ... You're not ugly, but keep trying we understand you are maxed out; ...You're not very stylish but at least your jeans don't come up to your nipples; .... You could look so much worse like you do most days; ... It doesn't look like you tried that hard so don't feel bad that you don't look awesome; ... I mean I can tell you haven't showered but you make it work... for a mom! It's so frustrating!

I know I don't look awesome. I know I don't have the time, energy, or care to try as hard as I should, but are your eyes burning from the sight of me? Has society on a whole put motherhood on the ugly, frumpy train? If by accident or unintentional lack of focus, we end up on this train ride, how the hell do we get off? Are we stuck there by title?  Or can we work our way back to a place of self pride? I am over it!!!

So, as of today, I am trying to Look Good For a Woman who manages a lot, not "For a Mom"! And by the way, you look good too!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Easy Breezy Baby: A New Inspiration

I am not sure if I am treading on a "normal" emotional mommy state or creating a world of motherhood anxiety from the unique living situation we have gotten ourselves in.  Regardless, lately I have been panicking about the direction of my life.  I have this aching sense of fear and worry that is harder to shake than my overwhelming nail biting addiction.  I see myself standing at a crossroads deciding which way to go, when my kids and husband just want me to sit down in the middle and have a picnic!  I can't focus in the present and I am petrified of the future.  Especially, since the planner in me is telling me to make big decisions now to impact my journey, hopefully for the better.  But really who knows what tomorrow will bring!!! Ugh!

Part of me feels this is probably normal for a woman from my generation, who has been drilled relentlessly from birth to be independent and self-sufficient,  to feel a need to commit to career outside the home.  Let's face it, Mrs. Cleaver took a back seat to working moms everywhere a la The Cosby Show, Baby Boom, Mr. Mom, the list goes on!  Young women aren't trained in the arts of home keeping, child rearing, and husband pleasing any longer.  Instead with a sudden twist of "traditional" role confusion, women are groomed for college, careers, travel, and adventure all to help impose a sense of purpose, confidence, empowerment and above all self-worth which women before us have connected to their dependence on men.  In the divorce storm of the baby boomers we are even more motivated to follow this new and improved plan. 100% security, 100% Independence = Happiness?  

Now, college educated, career driven, crazy in love and married with two young "spirited" boys, plans for a third, and a unstable living situation, I feel extremely confused! I wish I could have a luncheon with Mrs. Cleaver, Jackie O, Katherine Hepburn, Reese Witherspoon, Heidi Klum, Oprah, and my modern mom best gal pals, most of whom are working moms, to discuss this emotion and the ideal choices one should take when feeling this way.  Let's face it, I am at a critical crossroads of my life and the crazy planning, worry-wart festering inside is enjoying this overtime bonus!  

Not only is this career driven alter-ego festering inside me, but the desire to help out my team with a steady income is bubbling to the surface.  We have been lucky that one income has been sufficient over the past few years so that I could take on a traditional female role with the kids.  Yet the big question keeps popping in my head: Could we as a new family do better if I was working full time?  Would our super spirited boys suffer under a daycare's guidance? Would the differential in pay to daycare even be worth it? Will I be a more present or more strained mother after a full day of work?  If I wait until the kids are in school, am I committing career suicide? Does that even matter to me now? What about another baby?  That puts my career front on an even longer hiatus!  What career will call me then, when I am ready?  How many fresh college grads will I have to compete with?  Without some substantial current experience where would I start in the hierarchy of positions? Who will I be when I begin that journey?  I decided the logical direction regardless would be to foster connections, build a portfolio, and gather experience in the field so that when the day comes, I will be able to walk with ease through that door.  But, I can't seem to make up my mind.  I have a degree in education, a license in aesthetics, a passion for cooking, and desire to spread knowledge and inspire others especially woman (who are products of this crazy feminist role reversal era that is leaving a lot of us down right confused and who are probably sitting right now having this exact same feeling)!

 This freedom to develop a career has been wonderful for a lot of working women and moms in starting new businesses and creating flexible schedules but for a lot of us, most of us, it leads to more and more guilt.  Not enough time spent with kids, husbands, friends, home, and last on the list but most importantly self.  How does one create a work/home life balance? Is that the desire?  If it's not, how do I make sure I won't loose my "power" and self-worth when I give that box of opportunity up?  We are not like our mothers who didn't start with career and go to family.  If we choose a traditional in home focus, will we end up "trapped" like our mothers did?  Or will we embrace this role since we've tasted all the other possibilities?  I need a new source of inspiration, one that isn't telling me to stay home or fight for my place on the career ladder, but rather to let go of the worries and stay present.  For that's really all we've got! Tomorrow, planned or not, may end up completely out in right field.  How does a over planning, worry-wart like myself find solace in the freedoms of the unknown?  

There is only one place left for me to my younger sister!  We are eleven years apart and through the years I would call her and my other siblings part of the Britney Spears generation.  A group of youngin's who seek out the desirable, the instant gratification, the reward without the work, the liberal arts.  They are creative, relaxed, spoiled, uninhibited, dangerous, worry free, list celebrities as inspiration, communicate through technology, have relationship issues being that most of their interactions with others are online and their parents are probably divorced.  They hardly saw struggle in their lives maybe until now.  Regardless, they possess an ease ability towards life that I long for.  They look at life as a playground, a source of joy. They are more present, rarely worried about the future.  They seem to enjoy where they are at, even if it isn't where we think they should be.  I am not sure how this generation will end up, but I am inspired by this new attitude towards life! I love talking to my sister who reminds me over and over that life can be "Easy-Breezy" even without all the stuff and without all planning. It's a state of mind, it's a calm place where contentment fills you and worry leaves you.  It's YOU and what you choose to DO and how you choose to FEEL and where you choose to BE.

I want to be strong and flexible like bamboo! So today, no more worrying about careers. I have a full time job right now that needs more of me than I even have to offer.  Today, I am a full time mother trying to stay positive and peaceful, keeping a semi-orderly home, taking tidbits of time for myself and my marriage, and hoping that I will find joy in the obvious chaos that is my life right now.  Screw my feminist upbringing, this is real life! Keep you posted a la career, I have a baby to chase!

Are you feeling the same way? Do you have any advice? I would love to hear from you!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Potty Training Revisited

It's official! August 8th 2009, was our first non-diaper day with our 3year old!  No diapers during the day, during his nap, or while he slept at night!!! I would consider that success.  We are not perfect, he still has about 1 mistake a day especially if I am not watching the signs too closely. Plus,we have to work out the night time bathroom bugs, but other than that, Jake can feel it coming, go on his own, and feels proud and excited to keep it up.  Here's a few things I have figured out the hard way over the last three weeks:

1.  Always carry a Ziploc baggy with a complete change of clothes, paper towel, disposable wipes, a large kitchen towel and a couple single bills, just in case you end up in the most disgusting bathroom in the planet with a major poopy blowout! Ziploc for dirty stuff, paper towel to wipe anything that might not make to the toilet or trash, towel just in case you have to lay child on the floor but pray you don't have to, and you can use the bucks to buy yourself a little reward (Frappacino, Slurpee, magazine) for surviving that mini Pearl Harbor and keep YOU motivated to stick with it!!

2. All bathrooms are not created equal!  Buy stock in hand sanitizer!!!!

3. Rewards are worth it! Especially for YOU!

4. I still don't love doing laundry! Now I do more than ever!!!

5. Independence in one arena leads to Independence in many others! A lot less holding hands while walking, less help with getting dressed, grooming self, carrying toys, ..... It's awesome to see the progression and sad to start the letting go. Parenting is forever challenging!!!

Products we can't live without:
Big Boy Underwear from: Hanes (official whitey-tighties SO CUTE), Gymboree (they have whale ones!), Bumkins waterproof overnight pants (go a size smaller) which we call his "Super Unders", Tictacs, jellybeans, tootsie pops, cotton waterproof pads, at least one extra sheet set, a kid potty nearby for nighttime, gallon of white vinegar for laundry, and seventh generation bum  wipes.

Tricks of the trade:  The best advice I can give, is lead by example AND talk out loud while you're doing it!  I would actually say with a lot of excitement, making sure I got Jake's attention, and while rubbing my belly, .. "OH I feel a pee-pee coming!". Then, with kid in tow, I would run in full sprint to the bathroom where I would say "Hurry, pull down my pants. Here comes my pee-pee. YEAH! I made it! Now I need to wipe and flush the toilet. Hmmm, what comes next? Oh yeah, wash my hands, turn off the water and the light. Look Jake I put my pee-pee in the potty all by myself!!"  

We started off, WHEN HE WAS READY, sitting on the potty with a timer reading books. But, unless the river is full nothing is ever going to happen. We did this so he got comfortable and confident.  Then after a week or so, Jake started magically mimicking my potty words and taking action for himself. It was like all that imaginary talk had paid off.  Now he looks at me and says "Oh I feel a pee-pee coming!" In the same inflection that I had used. It's super cute and fantastically efficient. Now I can run to his aid if he needs it and give him props when he does it solo because we are all on the same page. Plus, I think it's a great start to a relationship with open communication.  

Kids are so unique! So remember the three P's: Be Patient, Use Praise, and if all else fails don't forget the Power of Bribery!!! 

This worked for us but I would love to hear what worked for you!!!  Any Tips?