Tuesday, September 8, 2015

More thoughts on being a working mom (or maybe: inside the head of a Type A trying to keep her head above water)

I just found this post that I never published from February. I decided to post it, even though it's unfinished.

Now that I've been back to work for about a month, I find myself, as I do every so often, thinking about stay at home moms vs. working moms. Not to get into the battle of who has it better or worse, because there isn't a better or worse; just different. And different for different women.

I meant to write this post a while ago after I read this. Things Working Mothers Don't Want to Hear. I agree with all of them. But I find that I get these types of comments less and less frequently in my daily life because I'm surrounded by other working parents. I usually get asinine comments when I have to travel because traveling working mothers are more of a rarity.

Anyways, back to thoughts about working motherhood vs. stay at home motherhood. I would be a terrible stay at home mother. My friends who are at home with their kids are deep wells of patience (and my shallow well of patience has all but run dry); or at least that's how they appear on Facebook. Or, they are at the gym. I'm jealous of the gym moms. When I was on maternity leave, I did yoga almost every morning around 7am and it was fantastic. And I had dinner on the table by 6pm because I had more than 20 minutes to prepare said dinner. But that's about all I miss about maternity leave.

Maternity leave for me, as I recently posted on Facebook, was soul crushing amounts of loneliness. With only 3 months away from work (which in my case because I'm planning a major conference, was more like 2ish months of not working), it's hard to go out and join any sort of moms' group because you know you can't be there once you go back to work. At least my mom was in MI for this leave so I had some adult companionship. I'm an extrovert and even though I'm not off the charts extroverted, I still need to be around adults. So I'm happy to be back to work and I'm lucky that I can have adult company and mental stimulation. I'm satisfied that I can plan, execute, and complete tasks. I'm grateful that I have access to daycare even on days when maybe, hypothetically speaking, I need to just phone it in because I haven't had a full night's sleep in 8 months and I'm on my second respiratory virus in a month and I just need to take a nap.

Working moms, though, are thrust into this do all for all people and do it all perfectly sort of role. Those of us who don't HAVE to work are probably a Type A driven sort of woman which is why we've chosen to pursue a career AND have a family in the first place. I certainly fit that mold. I feel like I'm pretty on top of work, which is remarkable considering my 3 month absence, but that's where it ends. I feel like I'm failing at the rest of my life because I'm really tired. Like insanely tired. And some nights after I convince the formerly sweet baby who is now a hot cranky mess to stop crying and the getting better but still likes to push my buttons preschooler to eat dinner, play nicely, and then go to bed, and after I prep breakfasts and lunches for the next day, I'm reminded just how tired I am. At this point in the evening, I know I probably have work to do for my job but when I sit down at the computer, things just get blurry. And I definitely have cleaning to do because my house is so far from being the perfectly organized house of my dreams; so I pick up and wipe down what I can but when I see the sticky finger prints on the table and the legos strewn about on the floor I become overwhelmed and I just choose to ignore it (and try desperately to ignore that little anal retentive voice in my head chastising me). So I walk into my office/craft room and see the quilt that I started making for the baby who was born 4 months ago is sitting folded on a table, only half finished, and I realize that he doesn't use a quilt right now anyways and by the time he will use it he'll want something other than what I've made and I shouldn't have started this stupid project in the first place. By now I'm thinking that I also didn't exercise like I wanted to in the morning because I was up frequently through the night and exhausted when the alarm when off at 5:40 and things got hectic at work so I missed the lunch workout I had planned and so I think to myself, maybe I should try and do some exercise before bed. But the dinner that I inhaled in the 5 minutes that one of the 2 children wasn't crying is sitting in my stomach like a lump. Oh yeah, and I'm tired. So I join Jeff in front of the TV but we're not really watch TV we're on our respective smart phones, him checking sports stuff or texting friends (because he's also worked a full stressful day, dealt with cranky children and wife, and washed the dishes from dinner and is trying to have a few moments of peace before bed) and me on Facebook or checking work emails.  And then I finally decide to just go to bed feeling like I got nothing accomplished that evening and wondering when the baby will decide to wake up for the first that night.  Then the weekend comes and, assuming one or both of us isn't working one or both days, we MIGHT do something fun as a family but most likely we will frantically clean and grocery shop and hope that we're not scarring our children because we don't ever do anything fun as a family.

And I think to myself, is it better to be in this constant state of stress or to feel lonely and starved for adult companionship? No. Neither option is better. Neither option is good.

Has it been 9 months?

Since I last posted? I've been in a haze of work, and parenting, and other work, and constant unwavering self doubt. Oh yeah, there's also been medical issues and injury and lots of behavioral challenges. There's been depression and resignation. And occasionally there have been snippets of something that sort of resembles joy.  Sort of.

It's been a very challenging 9 months. After ignoring people reaching out to me because I was scoring as depressed on the Edinburgh scale I finally acknowledged that I was struggling when I realized that literally nothing made me happy. Or rather, when I spent the evening crying irrationally in my closet. Then I broke my back while doing yoga (you know, that thing that was supposed to make me stronger in body and mind) and fell into a total state of depression.

All the while my older son has been desperate for our attention and gets nothing but negative attention. He has this ridiculous angry, depressed mom who has a short fuse and is teaching him the only way to cope with your problems is to yell and swear, and a frustrated dad who tries to stay calm but can't always when his wife is a lunatic. The baby is deaf in one ear which we learned through lots of tests that are only in very small amounts covered by health insurance. He's become mobile and loves toys, especially his brother's toys. Which means the fighting has begun.

I've been working my full time busy job in addition to leading my state's professional organization. I feel pulled in many directions and most of the time finding myself giving more time and energy to the work stuff because I at least feel like I'm good at work.

We've been an unhappy family and all I can think is that we have no right to be unhappy given all that we have to be grateful for. Which then makes me feel like a spoiled kid whining about not having everything I want.

When I have it in me to upload photos, I will. The boys are at least cute.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Running and prenatal vitamins

Remember this post?http://www.accordingtohillary.blogspot.com/search/label/running

I'm realizing I don't think I ever blogged about what happened in the years following this "diagnosis." I stopped running and started doing a lot of yoga. I love yoga. But the happiness I get after doing yoga is a different sort of happiness I get after running (honestly I'm not always happy after running but that's another story altogether). Anyway - my point is that I was getting antsy after being told to stop running. So I started running again. But it was hard because I had to make sure my digestive system had just been emptied before running which meant some days I couldn't run because I couldn't go. Around this time Graham decided to stop breastfeeding which meant I stopped taking prenatal vitamins. And gradually my runs became easier and my digestive problems largely vanished. I started running in the early mornings about 3x a week, running between 3 and 5 miles each time. And my pace got faster; I was running around 9:30 min mile which is a good clip for me (I'm ok that I will never be a competitive runner).  I'm also at this point doing yoga 2-3x a week and I'm in the best shape of my life.

Fall 2013 comes around and we decide Graham needs a sibling; back I go on the prenatal vitamins and immediately I'm plagued with the digestion issues that have a very negative effect on my running. AH HA! It all makes sense. The extreme constipation caused by the prenatal vitamins is totally messing with my game. Come to find out, there exists a vitamin with built in stool softener; why isn't this always prescribed?! Such a difference; I was able to continue to run again and did so for several months...until I felt like vomit because I was pregnant with Emmett.

I started jogging again in my second trimester and switched to power walking in my third trimester until the last few weeks when my sacroiliac joint was just in too much pain.

Here I am at 10 weeks postpartum. I'm doing 30 minutes of yoga most days, but can only get out to run about once a week, if I'm lucky, because I have no childcare. And anyone who has nursed a baby knows that mornings are the worst because you are tired and your boobs are huge and sore. Oh yeah, it's Michigan and winter and my neighborhood isn't the safest terrain in the winter for solo runs. And I really miss running!!! I'm hopeful that upon my return to work, I can use the treadmill at the fitness center at lunch.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Going back to work

On the eve of my return to my full-time job, I find myself reflecting on the last 3 months.

Things I will miss about maternity leave:

  • 7am yoga. I would get up, drink some water, and hit the mat for 30 minutes while Emmett laid on the floor and Graham watched cartoons.
  • (Mostly) keeping up with housework. It's not EASY but easier when you have all day.
  • Dinner by 6pm. When you have all afternoon to prep dinner, it's easier to get it on the table by 6.
  • Baby snuggles. Enough said.
  • Afternoon naps. But if I'm being honest, I only took consistent naps those first 4 weeks. Then the boys started alternating nap schedules.
  • Lunch dates with my mom.
  • Yoga pants.
Things that scare me about the transition:
  • Emmett's dislike of the bottle. Talk about working mother anxiety.
  • Evening crankiness. Graham gets super jazzed when he's tired. Emmett gets fussy. And I just get cranky. 7:30pm in our house is not fun, and it's about to get worse.  
  • The 100 bags I have to pack each day, including, but not limited to my lunch, Graham's lunch, Emmett's bottles, Emmett's diaper bag, Graham's gear bag, my laptop back, my pump, my gym bag...
  • Lack of sleep. Emmett was starting to sleep longer such that he would go to bed with me around 10 and only get up once. Now he's going to sleep earlier (yay!) but that means getting up around midnight and again around 3. And sometimes more frequently. I will have to get up around 5:45/6:00 to get myself and my bags ready. I'm already tired. It's about to get worse. Which might amplify the aforementioned evening cranky. 
Things I am looking forward to about going back to work.
  • Being with other adults. Thank goodness for my mom this maternity leave, because the loneliness of staying home with my littles was starting to become oppressive. 
  • Having a routine. Not that it's always the same, but I feel a little more organized when working.
  • Mental challenges. As opposed to the emotional ones posed to me by my children. Not that I never get emotional at work...
  • Dressing like a person who has some semblance of her act together. In other words, not wearing yoga pants.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

New Year's Resolutions 2015

I'm not always one for setting resolutions, but this parenthood thing has proven to be quite challenging for me and last year I felt like I needed to make some changes. Last year I resolved to put things in perspective and feel grateful for the good things that I have in my life. I had moments where I was stressed about money until I realized I was stressed about not getting everything I want but actually having more than everything I need. I had moments where I felt like I had a kid who was way more challenging than most until I'd get compliments about him from teachers. I had moments where I felt like a terrible mother - and I still really struggle with this one - but I do love my boys and I give them everything I can. I had moments that stressed me at work but I have a job... and I even like it!  All things considered, I feel like I did a pretty good job upholding my resolution.

And now it's New Year's Eve, I have a beautiful new baby boy, I'm about to go back to work, and I'm thinking about what awaits me in 2015.

For starters, I have baby weight/inches to shed so I'm going to get on the fitness resolution bandwagon. I'm not trying to win any races but I'd love to get back to running. I'm nursing Emmett and the girls are particularly large and sore in the mornings - oh yeah, and I'm really tired.- so morning runs are out which means I have to get my butt back down to the gym at lunch. I've enjoyed not hauling workout gear to work every day, but it's a small price to pay for good health. I got a lot of yoga related gifts for Christmas this year including 12 classes at a local studio, so I'm hopeful I will somehow find the time to take advantage of said classes. If nothing else, I have a decent home practice that I'd really like to continue even after going back to work.

I still worry about being a good mother because I lose my temper frequently, so I'm resolving to find a little inner peace when Graham is really pushing my buttons. I refer to my previous resolution of doing yoga; it's not just about a stronger body, but about finding more patience and tolerance and being kinder to myself and others. Now that I'm stretched even thinner with the addition of a new family member, it's going to be even harder to keep my cool, but that means it's even more important for me to work at being more even keeled. Part and parcel of being a better mother is to put down the technology and give my boys my undivided attention. I don't know why it's so hard because Facebook isn't any more stimulating that playing Duplos, and yet....

I want to be a better wife, which I think is very much related to being a better mother. I need to spend more time with my husband without technology and I need to be more patient with him. Why is it that we are sometimes the worst to the ones we love the most?

And although most of my resolutions involve being more laid back, I also resolve to try to be more efficient in my professional life. While I want to be a team player and empower others to make decisions, I also want to hold my ground because I feel like I'm good at laying foundations and making things more structured and organized. It's a balancing act for sure, one that I've been working on for years. I'm about to transition into a significant leadership role and have some personnel challenges with which I will dealing, so finding this balance between structure and diplomacy will be crucial to my success.

I'm committed to making 2015 a good year for myself and family.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Photos from my phone

I needed to update my phone which meant I had to delete pretty much everything on my phone. It was a little sad that all of my photos of my sweet boys are no longer on my phone, but that just means there is space for more pictures as they get older and funnier. For posterity's sake, I thought I should post some of my favorites for all to see.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Early Life with Emmett (or: I have 2 kids now)

Everyone I know says having 2 kids is more than double the work, and while there are a number of challenges, I haven't found that to be true. Yet. (I'm still on leave) Emmett is a very sweet, even keeled little baby. He cries when he needs something and otherwise wants to eat and snuggle. I think the hardest part for me has been managing Graham. Graham LOVES Emmett to pieces. And I worry that his intense love will literally smother Emmett. I decided to keep Graham home from school 2 days a week and although I planned craft projects for him each of those days, we've had our moments. He refused to do our craft project. And he gets a bit jealous when I have to feed Emmett. I will admit that I have relied heavily on the TV and iPad to occupy Graham, which is a bit of a double edged sword. It's great while he's occupied but it's like crack: the more he gets the more he wants. So when it's time to turn off the screen, he flips out. 

But back to Emmett. I love the baby snuggles. But sometimes it's hard always holding a baby. Luckily, as I mentioned, he's easy going, so I can put him down. And the older he gets, the more ok he is being set down. He's a good sleeper; he's up a couple times a night to nurse but usually goes right back to sleep (or at least only mildly fusses). He's kind of a noisy baby for not being a crier; he makes lots of squeaks and grunts that are just too cute. I'm just loving this easy-going, adorable little baby!