Going Bowling

I’m lucky enough to work for a company that provides several nice lactation rooms for all your breastfeeding & pumping needs. It’s one of those things that most people don’t know about until they’re in the position to need it. The usual reaction from my childless co-workers is “What?! We have one of those??”. Of course, my 6 daughter Amelia had the best reaction when she learned about it.. “There’s a special room?…Why don’t you just crawl under your desk to do it?” (oh, to be 6…).

I’m in a pretty good routine now at the end of my third week back at work. My co-workers know the drill (where I’m going, when I’ll leave, how long I’ll be gone), but a few of the young, childless, single guys obviously don’t want to acknowledge that they know what’s going on. I get it. It’s weird to them. It’s weird to put that image together with a super-hot co-worker who they see every day.

One such co-worker, Chris, who has a knack for getting into not-quite-work-appropriate conversations with me and then blushing a deep shade of scarlet, has found a graceful way for me to make my exit. One day last week, I picked up my bag and said “Ok, I’m going to go….”, trying to think of what else to say (other than “….milk myself”). Chris quickly followed up with “…bowling?”. The day before, we’d had a conversation about how much my pump-bag looks like a bowling bag.

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The whole thing is pretty old and clunky…definitely not subtle or well camoflaged. So, he said that and we all had a good laugh and there was a sigh of relief because nobody would have to say the words ‘pump’ or ‘breast’ (not me, I don’t care. I’ll say the word ‘breast’ all day long. Breast, Breast, Breast…)

So, we have a fun new euphemism and everybody feels comfortable. Hooray.

Of course, after a few days of “bowling”, Chris & I discussed how awkward it would be if we ever received an email from our manager announcing that we’d be having a department wide team-building outing….to go bowling.

Especially if they were providing the drinks.

Back to Work….I’m okay

I’m half-way through my second week of work following an eleven week maternity leave. This is the third time I’m done this, so you’re THINK that I’d happily float back, excited to my friends and stimulate my mind.  Yeah…not so much.

It’s fine. I’m not crying on my way to work anymore. I’m not waking up in a cold sweat, panicking that I was going to forget something anymore. I’m okay.

I just don’t really want to go.

After Amelia was born, I sobbed about coming back to work. I was leaving my baby for the first time. It helped that Jason was home by the time I left for work, but I was LEAVING my BABY.

With Zaven, I couldn’t WAIT to come back to work. He wasn’t a demon, but he was certainly a little more challenging then Amelia had been. I’d also fallen out of love with the mom-group I’d found when Amelia was a baby (actually, it was a pretty ugly, everything below-the-surface, break-up). Either way, I needed adults and I needed the newsroom.

This time, I stayed firmly in denial that I was going to have to come back to work. I didn’t firm up childcare until the last minute. I didn’t stock the freezer with pre-cooked meals (I really should have done that). I didn’t even get the random appointments out of the way before I came back (oil change…I REALLY should have done that).  There was never any doubt that I’d return to work.  I WAS going.  I just didn’t want to accept it or prepare for it.

Leading up to my return, people would bring it up. “So, back to work soon, huh?” would be asked with either sympathy or excitement, depending on the person. I’d just sigh and cut them off as they were about to ask about childcare (that was ALWAYS the next question). I didn’t want to talk about. I didn’t want to think about it. Like my three year-old screams in the middle of a tantrum- “I JUST DON’T WANT TO DO IT!!!” (and then I mentally throw myself on the floor, kicking & screaming)

But alas, I’m an adult. And, as an adult, sometimes I have to do things I don’t want to do.  I have to remember what I tell Zaven when he asks why I have to go to work- I have to go to work to make money for our family. I have to go to work because work is where I exercise my brain (and, ahem, sometimes write my blog). I have to go to work because that’s where I see and talk to adults every day…and talking to adults makes me happy.  I also have to remember that, ultimately, my children are proud of me.

So, I’m okay.  I’ll be okay.  We’ll ALL be okay.

Just one quick question- Can anyone tell me how to get three kids up and out the door in the morning and then get myself to work….on time?  Thanks.

Validation From a 5 Year Old

For the most part, I really like being a working mom.  I’m proud to be a working mom.  I enjoy telling people that I’m a working mom.  There are, of course, days that kick my butt and make me feel like I’m doing a half-assed job with everything (parenting, housekeeping, work…).  But, generally, I feel pretty awesome.

That being said, there are things about it that are just…hard.  These things have nothing to do with your ability as a parent.  They don’t happen BECAUSE you’re a good/bad parent and they won’t (necessarily) effect how great you are at being a mom.  You can be the best parent ever, but these things are still going to pop up.  Childcare issues, separation anxiety, exhaustion, unforeseen extra hours at work…they’re all going to get you.

The issue that has been bugging me since last August is my lack of face time with Amelia.  We get up at 7a so Amelia can get to school for 8a.  I pick her up at 2:30 and we’re usually home by 2:45.  Then we have about 30 minutes together before I have to drop both kids at our neighbor’s house and go to work (4p-midnight).  In total, I have about 1 hour with Amelia per day and, in general, at least one of us is scurrying about trying to get dressed and ready for school/work.  In the last seven months, I’ve come to accept this fact.  I don’t like it, but I accept it.  I’ve found the good in the situation- I have a lot of individual time with Zaven (similar to the time I had with Amelia before Z was born), I get to drop Amelia off at school in the morning AND pick her up in the afternoon, I don’t have to be part of the bed-time drama Jason has the opportunity to have his own time with the kids.  We’ve also learned to appreciate the QUALITY of our time together, even though the quantity is lousy.  We snuggle, we laugh, we talk….it’s all good…I just wish there was more of it.

I’ve come to terms with this scenario, but every so often I wonder about Amelia.  Am I selfishly chugging along thinking that we’re all okay and bullying Amelia into agreeing?  Am I so hopped up on my internal pep rally that I’m ignoring my 5 year old’s loneliness?  Every couple weeks, Amelia will make a comment like “I wish you didn’t have to go to work.  I wish you could stay home and play with me”.  It’s never overly dramatic, and it passes.  It’s almost like her saying “I wish I had a pet unicorn” (sure, don’t we all).  But should I worry?

This morning, on the way to school, she let me off the hook.  We heard a Comcast ad on the radio and Amelia misunderstood the “Ditch the dish and get cable” sentiment and said “That’s what you do Mommy, Satellites!  People should use satellites because that’s what you do at work.”  After a few quiet moments she said “Mommy, I’m really glad that you work for CNN.”  Um, wow, thanks.  I asked why and she said “It’s good that you work at CNN because they give the news and you help customers with satellites.  It’s a very important job.  I’m glad that it’s your job.”  I was a dumbfounded, but thanked her.  Then I asked if she ever wished that I didn’t have a job and she said “No…because then you wouldn’t work there and see your co-workers.” (It should be said that she answered me like I was a complete idiot for asking.)

So, there you have it.  My daughter doesn’t hate me for having a job.  She thinks I’m very important.  I’d venture to say that she finds me awesome. 

Incidentally, Working Mother magazine has a feature this month about working mothers and their adult children.  It turns out that these children are likely to grow up and be just fine.  Nice.

Sleep

Sleep- I miss it.

As I was leaving work yesterday morning, I realized that in the previous 24 hrs I’d achieved 30 minutes of sleep.  That was it.  I barely made it home (seriously, scary).  When I did get home, I crashed and slept luxuriously…. for 6 hours (not nearly enough).  At 2pm, I had to pick up the kids.  I spent the afternoon entertaining a 4 year old and a 1 year old, making dinner and obsessing over the messiness of my house.  When Jason got home I was able to lie down for 90 minute….for the first 45, Z was screaming every 3 minutes (happy screams, angry screams, whatever- they were every 3 minutes).  I woke up to Amelia talking to me- and I literally had no idea what she was saying.  She just kept talking.  I think she was asking me something.  I sat and blinked at her and still couldn’t focus on what she was saying.  Then I had to get ready to go to work.

I can’t help but feel like I’m doing something wrong.  What am I missing?  How am I losing hours at a time without the benefit of gaining sleep?  If I’m going to be awake for unnatural amounts of time, shouldn’t I be accomplishing something more?  Nothing is getting done, and I’m still short on sleep, yet I don’t even feel like I’m getting quality time with my kids (because I’m so tired and busy trying to get things done). 

Jason told me during my pre-work meltdown (oh yes, there was a meltdown) that I need to let go a little and not obsess over doing housework.  That would make sense if our house was immaculate and I was just a bit OCD.  Unfortunately, our house right now is approaching the ‘Hoarders‘/’Intervention‘/‘Clean House’ level.   I don’t know, maybe the house can’t get any worse anyway.  I’d hate to risk it though.

He also told me that I need to use my weekends to relax and rest up and not stress myself out trying to do things.  I’d like to think that it would help to keep some semblance of normalcy and try to see people when I can (not that I’m doing a great job so far).  I’m feeling isolated enough already. 

It comes down to this:  I really, really want to be a supermom/superwife/superfriend/superemployee.  I want endless energy to accomplish everything.  I want to be able to subsist on little sleep.  But I’m not, I don’t & I can’t.

I’m trying to stay positive, and most days I am, the last couple days have just kicked my ass.

99 days left….  (at least I’m in double digits)

I just need some sleep.

Best 100 Novels

I’ve been on this audiobook kick lately. 

As a working mom, I’m basically obsessed with packing as much as I can into any given moment.  I’d mentioned to a friend that I wished I could find something productive to do with my 30 minute commute home every night at midnight.  Yes, I know, I should relish in the opportunity to relax and decompress.  Sometimes I do.  But lately I’ve found that I hear the same old songs and think about the same old things.  I started thinking that I should get a voice recorder so I could talk to myself and throw out ideas for my blog.  However, I’ve been doing well working on my blog at other times (I can neither confirm nor deny the theory that I do much of my writing at work).

There was a forward going around Facebook a month ago with a list of the 100 Greatest Books.  You were supposed to mark the books you’d read and post it for all of your friends to see.  They would look at your list, see how brilliant and well-read you were and repost the list with THEIR books marked (probably bumping it up just a bit to feel superior to the friends who’d already participated).  I’d read 21….not too shabby compared to others, but pathetic when you consider that these 100 books are the GREATEST books that EVERYONE should have already read.  So, as a result, I decided that I need to read more classics.

I’m not sure when it happened, but at some point I decided that maybe I’d try to listen to these classics on CD while driving home.  I wasn’t quite sure how it would work.  I had visions of driving off the edge of I-20 and crashing after being lulled to sleep by a reader’s calm voice.   Luckily, it worked out better and I found that it was extremely relaxing (but not TOO relaxing) and decompressing to be read to.

My local library is pathetic and the Audio Book selection is even sadder.  Well, the CD section is sad…..if I had a cassette player in my car, I’d be golden.  However, there are a lot of books that  I have yet to read, so it’ll do for a while.  I can also request audiobooks from other libraries if I can get organized enough to plan ahead.  I miss out on the fun “browsing” element, but I guess you do what you’ve got to do.

So far I’ve listened to Dreams From My Father by Barack Obama (read by Obama.  seriously the best way I can imagine to “consume” this book.  completely amazing).  I’m currently listening to Night by Elie Wiesel, which is one of those classics that I just never got around to reading. 

Because books aren’t that plentiful at my library, and there are so many books that I should read, I figured that I should have a list to work off of.  First I printed the list from Facebook, but then I started wondering if this was really the “Official” list.  I found that there are a million lists of “The 100 Best Books of All Time”, and the selections really don’t vary that much, so I just picked one.  Conveniently, it’s from a website called www.best100novels.com/.  It sounded good to me.  I printed the list and carefully went through and marked the books I’d read   Somehow 1 of my books was lost in the move and now I’m at 20 books read.  There are a few that I know that I have read, but I have no recollection of them so I didn’t count them.  Others are listed as entire series and I counted them if I’d read at least one and had no interest in continuing (I won’t mention names, but I’ll go on record as saying that I don’t particularly like fantasy books, no matter how much money the blockbuster movies make).

Here’s my list so far.  I’ll try to keep this updated…..

1.                   1984 by George Orwell

2.                   To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

3.                   The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

4.                   The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

5.                   Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

6.                   The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

7.                   Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

8.                   Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky

9.                   Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

10.               The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky

11.               The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

12.               Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

13.               Ulysses by James Joyce

14.               Lord of the Flies by William Golding

15.               Animal Farm by George Orwell

16.               Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

17.               Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

18.               Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

19.               Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

20.               The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

21.               Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

22.               Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

23.               East of Eden by John Steinbeck

24.               One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

25.               The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

26.               Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

27.               Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

28.               A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

29.               War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

30.               The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

31.               Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes

32.               The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

33.               The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

34.               The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

35.               Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

36.               The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

37.               A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

38.               The Stranger by Albert Camus

39.               The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand

40.               A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce

41.               Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

42.               One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey

43.               The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

44.               Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

45.               The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

46.               Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

47.               Moby Dick by Herman Melville

48.               The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

49.               Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

50.               Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

51.               Remembrance of Things Past by Marcel Proust

52.               The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

53.               On the Road by Jack Kerouac

54.               Watership Down by Richard Adams

55.               A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

56.               Life of Pi by Yann Martel

57.               The Stand by Stephen King

58.               Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

59.               His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman

60.               Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

61.               A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

62.               Middlemarch by George Eliot

63.               Dracula by Bram Stoker

64.               Dune by Frank Herbert

65.               Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham

66.               The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

67.               Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

68.               The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

69.               The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky

70.               Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

71.               Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk

72.               Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy

73.               Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

74.               The Trial by Franz Kafka

75.               Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

76.               Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon

77.               The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

78.               To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

79.               David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

80.               The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera

81.               For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway

82.               The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

83.               Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

84.               Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov

85.               Atonement by Ian McEwan

86.               I, Claudius by Robert Graves

87.               Persuasion by Jane Austen

88.               A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

89.               The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

90.               The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas

91.               Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy

92.               The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco

93.               Beloved by Toni Morrison

94.               The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon

95.               Emma by Jane Austen

96.               As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner

97.               It by Stephen King

98.               Light in August by William Faulkner

99.               Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut

100.            Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner