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This is the first week in 31 months where I’ve had to make myself look presentable before 7 a.m. Three days in a row. And counting. So now you know it’s true: I’ve made the leap back into paid employment.
KidsVT, that esteemed magazine whose editors kindly publish words I’ve written, printed an essay where I did some reflecting. On my life. And the lessons I’ve learned recently. Follow this link to read it: From Working Mom to Stay-at-Home Mom… and Back Again.
To prepare myself for the shock of reentering the workforce, I spent the last 30 days of my “mommy sabbatical” focused not so much on my family but on myself. I hosted and went to mommy coffees, sweated liters of water during Body Combat, lunched out, went skiing, practiced taekwondo, attempted yoga, caught a few shows, ran a 5K, went on a Downton Abbey sleepover, and otherwise thoroughly enjoyed the company of an amazingly wide circle of women (and a few men) who I am so incredibly fortunate to call “friends.” It was an amazing month. Thank you all!
Oh, don’t worry. I hardly neglected my family. I also made
elaborate dinners (a departure from my usual scrounging around in the fridge for edibles), scrubbed the house, hoed out the kids’ rooms and spent quality time with the OINKdaddy. On three Wednesdays in a row, I let Small, Medium and Large play hooky (One child at a time – I’m not totally insane!). We spent our days together doing whatever they wanted to do (snowboarding, arts and crafts and skeet ball – guess who wanted what). We had a ball and I hope they will forever remember our “Mommy Days.”
Because they weren’t just these last three Wednesdays.
I’m a good sleeper and I value my bed time. But when I’m stressed or anxious, sleep’s the first thing to go. For a while, I was spontaneously waking every night at 3:13 a.m. After checking the clock, I’d lie there, listening to the dark – too lazy to read. Too lazy to do last night’s dishes. Too lazy to surf the internet. Too lazy to move.
I thought about the kids and the OINKdaddy. I mentally listed things I needed to do around the house and to the house, starting with cleaning the bathrooms and ending with getting the exterior re-sided. I made resolutions and remembered websites I’ve been meaning to visit. I composed pithy posts (which were forgotten by morning) and considered the deeper meaning of life. But mostly, I laid there and wished that I was sleeping.
Was there a root cause to my insomnia? Was I worried about the health and welfare of those nearest and dearest to me? Was I nervous about the half-marathon I was in training for? Was I freaked about testing for my black belt in Taekwondo? It could have been any of those things, but it wasn’t. It was this: I knew I needed to go back to work.
Change is good, or so they say. It’s the transition that sometimes rubs one raw. We’ll see. More on this later. For now, a promise, to you and to myself: I will keep writing.
I hope you’ll keep reading.
P.S. I’ve decided to keep my blog name. “DINKtales” just doesn’t resonate with me. Happy new year!
So excited! An essay of mine was published by Kids VT newspaper. It’s a personal essay, which made it harder to write; for all that I maintain a public blog, there are just some things that I am relatively private about. Like my last name. And what I look like. And the size of the bag I carry my childhood memories in. But I’m going to share it all with you, anyway, in spite of myself. Here’s a teaser. As long as you are not a psychopathic stalker, go ahead and follow the link to read the whole story. Comments are welcome! You just have to come back to OINKtales to post them. 😉
My son Henry and I were waiting in the Costco checkout line, having loaded up on paper products, laundry detergent and fruit that had probably spent more time in a refrigerated compartment than growing on a tree. Two Asian children in the cart next to ours eyed Henry and the hunk of muffin he was clutching in his 5-year old fist. One of them pointed at him and said something to a man I assumed was her father in a language other than English.
Henry’s brow furrowed, then he jerked his thumb at the family and announced loudly enough for everyone within 10 feet of us to hear: “They’re talking in Chinese. They’re not from here.”
(Click to keep reading!)
Thanks Kids VT, for giving me this opportunity, and a special shout out to Cathy Resmer who is a gifted editor and likable to boot.
Last week, I went to the “Welcome to Kindergarten” meeting that our elementary school puts on for parents of incoming kindergartners. When the principal asked parents to raise their hands if they were sending a child to kindergarten for the first time, more than half the people in the room had air in their armpits. When he asked for a showing of second-time kindergarten parents, the rest of the room responded. My battle-scarred, oven-burned, cuticle-gnawed hand waved alone when the principal asked for third-timers. I felt like a grizzled veteran.
Five minutes into the presentation, a young woman slipped into my row with her small son. I smiled at her and nodded when she asked if the seats next to me were open. She sat down. Her son scampered away to play. I have a surprisingly high tolerance for children when a) I don’t know them, b) I have absolutely no responsibility for them, and c) they aren’t close to my person. So, when he started rolling his monster truck across the linoleum ten feet away from us, it didn’t bother me a bit. It bothered his mother.
When my kids do something in public that embarrasses or otherwise annoys me, they get the Mommy Glare. It’s a freeze-you-in-your-tracks look that can be thrown over great distances such as across a crowded cafeteria or it can be focused like a laser beam such as when employed in a restaurant or a church pew. My Mommy Glare is given with a furrowed brow, gritted teeth and cement-lips. It is normally followed by a just-wait-until-we-get-home speech. I won’t guess at its rate of effectiveness since I use it, regardless of its efficacy, 100% of the time.
The mom next to me fidgeted in her seat, sighing. Here it comes, I thought. Instead, she did something surprising: she leaned forward and smiled. She held this position until her child looked over at her. When he did, she wagged her finger at him while shaking her head and mouthing, “No, no, no.”
The little boy paused before he shrugged and resumed his monster truck rolling.
I stopped listening to the principal so that I could concentrate on watching this woman without appearing to watch her.
Where was her Mommy Glare? Why wasn’t she springing out of her seat? Which Mommy tactic would she pull from her toolbox?
Without taking her eyes from her son, she waited for him to look at her again. When he did, she smiled and crooked her finger at him. He picked up his truck and walked over to her slowly. She continued to smile benevolently. I waited for her to rip off her mask but the moment never came. When he reached her, she whispered in his ear and kissed the top of his head. He rolled his monster truck on the palm of his hand and leaned into her.
I tried not to gape.
I’ve thought about this mom many nights since. I wish I had her patience. I wish I was quicker to smile and less quick to scold. I wish it wouldn’t bother me when my crazy–as it inevitably does–shows.
When I first started blogging (lo, twenty-one moons ago!) I posted about how quickly women – and particularly moms – judge one another. What I didn’t mention is how harshly we judge ourselves.
I fully admit it: I’m still in shock. Yesterday, WordPress editors featured OINKtales on their “Freshly Pressed” page. Traffic to OINKtales jumped exponentially and 41 people (and counting!) have commented on “Playing the Name Game.” In the fast-moving world of the internet, people don’t get fifteen minutes of fame. They get fifteen seconds. But these feel like my fifteen seconds and truly, I am enjoying every one of them!
Thank you, Readers, near and far! Thank you for reading, liking, commenting, laughing and sharing. I love to write. And though I write because I want to, for my family and for myself, it is thoroughly rewarding to believe that there other people not affiliated to me by bond or blood who are amused by my words. One of the wonderful things about being a blogger is making connections with people I might not have connected with otherwise.
And finally (although this is beginning to sound like an acceptance speech – t’is the season, after all), thank you, WordPress! Thank you for spotlighting your bloggers on your “Freshly Pressed” page; it’s an honor and a privilege.
Visit OINKtales often. Better yet, become a subscriber. I can’t promise you’ll be entertained, but I’ll do my level best. 😉