The Monday Blues

Running late
Nothing new
Arrived at work
Sailed through the day
Escaping the normal
Monday hiccups

Pick up the child
Arrive home
Orchestrate dinner
Manage to clear all the dishes
With ample time to
hit the gym

Arrive early
Drop off the babe
Head to class
Waiting with the Yogi’s
Only to get a call
“We need you in the childcare”

The babe has gotten sick
I need to collect him
Please don’t return for 24 hrs
Is he really sick
Or was he crying so hard
he threw up?

I am frustrated
I wanted this class
I needed this class
By my child needed me
And his need at this moment
supersedes my own.

Dad is in class
We wander outside
Until the hiccups have passed
Back inside
Bright eyed and bushy tailed
There’s no hint of sickness.

In the bath
the truth is revealed
“A girl took my wagon
And I wanted you”
He cried because he was upset
The sickness a reflex of frustration

abruptly I want to cry
I want to give the
people at the childcare
A piece of my mind
And I plan to on our return
So these events are not recurring

But for now
I snuggle my child
try to let the frustrations melt
from my body and mind
And chalk it up knowing
Monday had the last laugh

© -LRFB

If you like poetry, check out some of my other creations here.

 

The Short End of The Stick

Oh, my dear stay at home moms. I’m glad society finally sees the value of the stay at home mom. You are an awesome bunch of ladies who sacrifice so much to make sure your children get what they need. I’ve seen a lot of writings about stay at home moms as of late and as a working mom I find them often a little disheartening. I feel a flicker of a connection in some areas but I also feel wildly disconnected. . . I feel a bit left out.

I didn’t realize until I became a working mother how considerable the differences are between stay at home moms and working mothers, and while I don’t believe that either choice is superior to the other I often feel like us working moms get the short end of the stick.

Just like you, as a working Mom I am the primary care giver to my child. The biggest difference is that I don’t stay at home during the day with my child. My child goes to school during the day while I work which means I am only allowed a small allotment of time to spend with my child in the mornings and evening during the week. Just like you stay at home moms I want to make the most out of my time with my child. Unfortunately I also have to squeeze in the same things you do laundry, cleaning, grocery shopping, time with my husband, other family and friends and do you know what? It’s hard. It is so incredibly hard.

I love being a mom. I like working outside the home, but I have found that I often feel like a plate spinner. Just as it takes dedication and skill to keep those plates spinning,  I feel like my life is constantly spent trying to keep all the different areas of my life spinning so my world doesn’t come crashing down on me in an obliteration of glass and debris. I feel I am constantly being pulled in twenty different directions and when I finally get an unexpected moment to breathe I don’t know what to do with myself.

When I look for things to do with my child in the evenings and on the weekends I find that my choices are extremely limited. No story time at the library. No mommy and me yoga. No mommy and me anything. All the classes I can find are during the day. . . while I’m at work. Ok. Fine. I did manage to find a swim class we could take together, and it seems now my child is getting older my choices are finally increasing some.

Now, let’s talk playdates. Let’s try to get together with some of the wonderful moms from my online moms group. Every time I find someone posting for a playdate I take one look at the date and time and my heart sinks. It’s always during the day. . . when I’m at work. I’ve tried posting listings for weekend playdates a few times with not much luck. I did have one and it was awesome and I need to get together with her again, I just wish she lived closer. . .

Which brings me to one of the big complaints I see of stay at home moms. . . that they need friends.  Um, hello, us, working moms need friends too. We may get to leave the house on a daily basis and have adult interactions with people we work with, but in my line of work I work with mostly men, and the handful of women in my office are all a decade older than me so I don’t have much in common with them.  I want to be surrounded by other mothers who can tell me all the things my child does are normal. Friends who can make me laugh and remind me how to not get so wrapped up in caring for my child that I neglect myself.

I am jealous of you, sometimes, stay at home moms. I wish I had more time to spend with my child. I wish I didn’t feel guilty turning on a show for my child to watch while I whip up dinner, feeling like I’m neglecting him, but we have to eat. I wish I had a kitchen fairy so I could get a good night’s sleep instead of doing dishes in the late hours of the evening while the child sleeps. I wish I didn’t fall asleep with my child 2-3 times a week and feel like my husband gets neglected. I wish so many things, but then I come back to reality and just suck it up and keep going. I will continue to use my lunch break at work to run errands, plan meals, get my oil changed, anything I can squeeze in so I can spend more time being with my family while I’m with my family. And going forward I’m going to stop comparing my life as a working mom to life as a stay at home mom, because in the grander scheme of things we are just busy mothers trying to make the best of the hand we were dealt with.

The Battle for Bedtime

You have never been a good sleeper, my child.  Always afraid you might miss something, you would do your best to keep those pretty hazel eyes wide open as long as you possibly could. As a babe your naps were so short I was often overwhelmed at the lack of nap time I could use to try to accomplish tasks.  It seemed like as soon as I barely laid you down in your crib I would take a breath and start a task and you would be awake.  If you slept for forty-five minutes at a time, I was ecstatic and was unsure of what to do with myself.

As bedtime would roll around, I would be exhausted and you would be seemingly full of energy.  I tried every trick I could think of to help get you relax and fall asleep but the length of time until your eyes would close only seemed to grow longer.  We walked miles through the house while I patted and sang.  When I wouldn’t walk anymore I would place you in the swing and hope the rocking motion would lull you to sleep.  That worked a few weeks until you figured out if you kicked your feet and leaned forward you could stay awake.

I would nurse you until fell into slumber only to have you awaken when I would remove you from my body and place you in your crib.  We would then start the process again.  When you were older and my milk had dried up I would hold you while you had your bottle, then walk, then lay you down, then pat you, then walk some more and sing, and try the process again.  I would grow so frustrated at the process of putting you to bed.  It would take an hour, sometimes two and by the time you were finally asleep I would be so exhausted that I would fall asleep soon after, missing out on any evening adult time.

Your father in frustration asked why other people children would go to bed at seven while we were lucky for ours to even act remotely tired by nine.  I didn’t know how to answer him.  I was frustrated also, as I was the one in battle with you trying to make an unwearied boy fall asleep.  I cursed the mothers with the easy children and almost lost my cool when a friend, also a first time mother, dared to ask me how old you were when I first “let you sleep through the night.”  After texting her a horrible response with lots of cursing and accusatory tones, I deleted my frustrations and responded with “We still don’t sleep through the night.”  You must have been about 10 months old at the time.

It wasn’t until past your first birthday I stopped fighting and getting frustrated at the battle for bedtime. I finally realized you were just a high energy child who had to find a release for any pent up energy still stored in your body before your little eyes would close and your body would be still.  I would lay with you and let you wiggle next to me until you wiggled all the energy out and finally would fall asleep.  I learned to get rambunctious with you in play and to make sure you were allotted plenty of outdoor play or inside physical, rough and tumble, run around the house, screaming, bouncing, crazy play after dinner to make sure we could work out as much energy as possible to make those bedtime wiggles lessen ever so slightly.  The less I fought you and just resigned to the fact that you would never be an early to bed child, the easier it became and as you’ve grown the battle for bedtime has become easier.  You still have nights where the wiggles seem to never end and I fall asleep with you as I wait for your eyes to close and your body to still, but now it seems less like a battle and I even get in a few hours of adult time regularly in the evenings.

Sometimes the Guilt just keeps Coming

When you’re a working mom you are doused almost daily with guilt.  Guilt that you leave your child with someone so you can go to work.  Guilt that you don’t spend enough time with your child.  Guilt that you leave your child with a babysitter so you can have some adult time.  Guilt that you set you child in front of the television for 30 minutes so you can make dinner.  It pummels you from all corners and some days are so much worse than others. . .

The other day I had a heavy workload day and towards the end of the day I look up only to have an “oh shit” moment.  It was 4:11, I need to shut down and haul butt out of the building.  I usually leave work at 4 so I can pick up my child no later than 5pm.  I leave hurriedly only to be reminded by the gauges on my car that I’m going to have to stop and get gas on my way between work and daycare.  The whole way driving to pick my child up I am riddled with feelings of guilt.  I don’t like leaving him at school any longer than I have to.  I should have been paying better attention to the clock.  Traffic just plain sucks the whole way and I finally wind up at his daycare about 5:15.

Already riddled with guilt I step into his classroom only to see his crying face through the glass door leading to the playground.  My heart crumbles and I pick him up as soon as I make my way outside.  I take inventory of the situation.  Not even a handful of kids are outside and the teacher is not one of his normal teachers.  She leaves her post talking to the other teacher from across playground gate separating the older kids from the younger to make sure I know he has been “fussy” for about the last 20 minutes or so (The time I normally would have picked him up by.) as she lets me back in the building.  Another teacher is inside cleaning and lets me know she had been sitting outside with him holding him while he fussed until she was summoned away to begin her cleaning duties.  This does not bring me any comfort.

My heart is heavy.  I hug my child and carry him out to the car.  We take our time getting in the car while.  When I slide into the drivers seat I fight back tears and clear my throat to get rid of any sadness.  I am angry that the teacher was just standing around chatting and not making an effort to comfort my child.  I am so angry I wonder if this situation warrants an email to the director. . . I am also feeling guilty I left work late and picked him up late.  I hate the barrage of feelings that are bombarding me from all directions.

We get home and cuddle and play and do a lot of his favorite crazy rambunctious things to take our mind off the roughness of the afternoon.  My husband assures me that things like this will happen on occasion and I cannot let the feelings control me.  Just enjoy the time we do have together instead.  So we do.  We squash away those feelings of guilt and flood our hearts instead with joy and togetherness.

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What Working Mom’s do during their “Lunch Break”

If you ever wonder what us working moms do during our lunch break I can tell you we are sometimes lucky to actually squeeze food into the lunch break. . . it’s all about getting as many tasks completed that we can do sans child so that we can spend more quality time with the kiddos.

This is what we do. . .

We run errands.  We buy dry goods from the grocery store, anything we can leave in the car without fear of spoiling or melting or becoming toxic while it sits there in our car from lunch until we make it home.  We pick up pet food from Petsmart or Petco. We get gifts for birthdays and holidays.  We get our oil changed.  We go to the bank.  We renew our registrations.

We stay in the office and catch up on household business.  We make phone calls. We schedule appointments.  We research classes and things to do with the kiddos when we are with them.  We make sure the bills are paid.  We budget.  We make meal plans and grocery lists.  We catch up on emails that are long overdue for an answer.  We write on our blogs. We read parenting articles. We finish making costumes or crafts for upcoming holiday parties for the kiddo.  We try to figure out other jobs where we could work from home.  Sometimes we even try to read a few chapters in the never- ending stack of books telling us “the correct” way to parent while sitting in front of our desks eating a salad, a sandwich, or last night’s leftovers.

If we are lucky we quietly eat an actual lunch at our desk quickly in about 15 minutes so we can leave early to pick up the kids because there’s always a little bit of guilt tugging our heart strings that we are working moms.

If we are super stressed we call in the big guns and schedule an overdue lunch date with one of our closest friends, because meeting them at the park with the kiddos Saturday mornings only allows for about 10 minutes of actual adult conversation while a lunch date allows 45+ minutes of actual adult conversation plus some much-needed stress relief.

So, in case you’ve ever wondered what we do. . . that is what we do.

God Never Gives You More Than You Can Handle

When we first moved into our home we went looking for a dog.  I had always had dogs growing up but for the past few years during apartment living we decided it was better to wait for a house with a yard before tackling finding a canine companion.  I happened to run into a lady at the vet’s office that I had worked with doing animal rescue.  While the group I worked with strictly dealt with cats, her group focused on cats and dogs.  I inquired whether or not her group had any Australian Shepherds or the like currently in the program.  She said they did not, but she had a lady contact her about help placing an Aussie and she would forward me the lady’s information.

I contacted the women and we arranged for a meeting with a dog named Sadie.  The lady we met with was a park ranger and had found Sadie abandon in one of her parks.  She said Sadie was probably there about a week before the park flooded and she felt guilty and brought Sadie home with her.  She lived in an apartment with a German Shephard puppy and even though she said she would love to keep Sadie, she really didn’t think it was fair to have her in an apartment.  We took Sadie home with us that afternoon.

After we had Sadie for about a month I could totally understand why someone might have abandoned her somewhere.  She was about 9 months old and a super high energy Catahoula mix, which was a world of difference for me having had two low energy Pitties as my last dogs.  After a half dozen pair of shoes and a few shirts were eaten we kennel trained, figured out busy toys and discovered dog parks. Later on Sadie was able to start going to work with my husband for a while and all these things helped tremendously in taming down the hyper and mischievous behavior she would display if left to her own devices for too long.

Fast forward a few years and we were blessed with a little boy.  A non-sleeping, stubborn, very high energy little boy.  I’ve heard more than a few times people use the turn of phrase “God never gives you more than you can handle.”  Sometimes I have really questioned that phrase.  When my teeny tiny baby would only nap an half an hour at a time making it near impossible to get any task completed and when it would take 2 hours to get him to go to sleep at night I really thought that line was a load of bull.  Some days I really struggled.  Some days I still struggle.  Sometimes I wonder if I really can handle everything that’s been thrown my way.  Sometimes I wonder if I have been given more than I can handle.  Sometimes the thought of running away cross my mind (I don’t but sometimes the thoughts still flicker.) Why does my child seem so much more difficult than other children?

Then, I read a horror story about something a parent that has done to a child and I think maybe that phrase means something else.*  Maybe I was blessed with this bouncy little high energy child because I would never do one of those things that you read about on the news or see in the paper.  Maybe that’s really what that phrase means.  I was sent this child because I have the temperament to deal with all the crazies.  I have learned the tools that are required to deal with a child of this temperament.  Maybe I was sent a crazy Catahoula mix dog as a test run and when I passed that test I was then sent a child with a similar personality.  Maybe.  And even if not, it helps me have a little more patience when I think about things using that mindset.  Whatever the answer is I love my dog and my child and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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*In all honesty sometimes I can’t even read the stories I don’t make it past the titles before my eyes start tearing up and I get so incredibly angry.

Things We Need to Teach our Children – Good Eating Habits

Good Eating Habits

I am always slightly appalled when I see people feeding small children McDonalds. We really should do better for our children.  I have a child that has survived more than two years now, never having tasted a McDonald’s anything.  I won’t lie and say my child has never eaten any sort of fast food.  There have been several occasions where he has eaten chicken strips or tenders from ChickFila or Sonic, but these events are few and far between.  I want my child to grow up liking to eat healthy foods and so I try my hardest to provide him with healthy food and to show him that I eat healthy in hopes that he will follow suit.

One thing about being a parent is that we try to model behaviors that we want our children to have.  When you want your children to eat healthy that means you end up eating healthier too! Our children learn about food mostly from us, so we need to take advantage of this and TEACH them about food.  Show them that you eat healthy food and they will follow suit!

To aid in teaching our children to eat healthier, we need to teach our children where their food comes from. Food doesn’t just magically appear in stores or in restaurants and children should be aware of this.   We need to teach them about where the plants and animals they eat come from.  If you have a green thumb or if you’ve always wanted to try. . . planting an edible garden, an herb garden or just a few tomato plants in a pot is an excellent way to teach them about where their food comes from.  If you children pick out and grow their own vegetables they are usually more willing to try new ones as they helped in the creation of them.  (Also, buying a bag full of ladybugs and releasing them into your garden is incredible fun.)  If you’re not so great at keeping plants alive or you can’t imagine adding one more daily activity to your already hectic schedule try driving your kids to the local farmers market, or to the actual farm once a month.  There are lots of farms where you can pick certain fruits and vegetables straight from the source during certain seasons.

After your kids know where their food comes from they need to learn how to prepare their food to eat.  We should teach our children to cook and eat whole foods and explain to them the difference between fresh meals and processed ones! If you don’t think you’re a good cook, it’s never too late to learn!  I learned how to really cook a few years shy of turning 30 and now I actually enjoy cooking (it’s the cleaning part I figured out I don’t like).   Start with simple recipes.  I have found that the best meals are always made from simple ingredients and a short list of ingredients at that.  There are so many great recipes out there.  Just pick a few and get started!  Baking  is another great way to get kids involved.  Baking with kids is always fun.  My little’s favorite thing to do in the kitchen is “mix, mix, mix, mix” and it is a great way to get really young kids involved in the kitchen!

If we teach our children about food from a young age and involve them in preparing and cooking their own food we are setting them up for a healthier way of life for the long haul.  We all want what’s best for our children, so help set them up for success and give them the food education they deserve.  You never know, you may just learn something in the process.

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Please, Come Steal My Child!

This morning while dropping the babe off at school I noticed the vehicle in front of me had stickers on the back window advertising what activity their child was in as well as their name.  From what I could tell “Harper” is in some sort of cheerleading type activity.

I don’t know about you, but seeing these types of stickers plastered across vehicles terrifies me.  To me, these stickers are an advertisement to predators.  These stickers tell people that you have children, what activities your children are in and even your children’s names.  When I see these stickers I feel you might as well slap a sticker on your bumper that says, “Please, come steal my child!”.

The stickers give child predators a leg up.  If they are watching your child from a distance, they now also know your child’s name and what kinds of activities your child likes.  They could easily use that information to try to begin building a relationship with your child.  Let’s say “Johnny” plays soccer and his parents have a sticker of a soccer ball with Johnny’s name underneath it on the family van.  Let’s say after the soccer game Johnny gathers his belongings and trudged to the family van in the parking lot while his Mother finishes up a conversation with another parent about car pooling.  A child predator sees Johnny waiting next to the van and strikes up a conversation. “Hey, Johnny!  You put forth a lot of effort in that soccer game today, good for you! I’m Ryan’s Uncle (insert a common popular kids name)  I was watching from the sidelines.”  This could be an in for the child predator to put Johnny at ease.  If this person knows this stuff about them and they are supposedly a relative or another player on Johnny’s team that person can’t be dangerous, right?

Some of you might think I’m just being paranoid, but I clearly remember an episode of Criminal Minds in which the predator uses the stickers on the family van’s window to kidnap the children.  It might not be the most likely scenario used by child predators, but it certainly makes it a little more easy for them.  I, myself, will not be taking any chances with my child by advertising their name and extracurricular activities on the family car and I hope you will reconsider too. (or at least leave their name off. . .)mORgWVJ-bjD-OWEcnxppfyQ

Things to know if you’re the Mother of a Toddler Boy

Little boys will be little boys. They are wild creatures that create messes out of thin air. Dirt, bugs, and small creatures are all new and exciting things to be explored and conquered. You are now the mother of a little explorer and you too will become an adventurer during your journey together. To get through the toddler years here are a few tips.

You need to have a good pair of sneaker and a pair of mud boots

Boys like to play outside which means you will also be playing outside. I highly recommend investing in a good pair of sneakers so you are adequately equipped to keep up with your child. Toddlers acquire the amazing ability of speed overnight and sneakers are a necessity when you must climb after them after they get themselves in a pickle on the highest piece of playground equipment at the park. If you fail to remember the sneakers you will curse yourself and your normal attire of heels or flip flops just. Your newly acquired taste in footwear doesn’t stop there, though. Rain boots will become another must-have accessory at this stage in your little one’s development.  Boys don’t understand why they can’t go outside when it’s raining, and after trying to keep them inside during a week of rainy days sometimes making the journey outside in the rain is better for the both of you. (Our sanity does have limitations.) He will want to splash in all the puddles and when he falls down face first in the middle of the biggest puddle in the immediate vicinity you will want to have your mud boots on so you can easily retrieve him.

You must show no fear in the face of bugs.

While inside you might be screaming (like the little girl that still lives inside you) on the outside you must show a calm steady exterior as you explore nature and bugs with your little boy and he places a wriggling worm in the palm of your hand. You don’t want your child to be afraid of bugs in general (he is a boy after all) so you must make a pointed effort to yourself be fearless in the face of bugs. At the same time, you do want to teach your child the bugs that will “hurt you,” so they do not try to pick up those particular bugs. “Ant’s bite you and Bee’s sting you” are recited almost daily in our household during our many treks through the backyard. Teaching the kiddo’s about bugs does pay off. . .in our house squishing bugs is fine, and once the babe learned this trick he is more than happy to help me “squish em”. I have high hopes I can pass off all bug squashing duties to him and his father in the near future.

Always check their pants pockets before you do the laundry

A boyfriends’ mom once gave me the following handy piece of advice when telling tales of her own adventurer. “Always, always, check the pockets,” she said.  She failed to do this once and ended up washing a reptile friend her explorer was planning on keeping (yet failed to mention to her).  Other things you might want to watch out for are bugs, sticks, rocks, cars, and anything else small enough to fit in the pockets of a small boy the might wreak havoc on your washer.

All meaningful breakables should be put out of reach

How do little people cause so much destruction?  It never ceases to amaze me what kinds of things my child will break.  Fatalities have included dishes, ceramic keepsakes, child proofing latches and hooks, and books.  My husband had (notice I use the past tense) a quarter scale, upright base from his band days that had since turned into a decorative piece nestled in a corner of our home. Our little one crashed into it at just the right angle and smashed it into several pieces. My husband was upset.  I was upset. It’s a hard lesson to learn that neglecting to keep things out of the reach of curious little toddler hands can lead to casualties’ of meaningful keepsakes.  I knew that this would probably just be one of many catastrophes to come, so since then if it’s breakable and meaningful it’s either packed up and put away or on a high shelf where inquisitive little fingers cannot wrap themselves around it.

5 Ways Pets Prepared Me for Motherhood

For years I worked in animal rescue and when I finally took the plunge from fur babies to human babies I quickly learned that those years in animal rescue helped prepare me for the adventures of motherhood (or did they?)

Grooming

You would think clipping hundreds of tiny little cat claws and dog nails would help prepare you for the task of trying to clip tiny little human nails. I’ll take trimming a critter’s nails over those of a squirmy little babe any day. At least with the critters you can wrap them in a towel or lie on top of them and accomplish the job in one sitting. (I don’t think CPS would take too kindly if you tried these methods with your mini human). When trimming the nails of a toddler I am lucky to get one hand’s worth of nails total in one sitting, it takes all week to get all 20 little fingers and toes trimmed and by the time you do accomplish this feat, it’s time to start over.

Rise and Shine

I had a diabetic cat for a period of time that required insulin shots in the morning and evening with his morning and evening meal. This cat would wake me up every morning by sitting on the pillow and meowing next to my head. If I would shoo him away he would sit in the hallway (just outside of sock throwing range) and continue his serenade until I would get my lazy butt out of bed to give him his shot and his breakfast. This helped prepare me for a toddler who bounces awake first thing in the morning, pulls all my covers off, grabs my hand and tugs me out of bed.  (In all honestly both ways are more effective than the alarm clock that has a snooze button.)

Rules Boundaries and Limitations

According to expert dog trainer, Cesar Milan when training dogs you need to give them rules, boundaries, and limitations.  His same theory can be applied to training; um, I mean teaching, your toddlers and small children. You must be the pack leader. You set the rules for the child and if they do not follow the rules they can go to time out (although I don’t suggest using the dog kennel for the child’s time out, again CPS might frown upon this practice). Repetition will be required. When your child masters following commands, um, I mean behaving properly, a trip to the park is a great reward. Unlike with pups I do not recommend using food as a reward during training with children (unless it’s broccoli and mini carrots).

Poo

If you have pets you are already somewhat of an expert at poo, or so you think. Let me warn you cleaning cat boxes and picking up poo in the yard is nothing compared to the bowels of a baby. Hand me the litter scoop and doggie bags any day because I’d much rather clean up that mess than the one in my child’s diaper. I did quickly learn, though, the doggie poo bags are excellent for bagging dirty, smelly diapers.  I promise you one of the best tricks I ever learned was keeping a roll of doggie poo bags in the diaper bag, you never know when they will come in handy.

Unconditional Love

One thing that’s great about our pets is that they shower us with unconditional love. Dogs are super happy to see us when we get home every day, drowning us in slobbery kisses and cats will rub against your legs and purr (especially if you’re near the food bowl to show us they at least tolerate our presence in their house). A child’s response to us is even more heartwarming. Their little eyes light up when we pick them up from daycare and they run uncontrollably around the room screaming and expressing their joy at our return. They throw their little arms around us and smile and laugh. It is in those little smiles and laughs and the almost bursting fullness you feel in your heart that will lead you to realize that this is a love that your pets never even came close to preparing you for.

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