Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The End of An Era

This will probably be my last post for 2009. My, my, my what a year it's been...

Maybe it's the halt of the Christmas crazies that now allows us to actually breathe, which then leads to thinking. Maybe it's the impending New Year just a few days away that causes us to pause and reflect. Maybe it was the news of a friend from high school who died in a tragic death that got me thinking about where our choices lead us. I don't know, but I do know I’ve been here before. Usually at the end of every year I think about yet another year that has flown by too fast.

Someone recently sent me (and 25 other people) an email that said "The only ones who fear death are those who have not yet really lived." My stomach dropped a little bit when I read this because I knew all too well exactly what that meant. I've made no secret of the fact that my mortality has been on my mind a lot lately. I know I'm not that old and I know for the most part I'm sort of healthy, but I still can't help but feel the nudge to hurry up and live before I don't have the option. But what does that mean?! Living seems like such a simple concept, yet so many of us become watchers of our life instead of do’ers.

This year marks the end of a personal era for me. Our youngest child just turned one and I’m 99.9% sure there are no more babies in my future. My child bearing years are over. I know a great many women who have rejoiced in this, but I have to admit I’m a little bit sad. It really struck a chord with me when we recently gave away all the little baby gear: baby bjorns, diaper bags, strollers, car seats, activity mats, rattles and (so many) toys, bassinet, crib bumpers, burpers, receiving blankets, new born sleepers. These are all the things that destroy the décor of a house, but scream “we have a baby.” The good news is that all the items went to two different women who were in real need. The bad news is that I felt sad when I should’ve felt good about helping people out.

Maybe subconsciously I’ve let myself go under the disclaimer that I’m a busy mom. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still really busy but it’s a different kind of busy when you don’t have a baby around. I wonder if I’ve been using this as an excuse to avoid actually having a life…oh God, I hope not!

I don’t know where this post is going today, but I do know I’ve rambled enough. Be merry. Be safe. Be happy.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Five Christmases

I had to work on Christmas Eve this year and boy was I bitter! I guess I could have trumped my assistant and had the day off, but for the most part it is a slow easy day of work and I don't have to lose any vacation time by being there....but it still REALLY sucked. Maybe next year I'll say screw the vacation pay cash-out at year end and I'll take a few days off.

Well, we survived another Christmas shuffle this year amongst our family. Below is this year's shuffle schedule:

1. Christmas Eve with my mother-in-law's family
2. Christmas morning - our house
3. Christmas brunch - my in-laws
4. Christmas evening - my family
5. Day after Christmas - my father-in-law's family

Don't get me wrong, my kids made out like bandits in the gift department, but just one year I would love to just escape to Tahoe and do a white Christmas in a cabin with just our family. I know what I'm about to say will sound cheesy at best, but isn't the real gift during the holidays just to spend time with each other? I miss so much while I'm at work that all I want to do is just see and be with my family. For the record, I know my "mommy guilt" is out of control and I'm working on it.

We went pretty low-key and low cost at our house this year by getting each of the kids one great toy gift. My daughter got a Razor scooter ($20, Target), my son got a Radio Flyer big wheel ($10, craigslist) and the baby got the cow and bird noise makers ($5 each, pottery barn). I also threw in some new PJ's and warm clothes that they needed - which they were not thrilled about, but were still happy to unwrap.

I can't believe that another year is almost seems like just last week that my life was a series of exciting options waiting to be clarified. I think the three kids and a mortgage provide all the clarity necessary at this point. The places I could go with the "if I knew then what I know now" concept...

I love everything about Christmas - even the shuffle has its perfect moments. I know there will come a time that I will miss the genuine joy of kids at Christmas. This was the year my daughter realized that Santa and Grandpa were the same. Each year Grandpa dresses up as Santa and makes the appearances at a few of the Christmas shuffle stops. It broke my heart to confirm that this year Santa needed help and Grandpa kindly volunteered. I'm keeping Santa alive at our house as long as possible.

Again I asked each of the kids to please, please, never grow up and stay my little ones forever. Again each of them shrugged and said "Sorry Mommy, I just have to get bigger." The truth is the bigger they get, the fuller my heart grows. They will always be my babies...

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Big Apple

I love New York City. If I were single and childless, it would be my city. Luckily my youngest sister lives in Manhattan and graciously offered to host my daughter and I for quick visit. We had some airline credit that we've been struggling to use for the last 2 years so instead of letting it expire, my husband gave the green light for my eldest daughter and I to visit one of her favorite Aunts.

New York City during Christmas is spectacular! From the Saks Fifth Avenue windows to ice skating at Rockefeller Center, they really know how to light up a city with festivity. It was a lot of fun to do something special with my daughter who I hope is old enough to remember our trip. I hope I will be able to do something as fun with each of the other kids at some point.

The nice thing about stepping out of your daily routine is that you have a chance to actually think without the interruption of the normal chaos. This is a double edge sword. While my daughter and I had a really good time, I saw behaviors come out of her I would have never imagined. When she didn't get her way she was demanding and critical. At one point she thought I bumped her while we were walking and she yelled that she is "tired of this" from me. In another instance I told her she couldn't get a specific toy and she pointed her finger at me in the store and yelled "You're a liar!" None of these episodes remotely resembles the daughter I thought I had. Where did my good little girl go? And who is this spoiled little brat who has replaced her? Frankly, it was devastating to me as a mother. Did this happen because I work and can't be home to keep them in line?

The long plane ride home gave me a chance to really try and evaluate where things went wrong. After 6 1/2 hours and careful consideration, I know the problem likely started with me and my mommy guilt. Ugh...that's really hard to say... I miss my kids when I go to work, so I started bringing them cute little (sometimes big) things home here and there so that they knew I thought about them during the day. I began buying my kids' affection without even knowing what I was doing.

My mommy guilt did more than just hurt me this time. It created one materialistic and spoiled little monster with two others close behind her. I love my daughter,there's no question about that, but I need to love her enough to be strong enough to raise a productive human being who does not depend on material objects to feel fulfilled in life. I need to replace things with genuine love and attention.

This was a great trip for both of us that neither of us will ever forget.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Good Enough

This might be the longest I've gone yet without posting this year. The holiday season began right before Thanksgiving and seriously, there is no end in sight. Between family flying into visit and everyone wanting "time with the kids" there has been no down time for our family. Everything seems like a rush...I just want it to stop.

Work has been an absolute fiasco with the end of the year approaching and I have had little time to breath, much less write. Of course there is inner-office drama all over the place and with predominately female coworkers you can only imagine how our minds take off. It's so funny to me that my company is male governed, yet female run. It's so interesting to watch the president of our company challenge our egos by instilling fear in us. When he does a site visit, we all feel a little sick because you never know what or who he's going to go after. He's a pleasant man, unless he feels it's time to revitalize your fear of his authority. He thinks that if he challenges your "man/womanhood" you'll step up to the plate.

Women don't work this way; I don't work that way. We are loyalty and reason driven, not necessarily ego driven. We don't want to be thought of as stupid, so therefore we work really hard to do a good job. On the contrary, we just get pissed off and start planning our victory when we feel as though we are wronged. you. Thank goodness for women's lib, right? Now we can run the work place, keep our houses clean and all the while be good mothers and wives. Ask my husband, he'll tell you how successful I am (or not).

I feel like I'm constantly juggling work and home and dropping either is not an option. When I first went back to work I told my daughter to just hold on for three years. She has never forgotten and reminded me the other day that there is less than one year left on my promise. I tell her all the time that as long as she does her best, that's good enough. I don't know how to explain to her that I'm doing the best that I can and it's not even close to good enough. I'm trying to plan for the future, but today I just want to survive.