Friday, November 21, 2014

adjusting to more changes.

Last I left us, I was working two jobs for a short six-week period while I looked for a permanent full-time job.

A part of me really hoped that I wouldn't find one right away. I thought maybe it'd be nice to work part-time for just a FEW more months. Just keep working each of us part-time, equating to one full-time job, and lots more time spent together as a family.

But I got a new job. My first real job with my Master's degree. I am now an Elementary School Counselor.

This is what I always wanted when I began my program. I wanted to be with the little kids. I wanted to nurture them and help them along the growing pains of the childhood and pre-adolescent years. My school is inner-city/urban, about 600 students in Kindergarten through 6th grade. There are a lot of challenges but a lot of rewards too. I thought I would be somewhat well prepared because I had experience with children in this city and district in previous jobs and in my practicum. After a month of working there though, I realize now that there is a huge difference working part-time in an office separate from an inner city school (but still working with the children), and an even bigger difference working in an inner city school part-time versus full-time.

It is exhausting. It has already gotten to me. Sometimes I feel like - am I even helping anyone? What am I even doing?

I try to remind myself that even though change is hard to see, the fact that after only a couple of weeks there I had touched so many children who were genuinely excited and happy to see me, who remembered my name despite it being difficult for the adults in the school to pronounce, makes me feel like at least they know I am a person to trust, a person who cares about them. I get at least 10 hugs a day. The kids are just so sweet.

Adjusting to a difficult job is one thing. Adjusting to being a full-time working mom is another. I've never felt like such a horrible mom. Even when my schedule was at its craziest, I usually only worked 3-4 days in a row at a time. And the schedule varied so many I was home in the morning during more of Colton's waking hours and got to spend more time with him. Now it's just 2 and a half hours together before I put him in his crib. Much of our time together is preparations for bed, or bath time, or eating dinner. Sometimes I am so exhausted that we just watch TV after dinner or he plays while I watch. I feel like the quality of our time spent is just not good enough. I feel like I don't even know what he and Mark have been up to all day.

I should be happy that at least one of us can be the stay at home parent. But I can't help but be jealous that it's not me. I know that we've discussed my staying home with our next future child, but that won't be for a long time and by then Colton will probably be in kindergarten or first grade. I'll have missed so much time with him.

I know the whole working mom versus stay at home mom is a big debate. For me I just don't know. I never imagined that I'd still wish I was staying at home when Colton was almost 2. Before he was born I thought 3 months would be awfully early to go back to work, but 6 months would probably be okay. So much happens in a young child's life though! I don't want to miss a bunch of it!

Having this attitude has gotten me no where because when I am home I have just felt depressed on all I've missed throughout the day. Or I just feel totally detached from motherhood and am just counting down the time until he goes to bed - kind of like I'm just avoiding having any feelings about being gone all day I guess. Mostly though, I've been really trying to make an effort to stay positive, to be patient and caring, to play and resist temptation to veg out on the couch for any of our precious time together, and to just be present.

I can tell a huge difference in Colton's behavior when I'm in a positive mindset or in a negative one. It's really interesting how he seems to pick up on that and act accordingly. Tonight I was positive, happy, engaged, patient, and matter-of-fact in our routine. This is the first time that Colton came to the bathroom to brush his teeth the first time I asked him. He was well-behaved during bedtime stories and didn't climb all over me trying to get my attention. He gave me extra hugs and cuddles. He didn't whine or cry when I told him it was time for prayers. He nearly drifted to sleep while nursing and gave me no problems when I tucked him into his crib.

I need to remember what a difference it makes next time I'm feeling sorry for myself and take it out on the darling little boy who only wants my love and attention when I get home.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

one week down.

I finished my first week of having two jobs again and I have been so stressed, it's almost unbearable. I also made the mistake of filling my full and partial days off (Thursday and Sundays I have off, Saturdays I work mornings only) with shopping and errands and a bunch of other things that I really should have just delegated to my husband since he's home more often than I am now. I have a hard time with delegating tasks - very often I like to do everything myself and make sure everyone is taken care of. Except that leaves me stressed and exhausted and depressed, so that's something I need to work on.

Tonight I think I'm going to move showers to PM. Maybe I'll get a little more sleep and maybe Colton will too. Since our house is so small I'm a little worried that my early morning showering has been waking him up, since he actually slept in the past two days that I didn't shower before 6 AM.

Meal plan is complete. Everything is fairly simple and we did major grocery shopping about a week ago so all of the meats and veggies we need are in the freezer already. I may need to pick up more potatoes midweek but hopefully not.

I cooked dinner tonight so we have tons of chicken leftovers - two different recipes of drumsticks. That will be dinner for the next two nights and then Mark will be in charge of dinner Wednesday night. I am trying to give him simple dinners for now since he isn't used to cooking the meals. I'm sure he could figure out something a little more time consuming but there's not really a point in that. We can cook the more involved meals on nights when both of us are home.

Our chore chart has gone straight down the tubes. I haven't kept up with anything at all this week and neither has Mark. We're lucky that we've gotten the dishes done and the toys picked up every night, but that's pretty much the extent of it. I've done about half of the laundry so far and I'll need to throw in at least one more load tonight. Colton's clothes are all washed and folded, at least.

As much as I have a plan to be organized, actually following through with it has been extremely difficult. I think my mental state is just not with it right now. I don't know for certain that I am really tired from work and commute and mom stuff. I think it's just messing with my head to know that I have all of these things to do, and thinking about them makes me just clam up and not do anything at all. I wish I had more drive to get things done.

A picture of the beautiful dinner I made:

A picture of my sweet boy on Thursday at the park. It was so cold. I'm so happy for Thursdays spent with him.

I have to remind myself that I need to work for him. For all of us. 
It's for the best.
If only my emotions would get on board with that.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

one little whisper.

Out of my whole stressful day, the time I looked forward to the most is quietly nursing my sweet little boy before bed. I never knew how important nursing would become to me when I first began researching it when I was pregnant and I'm so grateful that I am still able to hold on to this bonding time that Colton and I share.

Sometimes Colton will fall asleep nursing and I'll carry him to his crib. Tonight was a late work night for me, so we got home late and I thought for certain he was would fall asleep. I think the opening the door startled him awake a little bit as I carried him out of the bedroom. He looked up at me with his perfect blue eyes and a big sleepy smile and whispered "hi mommy."

I know it sounds like nothing. But through all the hectic moments of our day and the rushed hellos and goodbyes as we are heading out the door from one place to another, this one meant so much to me. A quiet, peaceful hello, safe in my arms, before drifting off to sleep.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Jobs

Ever since 2008 I've had a crazy schedule. There have been months of down time in between, but in general it has always been crazy.

Dairy Queen, DSW, college.
Intern at courthouse, Dairy Queen, college.
Dairy Queen, Waitress, college.
Waitress and Intern at courthouse (finally graduated!)
Grad school, Intern at courthouse, waitress on weekends.
Grad school, Intern at courthouse, waitress, and pregnant.
Quit waitressing 3 months before Colton was born.
Quit internship 1 month before Colton was born.
Grad school and newborn.
Grad school, work at Autism center.
Grad school plus Internship, work at Autism center.
Finished internship, last class and work at Autism center.
July & August - work at Autism Center ONLY! Hooray for one job!
September - Autism Center & Substitute School Counselor.

And obviously I am still a mom as soon as I get home which makes things a lot more difficult since we all know that I really do not want to be a working mom. Today was my first day back to the grind of having two jobs and I am pretty much asleep except I needed to vent about how long I've been doing this garbage of working and school and everything I have to do to keep my family afloat financially and try to get the experience to get a full time job someday. Will it ever come?!


Saturday, August 30, 2014

Unprecendented grocery store tantrum

Today, it happened. The most epic grocery store trip I've experienced yet. The defining parenting moment where everyone is looking at you and your kid, having a tantrum, in public.

Colton had been cranky about getting in the car to go to the store in the first place. He was insistent that he bring his Woody doll, Buzz action figure, and 4 animal figures. As soon as I wrestled him into his car seat amidst protests of "I go PARK! I go PARK!" he tossed all of the toys away. As we begin driving down the road demands are placed to hear one of his favorite song "I like" (which refers to Here in Your Arms by Hellogoodbye). None of these events are super out of the ordinary, so I continue on our merry way to the grocery store.

Parking - great. Getting out of the car - effortless. Walking into the store - no problem. Grabbing a cart and strapping him in - no complaints. We make it through the produce section, deli counter, bread and baked goods, and meats with few issues. He starts throwing his animal figures on the floor - those get taken away. Without any distractions, the frozen foods section is in for a treat. Colton begins screaming. Not crying, not upset, just screaming loudly - red faced, shaking, high pitched scream. I side eye him and try to ignore. I try shushing. I try bribing. He just keeps screaming. Screams turn into "all done-y all done-y" and trying to stand in his seat. Finally, my bribe for snack bars works and we zoom toward the baby section to get him a couple of boxes.

I try keeping him more engaged. "Now we'll get cheese, here hold this cheese; now we're getting eggs, eggs are so yummy." This works for a short while. Mostly between my efforts he is repeatedly demanding to go "see the fishies" in the tanks on the other side of the store. Once we do go to see the fish, we last about one full minute before he is more interested in moving on to something else.

Now we're waiting in line. There are Disney princess pez dispensers in the checkout line - WHY? It distracts him for a bit to hold one until he starts chewing on the package. I take out his animal toys again and they get played with for a few minutes before getting chucked at the people waiting behind us. Halfway through our groceries being bagged Colton stands up and begs to be all done. He WILL.NOT.SIT.DOWN. This is a first. He's definitely stood up before, but he'll always sit back down eventually. He's whining, crying, grasping at me, nothing I can do short of applying some serious physical force will make this kid sit down. I felt all eyes on us as I give in and hold him while I fumble for my wallet, while he cries and whines that he wants my wallet and all of my credit cards and to push the buttons on the credit card machine. I balance holding him in one arm and steering a very full cart out to the parking lot. A nice man asks if I need help and I refuse it.

Out in the parking lot, I manage to strap him in his car seat and full on sobbing ensues. It sounds like I just broke his legs the way he's wailing through the entire time I'm loading up the car, putting away the cart, and halfway through the drive home. We get home and I stick him in his high chair, more cries, and I bribe him with a cup of apple juice so I can unload everything and make him lunch. Mother of the year.

I tell Colton that he needs to stop waking up at 5:30 AM. Obviously he can't handle it.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Images and Thoughts



A mom, a dad, a toddler, a cat
A 620 square foot rental house
Paychecks and bills canceling out
Blueberries squished under a high chair
Piles of board books overflowing a plastic bin
Useless TVs no longer hooked up to cable
Marker-colored fingers and empty boxes
Giggles and tantrums and tears
Blankets over bodies playing hide and seek
Inner battles fought, stay at home or work
Early morning darkness curled up and nursing
At home date nights, "I wish we could go to..."
Babbling toddler discussions with stuffed animals
Zero signs of potty training readiness
Long pauses, staring in the mirror
Playgrounds and sandboxes
Making the most of every moment

Sunday, January 19, 2014

A cautionary tale

I have a cautionary tale for moms of babies with serious sleep issues. You might feel like CIO is wrong and you keep putting it off. You might dabble in it a few times and then quit partway throughout because you feel it isn't working properly. You might find other sleep crutches to help you along and they'll work for a while and you'll think all is well. And then your sleep problems will worsen and you'll end up with a one year old who wants to nurse 5-6 times per night, who wakes after only 2-3 hours, who takes an hour or more to fall asleep at night and wakes up before 6 AM for the day even though he's still tired.

In my quest to be sensitive to my child's needs I became permissive to all of his wants too. Now I have to start over again. It's going to suck. I wanted to share this because it was very hard for me to distinguish which needs are most important. The need for a good nights sleep for you and your baby should be top priority. I focused a lot on his need to be close to me, maybe out of guilt from working, I don't know. What has resulted is  exhaustion on all sides, and I feel like I'm worsening as a mom because I am so tired and becoming resentful.

Maybe if I had a child that was a bit more of a natural good sleeper the other more gentle interventions I've tried would have worked by now. I was so convinced that staying next to his crib until he fell asleep was going to keep working. In comparison at the time he slept longer after I stayed with him than when he was alone.

I am starting sleep training again tonight. I dont know for sure what will happen. All I am advocating right now is to do what is best for your family and don't forget to take care of yourself too. Mothers tend to feel like they are invincible to the needs of human beings so long as their child is happy. But we are humab too. I don't think I reminded myself of that enough over the past year.