Friday, February 27, 2009

Thwarted Again

I'm trying, unsucessfully, the get my oldest child potty trained. So, I thought it'd be a great idea if I got his 3-yo cousin Leo to tell him how fun it is to use the potty yesterday.

Leo (at my urging): "Hey Liam, it's a lot of fun to use the potty!"

Liam: "Yeah! And it's awful fun to eat cookies!"

Damn.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Confession Session: The Day I Killed a Fish

I'm going to start a new feature: Confession Session Wednesday. It's time to stop giving this blog lip service, and actually demonstrate all my, um, imperfectness. And trust me, there's a lot of it. So, for better or for worse, I'm going to lay it all out there. (Well, okay, maybe not all of it!)

***
I don't remember exactly when it happened. I do know I was in college, and Nate and I were together, so I'm going to guess 2003. I also don't remember why we stopped at the local PetSmart that night, perhaps it was just boredom.

While Nate was off looking for something of importance, I was mesmerized with the fish. Not so much because of their brilliant color or shapes, no I was enamored with the tanks full of minnows who were surly destined to be some other creature's lunch.

Enamored because I discovered that these gaggles of fish were skittish, and I could flick my hands and them and they'd all swim away together. Except they couldn't swim anywhere and that made it all the funnier, because they'd just all squeeze momentarily against the back of the tank. Hundreds of them in unison.

But finally, I flicked my hands and they all tried to swim away, away to no where, and instead they flew toward the top and out popped a fish! Right at my head!

And, I didn't know what to do. I squealed. And I backed away. And I was too afraid to touch it. And I called for Nate. He did his best to scoop it up, but by that time it was too late. The poor little minnow was gone.

And that's how I killed murdered a fish at PetSmart.

But, before you go railing on me, know that I was sincerely sorry, and I've rarely shared this story since because I was so ashamed. And, most importantly of all, I've never flicked my hands at a gaggle of fish confined in a tank since. So there.
***
Stay tuned for next week's Confession Session Wednesday; I'm going to share a story that almost no one knows, because I've been too embarassed to tell.

Also, I invite all of my blogging buddies to join in Confession Session Wednesday, I can't possibly be the only one out there with stories to tell!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Mommy Wars

There is this girl. I met her on craigstlist, after hastily deciding not to send my first born to the daycare I'd been planning on for months. She and I had many similarities. We lived in the same town, we got married and had kids at close to the same age, we both had one son. But that's exactly where the similarities ended, because everything else amplified my personal, daily conflict. The one where I chose to work.

I knew, almost instantly, that she would be the perfect person to watch after my newborn three days a week. He would get personal attention there. She was skilled at looking after young children, and she seemed to genuinely care not just for, but about him. I really couldn't ask for more. And he did do very well in her care.

I still consider her to be my friend, but I doubt she realizes just how much knowing her has put my own life's trajectory in question. Of two differences I don't question. She is devoutly religious, while I am anything but. I believe in God, but I'm just not sure what kind of God, and I'm pretty sure I'll never know. That's just fine by me. She is also very conservative, and I am quite liberal. This, too, is just fine by me.

But it's the final difference that I grapple with everyday. She is a stay at home Mom (SAHM). She is there for her kids every single day. No matter what the day holds, rain, shine, happy kids, sad kids, trips to the library, or snuggles on the couch, she is just simply there. Soaking in every detail of their upbringing, not missing a second. To be clear, she is not the bane of my existence. She is more the metaphor for the struggle that so many Moms like me have. The struggle that has inspired a fervor of emotion on both sides of the debate. But, I'm here to tell you that my emotion is as much directed at those who resent my decision to work as it is at those who applaud it.

I've reminded myself a hundred times over, being a working mother is as much for my benefit as it is for my family's. I've told myself that I'm not cut out to be a SAHM. Staying at home during two different layoffs had all but driven me to the brink. I considered my career ambitions to be a strong part of my identity. And I've always firmly believed that I really can "have it all."

But I also backpedal on my convictions, almost daily. How on earth do I manage convince myself that I'm not cut out to stay at home with my kids? I maintain a warm, loving, and mostly even demeanor when my preschooler is begging me not to leave in the morning. Only to climb into my car and let the tears fall freely on the way to work. I study my infant's sleeping face when I lay him in his crib at night, knowing that he'll still be sleeping when I leave in the morning and I won't get to see him until the following evening.

It's gut wrenching, this struggle. The hard facts are that, at the moment, I couldn't afford to stay at home if I wanted to. But, I'm not so sure that I would if I could, and does that make me a ground breaking American woman, or does it make me a bad mother? I'd be proud to raise boys who understand that the woman's place is not necessarily in the home, but I have to constantly convince myself that I'm not doing long term damage in the process.

I realize now that this term 'Mommy Wars' is not so much about two groups of women tongue lashing each other for their personal decisions, most of us are far too civilized for such banter. Rather, it's about a personal war that so many mommy's have. I know I'm not alone when I say that.

Walking around any office, it's easy to see which co-workers have kids at home. They're the ones whispering into the phone to the caregiver, grasping for minute details of the day that would otherwise be lost. They're the ones spending too much time uploading and arranging pictures for their computer screensaver. They're the ones found occasionally gazing into space, yearning to be home. They're the ones with that look of guilt that just can't be cleanly wiped away. And, occasionally, they're the ones sneaking off to their car just to cry a little bit.

I don't need a working mother to tell me I'm doing the right thing, nor do I need a SAHM to tell me I should be home with my kids. Because this war? It's far more nasty when it's fought with yourself.

Monday, February 23, 2009

I Spy

I'm a stalker, by trade. As evidenced here.

So, naturally, I have a tendency to check my stats every so often. See how many people really care what I have to say. What part of the country they're coming from. You know the drill.

This morning, I was a little surprised to notice a disproportionate amount of hits coming from a babycenter.com group. And, when I click on the link I see that it is a group specifically for mommy's of twins born in October 2007 (clearly, I don't belong to this group, haha!). It's a closed group, so I have no idea what led these obviously wonderful ladies to by blog.

BUT, I did want to say "HI!" to this very specific community. And ask, you're not spilling obscenities about me, are you?

Happy Monday!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Confessions

It is time, I must profess. Time to set aside my embarrassment, and come clean with the truth. Because the truth shall set me free. Or so I've heard.

I have a confession to make. Revealing a truth obvious to many, but potentially hidden to others. I have an addiction. One known to bind my attention, and strip away my priorities. I have, at times, become a prisoner to my obsession. Spending countless hours toiling away at, and harping over the source of my grievance.

I'm speaking, of course, about Facebook.

It started innocent enough. I was even a late bloomer to Facebook because it didn't become popular until after I'd graduated college, long after my college e-mail address had expired. Meaning I was not allowed access. Then, one day, someone informed me that Facebook had changed all the rules, and now anyone could join.

Even then, I didn't care much for the application. Sure, I could keep in touch with friends, see what they were up to. Big deal.

Then, Facebook changed the rules again. They made these things called status updates front and center. And, suddenly, I was hooked. Because for some reason, the mundane things people confess to be doing from moment to moment are outrageously entertaining.

Suddenly I have found myself constantly thinking about what my next status update will be. Would people rather know that I overslept, or that I hate driving to work? Should I brag about my children, or rant about the weather? I find myself thinking in the third person, "Amanda would really like to throttle that obnoxious person over the cube wall." Inner thoughts, of course.

I even had a dream that the President was the grandfather of my children (it was unclear who's father he was) and we all got to spend the weekend at the White House. My biggest concern? How best to describe my good fortune on my Facebook status.

I take pictures in the context of how they will look on my Facebook page. And the last couple of parties I have been to featured Facebook as a major topic of conversation. A la, "Don't worry, I'm going to tag you in this picture!" And, "Hey, did you see what so-and-so said on their status?"

Even as I confess to my addition, I can be found continuously clicking back to the source. Checking and rechecking for new status updates or photos. Needing to know if someone has big news, or if they ate a bagel for breakfast.

I must be honest however, the Facebook addition isn't so bad. It allows me to keep my family updated on the insignificant details of my children's growth. I've rekindled friendships I might not otherwise have. Found old friends. Discovered new and interesting things about people, the context of which may never have come up (re: 25 things). For those things, I find it to be a worthwhile, if not always productive, use of my time. So I'll keep toiling away, and probably obsessing. It's the Facebook way.

Amanda is thinking that Facebook is freakin' awesome. There, I said it.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Boring and Loving It

You could say, I've been a little absent in the blogosphere recently. It's not that I don't love you anymore, I do. But, for lack of any better excuse, I just don't have much to say.

For me, this is the most glorious place I could ever imagine to be. This place without words. Because that means that my life is boring. And lest you think that boring is a bad thing, let me give you a little timeline of the last, oh, nearly five years.

2004

  • June: Married my best friend.
  • July: Moved.
  • December: Finished my Bachelor's degree.

2005

  • March: Began my first post-collegiate job.
  • July: Discovered the impending arrival of my first born child, Liam. Not more than 3 weeks after the glorious benefits kicked in from starting that first post-collegiate job. Now that's efficiency.
  • November: Bought a house. Moved.

2006

  • April: Welcomed Liam's arrival.
  • July: Left that first post-collegiate job for a better opportunity.
  • November: Became the first victim of the housing collapse and lost my "better opportunity."

2007

  • January: Found a new job...that's post-collegiate job #3 for those playing along.
  • February: Got a new dog, a companion for first born dog Maggie. (We thought she was lonely.)
  • March: Made the decision, with my husband, to move closer to his family in Minnesota.
  • May: Found post-collegiate job #4 in Minneapolis, and moved. Leaving the house (re: 2005) on the market.
  • March-November: Tried unsuccessfully to sell the Colorado house.
  • November: Became a landlord.
  • December: Finally moved into more permanent residence in Minnesota.
  • December: Discovered the impending arrival of my second born child, Quinlan.

2008

  • March: Once again, laid off. This time from post-collegiate job #4.
  • June: Found post-collegiate (and current!) job #5. Despite being 30 weeks pregnant. Damn, I must be good at interviewing!
  • August: Welcomed Quinlan's arrival.

And there, ladies and germs, is where the hullabaloo ends. The last bit of crazy, turn-your-world-upside-down kind of excitement, was Quinlan's birth. Which was nearly six months ago. If you were paying attention, you would notice that we have a new record.

And for once, I feel so content. I've never been so pleased to lead a boring life. One where nothing changes. There is stability and comfort there.

So, I'm sorry to be so disappointing to my loyal blog readers lately. I search and search for interesting things to say. But interesting just doesn't come to me these days. Save for the things my two-year-old does on a daily basis, but that will only get me so far.

Rest assured, the first bit of interesting that comes my way will land here. In the mean time, I'll keep searching and searching.