The Working Mom

The hard part about being a working parent I find is that you have to exist in two completely different worlds on a daily basis. There are two different sets of rules and two totally different people making the demands. It's the daily shift from professional to mommy that I find really hard. In fact, many days, its totally frustrating. There are so many very important responsibilities that I have at my job that involve lots of money, time and people. I am trusted to accomplish these things and my coworkers have a lot of faith in me to deliver. And I typically do deliver. Surely, this is proof that I have something resting between my two ears. Then I come home and find that the simplest of tasks as a mother leave me looking for the Cliff's Notes to this book called Mommyhood.

For instance, how is it that I spend my working days researching and checking facts to guarantee medical accuracy for my company, but I can't manage to cut more than two of Sam's fingernails a day? How have I reorganized spreadsheets, filing systems and work systems, but I can't seem to decide which combination of baby foods he should eat at each meal or a method to keep him from standing up in the bath tub? I spend my days working with customers, convincing them to invest in our product and my nights kicking myself because once again I stepped on the talking Baby Einstein mirror on the floor backing out of my almost sleeping baby's room. I then stand frozen in a dumbfounded trance of horror as the contraption, that by the way he never plays with, yells "blue hippo" or "red crab" followed by a giggle. That toy is laughing at me. I know it is.

While we're at it, I missed the part of the parent policy manual that explained in detail how cleaning out ears and changing diapers was realistically supposed to happen after 7 months old when they are wiggling out of your grasp constantly. At work, when I'm not on top of things, I throw out buzz words like "reworking" "mutually beneficial" and "maximum impact" in order to buy more time. When things fall apart at home, I'm throwing finger puffs and baby mum mums as a peace offering to compensate for torturing my child when his head gets stuck in the head hole of his shirt and he can't see for five seconds (by the way - Why does that make me feel so guilty? I'm not suffocating him on purpose).

Now, I have no experience as a stay at home mom, so please don't judge me on these thoughts. I would imagine there are some real benefits to having grown up time during the day. I have no idea how you women stay home all day in this bubble of incompetance with the constant feeling that once you figure it will change. Hats off to you ladies. Some mornings I feel like looking at Sam, who is usually objecting to something I've done to him, and saying, "You do realize I have a college degree don't you? I mean, someone thought I was intelligent at some point." Of course Sam will no doubt answer with the usual grits filled raspberry that will force me back into the bedroom to find something professional to wear that isn't christened by Quaker Oats.

Here's to my working mommy friends!

See How Funny Daddies Can Be!

A Boy and His UGA

Let's talk football for a moment, shall we? I know what you are thinking..."Rachel, I'm back here on my computer so I can AVOID the football that my husband is currently watching." Well never fear, I don't want to debate whether Michael Vick is sorry, nor do I want to discuss if Brett Favre was wronged, and, no, I don't even care how any of the teams are going to do this year (just like last year, and the year before that). The running joke in my house right now happens to surround football. That is why we are discussing it.

The only thing in our entire house that my son has ever been afraid of is a small statue of UGA (that's the bulldog mascot for University of Georgia). Several times, the sight of the bulldog has sent Sam into hysterical tears that can't be easily stopped. It is they type of meltdown that is both heartbreaking and amusing. Sam just doesn't like the looks of UGA. Now, Andy is a huge UGA football fan and I find this fact more than just amusing...I think it is hysterical. I've long been ridiculed by my husband for spending my first freshman year (had a couple of those, folks) at the University of Tennessee, which is home to Smoky the dog and the only college fight song with the word "moonshine" in it. I even get some lame excuse when I confront Andy with the fact I have more right for team loyalty since Andy never darkened the doors of UGA as a student and I at least had the good sense to be a UT dropout before going to a non football school and graduating (nope folks, the bookshop sure doesn't make a t-shirt that says, "Proud UT dropout", I've checked).

I have no earthly idea why Sam chose to be deathly afraid of this little statue, but he reacts to it in such a way that you would think he was staring into the face of pure evil. What does pure evil look like to a nine month old...apparently an English Bulldog. Well, recently we have had a breakthrough of the little boy to fake dog kind. Sam has summoned up the courage on several occasions to pet UGA on the face. I believe these are small steps to a bigger pact of peace and mutual respect that will make Andy and his family happy and, unfortunately, send me looking for something else to torment my husband about. I am happy for both boy and dog and here is the proof of their commitment to getting along.

In light of the most recent UGA's passing, please don't hold the last picture against me. In Sam's zeal to "pet" the dog...he tipped UGA over. I like UGA and all his football glory just fine...I just don't want to have to watch the games. I'd like to dedicate Sam's peace treaty with UGA to Andy's recently passed grandfather who was the biggest UGA fan of all. I sure am glad we didn't have to purchase a yellow jacket statue to protect Sam at night!

The Art of the Distraction

In the midst of a long afternoon with my learning, growing, thinking and boundary testing little one, I find myself perfecting the art of the distraction. In the kitchen trying to cook dinner with a Little Binky at your feet? I find a box of jello and a spatula is the perfect distraction for about 10 minutes. I could tell you that the childproof bottle of prenatal vitamins (from pregnancy past) will only distract him for two minutes. The reason? Who knows. Who knows why a tubberware lid can be an afternoon of fun, but rolling a can of soup on the floor is a big let down and quickly forgotten for pulling up on the refrigerator. I find myself grabbing items in various rooms, doing a quick "breakage and swallow check" and throwing it on the floor for the Binky to explore. A cd case and Andy's old college calculator let me type an entire email the other day. I'm not sure this knowledge is going to win me any money on a game show. I'm quite certain Alex has better questions to ask on Jeopardy.

I do think, however, when it comes to the art of the distraction, if you think you are going to accomplish the amnesia for the off limits items that you were hoping are wrong. They remember the phone cord is still there, they remember that the bottle of body wash is sitting beside the tub, they remember the ice bucket in the dining room, the vaccuum cleaner, the step ladder, the pantry, your flip flops, the lamp, the broom and most importantly, they remember that elusive remote control. They are waiting, humoring you by shaking the childproof nasal spray and Advil while you wash a dish. It will be nano-seconds before they make a break for the only objects in the house that will truly make them happy and add more gray hairs to your head.

Sometimes I look at Sam and think it would be so much easier if I stocked his room with the bread knives, my necklaces, empty cans, full cups, dinner plates and the Sony Playstation. I wonder if I made these things accessible and took the mystery out of them...would Sam make a break and go for (gulp) one of his own toys? If I hid his tool box behind the door in the man lounge where the ironing board used to be...would I catch him off guard, naughtily playing with something made by Fisher Price instead of Black and Decker? I doubt it, but some days I do wonder.

The light of our life, our Little Binky is 9 months, and what a long strange journey it has been thus far. Although not officially walking, he is standing alone and as Andy calls it "dropping it like it's hot" or squatting (actually Snoop coined that phrase). He is pure joy to be around. I love that when I say, "I'm gonna get you!" He laughs and tries to "escape". I love that he knows how to play peekaboo with his daddy. I love that we wave to the "baby in the mirror" every night before we go to bed. I love that after his last bottle, he takes his binky and leans back on my chest before bed. I love his big kisses (which feel more like a hair pulling bite on the cheek). I love this new world that is filled with the uncertainty of being a new parent and the honor that is being Sam's parent. Every day is a bigger joy, every day we see a new smile, a new look and a new discovery. Some are patience builders but most are joyous, precious and remind us that there is a bigger picture to our life with Sam.

In closing, I want to say Happy Birthday to Sam's 2nd cousin, Miss Gillian Grace, and his friend, Miss Ellie Cate. Welcome to the world, ladies! Parents - Many blessings on your new arrivals. After you get some sleep you will wonder how you tolerated a world so dark because the light of your lives has just arrived!
Much Love,
Sam's Mom

A story that has nothing to do with Sam

Some of you may know I used to work at an assisted living facility. This story is about some of those women...It is entirely true and any profanity was straight from the mouths of these to speak.

As a unique new activity, I decided that I wanted to do something that would allow the residents to focus on the needs of others. I wanted to create a real "Chicken Soup for the Soul" afternoon. Something that people would send email forwards about long into the that they could forward them on to others, so that they might win a trip to Disney World if they forwarded it to twelve more people in the next five minutes. Thus, I came up with the Encouragement Circle. I gathered all my residents around in a circle in the library. There was Gertie, a bit confused...(oh who am I kidding, they're all a bit confused)but still had a dry wit that I think was more a result of her dementia than anything else; Elyce, the loud-mouthed northerner who had outlived three husbands and whose dying wish was to have sex one last time before she died (I’m not making this up, trust me, I wish I were); Shirley, never married but traveled the world over, a bit of a know-it-all; Dorothy, a woman whose greatest accomplishment was raising the twins that never came to visit; Ms. Clyde, a retired teacher, who was once valedictorian of her class, but now couldn't remember when lunch was; Dr. Bob, Parkinson’s disease...ex pediatric cardiologist...couldn't remember your name, but could diagnose pulmonary edema using a fork and some thread.

I looked around at the skeptic faces. Many people think that the elderly are so grateful for anything they get that they sit around in utter appreciation for any little tidbit of attention you give them. Well, quite frankly, this is not always the case. They expect a are there for their amusement. They feel the need to ask you a lot of embarrassing questions about you and your boyfriend and why you have gained five pounds since you've been working there, when you needed to lose weight to begin with...stuff I wouldn't tell my diary.

On this day, I thought my activity would go over well. I decided that I would begin the encouragement. "Well, I would just like to say that I think Gertie has a delightful, dry sense of humor and I love the way she laughs." Everyone just looked at me, Elyce squinted her eyes in disgust. Okay...I took in the silence...I guess they didn't understand the game. Gertie just looked at me like I'd gone mad...not only did she not appreciate my compliment but she almost looked offended that I chose to point her out first. "Okay," I thought repeating myself would be a good idea...turns out it wasn't. "Gertie is such a delightful person." "No, she's not!" Elyce's tone indicated that my compliment was I had just said that Osama Bin Laden had a real sensitive side or something. "She's not delightful...she's a pain in my ass." Elyce was yelling now. "Is that so?" Gertie's voice never elevated to match Elyce's...she merely sniffed and stated, "Well at least I didn't kill three husbands." Clearly this was not going the way I had hoped. "I didn't kill them...they all just died 20 years after we were married." "Well," added Shirley who never liked Elyce to begin with. "If I had been your husband, I would have made sure to die after five years." "Well, at least you would have been married you old maid." Elyce was taking on these two women single handedly.

At this point, I was quite sure that my "activity" was headed toward an episode of "Cops" rather than a "Chicken Soup" edition. "Well.." a small voice spoke up...poor Ms. Clyde...she was trying to make peace. "I like the Doctor..." We all looked at Dr. Bob who, in spite of the post menopausal estrogen fight, was dozing happily in his chair...his eyes had opened at the mention of his name..."He's very cooperative..." Ms. Clyde was smiling as she repeated her encouragement. "He doesn't have a choice...he lives in a house with a bunch of women." Elyce was hell bent on shooting everyone down. All the ladies were bickering now...It was all just indistinguishable chatter. I could hear the sound of a private duty aide laughing in the next room. "LOOK" I said standing up in defiant command. "This is an encouragement circle...and if we are not going to be encouraging...fine, but there is absolutely NO YELLING IN THE ENCOURAGEMENT CIRCLE...YOU GET IT! NONE!" Everyone looked at me..."What the hell are you mad at...this was your idea!"

Will I Ever Understand it All?

I wish my Sam could talk. I have quite a few questions for the little guy that I would like answers to. Most notably would the be the answer to the question I ask him about ten times a day. Are you really choking, Sam? I wish my Sam could talk. I would tell him about a little story called, The Boy Who Cried Wolf. I wonder if my Sam could talk, would he get the point I'm trying to make with that particular story?

And Sam, while we're at it, what IS it about the remote control? Does it taste like chocolate?

Why do you insist on chewing on your high chair with a mouthful of Oatmeal and Bananas? Am I not doing enough cleaning?

What is the appeal of flipping over on your changing table while I'm trying to change your diaper? When have we ever taken off a dirty diaper and not put a clean one back on?

Why do some people make you cry while others make you bat those baby blues? Are they promising you money? Extra bottles?

Who do you think I'm making the bottle for when you're pitching a fit on the kitchen floor. No one else here drinks

What is so funny?

Are you really that mad that I won't let you have my camera to chew on? Is this the hill you want to die for?

Why do you insist on putting all of the finger puffs in your mouth at once? Does someone come and steal them when I'm not looking?

Why do you chew on your sippy cup instead of drinking out of it? Do you realize the pressure I'm under at the pediatrician to tell her that you've mastered that?

I also wish, sometimes, I could read those thoughts he must have. The ones that probably say things like, "When mommy turns her head, I'm heading straight for the vaccuum cleaner again...that's where I hid the secret plans to the X300G Black Wing Speed Fighter Turbo Jet which will change the way we fly forever." and of course, "Why does mommy keep making that face and saying, ba? Sometimes her intellectually inept way of communicating with me is vexing." Ah, kids - they think the darndest things.

Later, gotta go read a little mind now.
Sam's mommy

You Learn as you Go...a.k.a. Winging Mommyhood!

So in the past few months, a lot of things that I was told to expect have most certainly come to fruition. I have been peed on, spit up on, there was a crib escape attempt involving a certain Pottery Barn bumper and mostly, everytime I get comfortable in general...something changes. I was forewarned about these events and therefore they are managable. In the midst of the accurate, not so psychic predictions, there have been a number of things, however, that I most certainly did not know before having a baby. In fact, I was only made aware of these situations as they have happened to one chubby, roundfaced child of mine named Sam. I've spent a lot of time wondering if it was normal, if other mothers struggled with these things, or if indeed my child was special for reasons that aren't so spectacular. I wanted to list a few so that the next time I'm in the Walmart with another new mom, I can remember to ask if this has happened to her bundle of joy as well.

Costume Changes. I did not realize that putting on clothes was so traumatic for children. The shirt over the head...not so bad. The arms...what is it about the arms that makes my child scream like he's being cattle branded? There are days I feel like I should put a sign in the yard, "Shirt change...please don't call the cops." I've seen Sam go from a standing position, fall back and hit his head on the bars of his crib, which incidentally made me want to cry, and that did not elicit the reaction that having his "W" is for Whale outfit put on him before church seems to.

Baby food in the eyes. Why have I not predicted this situation? Babies get messy when eating, eating happens around bedtime, bedtime makes Sam rub his eyes. It is clearly a recipe for disaster (pun intended)...but it took the actual experience to make me realize we needed a chemistry lab type emergency eye washer installed in his high chair for such situations. As if wiping his mouth wasn't tricky enough and the fact that he already has territory issues with anything that is in his nose, I now have to delicately get the Stage 3 lasagna out of the corner of his eye whilst he is screaming and fighting? Why did I not see a kit for this by Johnson and Johnson when I was registering?

Pediatric Cross Examination. Which exact noises is he making now? Was I supposed to be taking note of this? I can remember the first few visits to the doctor, and she asked me specifically what noises he was making. I don't know? There were some "M's" and some "Th's" involved though. Let's put it this way...he made some noises. He didn't say the alphabet, he didn't recite the Gettysburg address and he didn't say my name. When he makes a recognizable sound I'll alert you, but for right now, we know he's not mute, so please don't make me recite the exact vowels he has used while chewing on "Roo", because I don't remember them.

The meltdown Clock. Apparently, everyone has nature's clock. For women it is the biological one, for men it's the one synchronized with football season and for has to be the meltdown clock. I don't know where Sam is hiding it, because I would love to get my hands on it, but one minute, in aisle 8 of Walmart...he's flirting with the lady looking at Cheerios and then suddenly, aisle 9 just pushes him over the very short edge of life and his mommy is looking for the nearest exit sign. There's no "yellow light" with the meltdown clock. It's green to red, it's 0 to 60. There is no warning and often no rhyme or reason to it's just is. You can have the sweetest baby in the world but one sideways glance from a stranger at Kohls and you have to call it a day or carry a screaming baby around for the rest of your errand list.

So there you have it...the things I have learned on my own. I'm sure it is a few in an ever growing list that is called life with children. I am up for the challenge and embracing the experience...I wouldn't have it any other way!

Shirt changing time, don't call the cops!

Sam's mommy