Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Life on the Move: Finding Child Care in a New City

Life on the Move: Finding Child Care in a New City

Click on the link above to read my thoughts on finding childcare in a new city!

I'm happy to report that we're three days in with the boys' new nanny and so far things are going well!  I feel better about working full time now that all the question marks about our new childcare have been taken care of.  

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Our Two Lawyer Marriage

Only three days into the reboot of our two career household and the bickering and side-eye rolls have begun. I hate that this is the reality, but it is. Don't read anything into this, or take it the wrong way. To be clear, our marriage is solid. We're deeply in love and neither of us is going anywhere. But that doesn't change the fact that marriage is hard and requires work. As into this man as I am, we're not Mr. and Mrs. Sunshine every day. So let's not pretend we are.

I think this is at the front of my attention because we've just had a shift in dynamics.  For almost two months, he has worked full time and I have stayed at home with the kids. My sole responsibility has been caring for our children (a full time job, for sure) and tending to our house. There were no legal clients for me to worry about, or a long to-do list of work and home that pulled me in different directions.

Just the kids and home. This included the grocery shopping, the cooking, the cleaning and the organizing. We never had a conversation delegating these tasks to me, it just happened. I could go to Kroger at 11am on Tuesday, while a full time 9-5er could not. I could start dinner at 4:30 and have whatever culinary creation I was up to making plated by 5:30. We even had time to play outside or go for a family walk before the baby's 6:30 bedtime rolled around. The bathrooms got wiped down during nap time and the washing machine was constantly running. And while I am about as far from a domestic goddess as one can get, I had no resentment towards my husband for having to do all these things. It honestly didn't cross my mind that he should be doing them. I took it on as my job.  Simple as that.

But then I went back to work full time. And the rushing and the feeling of never enough time is back. I hate that feeling. And suddenly I find myself jumping down my husband's throat for no reason at all.  And the poor man doesn't really have a chance. He asks what he can do to help with dinner, but I snap that I've got it, when I could really use a hand setting the table or chopping some vegetables. I am cold to him when our baby wants his dada and refuses to come to momma, as if this daddy stage is something he has caused. Yet I see the sadness on his face as he's rocking our boy before bed because his wife has tears in her eyes over something he has no control over. I feel like his questions about the nanny are accusations of things I'm clearly screwing up. I blame him for not letting the dog out in the morning which resulted in an accident and then nitpicked his use of the steam cleaner to clean the carpets.  I think you get the point.

There must be a connection between the uptick in disagreements and the reemergence of my job. When both spouses are working outside the home (and you have children), no one is really off the clock until the kids are in bed. You leave your office job and you come home and have to do all the home things. You have to cook dinner, clean the house AND spend quality time with the kids, when you're all tired and cranky after having had a full day already. It's clearly a recipe for disaster (at least for us).  And left unchecked for too long, I can see how the wheels can fall off a marriage over time.

So what to do? For me, the first thing is to apologize and admit that I'm a massive part of the problem. (Ok, so maybe I am the problem. Maybe.) And then I need to prioritize. What's important? For me, my discontentment is coming from feeling like I have no time with my boys now that I'm working again. Going from all day with them to just a few hours, is a stark difference. But if I'm going to continue with all this honesty, I'll admit that all day with two small children (especially in a town where you don't know anyone), is hard and lonely. Sure I had large quantities of time with my boys, but the quality was less than I'd like to admit. I took for granted the time with them. I didn't plan our days, I turned on the TV and I wasn't a "yes" mom who did tons (or any) of creative, educational, Pinterest-inspired activities. But now that I'm having to cram my time with them into a few short hours, I feel saddened and defeated. It's as though I've accepted that it's not enough time, so why even try? (Ugh, I hate realizing these things about myself!)  And why I take this out on the husband, I have no idea. My working is not something he pushed for - he is supportive of my career, but he is 100% on board with a full shift if that's what I decide at any given time I want.

So how do I spend the quality time with the boys in just a few short hours, while needing to also cook dinner, bathe them and tend to the home? For one, I can stop making dinner such a production. I think I worry too much about what I'm serving rather than focusing on who I'm breaking bread with! Family dinner should be more about the family than the dinner.  And then I need to give my boys my undivided attention - that means turning off the cell phone.  But that also means turning off the mental to-do list and setting aside anything that doesn't involve the boys. The dishes can be done after 7:45, but my boys can't stay up until then, so they dishes can wait.  Also, I can accept help when it is offered and set aside my criticism over the way the help is delivered. My way is not the only way.

I know it is going to take us some time to get used to my working again. I know I'll get used to my job and we'll find a new routine and a rhythm that works for all four of us. I also know when I'm in the wrong and when an apology is owed.  So love, this one's for you. I'm sorry I've been such a miserable wife the past day or two. I've obviously got some things to work on....

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

SAHM No More

My ten weeks of being a full time stay-at-home mommy came to an abrupt end today. Well, not exactly abrupt. I knew it was coming. But it felt abrupt. Yesterday I was mommy. That was my only hat. Today I stepped back into my lawyer heels and kissed my babies goodbye and it was hard and strange and felt kind of wrong, but also kind of right. I can't decide how I really feel about it.  I think it's still too new.

I don't like to write about work too often. It's in bad form, or something like that. But the reader's digest version of my work story is this. I took a leave of absence from my job at the end of July so I could move and get settled here in Macon. Then the plan was to start back part time from home, but continue with my same job and same clients, just 100% telecommuting and only part time. And then a weird thing happened - my firm was approached about an opportunity in Macon. A company (a firm client, just not a client I had worked for before) needed a loaner lawyer (there is actually a word for this arrangement: "secondment", who knew!) while they had a hiring freeze. One thing lead to another and as of today, I'm working full time in this company's office - I'm still employed by my firm, but my only client is this company. So I am sort of an in-house counsel, just being paid by my firm who in turn bills the client for my time.  It's all very strange.

So I'm learning a new job. I have a new "boss" who is also technically my client and I don't exactly know how this is going to work and how I'm supposed to act. I miss my co-works from my firm - I had two really good friends at work and I loved seeing them every day. But my 5 minute commute (yes, really!) is pretty incredible and the company is great as well.

My in-laws are here watching Julian this week and then our new nanny will start next week (we finally found someone, I don't think I mentioned that yet). I really like her and have high hopes for a great relationship, but I'm still nervous. She'll watch J all day and she'll watch both boys when Lukas gets out of school mid-afternoon. Thankfully Lukas seems to be loving his new preschool and is making friends. He's yet to say he doesn't want to go in the morning. He also seemed totally fine with mommy going back to work today. And Julian was happy to see me when I got home (although his happy screams of "DADA, dada" upon seeing me were kind of offputting...we think dada might just be his choice word when excited, or maybe I'm totally deluding myself).

I missed the boys while I was at work today, but not in the way you miss a 14 week old infant when you go back to work after maternity leave.  I missed them in the way that you miss anyone you love when you're away from them. Does that make sense?  I'm hoping that the very short commute and my work schedule (the plan is 8-4:30) will give me the best of both worlds - I continue lawyering and providing for my family (the 66% family income decrease was not easy, especially when you take into account the major student loans we both still have) and I get home earlier than I did in Atlanta and can use the extra time to focus on Quality time with the boys (yes, I capitalized the q). I plan on instituting a phone free zone from the moment I get home from work until both boys are in bed to help ramp up the quality.

I know today was just day 1.  And I know that my job is yet another change in a laundry list of changes going on in our house (with the new nanny being yet another change), so I need to be patient. I just sort of had hoped I'd come home today feeling either elated to be back at work and loving the "new" job or feeling totally miserable and heartbroken about being away from the boys. But I ended up somewhere in between.  And so continues my rollercoaster ride of being a working mom.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Saying Yes

So it is one thing to say you want to get out there.  It's another thing entirely to actually get out there. And I realized this morning that I am very scared to get out there.  Even though I don't have hardly any friends here and I sit in my house alone most days with the boys, I am still nervous to put myself out there.

This morning my across the street neighbor (the one who brought the cinnamon rolls and who has kids practically the same age as mine) texted me to see if I wanted to meet her and some friends for an early lunch at Chik-fil-A so the kids could play.  My initial reaction: How kind of her to think of me. My second reaction: Terror.  I'm not sure why exactly, she's super nice and friendly and was extending an invitation that I desperately need and want.  And yet rather than replying, Awesome, I'll see you there! I came up with an excuse not to go.  I'd love to, but I just got back from walking and I'm in workout clothes and unshowered, I doubt anyone would want to socialize with me like this!  (Mind you, I only had 20 minutes before the playdate so there was no time to shower).  Luckily for me, she didn't let me off that easy.  She said she'd be wearing the same thing, was unshowered, but would splurge for deodorant if it'd make me feel better, and that this was the life of a mom!

So I went. Unshowered and in yoga pants.

And it turns out she wasn't just meeting one friend, she was meeting 3 friends and their kiddos!  And I had a great time. It was nice to talk to other moms! I forget that you immediately have a connection with other moms and always have something to talk about: parenting and the kids! There are no awkward pauses wondering what to talk about. If all else fails, you just talk about the kids, but it never fails because you're always talking about the kids or being a mom in one way or another.  And that is the great thing about being a mom and meeting other moms.  Also, I have no problem talking to people I don't know - the conversation always flows, so I'm not sure why I have the paralysis when it comes to just getting out the door.

I'm glad I said yes, even if my initial response was more no than yes.  I'm glad I have a neighbor who more likely than not (hopefully anyway!) will become a friend and not just a neighbor. She and one of her friends acknowledged that they've heard it was really hard to move to Macon and not know anyone (apparently making friends in a small town can be difficult....), so they wanted to help out in any way they could.  And to top it off, I have the name of another daycare in town that I'm going to call and a potential nanny contact.  Plus all these girls go to the same church, so I'm thinking we have found the next church to check out here in town.

So things are good. I just need to say yes more often.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Successful 1st Day!

Lukas' first day of preschool at his new school went GREAT yesterday! He wasn't too chatty about his day, but he was eager to go back this morning and he was smiling when I picked him up yesterday afternoon, so that is enough to tell me he had a good day.

Carpool was a breeze - the assistant teacher (who he'd never met before) got him out of the car and he barely gave me a "bye mom" before running off with her to his class!  I was a little teary, but luckily I had the J man to keep me occupied all day.  (And while we're on the subject - it was so quiet with only one child at the house!  I didn't realize how used to the noise I had gotten.  I think Julian missed his big brother, but I also think he loved the one on one time with momma.)

When I picked Lukas up he was clearly tired - his voice was a little hoarse - he must've talked all day long!  He told me he had fun and that they had diggers on the playground.  He ate all his lunch and may or may not have napped (he kept changing his story on that one).  His teacher told me he's a great addition to the class, so all in all, I'm calling this a success!  We'll see how day 2 goes when I pick him up in a few hours...

Julian and I checked out a local daycare yesterday as it is looking like I'll begin working again next week.  The daycare did not live up to my standards and they didn't have any space for his age anyway, so that's off the list.  Which leads us to a nanny.  I just have very mixed emotions about a nanny.  On the one hand, I like that J will be in our house and will have one on one attention.  But on the other hand, I have to put my trust in a virtual stranger with my precious little guy.  How do you know who is genuinely good and will love your child and take care of him the way you intend?  How do you know they are not leaving him to cry for hours on end in his crib?  How do you know he is OK every day all day alone with one person?  I am just having serious issues wrapping my head around leaving him with a nanny.  At least with daycare there are multiple people checking in on your child and there is accountability at every corner.  With a nanny, you just have to trust.  I'm having a really hard time with that.

And speaking of J, he's calling my name....

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Life on the Move: Coping with Change

Life on the Move: Coping with Change

Check out my article (link above) on 360 Parenting for some more thoughts on the move.

And for another quickie update: it's the night before Lukas starts his first day of preschool at his new school here in Macon.  I'm much more nervous than he is!!! He seems excited about making friends and seeing his new teacher again.  I'm a ball of nerves.  I found his Primrose backpack which has a bear on it and got all nervous asking the husband if it was ok. I think my exact words were "will the other kids make fun of him for having a bear on his bag."  Husband looked at me liked I'd lost it (note: I have) and said, "NO, there will probably be a handful who think the bear is super cool"!  I mean, he is 3 years old. It's a bear.  I'm an idiot.

I just worry how he'll do tomorrow.  It's all so new.  New school. New teacher. New friends. This school even has carpool, which is new for us - so I'll drive up and a teacher will take him out of the car.  They say the kids do best if you start carpool from day 1, but I'm freaking out about it. I KNOW he will be fine. I know he'll be great. My momma bear protective instincts are just raging. I just hope he loves it!

And lets not even talk about little man J.  I'm in the midst of trying to find care for him (he can't start at Lukas' school until he is 18 months old, which isn't until January).  So we're interviewing nannies and I'm going to check out a local daycare tomorrow.  While I'm nervous about Lukas starting somewhere new tomorrow, I'm not worried. I am, however, a wreck thinking about leaving Julian with a nanny or at a daycare that I'm not 125% comfortable with.  Unfortunately, Primrose set such a high standard that I know I'll have a hard time being comfortable with anyone or anywhere else until Julian can talk to me and tell me how his day was, which is a long way off given the fact that he is only 15 months old. I'm thinking a nanny cam may be in order if we end up going the nanny route.

But for now, here's hoping Lukas loves his new school!