Friday, July 5, 2013

Follow Our Journey!

Here is the link to my new blog:

http://exit-strip-mall-left.blogspot.com/

Since I've posted about a new blog a few months ago, I've changed the address, title and basically the entire premise of it. Instead of mostly random posts, the majority of my blog will be chronicling our journey from the suburbs to New York City, which will hopefully take place within the next few years.  I'll also blog more about food, breaking free of the mommy wardrobe, parenting, marriage, and who knows what else.

Come and follow our journey towards our new chapter in life!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Advice from a reluctant SAHM

"Sometimes I feel like someone is missing." Jason told me.

He was talking about our family; we had just both finished agreeing that though the first year after Ethan was born was incredibly difficult - we were so glad he was here. We agreed he "rounded us out". Three was a nice number - or so I thought. Jason seems to think we have one more child in our future.

I just looked at him. Then I said, "Hey, if you can find a way to carry the baby and be primary caregiver for a while - I'm on board".

And I meant it.

You know, I can't help but be a bit resentful sometimes. Not at him, but in general; how this society is set up for women - especially mothers.

Jason was pretty miserable the first year after Ethan was born - hell, pretty much after all of them. I was too. But, as soon as he went back to work, all was well and life was pretty much back to normal for him. How much has his life changed since we had kids? I actually asked him this one time, and he couldn't give me an answer.

Other than having 3 young children added to our family - not much.

His career is going pretty fucking well. He works in the city now - just like he always dreamed of doing as a child. He has a highly coveted and marketable skillset. He still has a social life completely outside of children. He never had a years long pause in his career - never had to put it on hold for anybody.

And what about me?

I have no career. I've been out of the workforce for 6 years now. Six. I am just starting school again, and even with that the kids dictate how fast I can bust through it because I am primary caregiver. Meanwhile he can go hobnob with the CEO and COO after work for coporate networking because of course I am home. I am always home. He can take as long at work and work as hard as he needs to without worry because again - Wifey is home! Yes, he is bettering our family by bettering his career - but that's what I am trying to do with school. And I cannot work on it head-on like I want to. I have no one home for me to pick up the slack; I have no housewife.

I have no social life at all outside of kids. No one wants or needs my expertise.  I am with the kids all day every day and I am at my wits end. I am done. Spent. Over it. I'm done putting my life on hold. Dammit, I want something for me and being a stay-at-home-mom and housewife is not it.

And the kicker? I "don't have a job" so I am not even contributing to my social security. No 401K. I can only get medical benefits through my employed husband. Fuck the USA and it's devaluing of caregiving. Fuck them right in the eye. I guess raising the next generation isn't worth much.

Now I know what "The invisible work of women" means.

So, yeah. Just felt like venting this morning. It was just a terrible morning. I am feeling like I'm coming down with something, Hannah started the day off with whining and crying like always, demands, demands, demands right from the start, teething toddler who literally cries while following me around the house. Constant fights. More whining. Screaming, crying, wiping snot and ass, cleaning, serving.

 And then I picture what Jason is doing at that moment; he's on the train, sitting with grown-ups who can handle themselves, enjoying a hot cup of coffee (one that doesn't end up being ice cold by the time he gets to finish it) while working on his computer or reading the newspaper for a hour. In peace. Hell - he can even sleep if he wants to.

It's just one of those days I guess.

Do I have regrets? Sure as hell do. I will give this advice to anyone that asks or even hints at it (especially my own daughter): Unless you know for sure that you want to be a SAHM until death, DO NOT - and I repeat - DO NOT have kids before you have a career, or at least your degree. As a woman you will get stuck staying home with the kids if you are not the breadwinner already. And even if you are the breadwinner or close to it - odds are if you and the father both want someone to stay home, IT WILL BE YOU, woman, because you are just that - a woman. You are the mother and you will have this maternal guilt tugging at your heartstrings. You will have society telling you that's what you should do, and if things are going perfectly at home (father has great paying job and you are financially set) - then dammit that's what you must do.  Do not leave yourself without options.

Just some advice from someone who has been there, done that, doing it.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Yes he's starting kindergarten; No I'm not sad

I was at the dentist's office the other day and the dental assistant and I were chatting like we usually do while waiting for the dentist to get started. She also has a 5 year old - a daughter - who is starting kindergarten this year.

"I'm so sad about her starting!" She tells me with this big puppy dog pout on her face, "I'm so worried. Are you?"

"No. I'm not. I'm happy about it, actually", I told her. Then I asked her why she was sad and worried.

She told me she is worrying how her daughter will be with the teachers, the other kids, worrying about how she will feel, how she'll be treated, etc.

I couldn't relate to that fully. Of course I wonder how Mason will like it, who will his friends be, how will he like his teachers and all of that jazz... but I am not worrying or preoccupied with it by any stretch. Mason can handle it. Why worry about it?

And why be so damn sad? It seems everywhere I go and all over my facebook feed, all soon-to-be mommies of kindergarteners are tearing up at just the thought of their "babies" starting their journey into school-hood. Why? Yes, they are growing, but isn't that a great thing? Isn't that something to be happy about and celebrated? Who cares if they are out of diapers and not saying "mama" with a toothless grin; They are still your son or daughter no matter what age. Not babies. But people. Children. Boys and girls. Men and women. Not your "babies". Why do parents always seem to swoon over babies/young children and almost resist them growing independent and not needing them as much anymore?

Personally, I can't wait for Mason to start (Tuesday the 28th!). This is an exciting new chapter is his life and I am also more than ready to embrace being a mother of a school-aged child. This is just another shift in our dynamic and we're taking it in stride.

Just 8 more days and that big yellow bus is stopping in front of our house for the first time. He's ready. I'm ready. We're all ready. Bring it on.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The weekend in photos

This weekend has been great so far - and it isn't even over yet. Here is our (partially over) weekend in photos.



Ethan has started walking! Finally! My back was starting to give out lugging his big behind all around.

  
A walk at the park.


 Exploring.




 




Earlier today we had another wonderful date night. The sitter came over and we had 4 whole hours together.



 And this was the best pasta I have ever had, courtesy of Toscana .

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

This. Sucks.

Jason's new job has done a lot of great things for our family so far. It is helping us pay for medical bills, pay for a sitter, and save a little. It has helped with being able to start our business and promises the future flexability of him working from home a few days a week. But, for the meantime... I hate his commute.

I really fucking hate it.

Yes, he hates it too. Even the kids do. He leaves before any of us get up and gets home sometimes after Ethan is in bed. He is gone for 13 hours on a good day. He misses the kids; they miss him. I miss him. He barely sees Ethan and it kills him. He never eats dinner with us; and when he does, it's too late and the kids are half asleep or already asleep. We cannot wait to put this damn house on the market and move.

Today though, I hate it even more.

A few weeks ago Jason called me on his way home; he was stuck at the train station (about a 30 minute drive) with no car keys because he had left them at work. He thought it was a good idea to put his desk keys onto the key chain with his car keys, and anyone that knows him - incredibly intelligent when it comes to computers and academics but not so much when it comes to common sense -  knows that was a terrible idea. So, he had taken his keys out of his backpack and forgot to put them back in.

Thankfully, our sitter was already here so she just stayed an extra hour and a half while I went to pick him up. I picked him up, he took my car to the train station the next day, and then on the weekend we all went to pick up his car. All was right with the world. Phew. Glad that was over and it worked out well.

Well, tonight, at 7 PM when he was supposed to be in the car on the way home, he calles me and tells me that, yet again, his car keys are on his desk. In Manhattan.

Now, at this point Ethan, who is terribly cranky and teething, was finally asleep. Mason and Hannah were winding down for bed. I was finally enjoying some quiet time with my laptop. Not to mention this is the second time he has done this. Needless to say I was quite annoyed.

I told him sorry but I couldn't get him this time; I didn't want to take the kids out and I did not want to be without a car tomorrow when the sitter was here - I have errands to run and I just need to get out. So we decided the best thing to do was either for him to take a taxi home or take the train back into the city to get his keys.

Then he tells me the taxi would be $140 round trip, whereas taking the train would be free because he already paid for his monthly passes. So, back to the city it was. This means by the time he sees the kids again, it will be just about 2 whole days. He saw them last night before bed at about 9PM, and he will not see them again until about 7:30 PM tomorrow. I had to tell Hannah and Mason that they wouldn't see daddy until tomorrow night... and Hannah started crying. My heart broke and I felt helpless and angry that we live so fucking far from his work. So, I called Jason and let him say goodnight to the kids and that made them feel better.  Jason though, he sounded like he was crying or was about too. He feels terrible about being away so much.

Now, to top this wonderful clusterfuck off, he calls me at about 10 PM and tells me he is stuck at Grand Central because there is some kind of "police activity" on 125th street and the cops are not letting any trains leave the station and they are not letting them know anything. So then I was Googling everything I can to find out what is going on, but nothing came up. So then I was worried to top it all off. About a half hour later he let me know he was finally on his way.

This day just sucked. It sucked from the beginning, and it will suck all the way to the end. And I don't even get to hang out with my best friend (married 12 years as of the 14th, BTW :) ) to end the night like usual. And I won't see him until tomorrow evening. I am so glad the sitter (who is awesome and the kids just love her!) is coming tomorrow (at 4:00 when the day is half over, but hey - I'll take it!). Living in this shithole of a town with no family nearby is lonely. I miss my husband. Looking back, I have no idea how I made it 4 years living here, raising young children on my own with no support system whatsoever, and for a while not even having a car during the day. It was hell at one point.

Hopefully Jason will be home in about an hour and a half, and maybe we will get to hang out for a little while before we both crash from pure exhaustion.

Tomorrow is a new day, right?


Monday, August 6, 2012

What to never say to a mother of young children

I was at the bank the other day with Mason, Hannah and Ethan in tow. I noticed an older lady admiring them with that nostalgic smile, so I smiled at her, just being friendly. She asks me how old they are. I tell her 1, 3 and 5. She replies,"Oh, I had three too, but they were all one year apart!"

I took a moment to imagine that and screamed silently.

She then adds the typical,"Well, I'm sure you've got your hands full."

I say, "Yes, I do".

Then she adds this gem,"Well, you think it's hard now, wait until they're older. Mine are 18, 19 and 20 now. This (points to my brood) is easy". She chuckles, which makes me want to punch those rose colored glasses right off of her face.

I ended up just smiling at the lady and said, "Oh no. Please don't say that. It's hard enough right now". But I didn't say it the way I wanted to; the way I should have said it.

What did I really want to say? This is what I really wanted - and should have - said.

So, your 18, 19 and 20 year old adult children are harder now? Really? In the physical sense, it's bullshit. Are you still wiping their asses? Bathing them? Carrying them from room to room? Do they follow you around the house screaming and crying? Do you have to constantly break up fights over building blocks?  Do you take them to restaurants and have a very hard time enjoying your meal without playing mediator and goaltender? Are you having to chauffeur them around town to endless activities and errands? Do you need to wrestle with carseats, carriers and strollers whenever you want to take even the smallest trips out? When having a conversation with someone are you constantly being interrupted, pulled on or jumped on?

What? Was that a no?

Okay. So maybe you meant the emotional aspect? Okay, let's see.

Are you unable to go to bed and sleep in when you want? Unable to have time to yourself regularly? To breathe? To relax? Do you have somebody insist on watching you while you take a shit or any other numerous bathroom tasks that are usually done in private? Do you need to make sure there is a babysitter in the house with them if god forbid you want to go out by yourself or with your spouse?

No to that too, eh? Oh, but what was that? Wait until they are teens and talking back, staying out too late, driving too fast, having sex, doing drugs, wanting money?

Okay. I can understand teens being difficult, but before we move on any further, please understand this troubled teen phase is commonly found in western cultures that infantilize young people for as long as humanly possible. Surprisingly (or not) this "troubled teen" hysteria isn't found in other cultures that are not inundated with TV media, constant social media and of course, the infantilizing. Though there are certain cultures (obviously the one I live in is one of them) that contain the perfect storm for the legendary miserable, turbulant teen years and is totally out of the hands of parents, I do believe that some parents do have a problem with infantilizing and letting go of their precious bay-bees which no doubt contribute to teen terrors. And then they cry foul, and try to "warn" parents like me.

That being said, regardless if my future teens are terrors or not,  I can assure you that I will be able to handle them better with a full night's sleep, less ass and nose wiping and much more me time than I get right now. We will get through it. I mean, I have no choice in the matter anyway, do I? Yes, we do live in the US, but no, teens do not scare me and I do not think raising them is going to push me into a dark corner, rocking back and forth.  In this culture I can see teens maybe being a little more difficult from a purely emotional perspective, but that's it.

But then they grow up anyway, right?

Saying your legally adult children are more difficult? I just can't wrap my head around that one. Someone, anyone please tell me how adult children are "harder" to parent than young children. Everything I have ever heard was,"They want money", "They are going away to college", "I can't fix their problems".

To that I say bring it on. I care about a lot of people. They all either want money, are going away to somewhere or are struggling. That's life. And when my children are grown they will also be other adults I care about (deeply) in life. I will help them when I can. I will be there when they need me (like, really need me, not the "but ma I know I shouldn't have spent that last $20 on bullshit but I did so can you spot me some dough until I get paid?" crap). I refuse to fret so much for nothing and fall into that stereotypical "but mother's always worry" bullshit.  What will worrying about how Junior is doing at college do for you besides increase your anxiety and blood pressure and take away from the joy in your own life? What will giving Junior another $20 do after he foolishly spent the last $20?

You're right. Nothing. It will accomplish absolutely nothing.

So, to all of you older folk who have independent adult children out in the world who like to say the "it gets harder" line to parents like me; I'd like to say I don't believe you. Of course children are never easy -  no matter what the age - but to say they get harder even when they have flown the nest? I call bullshit.

I'd like to say you are obviously wearing your rose colored glasses, reminiscing about your youth and your children when they were little and fat-cheeked and looked up to you like you were the only person in the whole wide world. They still piss you off, but now you don't get that added bonus of sloppy kisses and a tiny hand reaching out to you. Okay, I get that. You miss it. I will admittedly miss it too. But you know what I won't miss? Every single example that I posted above.  Do you think it's a coincidence that marital happiness increases after the children leave the house? I mean, c'mon. I would love to throw three tiny children in your house for, not a day or even a week, but a full month. Then I want you to (attempt to) go about your life as it was without these tiny children running around, demanding, whining, leeching energy and lifeblood from your veins. Good luck maintaining your leisure time, sex life (if there is one at this point) and overall intimacy with your partner that you had gained back after your kids left. I assure you that you'll miss it and want it back. The unrelenting drudgery of the early years that older people seem to forget whenever they see a cherub faced child in their proximity will soon flood back to you, and then let's see how you remember those early years. I bet you'd breathe a sigh of relief and shout victory once those three tiny children were out of the house again.

So stop it with the nostalgic crap; Nostalgia is always misleading and it definitely lies.

You probably think I don't know what I am talking about; that I have no older children so I am being naive blah, blah, blah. To that I say no, I am not being naive. Just realistic. I obviously don't have older children (yet), but I do have children and I do know my personality as an individual and as a parent.

Maybe you forgot what it was like to live life for yourself. Maybe you were one of those martyr types who lived life completely for and by your children and lost yourself in all of it, and when they didn't need you so much anymore you made their problems your problems. Maybe I am just one of those awful, selfish people but I for one cannot wait until they are out of here. I will love talking to them as adults; seeing how they have grown into the amazing people they will be, how their minds work, their personalities and their dreams. I can't wait for that. Yes, I am enjoying the now; their little hands and feet and kisses... but I will embrace the future too. And one thing I most definitely will not do is walk up to a tired mother of young children and say that it will only get harder from here.  Instead I will smile and tell her that her kids are adorable and yes, she will be able to take a shit in peace again someday.


Friday, July 27, 2012

Goodbye summer session

Last night I finished the last ever of my summer session coursework. I can't tell you how relieved I am. I took two summer courses in the first half of summer session, and it ended up being more work than I had anticipated. This really sucked because I didn't even have the added bonus of getting out of the house for a while.

So, goodbye and good riddance!

Our sitter was supposed to start on this past Wednesday, but she unfortunately had a family emergency. She will start next Tuesday instead. Our date night is also put on hold until next Saturday. Oh well.

I am being interrupted right now with the sound of my neighbors arguing. Again. Ahhh, my neighbors. I can't say I will miss them after we move. Think of every stereotype of trashy people - you know, the toothless, mullet-wearing winners with old cars in their lawn. Yeah, that type. So far the man has been in jail for bar fights, and domestic violence. Need I say more? I want to punch the asshole homeowner who rented to them.

Where was I?

Tomorrow Jason and I lug the kids to the bank to open our business account. We're getting down to the wire. So excited!