Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Only Constant in Life is Change

"We can no longer accomodate your current schedule. The company is making some exciting changes as a result of our growth. Unfortunately, telecommuting will no longer be an option. We would prefer if you could work full-time in the office 5 days per week but will accomodate at least 3 days per week in the office. If you choose to go part-time however, your health insurance, vacation/sick time, 401K and other benefits will be withdrawn."

I nodded in compliance, taking in each word and letting its meaning swirl around in my head. By the end of the meeting, the blabber began to resemble the incoherent voice of the teachers of the Pea.nuts comics. Wa Wah Wa Wah Wah Wah.

Although I was caught off-guard, I was not angry. I was not emotional. I was surprisingly at peace.

I have been struggling with balancing work and motherhood for months. Notably ever since the New Year with our company restructuring. My workload tripled from what it had been in 2008. Of course, my pay remained the same. While my job performance has not been lacking - I honestly work harder now than I ever have before - I spend most of my days feeling like a complete and utter failure. I sit Nate down on his playmat surrounded by a lovely array of toys, hoping that would make up for our lack of personal interaction while I worked on media plans and made phone calls. As he becomes more and more mobile, I am simply unable to give him the attention he craves. Case in point: one day, I put Nate down so I could free up both hands to work on a project with a tight deadline. I peeked out of my peripheral vision as he rolled across the floor over to my pump bag. I saw he was sucking on the strap. I didn't think much of it and continued hammering out my proposal. Another minute passed and I looked up to find him chewing the cardboard box of zwieback toast that had fallen out of the bag. I rushed over to find pieces of cardboard scattered on the carpet. I checked his mouth and did not see any remnants but that incident forever haunts me as one of my many "bad momma" moments. Several times, I found myself working at 11pm just to feel like I could get ahead for the next day. I am barely keeping my head above water in the sea of work.

I knew executive management wanted me to come into the office more but I didn't have a solution better than my current arrangement. So, I procrastinated. This meeting was the ultimatum I needed to make a move. My kick in the pants.

After discussing the idea ad nauseum with DH, we decided it was not in our family's best interest to stick Nate in full-time daycare. We vowed from the beginning that we didn't want to bend our family around our jobs so we were staying true to our beliefs. We also discussed the possibility of me working part-time (3 days/week) and decided that the bulk of my salary would basically be paying for childcare. Plus, DH would have to pick up the benefits anyway. Would it really be worth it? After much consideration, we decided no.

I found some side work for DH shortly after our move doing networking and tech support in the evenings and on weekends. He is also working on expanding his own consulting business, which has been in a bit of a lull lately. All of this is sporadic right now, mind you - certainly not matching my monthly contribution - but is looking promising as he has several partnerships in the pipeline. He wants me to use my marketing and advertising talent skills to help get it off the ground.

SAHM-land, here I come. On Monday, I will be putting in my two-weeks notice. My last day of being a working mom will be March 27, 2009.

I am excited yet scared. I've always been a go-getter. Determined. Motivated. I haven't NOT worked since I was 16 years old. I worked full-time and went to school full-time (12+ credits) simulatenously while maintaining a 3.91 GPA so that should speak to my willfulness. It will be a welcome change to have more solo time dedicated to Nate and the housework I've neglected for years. To focus on things in which I am personally vested.

But on the heels of my enthusiasm, I am scared about longevity. I worry about how this employment gap will affect my career opportunities in the future. I worry about making sure I get the adult interaction I need to be fulfilled. I worry about DH burning out from working two jobs and how it could affect our marriage. Would he resent me? But most of all, I'm concerned about our finances. We have enough savings to last us for months but what if DH's side business doesn't live up to our expectations? What in God's name will we do? Maybe I could go back to school or get a home daycare license. Perhaps learn a new trade like crochet or crafts (I did all of my wedding invitations, programs and favors myself!) and start my own little business. Worst case, I guess I could waitress or work retail. Not the greatest option considering my credentials and gargantuan student loans, but it would pay the bills. I would do it for the greater good of my family. They will always come above all else.

If everything works out, as I am hoping and praying, we can even work on TTC #2 this winter without wondering how to afford childcare x 2. Of course, we'll need to ensure our stability before diving in headfirst. But being a SAHM could make family planning more simplistic. See, there is simplicity hidden in the complexity if I dig deep enough.

I'm not entirely sure if this is the right decision. Things could end up being really really good or really really bad. We could end up looking back on this chapter of our lives as being one of the happiest times or being a pennypinching, stressful time we beg to forget. There's really no way to foresee how this will turn out.

I'm putting my faith in the man upstairs. Life as we know it is about to change forever.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Sweetest 4-Letter Word


Nate said it for the first time today.

DH and I have been coaxing him relentlessly for ages to indulge us with a "mama" or "dada" but he declined. Heck, if I had known that K.mart would serve as his vocabulary muse , I would have driven him there months ago.

My mom and I decided to take a trip to the discount store to pick up some Easter goodies and get out of the house on such an unusually warm March day. After enduring aisles upon aisles of baskets, candy, gift wrap and other seasonal merchandise, Nate grew tired and fussy. Seated in the shopping cart, he reached up to me with both arms, tears in his eyes and pleaded, "mama". I was immediately taken aback. It must have been a fluke, I thought. Even though my mother heard it twenty feet away. It couldn't possibly be real, could it?

I picked him up and whispered in his ear, "mama". He repeated it back to me, "mama". We bantered back and forth several times and each time, he repeated my words verbatim. He was grinning ear to ear, as if he knew how proud I was of him.

It just lit me up inside like nothing else. It touched my heart and made me feel immense joy I hadn't felt since his first smile and laugh. I always assumed "dada" would be the first word since it was easier to roll off the tongue. Touche, little man, touche.

I'm not 100% positive that he identified me as "mama" or if he was babbling and spouted off the long-awaited word simply by accident but regardless, it was spectacular. I wish I could clone that moment in the middle of K.mart. And, boy, I never thought I'd say that.

Just when I think I couldn't possibly love this little guy more, I find one more thing to stretch those heartstrings.

As if there were any doubt. I love you, my Sunshine.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Once Bitten, Twice Shy

Tonight, one of my fears came to fruition. My nipples came under attack of Nate's newfound chompers.

Although I had predicted this day would come since the first tooth appeared, it was still a shock to me when I felt the pain searing through the tip of my breast. In my stupor, before I could even react appropriately, Nate unclenched his jaws, apologetically. I stared down at him and pondered what to do next.

I had always been told to push his face deeper into my breast if he should clamp down. This may seem counterproductive (isn't it instinctual to pull him off?) but the idea is to briefly inhibit breathing through his nose. As appalling as this approach seems, it causes him to gasp for air, hence opening his mouth up wide enough for the nipple to be released. But since, in this case, Nate had already unlatched after the great bite, I was dumbfounded. It's not like I could punish him, as he is an infant and unaware of the consequences of his actions. He is teething and doesn't know that biting is wrong. All he knows is that the pressure against his gums is soothing. Regardless if it comes from a frozen washcloth, a teething ring or mommy's nipple. I can't - and won't - practice negative reinforcement out of anger or frustration.

So, I removed him from the cradle position - no more cuddles - and placed him down on the floor near a toy or two while I accessed the damage. There was a small gash on the underside of my boob, but surprisingly, it did not break the skin enough to bleed. I was able to escape trauma. This time.

Granted, this is the first occurrence. And I realize it is likely to happen more than once. I'm bound to suffer more significant injuries along the way.

I worry about how this compromises our nursing relationship. I am already anxious about our next nursing session, fearful that the next time he decides to bite, I won't be so lucky to walk away relatively unscathed. I am concerned that the biting will become commonplace and nursing will no longer be the peaceful, bonding experience that I've come to know and love.

I really am not ready to wean - or to pump exclusively. The thought brings incredible sadness to me. I know all good things must come to an end eventually. But I hope the end is not in sight just yet.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Laugh or Cry

In need of a constipation remedy? I have one word for you. Pears. They're the new prunes. They will get the job done in under an hour. Though I must warn you of the fountain of poo that is likely to occur.

I'm not sure at what point this happened - somewhere around the 6 month mark I believe - but Nate's poo has transitioned from a mildly noticeable stench to a full-on, heaveworthy funkfest. Diapers so heinous that my nose hairs burn atrociously with one innocent whiff. So vile that I question whether they are actually the result of a natural bodily function. I cringe with every fart. And since he is his father's son, that's a lot of cringing. Seriously, my kid is the human equivalent of the whoopie cushion.

Gone are the days of the thin, runny 2-wipe poos. We now have thick, sticky, lava-like 4-wipe poos. Could it be that the every 3-4 day frequency of BM's is causing a backdraft of epic proportions? Or is the simple introduction of solids, no matter how meager the quantity, to blame for the foulest odor known to man?

I'm obviously not liking this change so much. Especially when my dear son decides to let loose just as I've removed the diaper from under his bottom. I tried desperately to clean up the mess, scrambling to pull wipes out of the plastic container. But just as the wipe broke free, more poo oozed out. I stared in amazement and disbelief, wipe in hand, but frozen and unable to move.

Never to leave a job unfinished, the little sprinkler decided to take this opportunity to urinate on said hand before the wipe could shield me from the spray. Thankfully, I have a strong stomach and my gag reflex is not overly sensitive or else I would have been cleaning up more than just the indescribable slop of waste on the changing table pad. My initial reaction of disgust quickly turned into an eruption of laughter.

Sometimes, you just have to laugh or you'll cry.

P.S. I bet you were really in the mood for TMI, weren't you?