It’s My Birthday!

So it’s been a while since I’ve updated my super-mommy, career woman blog. That’s mostly because I’ve been, well, super-mommying and career womaning. Failing at both, but failure is the pathway to success, people, so I’m going to fail my way right to the top!

I’ve actually been reading a lot about failure when pursuing your goals. I think it’s something that everyone reflects on as their birthday looms, especially when your, ahem, turning 29 and some change, ahem.

A lady never reveals her age.

In my contemplation, I have discovered that I feel really good about where I am at in life. And when I’ve had doubts, I have had only to look at others around me for reassurance. The people that love me are proud and constantly give their praise. I can tell even more from those where there has been some love lost between us, because I oddly see them mimicking many of the actions that I have taken: starting a blog, writing a book, taking up causes, etc. And you know what they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

But even without the reassurance, I am proud of my accomplishments. I have accomplished the biggest goal of all, a healthy happy family. I didn’t just get married and have some kids, I married the guy I was madly in love with and had two beautiful amazing babies that we both had only dreamed of before.

Those three guys, there all I really need. I think a lot of my mommy friends would agree. I always wanted children, but you can’t really understand how fantastic they are until you have them. It’s like traveling. You can look at pictures and read about a place, but you don’t understand the magic of the place until you go there. And then it surprises you unexpectedly with lots of little things you never knew you needed.

That’s what children are like.

And my marriage is everything I wanted all those years ago when my Barbie and Ken first took that drive in her pink corvette. I have a partner in crime, someone who makes me laugh. We never get bored. It’s not always easy and we challenge each other. We will probably irritate each other right into the nursing home. I look forward to another 50 years of nagging him to put his shoes away and take out the trash. It’s been a John Cusack sort of romance.

But I’ve been blessed with so much more than that. My husband has this awesome job that keeps getting better and better. He is making more money than ever and he gets to travel all over the world. This is great for our finances, his given him confidence as a breadwinner, and BONUS I get to travel with him! Next year it’s Canadian Music Week and Brazil! How cool is that?

Then there’s my job. My career rather. I’m still building on it and learning, and it’s taken a long time to accept that I need to be here and not home with my kiddos, but I finally love what I do. Which is making a difference.

Global Warming is real, ya’ll, and we have to do something about it. For us, for our kids, for the good of humanity. It’s the right thing to do. And I’m lucky that I can be a small part of the solution, or at least work to be part of it.

36% of the energy usage and 65% of the electricity usage in the US is from buildings.  The company that I work for specializes in MEP engineering services with a sustainability approach. Basically, we are designing or commissioning your kid’s schools with more efficient AC units, lighting, and plumbing. As an individual, you can help the environment by reducing your own carbon footprint, but I am lucky enough to work in an industry where I can contribute to the larger picture, and that feels really good.

And then there’s my book. I finished it! I am not done editing yet, but I did finish it. And unlike the other two novels that I have written and put down, this one I feel is a keeper. It’s raw and needs a lot of work, but I feel strongly enough about it that I want to keep failing and failing until I succeed with it. Writing is my passion, it always has been. So I would be a fool not to persist. But I have to stop today and reflect on what I have already accomplished with it. I am always looking ahead at what I haven’t done yet, but today I can stop and say ‘I completed that. I wrote an entire novel.’ And that’s something to be proud of.

I have a million other blessings to reflect on today, family, my health, my dwindling waist line (hooray!), a new SUV, great friends, financial security, fun trips, birthday surprises, and lots of other things. But today I want to bask in these three things, the essence of what defines me.

And you know, they make me think that it’s a pretty good day to be another year older.

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Why I Hate the Gluten Free Craze

My husband and I recently had a Facebook argument with some of our family and friends over gluten. It sure does sound silly when I write that down, but it did happen. The fact that it did happen gives credit to one of the many problems with what I call the Gluten Free Movement.

I wrote facetiously about gluten a while back here Gluten, but that was before our friends and family disowned us. Now, it’s personal, gluten nazis.

Let me preface this with an explanation of our family eating habits. My husband is a self-professed junk food junkie. He loves sodas and fast food. But he eats everything I make for him, and I cook pretty healthy. For real I do.

I am by contrast, drink copious amounts of water and I cut out excess sugar and carbohydrates wherever I can. Most of my meals are lean protein and veggie based. In addition, I run and lift weights every other day.

I feel great. But I never felt bad before when I went on a bread binge or ate pizza, either. So I am certain I do not have any sort of sensitivity to gluten. Nor does the rest of my cake-loving family.

So why am I so pissed off that everyone is ‘going gluten free’?

Because at a base level it is food snobbery. Like energy drinks, Starbucks and kale chips, it’s something that yuppies have adopted to feel superior. It’s the idea that if it costs more and is difficult to find, it has value.

Now, before you send me hate mail, let me clarify that I am not ignorant of Celiac disease and gluten allergies. But only about 1% of our population has Celiac disease, and about that same percentage have the lesser diagnosed gluten allergy. Gluten DOES make these people sick.

I get that.

But I don’t think everyone does.

People with Celiac disease, and even gluten allergies, don’t just have tummy aches after eating a sandwich. They have severe intestinal issues that are debilitating. They often loose unhealthy amounts of weight, suffer from chronic headaches, loss of bone density, and often have anemia. These symptoms should not be ignored, and if someone is suffering from them they should see their doctor.

Because you can get tested for Celiac disease. You can even get tested for a gluten allergy.

The problem is, there is a large part of the population that doesn’t fall into this category. Actually about 95-98% from the medical journals I have consulted.  But a lot them claim to have a gluten intolerance.

I think many of these people are confusing gluten-free with a low-carb diet. I typically eat low-carb for at least one meal a day, and I feel less bloated and have more energy. But if there is cake in the office kitchen, I can eat the heck out of it and the only side effect is guilt.

Aside from food elitists and low-carb confusion, I think a large amount of people are jumping on this bandwagon because of peer pressure.

Your best friend just ordered a gluten-free salad, so you probably should too if you want to fit in. These are the same folks that got the Rachel cut, drank red bull and vodka, and use #Yolo.

Everybody can’t be an Alpha Dog.

And that’s ok, but when it comes to making dietary changes, people should get informed before they follow the crowd.

Few seem to know what gluten is, and fewer have been tested for a gluten intolerance. But they read an article on msn that gluten is bad for them, and they immediately swear off gluten products. Then they start eliminating healthy foods from their diets, and what wasn’t a real health concern before has potentially become one now.

In fact, most doctors recommend that you be tested for a gluten intolerance before you chose to go on a gluten-free diet for this very reason.

It’s also not cheap to eliminate gluten from your diet.

Gluten free products typically cost more, and even focusing on a whole foods approach by buying fruits, vegetables and lean protein can be cost prohibitive when a lot of grains are eliminated from your normal diet.

And eating a lot of meat and produce is expensive. I know, because I try my darndest to make that the focus of my meals.

But I also have to feed three other family members, and we can’t afford to only eat fresh meats, fruits and veggies for every meal. Nor would my toddler go for that, although he does have weeks where he will only eat meat, eesh……..I digress.

So I find it rather offensive when someone encourages me to eliminate gluten. That’s what my husband and I (or maybe just me) were trying to get across to our friends any family.

It’s insulting to preach about gluten to us because we do not have an intolerance and eliminating it from our diet is cost prohibitive and likely unhealthy for us. It’s also elitist and fairly reckless. None of our gluten-free family and friends are doctors or scientists. While I applaud their efforts to lead a healthy lifestyle, I find their information to be misguided and potentially dangerous.

Why I am Choosing My Career

This blog has been all about how I am pursuing my dream to be a writer and leaving my engineering job so I can be home with my children, etc. etc. Weeeeellll, I’m not going to do that after all. I am not going to do the leaving my job part of it.

I’m still writing my novel and looking for freelance work, but I made the hard decision to stay at my full time job.

Why? Well, mostly this article: Regrets of a Stay-at-home Mom

Now, there are a lot of differences between the woman in this article and me. The biggest and most important difference is our career choice. I am in a career that, with the right experience and education, is completely recession proof. No one is fighting over engineering jobs. I have watched over half of my colleagues being courted by firms and moving on to bigger and better jobs in our industry. It’s a good place to be. It’s stable and it’s in demand.

This woman in the article is a writer. I envy her that. And she seems to have a fine resume full of accomplishments and clout. But it appears that her career path would have gone into a valley regardless of whether or not she had stayed at home with her children. Unfortunately, no one is really getting paid to write anymore.

She also stayed home for over a decade and experienced a divorce. While divorce is a variable no one can control, as I modern career woman I do not think I could stay home that long. I love my children, but once they are in school and pursuing their own interests, I want to devote more time to mine. And the number one interest is my career. Would I stay home through those first few years of school? Maybe. Middle School? No way. Not when I could contribute to our household.

But, that last bit, contributing to the household, that’s the kicker. That’s why I decided not to quit my job. We have bills and debt and financial goals just like everyone else. But I bring in half of our income, which also includes insurance for me and the children, as well as a company matching retirement plan and life insurance plan. I would lose all of it.

The stress of going to work each day would go away only to be replaced by the financial stress of making ends meet. My husband and I argue from time to time, but one thing we never have to argue about is finances, and for that I am grateful.

Plus, there is that nasty ‘re-entry’ process to the workforce that I imagine is worse than re-entry to the Earth’s atmosphere. At least the atmosphere doesn’t scrutinize the gap in your employment history.

So right now, I am still working the daily grind, dropping my kids off at daycare, and just trying to keep my cape straight. Will I continue doing this next year, or even next month? Who knows, but for now, I have to do what is best for me and my family.

But if my husband invents something and sells it for a billion dollars, then its SEEYA!

The Color of My Mood is Tired

Today is one of those ‘highly productive days’ where I make list after list and then sit and stare at baby socks on Zulily while I eat yogurt. I did finish reading Tina Fey‘s Bossypants, which makes me think these two thoughts:

1. – ‘I can totally be that funny’

2. ‘Tina Fey and I would be friends if we lived in the same city.’

If I’m honest, I’m only funny when I’m a little drunk and simultaneously a little sick. Give me a few glasses of Pinot during flu season, and you will laugh your guts out. Guts will just be everywhere. And it will be hilarious.

Tina Fey and I probably wouldn’t even be friends if we lived in the same building. Likely because I would be an indentured servant of some type and everyone knows I don’t  ‘do well’ with ‘authority figures’.

But still, it’s a nice thought. Because you know, I think she gets me. She probably gets you too. And that’s all we really want, right? Is somebody to get us. Yep, we are all just a bunch of lonely snowflakes desperate to be understood.

No one at work gets me. But to be fair, my appearance these days may have a little to do with that.

I come in looking like Smee everyday. I don’t know why this is my outfit of choice, but it probably has something to do with these tan cargo ankle pants being the only maternity pants I can wear right now. I have also purchased some large, tortoise cat-eye glasses that I wear everywhere.  I typically top off this ensemble with a dirty pony tale.

I am the poster child for Xanax. I have become a stereotype.

Which is why her book was a nice warm fuzzy.

But look she’s not really trying to relate to anybody, she’s just a funny, self-deprecating woman who made a name for herself.

It’s encouraging. It’s relatable. It’s familiar. The way good comedy should be.

I didn’t intend for this to be a book review, but I guess we are there. Go read Bossypants! Now!

Now back to me. I am a tad bit of a mess. I mostly blame Panda, who has kept me up the past few nights screaming bloody murder. I have narrowed down the causes to either allergy-related drainage and sore throat or Game of Thrones withdrawal. I might be projecting.

But regardless, it is a problem. I am dragging in to work clearly dressed unprofessionally for anyone but a cartoon pirate. Then I zombie eat at my desk while I aimlessly examine the internet.

I’m too exhausted. I’m too exhausted to even hide under my desk and take a nap. I am beyond that. I am William Hurt, regressing back to a single cell organism.

I had weirdo dreams about William Hurt for years, actually. Not sex dreams. Like weird, May-November romance dreams where he was always checking on me to make sure my self-destructive 20-year-old self was ok then he would leave sad because he was JUST TOO CLOSE. I am melodramatic and awkward even when I dream.

So what is an unproductive, sleep-deprived feminist to do? That’s not rhetorical, I need an answer. I just spent the last five minutes staring out my office window thinking about donuts.

I think maybe we call this one a loss and try again tomorrow. Now back to those socks.

 

 

Poll: Do You Regret Becoming a Stay-At-Home Mom?

Hi Moms, I am doing a survey to collect data on working moms that either became stay-at-home moms or worked part-time when they had their children, and if they had difficulty re-entering the workforce later in life. This is what I want to know:

1. what your profession was/is
2. if you went back to work full-time after having children
3. how long it took you to secure a job once you began your search
4. whether or not your salary was comparable to your previous salary

Please leave your info in the comment section, and anything additional you want to add is welcomed. Thanks Moms!

Meta Mommy Advice

Look, we’ve all done it. We are pleasantly chatting with another Mommy about our children and then before we can reach out and pull them back in, those ‘words of wisdom’ come out.

“Just wait until you have another baby! (you’ll never carry around that much stuff anymore.)”

“We never let Junior have anything that isn’t organic. (because we don’t want him to be fat and sick like your kid.)”

“We don’t believe in spanking (because we don’t want him to be a violent hate monger like your child.)

“Better get sleep while you are pregnant! (because as soon as baby get’s here, you won’t sleep again because BABIES NEVER SLEEP.)”

I am sure everyone could add a few more to this.

While being offended when other mothers give me some of this unsolicited advice, I am ashamed to say that I occasionally dish some of it out myself.

And so I had to ask myself why? Why do I do the very thing that I find so annoying/rage-inducing about other moms? Is it revenge? Indifference? sadism?

But my answer was much less nefarious. I do it because parenting is intrinsically a loner sport. And that gets really lonely.

It is the one solitary thing you do in your life that no one can relate to. No one.Yeah, everybody has kids, but no one has your kids.

You are a beautifully complicated snowflake just like your child is a beautifully complicated snowflake. Furthermore, without a rule book, you are both teaching to and learning from each other, and it all happens in a very ephemeral and visceral way.

So you scored a big parenting win today? Don’t get to excited, because tomorrow it all resets back to 0.

Basically, we are predisposed for failure. No one is going to get a 100 on this test, we can only hope for a passing grade.

I think I second guess myself at least 10 times a day when it comes to my parenting. Should I feed them that? Are they getting too much/too little sleep? Is my disciplining technique effective, or am I just making things worse?

That is why they say being a parent is the hardest job. It is, because it is constantly changing, and no one can tell you how to do it right.

But still we search for a way to connect with other parents. We reach out to ask for advice, find a shoulder to cry on, or share in our triumphs.

Then we are P.O.ed when a parent shares their experience with us. It’s a vicious cycle. But we need to connect with each other, we need to find common ground. It’s important because no one can do this solitary, highly specialized job alone. We all need some support.

I guess if I think about it, the support and the camaraderie are so much more important to me than sheltering myself from the ‘advice’.

My advice on giving advice? Don’t do it.  Most people just want you to listen. occasionally someone will ask you how to change a baby’s diaper or is it ok to leave them alone with the dog for a few hours, which you should have quick and direct answers for. But what kind of formula do you use? Keep it simple. Using Brand B instead of Brand A is not going to compromise the health of their child, but ticking them off will jeopardize your friendship.

And when you inevitably get advice back don’t be offended. Save that for political discussions with your family.

 

I Have Adult ADHD

I haven’t been diagnosed yet, but I know I am a copay away from ADHD. I even stopped after writing the first sentence of this post to go to the kitchen. I get distracted by anything and everything.

Food is my main problem. Anything with sugar will pull me away from writing in a split second.

But I am also distracted by blog related things, like marketing and whatnot. Instead of adding content, I’m like, ‘do I need a Tumblr for my blog?’ who knows, but I’ll just sign up for it anyway.

Focusing on my real work is even more difficult. I do all kinds of mental pep talks in the morning to get me motivated and ready.

‘Ok, today you are going to get that review done and then spend an hour writing your novel! you can do it!’

and

‘spend just thirty minutes working on your presentation, then you can take a break. Just thirty minutes, that’s all.’

See, I even bargain with myself. It’s useless, though, I am the last person I am going to listen to.

What’s amazing about my Adult ADHD, though, is my ability to make lists. No kidding, I can make a dozen lists a day, no problem. I even spend time thinking and formulating those lists, drafting and redrafting until I have the perfect list.

Only to totally disregard them and make another list.

I wonder if they are going to give me Ritalin, do they still do that? That might actually be awesome, because then I could finish my novel in one night.

I have a very low pill tolerance. I get sleepy after taking a Tylenol.

I just imagine myself lounging around the house in an apron, popping Ritalin and drinking martinis while my kids run around tearing the house apart.

It sounds fun, really, but I guess I don’t want to end up in rehab while some other soccer mom takes my kids to practice.

kid: Why doesn’t Squishy Bug’s mom ever take us to soccer?

Judgey Soccer Mom: Because honey, Squishy Bug’s mom is at a camp for adults that have no self-control.

kid: What’s self-control?

Judgey and Angry Soccer Mom: It’s what Mommy uses when Daddy doesn’t put a garbage bag in the garbage can even though Mommy has told him every single day since they got married.

kid who will probably need therapy: oh.

I read up on adult ADHD last night and I think there is a slim case I have it probably. Which is a shame, I guess, because I think it would be really cool to finish my novel in a night. However, I probably would be a real drag the next day.

In any case, I should probably do what you should do with any type of illness, get more sleep (hahahahaha, NEXT), eat better, exercise, and organize my work into lists…….got that one down!

Now for some work. Or maybe I’ll make a list. Squirrel!