Vacation

Well we finally made it back from our little ‘vacation’.

We have untied the frayed rope from the back bumper and are back safe and sound. Thank all that is holy.

The thing that I am learning about vacations when you have children is that they aren’t really vacations. In fact, they are often worse than being at work. They should be called Mandatory Family Retreats and we should be paid for them if everyone makes it home alive.

It was just a trip to my parents’ place. It’s not like I tried to take my kids diving with sharks.

I do think that would have been more pleasant, though.

The trip started off ok. Squishy Bug and Panda Bear slept the first 4 or 5 hours of the drive, at which point we met my parents half way. 

Then it got really hot. And then Squishy Bug woke up. And Panda woke up. Chaos ensued. There was screaming, crying and gnashing of teeth. 

But we finished the drive without any major disaster, just sweaty and a little tired.

Hooray! Now SB could run and play outside! But wait, what’s that? Rain. Awesome. 

So now my kid is cooped up for almost three days while it storms on 10 perfectly green acres of land with every animal a kid could wish to play with. All was not lost, though, because the sun peaked out most mornings and he was able to play enough to get a sunburn. 

I was settling into some couch time while my parents watched the kids when I realized I had a sore throat.  I also have a strange injury that won’t heal. So I am feeling terrible. That’s awesome. 

Then my Dad becomes curious about why we were so hot on the last leg of that drive and he checks out my AC.

Diagnosis? It’s broken. 

So we take it to shop. Where it spends 4 days baffling every mechanic there. 

Meanwhile, I am trying to get online to work but guess what? It’s down and ATT hates my parents so they don’t do a darn thing about it the entire week. 

So I am sick and trapped in the stormy woods with no internet, my parents, an infant and a grumpy toddler. 

Finally my car was fixed so we could go home. Of course the sun came out then. 

But determined not to be defeated by Acts of God, I rush SB outside to get in a last few hours of play. 

My father warns, though, to watch out for fire ants. Pfft! I was raised in the country, I know how to stay out of fire ant beds. 

Then Squishy Bug interrupts my reverie to scream in pain. 

He is covered in fire ants. I wash him off in the baby pool and that really pisses them off. Now my child is covered in tiny red welps all over his body. 

Mother of the Year, people, Mother of the Freaking Year.

My mother saves the day with a trip to the pharmacy, and after a bath, Benadryl, and plenty of Cortizone, he is comfortable again. 

Then we pack it all up and drive the 7,000 miles back home to ATX. 

So glad to be home. Sleep? oh no, those kids slept all the way back, so they are all charged up and will be awake until Monday. So I guess I will have to wait until next week to get any sleep as well. 

yay vacation. 

 

 

 

Road Trip

I am finally take some vacation. You may be thinking exotic beach, or romantic European getaway. Of course you are wrong. I am taking 3 precious days of my vacation to drive my kiddos to see my parents a few states over. 

yay. 

I am actually excited, though. I haven’t been anywhere this entire year, not even another city. So I am looking forward to the road trip.

I am not looking forward to trying to use the bathroom at a gas station with a toddler and an infant. 

Last night was spent working the logistics of this bathroom break that I will need to take multiple times. I came to the conclusion that I will be totally dependent on handicapped stalls without clearance for Squishy Bug to slide under. 

I am also considering buying a toddler leash.

My husband thinks they are inhumane. I’m not sure that he understands were they are attached to the todder, though.

In any case, it is going to interesting. 

Breastfeeding will also be interesting. I haven’t quite worked that one out yet, but I am also sure someone will be offended by my mammaries this time tomorrow. 

That’s it for today, gotta go pack!

Daycare Is Good For Some Children

On an ordinary day this working mom gets up at 6am, earlier if the baby decides to nurse in the wee hours of the night. But by 6am, if she isn’t awake, I wake her, feed her, change her, and get her situated in the bassinet so I can get Squishy Bug’s food and bag ready for daycare, and my lunch for the day.

Then Daddy gets up and makes breakfast while I wake and change Squishy Bug, then he and I and Panda have some snuggle time on the couch for a few minutes before I dash around getting dressed for work. Daddy gets Squishy Bug dressed while I get Panda settled in her carrier and put ALL the bags in the car, including all my pumping gear.

Then we are off to daycare. I get them settled then finally I make my commute to work.

I spend my day working, mostly, and worrying missing my children.

Now we love our daycare, and have grown close to a lot of the caregivers there, so I am never worried about their health and safety. Squishy Bug also has a wonderful teacher that works with the children to prepare them for preschool and kindergarten, which even surprised us in a fairly generic childcare franchise. 

Overall, we have been pleased with our experience with childcare. 

But like every mom, you always fear that your separation from them will affect their development. That maybe they won’t have the advantage that other children do that stayed home with their mothers prior to entering school. 

Then I read this article Monday and took a big ole sigh of relief. Working Moms May Be Helping Their Kids

It seems that for lower income families, daycare might give their children an advantage when entering school. It seemed to have little to no effect on middle income families, and only the higher income families seemed to benefit more from a stay-at-home parent. 

The American population is predominately composed of lower and middle income families, so that is really good news, people.

You know what else it means? It means that our lawmakers and business owners should provide more incentive for most working moms to return to work after they have children if they want them to be prepared for the classroom.

You know where I am going with this, don’t you?

Statistically mothers who stay home with their children after childbirth for an ample period of time to establish breastfeeding continue to breastfeed, providing the recommended nutrition their child needs. 

But what leave also means for mothers is time to let their body heal and adapt to baby’s schedule. 

I took off 8 weeks with both of my children. Personally, it was not enough in either case. My body had not recovered enough the first time, and I was still in the bonding process and establishing nursing patterns with the second. 

Another key factor? We don’t start important vaccinations in this country until the second month. So I actually had to find at home care for my children for a week while I returned to work due to the fact that they had not been vaccinated yet and could not enter daycare.

And I spent all stressful 8 weeks worrying about work and whether or not they were going to pay me or not. It was never agreed to and because my company has less than 50 employees, they are not required by FMLA. 

Turns out they did pay me. It also turns out that it was probably a clerical error and they had intended not to pay me. Which is why I never dared ask for more time off. 

During all that, my husband and I constantly discussed whether or not it would be worth it for me to quit. That would mean drastically paring down our lifestyle to only necessities and moving somewhere cheaper. It was more of a sacrifice than we could make without preparation. So we did the daycare shuffle and I drug my weary body back to work. 

My opinion now is that all women should be guaranteed 12 weeks of PAID maternal leave by law for any employee, regardless of time with the company, company size, or any other factor.

This should be the bare minimum of leave in our country and it should be paid.

It is pointless if it is not paid. 

Unpaid leave is income discrimination. My family couldn’t afford for me to take off an entire month without a pay check, and we fall comfortably in the middle income bracket. 

I can’t imagine what it is like for mothers with less income to make this decision. 

The government sarcastically offers 12 weeks off, but it’s unavailable to them because it is likely unpaid and they can’t afford to take care of a child if there is no income stream. 

Effectively, the FMLA is a Mean Girl. 

So what do a lot of these families do? The mothers quit their jobs.

They quit and then seek government support for their lack of income? I’m not an expert, but personally, that’s what I would do. 

So now we have mothers out of the workforce no longer contributing to the economy, and children being raised in lower income homes at home and entering school already unprepared. 

It doesn’t really make sense.

What does make sense is supporting our women so that they can nurture their children, then return to the workforce while their children are fostered and nurtured in childcare. 

It seems like that is what we should have been doing all along, doesn’t it? 

 

Stay-at-Home Mom Envy

If I read one more bio for a stay-at-home mom I’m going to barf.

“I’m Amanda Beth Ann and I am mother to one manic depressive 3 year old, an 18 month old model, and one clinically insane, homicidal furry dog that I bought for too much money when I was single and had wine for dinner. Sometimes I still do! (giggle) I am a workout FANATIC and put my sad 3 year old and our little 18 month old meal ticket in the gym daycare while I run 7 miles on the treadmill each day. When I’m not at the gym, I am home with my babies and their nanny and our housekeeper, working on homemade, organic, gluten-free, sugar-free, happiness-free deserts that I don’t actually eat, because seriously, I am a size 2. My husband works 12-14 hours each day because I insisted that we buy a house in this neighborhood. He doesn’t mind because look at me. I have a degree in General Studies, but chose the hardest job of all, to stay at home with my children, my dog, and our help.’

Too harsh? Probably. Am I jealous? Yes, absolutely, 100%. 

And there is no ‘but’ to this. I am jealous. I mean, I don’t really like furry little dogs and I would be miserable staying home and doing nothing all day. 

But for real stay-at-home moms aren’t like Amanda Beth Ann. They work hard. 

Heck, the weekends with my kids are totally exhausting. We are up with the sun, and then it is a sprint until bedtime to feed, clothe, and entertain everyone.

In between all that, I try to do some laundry. And sweep. Haha, just kidding, that never happens.

But doing it all day everyday is a JOB. Running a household is a JOB. It’s like two jobs together.

Yes I am so very jealous that they get to stay home with their little ones. How wonderful to get to share all those moments with your babies and never feel the pain of missing any of their ‘firsts’. 

It would also be nice to be on top of all my mommy responsibilities, like making cupcakes for parties, and downgrading ‘pizza night’ to only 1 night a week instead of every night. 

But I am also sure that Amanda Beth Ann wishes she had more interaction with adults and somewhere important to go so she could break in those brand new heels. 

Maybe? 

Well, with a little luck, maybe I can trade places with her in the near future. 

First I’ll dig up some terrible dirt on her, like she ran over some homeless man when she was in high school and dumped his body in a ditch. 

I’ll use it to blackmail her into trading identities with me. Then after a series of surgeries and careful voice coaching, we can swap lives.

Or I’ll just find a part time job at home. Hump Day!

 

Baby Fat

Panda was four months at her check up last week. That means it has been four months since I was pregnant and could get away with eating sleeves of chocolate chip cookies for dinner.

I didn’t actually do that, but I did develop a raging sweet tooth with this last pregnancy. 

And how come no one told me that breastfeeding makes you crazy hungry all the time?

I mean, my husband will eat dinner and be full, and I’m digging through the refrigerator thirty minutes later. 

Which is probably why I am not losing the weight. I am also not exercising, because I use my lunch hour every day to look for jobs. That is the only time I have all day to work out. 

It’s weird though, because I drink copious amounts of water. I am so nervous that my milk supply will dwindle that I am terrified to be away from my giant 32 oz. water container. I must drink at least three a day. Any more and I will be waterlogged. 

I also don’t eat bad either. My meals are mostly salads, snacks during the day our fruit. 90% of the time we have a lean protein and veggies for dinner. I do indulge in sweets, though. Ice cream, usually. But last night I didn’t, so I am going to gradually reduce the sugar intake and see what happens. 

But I am seriously afraid that I am not going to lose any weight until I stop breastfeeding. I have even gained 3 lbs.! How does that happen? I mean, I may be eating ice cream and avoiding my usual 2 mile run, but chasing a toddler and constantly changing and nursing an infant have to burn something, right?

I don’t know. Maybe I’ll revisit this topic in a few months and see where we are at. Hopefully not any fatter. I don’t want to have to buy a size larger in my maternity pants that I am still wearing. 

Potty Training Update

It is finally Friday again, thank the stars! I can’t wait to spend the whole weekend with my sweet babies. We might even go to the pool! That’s if I can get 700 things together first. I am imagine it will be like going on a road trip. I’ll pack too much, and everyone will be tired and miserable by the time we get there. Hooray for summer!

But what I wanted to say today was that after I lamented our potty training progress a few days ago Squishy Bug started going!

The key, it turns out, is using the BIG potty. That would be my husband and I’s bathroom. So I just ask him ‘do you want to go use the BIG potty?’ and it just trots in there. He did numbers 1 AND 2 this week!

It was a miracle!

And also I think he might be a genius.

Working Mom Dilemmas

So I’ve been taking my postpartum work situation day by day, but it is finally starting to come to an apex of sorts. I am going to have to take action very soon.

The main issue is child care.

The daycare our children attend is mostly wonderful, but because it is affiliated with the School District, most of the children are home with their teacher parents during the summer.

What does that mean for my kiddos? It means they get shuffled around to centers they have never been before, with care givers they don’t know, and children they have never played with.

Now Squishy Bug is very social and has already embraced making new friends. But he has his limits, and I don’t want to push them. It’s just not fair.

Panda’s situation is even more dire because she is so very tiny still. Her schedule is already off and I am getting up with her two and three times a night.

So all of that is making me very depressed.

And very very tired.

Because I still have to drag my butt to work each morning.

At work, I am still feeling some prickliness from coworkers, who to be fair, probably see that I am trying to change jobs. Are they justified in being mean? No, and I would never do that to one of them. But I understand wanting to move on with someone else eager to fill the position.

I am also having a hard time pumping at work, even though I did finally get my own office (Hooray!). I have to work in the field some and there is always a meeting to attend, so sometimes I am not getting to pump three times a day.

And lastly, there is the sadness.

I am sitting here at a desk while my sweet babies grow up with strangers. I can barely talk about it these days without crying.

So I am going to take some drastic measures soon. Exactly what, I am not sure, but something has to be done or I am going to have some major regret on my hands.