I cringe in when one of my children is sick. Both count on me to make whatever ails them better. It’s up to me to keep my composure; and to not completely unravel. Those expressions of ill content on their sweet little faces is almost too much. I remember how my mother used to care. She was the best — and still is — at getting me through the worst life can deal.
Memories from those first 24 hours of parenthood will never leave me. A little baby and miracle named Issa made her début 10 years ago. All those weeks during my pregnancy with her had been preparation. I made time for breakfast, remembered to take my vitamins and did my homework. Indulgences such as caffeine, alcohol, sushi and stylish shoes had to go. Frequent bathroom trips during the night trained me for late-night feedings and diaper changes. Shopping sprees were to buy splurges and necessities for Issa; not me.
Upon gazing into that little newborn face I knew becoming a mom was a blessing as well as challenge; a life-long challenge. But, still, I wondered. What she be at 5; 7; and 10? Would she like going to school? What would her likes and dislikes? Could I camouflage my Type A personality with the patience of a saint? Would I handle illnesses, injuries, upsets and academic hurdles like a warrior; or a wuss? Finally, would I be a worthy advocate, protector and friend?
At 5, I knew Issa was a miracle child with some challenges that would make some physical, academic and social activities difficult. But, I also knew her love for learning; and her determination to succeed would carry her. Issa loves going to school. She hates to miss a day. Her desire to learn was the key at 7 and still enables her success. She strives to do her best every day.
I still do not have answers to many of my parenting questions. There are days when I start feeling like the supermom, but then end up in the dunce corner. Parenthood is unpredictable. Likes and dislikes change. When Issa was five she loved elephants and sought all information she could obtain to learn more about these large, magnificent animals. But, then, her fascination with elephants morphed into affection for mice, then dinosaurs, then outer space and now snakes.
Each birthday I celebrate with Issa, I feel intense joy and love. I recall those first 24 hours of her life in vivid detail. God blessed me 10 years ago when Issa was born.
I’ll tell you. I love my fellow moms. Kelly, one of my girlfriends, sent out the e-mail inviting a dozen or more moms to join her for an evening away from the rigors of parenting. Last night, she and I were the two who managed a successful escape. PF Chang’s and Charming Charlie at Partridge Creek — an upscale, outdoor, pedestrian mall — in Clinton Township were our destinations for the evening.
I truly enjoyed the respite from being chef, waitress, and table referee; and conversing with Kelly about grown-up books, summer plans and our children. Also, I was nicely surprised to see my favorite dish — caramel mango chicken — back on PF Chang’s menu after a multi-year hiatus.
After an amazing dinner, Kelly took me on my first tour of Charming Charlie, which offers just about every kind of styling accessory — handbags, clutches, bling, belts, hair accessories, shoes, etc. — a women — at any age — could possibly want; at a reasonable price. Thank goodness the store was almost about to close when we entered. This place could entice one to do some serious damage due to the selection in just about every color imaginable.
In conclusion, a big thank-you to Kelly who put the idea for this evening out there; and for making it happen. She and I met through a local moms’ club, which offered support to us and other women during the early years of motherhood. While neither one of us are current members of this organization, we — and several former members — still make a point of planning moms’ escape nights and occasional play dates for our children.
Remember my post, Good People Find Good People? I just can’t stop reflecting on these words. Maybe it has something to do with how blessed I am to be surrounded with family, friends, neighbors, teachers, therapists, medical experts, and creative forces who love, nurture, help, care, and inspire. Collectively, I call them my “A” Team. All contribute — or have contributed — significantly to the person I am and strive to be.
The person at the helm of my “A” Team is without a doubt my mother. I believe anyone who truly knows her would define her as a loyal, helpful, outspoken, classy, friendly, organized, willful, persistent, caring, selfless, generous lady who demonstrates — through action and words — love for her faith, family, friends, Irish heritage, football, the Detroit Tigers, travel, playing cards, Neil Diamond, Tony Bennett, Cheez-Itz and ice cream.
My mom’s helpful, organized and outspoken nature are the three traits I admire most. She helps so many in need — me, my children, my sister, my niece and nephew, her older sister, my dad, my husband, friends, and neighbors — no matter what — with great sacrifice to herself at times. I cannot name one other person who is a more willing, committed helper than my mom. Organization is a trait brought to the US from her Duris and Gehringer family members who migrated from various counties of Ireland nearly a century ago. I have not met a Duris or Gehringer who has not been recognized for attention to detail, hard work or willingness to question. Finally, I consider my mom to be very brave due to her willingness to speak up — even when she knows the words needed might anger or hurt. Her points are often valid and worth considering.
I a mom. The job description is immense and forever changing. Rewards are plenty, but often come from sweat, tears and blood of being a warrior on one of the fiercest battlefronts ever in my history.
There is a part of me that wants to stay in all these glorious moments forever. But, it goes without saying. My children grow, mature and change. Once I figure out how to maneuver around one set of challenges; another rears its daunting head. Nothing in life is constant. It continues whether I want to trek on or stay stuck in the mud.
The days of successful homework sessions, play dates, sports activities and dance classes make all those chaotic scenes seem like someone else’s challenges. Those are times I take steps with confidence and ease.
Then there are plenty of those moments — sometimes occurring with alarming frequency each day — when appropriate solutions are not at the ready. Sometimes these situations take some time and thought to work through.
A more distant view from fellow parents, teachers and therapists can bring objectivity to the picture. Ideas from other sources sometimes offer what I need to bring back peace and harmony to my home.
Second-guessing is not uncommon. But, whether I stay at home, work outside the home, own a business, travel, or advocate for others no one else walks in my shoes but me. I trust in myself to know what is best for me, my family and my situation.
That’s not to say views from beloved family and friends do not have merit or value. What they suggest is intended only to help. I consider myself fortunate and blessed to have such a caring circle of support at every turn.
The following are blogs I read written by moms who enable me to see how much in common we all have with each other.
One month prior to the birth of my daughter, Issa, who turned nine yesterday, I sat at the dinner table with my husband. We discussed the decision I had make: stay home or keep my full-time marketing communications position at an information technology company.
Part of me wanted to stay home because excelling at my current position often required long hours and overnight travel. Even with a new baby at home, I would still be expected to perform just as I did prior to becoming a parent. I knew I wanted time off to bond with my daughter. But, another part saw others balancing rewarding careers and parenthood simultaneously. After all, I spent nearly 10 years ascending the corporate world and achieving marketing communications success. Why would I want to leave all those accomplishments?
Part-time hours weren’t an option because the position really required full-time attention. The option of telecommuting was refuted despite my employer’s reputed success with helping blue-chip clients work with remote employees. So, I did the math on what it would cost to send Issa to day care. It just didn’t add up. After paying for day care, my take-home pay wouldn’t have compensated me for all those hours missed with my daughter. So, I kept thinking about why I would work just to pay for day care?
In addition to the internal voices talking the issues out in my head, there were — and still are — plenty of outside influences — from both sides — clamoring to be recognized. Some favored the more traditional choice, which was to stay home exclusively and parent, while others thought I would go nuts without an escape to my corporate cubicle each day.
My financial situation — at the time — gave me the option to chose. So, in the end, I took time away from the corporate world to stay home with both of my children. While I would not flip my decision, I still have conflict with my choice. Do you?
On the pro side I have time to volunteer at my children’s schools, write creatively, and advocate for a local non-profit. The con side says I will have to work years to recoup income loss and to regain professional ground. Plus, I miss the live daily adult conversations about business issues, current events, movies, television shows, and style.
Walk it out. Talk it through. Take some time to do what is good for you. Too many hours slip away. Days and weeks get checked off the calendar. When will the schedule ever be clear? It won’t. So, what is the solution?
Tell your man it is break time. Give instructions for the children, the dog and house. Walk out the door. Find some therapy with same-gender, grown-up friends. Sanity is necessary when raising any number of children. Make it a plan to do whatever it takes to keep it in tact. I felt mine was about to crack. The time was now for getting me back. No more dreaming about days in the sun with the ladies. My vision needed to see reality. It feels fulfilling. Take time to be a good friend. The rewards are immense. Moms need to relate. We need to share funny stories, experiences, and suggestions with others who “get it”. Husbands are wonderful. Mine is an “A+” man. But, he isn’t a girlfriend. His hormones are incorrect and the plumbing is all wrong.