Scenes from Life: Being a Mom (Parent)

Go with the flow. Be flexible, agile, patient and open to experience the unexpected. Live on minimal sleep. Drink plenty of caffeine. And, some wine after the kiddos go to bed. Eat standing up while making breakfasts, packing lunches and taking inventory of backpacks. Exercise to keep stress away.  Stay organized. Two planners — traditional and smart — are what it takes; for me. Support systems of family, friends, teachers, neighbors and virtual connections for stability; and comic relief. Listening to music does wonders, too. The Killers, When You Were Young, is pumping me up.

It takes a human with a balance of love, stamina, strength, intelligence, fortitude, compassion, calm, resolve, persistence, resourcefulness, creativity and many other attributes to be a mom (parent). Prior to being a mom (parent), I spent most of my time helping Syntel, a global information technology solution provider, generate new business leads and land multi-million-dollar contracts. It was a pretty intense, fast-paced, always-changing, not-for-sissies life.

So, 12 years ago, I sat at my desk in a cubicle at the 525 office building on 16 Mile in Troy, Mich. I was prepping for the next leg in life. 22 more days. The calendar did not lie. My temporary replacement baulked at the project list he would inherit and support. Could he keep up in this needed-it-yesterday environment? That was the least of my worries.

My plan was to work from home until Issa — my eldest child — made her début. Then, maternity leave. But, my first lesson in being a mom (parent) was about being ready for and managing the unexpected. Issa arrived early. Work-from-home projects had to be delegated. Maternity leave began earlier.

What to do? Give Issa all the love and attention she needed to thrive.

The second lesson was about adaptions; survival of the fittest. Before Issa, I easily slept until 9 am. Unfortunately, Issa gravitated toward her dad’s wake-time of 6:30 am; even on weekends. In the beginning, I unleashed a few snarls of discontent at my husband; especially when he claimed not to hear her crying for some attention.

What to do? Wake up! Drink coffee. Play.

Now, early wake-times no longer phase me. In fact, I accomplish more. I stay on track with work, school schedules, volunteerism, socializing, and wine time.

A third lesson, which I am still in the midst of learning, is about resilience and resourcefulness. As Issa entered preschool, we (my husband and I) discovered she had ADD (attention deficit disorder) as well as global development delays. Riff (my youngest) also has learning challenges and development delays.

What to do? Learn. Make friends with school district decision-makers, teachers, therapists, education consultants, pediatric non-profits, and peer parents. Advocate for whatever Issa and Riff need to be on a path for current and future success. Actively support them through participation in their activities, tough love and understanding.

Finally, the most important lesson is the one of patience. Before Issa, patience was not a natural virtue. It still isn’t. It’s just not in my DNA.

What to do? Self-imposed time-outs, calming strategies, and positive self-talk.

Home life is peaceful. Well, maybe I went a little too far there. My home is not synonymous with church. There are daily moments when I snap into a being I do not recognize. I swear, yell and use not-so-nice sign language. Imperfection at its finest; beautiful chaos.

So, now what?

Go with the flow. Be patient. Experiencing the unexpected is one of the greatest gifts of being a mom (parent); and it is not for sissies.

 

Where Were You Yesterday?

On Friday, I dropped in for a brief visit with those characters from the first 50k I wrote in November. Only, I didn’t leave. I lingered for the entire day. Then, I figured, what the heck? I might as well stay for the weekend and clean things up a little.

What started as some simple spring cleaning turned into a major remodeling project. So, that’s where I have been since Friday. Oh well. It’s all good. In the end, I am hopeful I will have a second draft I am happy with.

Yesterday, I managed to escape and return to the real world. I’m pretty sure it’s not the respite I was looking for. But, I think my characters needed some private time. So, here’s a look at where I went …

I dropped Issa off at school just as the last bell rang. She refused to dress and missed the bus… again!

Then, Riff and I went to the library. I let him go in his pajamas because we had been rushed to get Issa to school on time. We picked out some books for Issa to use with her reading tutor later that afternoon. Riff enjoyed playing with the toy train at the library. It operates with the push of a button and circles the the ceiling in the children’s section.

Back at home, I realized our dog, Buddy, accidentally got locked in our master bathroom. Please don’t call animal rescue on me. I put him in there to give him a peaceful place to be while Issa was having her meltdown. But, then I got caught up in the rush to ensure Issa made it to school. Upon rescuing Buddy from the bathroom, Riff and I gave him lots of attention; and then listened to music.

Riff usually takes the bus to school. But, he decided to copy his sister’s lead. Riff refused to dress and missed the bus. He was attempting to talk me into a hooky day. I wasn’t having it.

As I drove him, we experienced a delay due to a traffic jam. A funeral procession was trying to enter a cemetery. There were so many vehicles involved in the procession that it was causing traffic backups in both directions. What really struck me was the assistance a couple motorists gave the grieving family with directing traffic. It did not appear that these two guys were a part of the procession. They must have just seen the family needed help in this way and did what was required to ensure everyone’s the safety on the road.

Back at home I killed it on my elliptical. For the fun of it I tested myself. I ran 3.1 miles in less than 20 minutes. So, I think I have the bug for trying another 5k some time this spring or summer. Don’t you think it’s a good to test one’s ability on real terrain in the real world? I do.

When Issa returned from school, she got to work writing a letter to a boy she had a crush on at school. As she typed, she saw an old note from Riff’s teacher regarding behavior issues her little brother is experiencing at school. The teacher said Riff had been hissing (like a snake) when he refused to comply with her instructions.

Issa said, “I need to stop hissing like a snake at you when I’m at home, mom. Riff is copying off of me.”

B-I-N-G-O!!!!

Big sister finally catches on to what I’ve been telling her for two months, now. So, I make her a deal.

“If you don’t hiss at me for the rest of the week, I’ll take you to the dollar store and buy you more plastic snakes,” I offered.

“Deal!” Issa agreed.

Just this morning, Issa hissed at me. She claims it was just play. But, she and I both know otherwise. So, we’ll see about that trip to the dollar store.

Anyway, back to yesterday’s chaos …

After Riff returned home from school, he and I took Issa to see her reading tutor; and then went to the grocery store to pick up a few things. Want to know something? I forgot to buy bread. So, where do you think I need to go this afternoon? Ugh! You know I’ll end up buying more than that loaf of bread. I even had a list. The first item was what?

B-R-E-A-D!

Finally, after Issa’s reading session was complete, my Tuesday was nearing its finish. We dined on hot dogs, chicken, broccoli, fruit salad, and pizza; and watched Jake and the Neverland Pirates. Issa purchased a 3-D book about snakes from her school’s book fair. So, I read a few pages about these menacing, but fascinating creatures to her.

Once my two were sleeping soundly in their beds, I opted to watch one of the many movies I wanted to see, but didn’t, in 2011. So, with my third glass of Bellissima, a semi-sweet, red from Filipo Marc Winery in Clinton Township, I selected Moneyball.

I will share my thoughts about Moneyball in a future post before the end of the week. You will find it in new category — See It — I am developing. Similar to my Book It category for books I read and like; when I see a movie, television show or live theatrical/musical performance, I like, I’ll tell you about it.

That’s all for now. Enjoy the rest of your Wednesday from where ever you may be.

A WTF Moment: A Call From School You Do NOT Want

I have been battling my two inner voices on whether or not to blab about a WTF moment, I experienced one week ago. One voice keeps saying this is information neighbors need to know. It deals with a rather serious issue — the safety of children while at school — so it’s more than just coffee-break gossip about what so-and-so did at work one day.

A second voice says people make mistakes. It’s not right to blast their errors megaphone-style into the public. I probably would have sided with this voice. But, then, I did some on-the-street interviews at the bus stop. Two of my neighbors, who have children attending the same school experienced similar — but much scarier — WTF experiences, recently.

So, here I am. I am going with that first inner voice. A bonus with  this choice  is linking you to one of my favorite bloggers. Kelly, from Dances with Chaos, posts WTF moments she experiences during her trials as a parent almost each Friday. They are pretty humorous.

While my WTF recount is not humorous, it definitely deserves a replay. So, without further delay …

It’s 10 am on Friday, February 10. I am whizzing around my house taking care of Riff. He’s my five-year-old, son; and he’s been home sick all week. I called him in absent at 8:30 am. He attends a different school than my daughter, Issa.

The phone rings … It’s one of the secretary’s from Issa’s school.

School Secretary: Is Issa absent from school, today?
Me: No, she went to school
Me (thinking and checking my phone number list): I called Riff’s school to report him absent. Did I call the wrong school? I could have experienced a brain fart. I was up until 3 am helping him nurse a bad cold. But, I didn’t call the wrong school.
Me (out loud): She’s not at school? Where is she?
Secretary: Did she come in late?
Me (starting to feel a freak-out coming on): No, she rode the bus with her friends this morning.
Secretary: Oh. Let me double check the (attendance) sheet.
Me: Well, is she at school?
Secretary: Oh. There she is.
Me: Go check and make sure. Call me back.
Secretary: Okay.
Secretary calls me back: Yes. She’s here. I hate it when I do this.
Me (thinking): You’ve done this to a parent before?
Me (out loud): You just gave me a heart attack!

Do you think she’s still thinking about this little mistake like I am?

After considerable research and thought, I have decided something needs to be said to the principal. Here are some additional reasons fueling my blog as well as my fire about having a chat with school personnel.

  • Other parents with students at the same school reported receiving similar erroneous phone calls.
  • Just last week local news reported an attempted abduction at a bus stop, which a bus driver prevented. Also, in May/June 2011, local police alerted school officials about reported attempted abductions in our area.
  • Calls to confirm absences — not called in — are not made until 10 am ish. So, what happens if a child is abducted while walking to school or after getting off the bus. School starts at 8:25 am. That’s a scary amount of lead time to give a predator.
  • Parents said voice mails were left asking parents to confirm an absence. While I feel this step in the school’s process is reasonable and valid, I am questioning whether leaving a voice mail is enough. Perhaps calls to other numbers listed on the student emergency cards would be better protocol. One parent I spoke with said she and her husband were out of town when this voice mail was left. Fortunately, the student’s grandmother checked the voice mails and immediately contacted the school to confirm the child was there. A second parent received a voice mail. But, no one in her family heard the message until 5 pm that day. What if their child had been abducted? What kind of chance would this have given the parents/family of a positive outcome to that type of scenario.

Staying Home

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.

Four Truths About the Bus Stop

The time spent might be viewed as trivial. It only amounts to about five or six minutes each weekday morning and afternoon. But, waiting at the corner bus stop with my fellow parents is one ritual I look forward to rekindling on September 6. Four reasons include

1. Style spotting with fashion-forward, trendy moms with a mutual love for shoes, outer wear, bling and other types of eye candy.

2. Parenting tips and heads-up on school news from those with children who are older than mine; or who work in professions that make it easy for them to get advice that works.

3. Get to know my neighbors. During the summer months, there are neighbors I don’t see very often. So, when school starts in September, bus stop conversation lends itself to impromptu social planning as well as the opportunity to learn about the many hidden talents my neighbors possess: one is incredible at designing her home and at photography, another is very crafty and artistic; a third is successful at keeping her children healthy and in school; and a fourth is a wonder at time management.

4. New recipes. I have to admit my favorite new recipe came from Riff’s bus driver at the conclusion of the 2010-2011 school year. She’s the one who gave me that awesome recipe that calls for Nutella. I have made those cookies at least five times this summer.

https://kateschannel.wordpress.com/2011/06/22/favorite-crunch-time-treats/

https://kateschannel.wordpress.com/2011/06/16/my-year-in-school/

My Year In School

Well, this is it. As my first grader boarded the bus for one last time this morning, my thoughts kept turning to the progress both my children have made in becoming more educated, productive, thoughtful, well-mannered members of society. This progress has been realized through a cohesive, committed, collaborative alliance between myself and a legion of educators, family members, friends, and advocates.

Each year, I consider myself to be a student along with my children. I am not in the classroom. But, I see these early child and elementary school years as a second chance to learn, explore and have fun. Additionally, I come away with homework help techniques, ideas for instilling good lifelong work habits, invaluable advice on a range of parenting issues, and plenty of blog material. This year I learned . . .

the basics – take breaks, stay calm, and listen;
practical things – how to get rid of lice and what not to say at the bus stop; and
important things – popcorn chicken rules and defiance test material; and
how to keep it real while excusing the tooth fairy for a delayed a visit or two.  

 

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