Friday, January 28, 2011

The little things

I've been a Negative Nancy lately, what with all my posts about feeling burnt out and angry. I know it's par for the course of being a working mom and trying to balance a job that I no longer want with a family. But I took a much needed personal day the other day and had time to refill my energy/happiness battery. It felt wonderful to spend the day with the hubs and the owlet. I went to mommies group. We went out to brunch. I did things for me. It was great. Til I went back to work and almost immediately felt my battery be drained.

I really wanted to keep that positive energy going, at least for a day. I feel crappy when all I think all day are crappy thoughts. So today, I'm bringing some positivity to work. These are the things that are making me smile today.


This is my new wallpaper on my desktop at work. How can anyone NOT smile seeing that gorgeous face and that adorable smile? Seriously. If that doesn't brighten your day than you are the grinchiest grinch.

2. The hubs got free tickets to Universal Studios. Which means: WIZARDING WORLD OF HARRY POTTER. For those of you who don't know me, I am a Harry Potter freak. Like, for real. I don't take it so far as to wear Hogwarts robes as my daily wardrobe (partly because I don't have any) but I've read the books like a gajillion times and will happily talk your ear off about the ins and outs of the books and all the things they got wrong in the movies. I am so totally stoked about this that I actually used the word stoked. There is nothing planned of course, because I only found out about it at 2:00 this morning, but yeah. The mere thought of planning a vacation makes my heart happy.

3. The owlet is learning to sit up on his own. He rolled from back to tummy the other day. He is growing up so much, and I love to watch him learn and discover new things. So, when things get me down, I look at my desktop and think about that smiling face that's going to be waiting for me when I get home and all the fun we're going to have together tonight and this weekend. (I try not to think about all the fun he's having while I'm not with him, because that just brings me down, and that's not what we're focusing on today.)

4. I have an incredibly loving and supportive husband, who knew that telling me about Universal Studios would brighten my crappy night (the owlet was up every hour and a half last night. ugh.), and who loves me even when I am completely and utterly insane and do nothing but complain about my job.


Monday, January 24, 2011

Getting the angries out

I work as a therapist with kids and I talk to them a lot of times about healthy ways that they can get their anger out, like hitting pillows or wiggling their little bodies around. I tell them about the dangers of holding their anger in, that if they don't let it out in good ways they will explode like a volcano.

Friends, I feel like a volcano tonight. There are some rumblings and any day now some molten hot lava will come spewing out and will burn everyone within a 10 mile radius. Or something.

But seriously. The danger of feeling bunt out and having my support system be either a. asleep or b. working, means that when it all gets to be too much, I just want to explode.

So if I do explode, who do I take it out on? Certainly not the owlet. Not the man asleep next to me. Maybe the dog. (sorry, Patronus.) Really, I take it out on no one. Instead it festers. Little things turn into enormous things. Like the sound of the dogs nails click-click-clickibg on the hardwood floor after we just got the owlet down for the night. Like the fact that he is now up, because of the incessant clicking. Like the fact that as much as I want to sleep, or read and relax before bed, I will be up, holding the owlet 'til he's deep enough asleep to put back down. Or the fact that the hubs is napping before work. This last thing shouldn't bother me but it does. Because, hello? Festering volcano.

When I have moments/days/weeks like this, I try to find my own things to help calm the angries. Like blogging. Watching the owlet sleep. Listening to the owlet laugh. It pours a little bit of cold water on the flames. Doesn't quite put it out, of course, but it helps.

At least until the next night.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Burnt. Out.

Ya'll, I am burnt out at my job. I have mentioned this before, briefly, but it's getting serious. I have cried at work almost every day this week, and not because I miss the owlet, although that's part of it. I think the only day I didn't cry was yesterday, but that was because I was so godawfully busy that I didn't even have time to stop and think.

I work with some pretty tough people. Let me rephrase that. I work with some pretty great kids and some pretty crappy parents who I often want to shake and slap upside the head. I want to shake them and smack them a lot more than I used to before the owlet arrived. And now that he's here, well, these crappy parents just put me over the edge. And, I'll be honest. Not all of the kids I work with are great, but some of them really are, they just have terrible home lives. Burnout:1, Jess: 0

For the record, I was feeling pretty fried before I left on Materinty Leave. Then I came back from said leave to a damn near full caseload and a heavy heart to have to leave my owlet everyday. I searched high and low for a part time job while I was on leave, to no avail. I even asked my supervisor if I could come back part time so that I could spend more time with my lil guy, because let's face it, I didn't want to come back anyway, but if I could do it part time it might be somewhat more bearable. (she said No. In case you couldn't guess.)

Adding to the burnout is the fact that I never see the hubs. Ok, I see him. But it's for about 3-4 hours everyday. The same amount of time I get to spend with the owlet. And it's not enough quality time with either of them. I spent most of that time feeding the owlet and playing with him before it's time for his bedtime routine, and then mine. And since the hubs works nights, he usually naps before he goes in. So the whole family usually heads to bed by about 7:30. Awesome. Makes you wonder why laundry hasn't been put away in a fortnight, doesn't it?
Burnout: 3, Jess: 0

So, my main source of support is not home at night, and he sleeps during the day. I am incredibly burnt out already on my job, and am searching fruitlessly for something else that will allow me to work part time and with decent enough pay and hours so that I actually get to spend time with the lil man. All of this in a job economy that sucks.
Burnout: 5, Jess: 0

One of the amazing therapists I work with did a talk on vicarious trauma/burnout the other day, and she asked us to think about why we do what we do. For me, right now, being totally honest with myself (and all of you) I do it for the owlet. I do it to bring home a paycheck. Not the best reason to continue to do the work that I do, but, well. That's what it is.

And when I come home after a tiring, trying day, and I see that look of recognition on the owlet's face, and I see that incredible smile that lights up his face, well, sometimes that makes things a whole lot better. And when I get to spend time playing with him and he laughs and smiles and babbles and coos with me, it just makes me melt. It makes me start to forget the crappy day I just had.

Burnout: 6, Jess: 3.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

the "perfect" mother

As the owlet gets older (4 whole months!) and starts watching my every move with intense fascination, it makes me think even more about what kind of mom I am and what kind of mom I'd ultimately like to be.

As moms, who are our role models? Who do we want to be like, and who do we not want to be like? I know for myself I have my own mother as a role model, who supported me in all my decisions, crazy though they probably seemed at the time. There are women I don't even know who I think ate pretty kick-ass moms, like her and her, and while she may be surprised, this mom too. Not actually "knowing" them, they probably also feel like there are things they could do better, or be better at. They probably also question themselves every day, and wonder if they're doing the right thing.

At dinner at Olive Garden last night, the owlet had decided that he'd had enough, that and the fact that he barely had a nap all day made for a really fun screaming baby. I felt like every other person in the restaurant was cursing me under his or breath for not taking better care of this screaming child, or just shutting him up. And I felt terrible. Thankfully we had finished dinner and were almost done desert (which I didn't get to finish. sadly.) I felt in that moment like I wasn't even a good enough mother, let alone a "perfect" one. I know that people will tell me that I'm being too hard on myself. That everyone feels like that sometimes. That all babies scream and cry and make their moms feel like they want to crawl under the table and hide. That no mom is the "perfect" mom, and that this is an ideal that if we strive for it, will just make us crazy.

I remember a class in grad school where they talked about the "good enough mother." Something about meeting your child's needs 70-80% of the time made you "good enough." But I've never liked the way that sounded. I don't want to be good enough. I want to be great. I don't want my son to think of me as an "OK" mom, I want him to think of me as a great mom. A mom who supported him, helped him fulfill his dreams. Encouraged him to be who he wanted and steered him in the direction to make good choices.

But I feel like a lot of the times I'm not even a good enough mother. I see all these other moms who I feel like are so much more with it. Who seem to know just what songs to sing, or what games to play with their little ones to keep them constantly smiling. Who had their babies sleeping through the night by 3 weeks. Who don't get frustrated to the point of wanting to pull their hair out when their child won't stop screaming and won't take a nap.

Maybe we all feel like this at some point? That the myth of the perfect mother is just too much to live up to, damn it, and we're all just doing the best we can.

Or, maybe that's just me.

Friday, January 7, 2011

a day in the life

between 2:00-3:30am-Feed the owlet. Hope that he falls back asleep easily, but when he doesn't, decide to hold him in bed until the next feeding.

between 6:15-6:45-wake up, again, by the crying owlet, who is also kicking me in the stomach because, yup, he fell asleep in bed with me.

7:00-8:00-frantically run around the house changing the owlet, get his diaper bag ready, curse myself for not getting these things done the night before, shower (if lucky) get myself ready, trip over the dog who is under foot and desperate to go outside, curse at him several times, make breakfast, lug the owlet from room to room in his carseat while attempting to do all of the above.

8:05-praise the lord that the hubs has arrived home, who walks the dog. put coat on owlet, and owlet back in car seat. Squeeze Sophie 800 times so the owlet stops crying.

8:15-several kisses and "I love you's" to the owlet and to the hubs, hold back tears as they both leave for the Mother-in-Law's. Give the dog several cookies to keep him from leaving when they leave.

8:16-dash out the door, give the dog more cookies.

8:25- running absurdly late, wait in line at Starbucks for far too long for the coffee I need far too much.

8:40-arrive to work, late, again.

8:45-3:30- work. pretend to work. blog at work. Pump at work, being totally paranoid that someone is going to walk in. Miss the owlet. Hold back tears about missing the owlet. Walk around feeling like I've forgotten something, misplaced something, need to do something. Work and pretend to work some more.

3:30-the kids are leaving school, so, so am I. Pretend not to feel guilty that I'm leaving work at this time. Add all the things that didn't get done today to the to-do list for tomorrow. Keep fingers crossed that the owlet needs to eat when I get home.

3:50-arrive home. the owlet has already eaten/is asleep. Cry. Pump. Hold the owlet so that the hubs can walk the dog.

4:00-soothe the crying owlet. Hand him back to the hubs so that I can store my milk/finish pumping.

4:30-zone out in front of the tv. Play with the owlet. Bitch to the hubs about my day.

5:00-dinner. eat with one hand while trying to soothe/keep the owlet entertained with the other.

5:30-feed the owlet

6:00-owlet's bath time, story time, swaddle time.

6:30-give the owlet back to the hubs so that I can wash the bottles/pump parts. Curse myself for not doing this earlier. Get frustrated at the little amount of time I get to spend with the owlet while he's awake, and that I spend so much of it not actually with him. Do the dishes/start the laundry. (maybe.)

7:00-take the owlet back from the hubs so he can fall asleep. Hold the owlet and hope he falls asleep soon too.

7:30-feed the owlet again, because he's still not asleep. hold him longer.

8:00-finally put the sleeping owlet down. Play DS game/read until eyes no longer stay open. Keep fingers crossed that the owlet stays asleep for longer than an hour

8:30-attempt to get sleep

9:45-hubs up to walk the dog, go to work. Fingers still crossed.

midnight: wake up to screaming owlet. Feed owlet. Stare at owlet as he falls back to sleep and marvel at the fact that I made this little being. Feel immense amount of love. Keep fingers crossed that he stays asleep for longer than an hour.

between 2:00 and 3:30-start all over again.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

what a difference a year makes!

Its so funny when I think back on how much has changed in a year. This time last year I was sitting with a secret so big I thought I might burst. We found out I was pregnant on the 28th of December, (and again on the 30th because I didn't believe the first pregnancy test) which made New Year's a little tricky... "you're not drinking? How come?" (Made me feel like I had a little bit of a problem when everyone was surprised that I wasn't partaking in the consumption of alcohol, but whatevs.)

For much of January I felt like the cat who swallowed the canary. Walking around with this enormous secret, bursting to tell people but wanting to wait until we knew for certain we were in the clear. Of course, some people we told right away, but with most everyone else we waited until 13 weeks. It's crazy to think back to where I was a year ago, with a tiny little being probably no bigger than a poppy seed in my belly, and now, my little owlet is ginormous (or so it seems to me),

I remember the worries about if I would lose the pregnancy, if all the tests would come back OK, if it would be a boy when what I really wanted (at the time) was a girl, how we were going to afford this little being. But I also remember the excitement, the anticipation, the hopes, dreams and aspirations I had for this tiny little person who wasn't even in the world yet.

And now, a year later, I am ecstatic that my little owlet is a boy. I love him more than I will ever be able to express. I still have worries about him, but they are of a different kind than they were when he was in my tummy. I still worry about the money, but what parent doesn't? And of course, I'm still filled with hopes, dreams and aspirations for him.

It's funny now that I'm looking back on last year, while at the same time I'm looking forward to this time next year. Alex's first Christmas has come and gone. He spent most of it being fussy and not realizing what was happening, I tried to get him to help me open presents but I don't really think he was having it, (but what do you expect from a 3 1/2 month old?) Next year I'm sure he'll be a little more into it, and the hubs and I will be trying hard to stay sane while chasing after a toddler, hoping he doesn't knock the tree over or break every ornament.

By this time next year...well, I don't know what this time next year will bring, other than more memories with my owlet and the hubs. I hope to have a new job, one that will allow me to stay home more often. I hope to have moved into a bigger place, with more space for the little man to move and crawl and eventually run around in. And I hope to have a million more memories that I can reflect on this time next year.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Houston, We Have a Problem

So said the text to the hubs last night when my little owlet decided that the only place he wanted to sleep was next to me. And when I say next to, I mean ON. What have I done? For the past several weeks we've been co-sleeping, partly because it took him forever to fall asleep after his middle of the night feedings, and I was far too tired to sit there and hold him until he fell in a deep enough sleep, so I started letting him just sleep on me, because at least that way we both got some sleep.

Cut to a week later, and him sleeping on me in the middle of the night has turned into 10:00. He'll go down fine in the pack-n-play in our room for about an hour around 8:00. But then he wakes up SCREAMING like we're murdering him or something. Is he cold? I don't know. Is he hungry? Maybe. Is he annoying the crap out of me? YES. It's also incredibly frustrating because I just don't know what's wrong. So I nurse him and he falls asleep again. Back in the pack-n-play he goes, for another 10 minutes, if we're lucky. By this point the hubs has to leave for work and I'm exhausted and just can't stand it anymore, so into bed with me he goes.

Lately he's been sleeping next to me rather than on me, but he has to be touching me or all hell breaks loose. Seriously. Last night I tried to set him down on the bed NOT touching me and good lord, that kid has a set of lungs on him. I swear one of these days the neighbors are going to call the police, the way that kid screams.

So, what have I done? Have I doomed us to him sleeping with us forever? I mean, don't get me wrong, I love having him next to me, especially since I don't get to see him all day. But I don't love that he totally spazzes in the middle of the night, kicking me in the stomach (thanks Alex, but you did that enough when you were in my belly), grabbing me in the face and generally making it difficult to get a decent night's sleep. I guess really, for now it's the lesser of two evils, because at least when he's in bed with me I get more sleep than I would if I just sat up waiting for him to fall asleep, only to have to get up and hold him 20 minutes later when he realizes he's not with me anymore.

But really, is he going to be 15 and still sleeping in mommy's bed? I'm all for him being securely attached to me, but that might be a little much.