March 2011 - Baby Steps in High Heels

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Motherhood. Work. Guilt.

9:49 AM 7
Motherhood. Work. Guilt.
You might think I’m a total hypocrite. Especially after my recent rah-rah-rah post about leaving the guilt behind to go on vacation sans Baby.

But, I think this is different.

Leaving my child in the loving and capable hands of her grandparents while I vacation with Husband is a little different than leaving her at day care while I’m gone for … work.

It’s a different when I am away for work day after day after day. Night after night. Missing out on special times with my family.

It’s different when I come home only to be gone again just a few days later.

Oh, the guilt.

Baby has been clingy and fussy. And, I’m pretty sure it’s all my fault.

Her schedule these last few weeks has been far from familiar and consistent. I’d be fussy too if I didn’t know what was going to happen in my life from day to day.

And, yes. It’s definitely my fault. (Mine and those pesky teeth she’s cutting right now.)

Between my traveling for work and some very important personal obligations, we’ve had a few extremely busy weeks.

I keep telling myself that it will only be like this for a few more weeks. That consistency for Baby’s schedule (and mine) is on the very near horizon.

But in the meantime … it’s hard.

Yes, it’s true that I’m fulfilling my professional obligations. Meeting my commitments. Providing income and insurance for my family. And I know that will set a good example in the long run.

But, it’s still a choice – albeit an incredibly difficult choice – but one that I make every single day. To go to work. To pick up and leave. To spend nights away in a hotel. To keep Baby guessing as to what will happen next.

Of course, I tell her what will happen, but at 16-months-old, her typical response is usually … “cow?” Or, sometimes it’s, “car!” (Or cup. Or more. Or other similar words that essentially mean she has no clue what the heck I’m saying).

Still, I make the decision every day. I do literally have to talk myself into going to work every day. And it’s true that there’s typically about a 50/50 chance that my decision could go either way (don’t worry, Husband, I won’t do anything drastic!).

But, so far, I have been able to talk myself into it.

Why? Because, at least for now, this is how our family functions. And, really, truly, we are blessed. My job does require me to be away, but only for a few days at a time – not months or longer like some families must deal with. My job is trying, but the difficult times are temporary, with long periods of incredible flexibility. My job does not make every day of our lives ideal, but it does allow for some pretty ideal circumstances that would not be possible if I didn’t work.

As hard as it is on me, I know that I can handle it. I think Baby is pretty resilient too. It is a temporary situation, and she’s learning that Mama will always come back.

And I am learning that motherhood is full of difficult decisions – figuring out how to weigh, measure, and balance the various circumstances of our lives to provide the best possible lifestyle for our family.

It’s not always easy, but I am grateful for the fact that the choices are mine to make. The guilt certainly prevails from time to time. Okay, more often than not. But that’s okay too … maybe it’s just there to help keep the balance.

Today, I’m linking up with Shell’s Pour Your Heart Out!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Work ...

9:24 AM 3
Work ...
Sometimes balancing work and motherhood means blogging less.

But I hope to be blogging (and commenting) more regularly very soon.

I am really starting to miss it ... and y'all!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Honored Guest

9:37 AM 0
Honored Guest
I'm so excited to be guest posting over at Momma's Pixie Dreams today!

Check out what I have to say about baby registries ... and the items I should have included on that list, had I only known then what I know now.

And, please, weigh in! What would you have registered for if you had had even a single ounce of parenting experience at the time?

Seriously, that 'comprehensive' guide they hand you in the big box baby store makes no mention of registering for dishwashing soap. Or wine.

Happy Friday, everyone!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

7:25 AM 4
Wordless Wednesday

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Vacation Recap: Guilty.

9:00 AM 6
Vacation Recap: Guilty.
A couple of weeks ago, I admitted that I never actually planned to take that dream vacation that Husband so badly wanted. Although I consented to the trip, participated in booking all the details, and talked about what we would do when we arrived … I never actually thought I would go.

Then something crazy happened.

I went.

I boarded the plane. I didn’t ask the pilot to pull back to the gate. I didn’t hop right onto a return flight the second we landed in Jamaica. I didn’t ask to change our original return date to a day or two (or three) earlier.

And even though we never managed to get Skype to work, I was okay.

Even though we were only able to keep up with Baby via (very slow) emails, I was okay.

Even though I was sick the entire time, I was okay.

I was okay.

Actually, I was more than okay. I really and truly enjoyed this vacation. I enjoyed relaxing on a beach, sleeping through the night without a baby monitor attached to my ear, and having adult conversations with Husband. Not once did we discuss diaper contents. And, although there was a close call with a peacock (which are much scarier than they are pretty), we didn’t have any instance where food was spit into our faces or thrown onto the floor.

It was nice to reconnect with each other, and with ourselves. I spent hours in the afternoon reading, napping, and just recuperating. Husband, from the inception of this trip, had said that we were long overdue a few days off. He was able to say out loud, what it took me many months to even consider admitting to myself … that my difficult pregnancy had taken a toll, not only on my body and his sanity, but on our relationship.

And throwing a new baby and the new state of parenthood into the mix literally two seconds after I stopped feeling like death on a stick (note – hyperemisis literally disappears the moment you give birth), well … we were tired. We needed a vacation. I just couldn’t admit it. And, of course, I didn’t want to leave Baby for an entire week.

I know A LOT of moms out there in the same boat. It’s that damn crippling mama-guilt. And, I suppose we wouldn’t be good mothers without it, but I still think it’s highly unfair to have to endure this constant struggle: balancing emotions with logic … the guilt over leaving your child for more than 2 minutes with a reasonable need to recharge your own batteries.

Here’s the thing: Baby was FINE. Actually, she was more than fine. She spent the entire week at the equivalent of baby heaven/summer camp/Disney land. She spent the week being loved and spoiled by her grandparents. And she loved every single second of it. I have a feeling that she had more ice cream in those short 5 days than she’s had in her entire life.

Here’s the other thing: almost two months later, there are NO negative ramifications from us having been gone. When I think back, I realize … I would have felt just as guilty leaving her at day care every morning to go to work (guilt I feel every day anyway). So why not feel that guilt while sitting on a beach for a few days?

I did notice that her hair seemed to have grown while we were away and that she was much more confidently able to stand up when we returned. But, you know what? I’ve notice those things happen during the course of a single normal day too. She’ll look different when I pick her up in the afternoon than she did in the morning. If I was going to miss out on something, wasn’t it better to do it while spending time reconnecting with my husband than typing away on a keyboard at work?

The most important thing, though, was that Husband and I were able to recharge. Ourselves. Our marriage. Our family. Aren’t these the important keys to protecting Baby in the long run anyway?

As with my business trips, leaving is always the hardest part. Getting out the door, in the car, on the plane … always the most difficult aspect. That, and grappling with feeling so dang guilty about leaving. I’m not sure that part will ever go away.

And that’s okay. I can live with the guilt.

But I won’t let it control me.

Not all the time, anyway.

I'm linking up with Shell at Things I Can't Say today for Pour Your Heart Out Wednesday. Happy FIRST Birthday PYHO! It's been a great year ... here's to many more!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

PYHO ...

9:27 AM 10
PYHO ...
I know, I know … I promised you all part two of my vacation recap this week. But, after a weekend plagued by food poisoning or a stomach bug or whatever it was, I haven’t had an opportunity to get to that just yet. It’s coming, I promise!

For today, I simply have a very important, albeit unsolicited, public service announcement.

This week, a young mother in the town where I live, forgot to drop her baby off at day care. After nine hours in the car, on a day that reached almost 90 degrees, the infant died.

I read about this last night, while sitting in a hotel room many, many miles from my own child. I cannot tell you how, as a mother, this literally buckled me. It took nearly everything I had not to get in my car at 10 pm and make the 3 hour drive back home. If for nothing else, just to hear the sound of my own baby breathing in her sleep.

I’d love to offer an insightful perspective of a working/traveling mom who hears this kind of news while away from her own child. It happens to me quite a lot, actually … a school shooting, a plane crash. It all makes me want to flee right back to the comforts of my family.

But I simply cannot wrap my brain (or my heart) around this topic without literally losing it. Perhaps because it does hit too close to home. We’d all like to think that this could never happen to us. That we’d never let it happen. But, it is my opinion that that assumption in and of itself is quite possibly one of the first steps that can lead to tragedies like this.

My heart breaks for this family. For that poor baby. For anyone who has ever lost a child.

Another mom in my community shared some very helpful tips, that I thought I’d also post here.

1. Put a teddy bear in the car seat. Then when putting the child in the car seat, remove said teddy bear and put him in the front seat with you.

2. Put your briefcase, purse, cell phone, lunch or whatever in the back seat. Obviously something that you remember to take into work (or wherever) with you.

3. Ask your daycare to call you if your child doesn't show up within a short window of his or her normal arrival time.

One thing that I personally always do is immediately open the door to the back of my car when I park. This is most feasible when I pull into the garage at my house, but it works other places too.

If you have other suggestions, please share.

But, I am asking that all judgmental, hurtful, and mean spirited comments be omitted. This family, although anonymous to most of you, will already endure immeasurable pain and grief. There is no need to further tear them down with destructive comments.

Thanks. And, please, hug your babies a little more closely today. I have to wait until tomorrow before I see Baby again … I’m counting the seconds.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

This time last year ...

7:30 AM 12
This time last year ...
Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop asks: What were you blogging about last year at this time? What has changed?

To that, I respond: Baby, of course!

But, more specifically, I was blogging about being a new mom. About figuring things out. About learning my way as a working mom. About choosing my battles and finding my identity in this new life of motherhood.

I wrote a concession ‘speech’ to the formula we ultimately put Baby on after my attempts at nursing completely and utterly (pun intended) failed. Right now, we’re currently – finally – able to transition Baby off of formula to whole milk. Her weight issues have all but resolved themselves. Thank you, solid foods.

I blogged about poop. Yup, that’s right. I opened that subject up right on a public forum, something I never would have done in my pre-parenthood days. Today, I could probably mention diaper contents in the course of a professional conversation and not even realize it. Although I generally try not to go there at work …

And, I wrote about a conference I had to attend, the first trip (of many) that I would be required to spend nights away from home. I think I must have written a small (or maybe not so small) instruction manual for my mere 2 day absence. I also wrote my first survival post! Something I’m currently in the midst of doing again this year, but for a completely different reason (vacation, not work!)

A year in review: it would seem that life is both very similar and very different all at the same time. I think the major difference now is that I know I can do this! The motherhood thing. The working mom thing. It was all so daunting a year ago.

Of course, that could have had a little something to do with insane hormones and total sleep deprivation. But, even though I’m still learning as I go, it’s not a total guessing game anymore.

There are some things that just come naturally now. Like turning on the coffee maker while still asleep. Seamlessly slipping on a pair of flats instead of heels. And, you know … other important parenting skills, too.

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Incidentally, this week, I’m also celebrating my one year anniversary of publishing my Macaroni Kid newsletter! I think it’s pretty awesome that I’ve been able to successfully balance getting this thing together Every. Single. Week. for an entire year. I’ve really enjoyed doing this, and I’d love to tell you more about it if you’re interested in publishing for your own community. Just ask!

[And, I'm sorry .. .I can't get Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop button to work, so I'm just adding a live link.]

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Vacay Recap: Part 1

8:17 AM 5
Vacay Recap: Part 1
Truth be told, I wanted no part of this dream vacation.

Pristine, white beaches. Warm, turquoise waters. All inclusive resort.

I wanted nothing to do with any of it. I wasn’t ungrateful. I just didn’t want to go. I couldn’t fathom choosing to leave Baby behind for an entire week. Especially not when I have to be gone so often for work. I couldn’t wrap my head around leaving by choice rather than obligation.

But I agreed anyway.

I agreed to take the trip. I made the decision almost a year in advance of our departure date. And, I can honestly say that somewhere in the back of my mind, I never really planned to go. I lived in a state of denial all summer, fall, and most of the holiday season.

But, I had agreed to take the trip with Husband.

Why?

Because Husband really wanted to go.

He wanted to go so badly that he did the research. He made the plans. He booked the trip. And, he paid for it all.

Something that hasn’t happened in all of our relationship. In all of our travels, I am usually the one who makes the arrangements. But, this go-round, Husband needed a break. He needed that vacation.

And, when you have a husband like mine – one who does more than his fair share, who rarely complains, who you don’t actually count as an extra child – you want to do what you can to make him happy.

Husband is wonderful. He is not your average husband. He goes above and beyond on a regular basis. And he rarely asks for anything in return.

But after nine hellacious months of pregnancy and almost 15 months into Baby’s short life, Husband was tired. He wanted a break. A little getaway. Six days and five nights on a Jamaican beach.

Honestly, I was tired too. If I was honest with myself, I could have used the break, too. The last couple of years had been trying for me, as well.

But ... I. Did. Not. Want. To. Go.

Get on a plane? Fly away from my child? By choice? Nope.

Truth be told, I spent a solid nine months prior to our vacation pretending that I wasn’t even going to Jamaica. We had the plane tickets, and the resort was booked. But I would deflect the conversation anytime Husband would bring up the subject. Sometimes I would play along, but I almost always mentioned some caveat that ended with a comment like … “IF I even get on a plane.”

Flash forward to our day of departure. I’m putting one foot in front of the other. Taking baby steps, if you will. Telling myself that I don’t have to get on the plane. I just have to pack my bag. Put the bag in the car. Drive to the airport. Baby steps.

All the while, I’m an emotional wreck on the inside. Add to it an inexplicably, inconsolably screaming child.

I'm researching our cancellation policy a mere 12 hours before our scheduled flight. I am NOT going on this trip.

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Tune in next week to find out how and why I actually did get on the plane. How I not only left Baby, but left her while she was sick. And how … at the end of the day, at the end of the week, everything actually ended up being just fine.

Today, I’m linking up with Shell at Things I Can't Say for Pour Your Heart Out Wednesday, something I haven’t done in quite a while. It’s nice to be back!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

CSN Stores Review

9:37 PM 0
CSN Stores Review
It seems that CSN Stores have been all over the blogosphere lately, and I’m very excited to tell y’all that they have not given up on me! Although they approached me back in October, and I have procrastinated and procrastinated, they’re still on board!

In case you haven’t heard of them, you should know that they’re an amazing, comprehensive network of over 200 online stores. They offer everything from kid/baby/family-type products that are always on my mind to things like video games and TVs and LCD TV stands, which are always on Husband’s mind!

I’ll be doing a product review for CSN Stores shortly, so stay tuned!