Legos and longing -second thoughts on working mom-dom.

I am sharing this piece which I first posted on Spirit of Power early this week, because the response has been so overwhelmingly supportive, and because the topic has consumed my thoughts since the spark was lit in my little mind.  I have joked that I seem to have triggered my midlife crisis (which it very well might be,) but I hope that I can channel the upheaval into something mildly more practical than buying a sports car.  (ha)

Original Post Here

mommy and me

Late this morning over a quick lunch break, I was diving down the rabbit hole of Instagram to let my mind wander from a project I was a bit stuck on for work. I stumbled on a simple post of an ADORABLE baby sitting in the sun in a chair, giggling at his mom off camera. SO CUTE! I clicked to read the caption of this cuteness.

Two minutes later I was broken, sobbing and groping for tissues in a haze of envy and guilt and sadness.

The cutie-patootie’s mom posted the smushy picture of him to celebrate her first day as a stay at home mom. It is a simple thing, upon first thought. It was the second wave of my mind’s wandering that kind of ripped me in two.

It was her first day of being with that smiling boy at home, completely on purpose. Not because she was on vacation and trying not to think about the email that must be piling up and the fires that will need putting out when she returns.

Not because the baby was sick, or because plans for his care fell through, or because she was working from home with him there as well due to a heavy snow storm. (The latter of which never truly works, resulting in guilt about sticking in a video and begging the kiddo to please be quiet for that conference call, followed by work guilt because productivity drops when you have one eye on the laptop and one eye on your offspring.)

It was her first day without division in her mind, her heart, and her time. No internal war to be everything to everyone. For the first time, she was all his. Concentrating on him, and his surroundings, and nothing else, is ok for her now.

Years ago, before Junior came along, I would daydream about that being my reality

It wasn’t in the cards, and I adored the lovely Christ-centered daycare Junior attended during his first year of life. I am so proud of all he learns and of the way he has found his place in his little community at the academic center he attends now, truly I am.

In our neighborhood, there are many moms who stay home with their children, and I think it has accentuated some of the things I fear Junior misses as a “day care kid.”

He misses the flexibility of schedule to try new activities, or have a play date with neighbors, or even stay in pajamas all day “just because.” There’s no chance to abandon an activity to head outside for a bike ride or snowman building or kite-flying, regardless of perfect weather conditions.

Days are full of hurrying out the door late, off to day care as mom worries over email and deadlines and trying to cram it all in, while also figuring out when doctor appointments and dentist visits and haircuts might fit in to the picture. Of course, always keeping fingers crossed that Junior doesn’t get sick and bring the whole precarious mess to a screeching halt.

It’s a tough realization to find that I am resentful of my child for getting sick, when he does, because it throws off the tightrope walk that I am barely pulling off with him healthy.

Evenings are a blur of pick-ups and meal prep and rushing toward bedtime routine to (hopefully) get him in bed before “tired” turns to “overtired meltdown madness.” Usually I am thinking of the To Do list I need to get started on once he is asleep and praying that he will drift off quickly. Then in a few short hours the whole scene plays out again.

It feels like our family, and especially Junior and I, are running and running to get to some place or goal or SOMETHING, but never getting there.

Suddenly today, while inhaling my lunch and trying to distract myself from the reality of my truth, it smacked me square in the face.

Today is the first day of a really great new normal for that mom and her sweet smiling son.

Today for Junior is just another day where his mom bustled him off to “school” early because she was stressed about looming deadlines and semi-dreading what the impending snowstorm would mean for her ability to work tomorrow (while trying to squeeze in some “one eye on each” activity with him, if possible.)

You know what? That sucks.

My proudest accomplishments lie not within deadlines met and task lists checked off. They are measured in the way he pulls my ear down close to his mouth and whispers “I love you mommy,” and in the joy on his face as we build a new incarnation of a superhero hideout out of legos.

I do imagine what it would be like to focus just on him.

I don’t know what a next step would be – Instagram mom’s new SAHM path can’t be mine right now.

Parents who do stay at home with their children have challenges and feel conflicted too, I am sure. I don’t mean to discount the mountains each person must climb each day.

But I think that the search for a new normal has begun today…. in my heart, and I pray also in my actions.


Filed under Mom life, musing

Repairing leather Furniture: I fought the couch, and the couch won. (Kind of.)


This is Potter.

We‘ve discussed the MONUMENTAL importance of Potter before, so I will keep my love-gush to myself. (He’s-the-best-thing-ever-there-I-said-it-whew.)

Potter is not a destructive guy. Never really has been. Sure there was a shoe or two lost to his puppy-chewing days, but he takes pretty good care of our stuff, all in all.

So great was both my surprise and despair when he found the PERFECT new place in the basement to hide his Greenie last Friday night, and upon investigation from The Mr., said place turned out to be our leather sectional.

Swearing ensued from the depths of the media room as I cranked up the Bubble Guppies and ushered Jr quickly upstairs away from the onslaught. (Think Ralphie’s mom trying to drown out his dad’s furnace fights in A Christmas Story. Yep, you get the picture.)

What can I say? I was scratched. Scratched bad.

The Mr.’s sideways crusty glares at the furry little shape of my heart needed to be stopped, so I Googled furiously for answers.

Two days later, a text from my Father-in-law came. Turns out his talents aren’t confined to his (substantial) cocktail mixing skills; he is also the mack daddy maven of furniture damage camouflage. (Thank goodness.)

In the interest of saving you the crippling option anxiety of blindly choosing from the VAST solutions offered on the internet (and I guess ironically become another of them,) here is what I found:

What did NOT help:

-The “cleaning and protecting” junk that came with the sofa

-Leather conditioning wipes

-Lexol (but it will make your cowboy boots soft as a baby’s butt. You are welcome.)

-pens designed to mask dings in wood floors/furniture

-creamy shoe polish that comes in a tube

-shameless bargaining prayer

What did help:

-Leather conditioning wax like this:

-shoe polish that matches the couch leather:

– buffing in the direction that pushes the tears back down on themselves

What I did:

After using all of the things that didn’t work, I had cleaned the scratches to a high shine. NOT the intended result obviously.

So I used some of the clear conditioning wax, and it seemed to help glue down the tears a bit, but they were still really obvious.
It was at this point that I called Father-in-law for some follow up direction on his initial text of “use shoe polish and buff it in really good.”   Or maybe I just called for moral support, since I was about to put REALLY dark, really messy shoe polish all over the sofa that already had The Mr. seeing red. The potential for disaster was EPIC.

After consulting with him, and listening to his many tales of repaired dings, scrapes, scuffs, and stains – I held my breath and dove in, spreading a thick layer of the shoe polish over the scratches:

I am not going to lie – there was more shameless bargaining prayer at this juncture.

A lot.

The first time, I panicked and started rubbing it away too early. The polish hadn’t dried, so most of it came off. Nope Keri, you were going to have to follow the directions and let it dry completely (but the directions are for SHOES!!! AHHHHH!!!)
I spread a new layer on and this time and for good measure I spread a thin layer over the whole square. (Look at you, getting all brave, Miss Thang.)

Then I let it dry for a good 10 minutes. Then I started to buff. Um…. It was kind of not coming off. DANGER KERI!!!

Like Skywalker hearing Ben Kenobi urging him to “use the force, Luke,” I heard my sage FIL’s words “just keep buffing.”

So I buffed and buffed. Until I looked down and realized it looked better. Like, LOTS better. I took pictures to poll the audience on FB, as I was kind of humming from the shoe polish fumes by then.

Here is the side-by-side (before on left, after on right):

Not bad, right? My contact high is long gone, and I am still pretty impressed.

ANDPLUSALSO, I sat and rubbed my bootie on it and it did not transfer, so I won’t be staining guests’ backsides with my handiwork.

Is it undetectable? Nope. You can totally see it – especially with a recessed light DIRECTLY above it. Is it much worse to our (and by “our” I mean The Mr.’s) eye than it ever would be to anyone else?

Yup. Totally.

I haven’t ruled out the idea of eventual professional intervention – but I am pretty proud of my masking job.

I know (because EVERYONE had a story when I lamented the happenings on social media,) that lots of you have great ideas, and some pretty hilarious “how did that happen” stories) about covering your household’s dings, scrapes, and scratches. Share with us in the comments! Tips and tricks? What absolutely did NOT work?

As my Jedi-master FIL pointed out “you’ve got kids…. You’ve got dogs… you are going to have damage.”

Hold tight, husband. The battle to save the furniture has just begun.


Filed under DIY, Helpful

Put the liners down, ma’am. Just Sayin’.

Let’s say your dog scratches hell out of the leather sofa (more to come on that, because BELIEVE when I say I have some lessons learned about it,) and you are tasked with dealing with that situation.

Let’s also say you are on your second trip in one day to the store for various leather treatment/color/conditioning supplies. It MIGHT be best to just concentrate on selecting and purchasing those supplies, and not grabbing anything else you might be needing outside of that task.

BUT – if you decide to grab said other things, at least do it AFTER you have selected the leather supplies, or you might find yourself deep in thought in front of the shoe polish, absentmindedly tapping a box of panty (cringe) liners up against your chin. You might also be so startled when a clerk asks if you need help finding anything, that you gesture wildly in the direction of the polishes with said liners while explaining your lack of “cordovan polish” understanding.
If all this happens, it will NOT result in the answers you seek.
Just sayin’.

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Burning Question – Underwear

Queue the trumpets, because I am introducing a new feature here on Reluctantly Suburban!!
Here’s the thing: in the day-to-day of Keriness, I confess that a lot of time is taken up with the mundane..
Things like “check for food in teeth,” and “concentrate walking because when you don’t you trip on stuff,” and of course “check for pants before leaving house” (for both Jr and myself, because let’s face it, #momlife ain’t always easy, yo.)
But somehow, even with all of those ridiculous high-level thoughts taking up so much space in the brain, there is still room in there for questions.  Questions that get trapped and grow from passing thoughts to ginormous wonderings.
Important ? Goodness no, hardly ever.
But still – Keri’s gotta know.
So I give you, KERI’S BURNING QUESTIONS!! ::::fireworks, glitter-bombs, jazz hands!!!:::::

Let’s dive right in with one that has eaten at me for an embarrassing length of time:

Underwear: singular or plural?

When I talk about underwear (which is my preferred moniker for the pantalones worn under the outers, if you will, since I am a hater of the word panties er… the p- word,) I always use plural pronouns.
For example “Have you seen my pink underwear? I put them in with your sheets, and I can’t find them now.”
BUT – I often hear folks, especially TV characters, use singular pronouns, i.e.: “That’s my underwear and you can’t borrow it!”
It? IT?
No… it should be “them” shouldn’t it?

It eats at me people. I mean, aren’t they really just underpants? And pants is plural. Right?
So there you go – round 1 of Keri’s Burning Questions.
See that comment section down there? Chime in. I gotta know.


Filed under Burning Questions, Just Sayin'

There’s always time for a freakout. Just Sayin’.

You know, one minute you’re in your early-ish 30s, and you think you have everything under control or whatever… Then in the blink of a damn (wrinkly) eye,  you’re 39 and barreling toward the on-ramp of 40, and you’re at the Sephora with these under eye bags you could use to pack for a two month cruise –  begging “Help me Guillermo, HELP ME!” while shaking the makeup artist by the shoulders, and you realize that shit is getting REAL, yo!

Seriously. Fix it, Guillermo.

Fix. It.

Just sayin’.

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Filed under Just Sayin'