Tag Archives: working mom

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.

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The Universe mocks me in the morning.

Can I just preface this with a confession – I ABHOR lateness.

If we agree on 5 pm for a glass of wine and chat some place, I am the girl who is there at 4:55.

That being said – I suck at mornings. I SUPER SUCK at mornings.

I do everything right the night before: clothes for Jr and myself selected and ready, lunches packed, bags together… I am on top of it.

And then sometime in the middle of the night, shit must just go off the rails. Because come dawn’s early light, getting out the door seems suddenly as difficult as climbing a 14er in a too tight pencil skirt and stilettos.  I can’t get out the damn door in anything even brushing up against the definition of a timely fashion in the mornings.

 

Stuff just happens.

 

This morning we have managed to get coats, hats, gloves, etc on and secured, and I am loading bags out the door and into the car, SO CLOSE to departure that if this was a plane the flight attendants would be in their seats, and Jr declares “MY CAR SNACKS!!”

So I run back though the house to the kitchen to grab his go-cup of Cherrios, just in time to hear the unmistakable sound of Binky-the-wonder-dog starting to throw up… somewhere… off in the distance.

I track down the barf and start cleaning it up, bags still hanging off of every arm – determined to push through and get on the road.

Standing over me, watching this display and snacking down his cereal, Jr inquires “Mom, everyone throws up, right?”

“Yep that is true buddy, everyone is sick sometimes, even doggies.”

“Just like everybody poops? “   Errr…. Ok…. “I’m pooping right now,” he says, standing over me, 4 feet away from the bathroom door.

Add another item to the “to be cleaned up “ list.

 

I sigh and put all of the bags down.

One dumps its contents all over the floor.

Yep.

 

Getting out the door is nothing short of an epic trudge every damn day. You can pack the lunches the night before, but you can’t plan for the poop, people.

Poop happens. And barf. And horrific coffee spills. And “NOT THAT SHIRT, I WANT THE RED SHIRT” wardrobe meltdowns. (Sometimes even from Jr. HA!)

I inevitably end up in the parking lot of Jr’s school taking my first conference call of the day while picking the remnants of a cheerio explosion out of my messy top-knot (sure, we can call that “intentional” messiness. You betcha.)

I have tried getting up earlier. I have tried getting Jr up earlier.

You know what I determined about getting up earlier?   There is just more time for shit to hit the fan and slow you down.

Screw it – I’m sleeping in. Maybe I can get out the door before the universe notices we are even up one of these days.

 

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Toddler Law. Just Sayin’.

A toddler doesn’t ALWAYS have to poop in his pants.

But if he does, it is when you literally have one foot out the door, running 20 minutes late already, on a day when every big wig you care about from the East coast office is going to be on site at your location.

And it is a monster messy poo for the ages.

 

Just Sayin’.

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Maude.

This is my mom.
image

Actually, growing up I called her “Maude.” Now I call her “Mommy” a lot too.

I am ridiculously lucky to have her in my life, and around the corner, and so much a part of my day-to-day life.

But really, everyone in her life is lucky to have her. She is THE person you want on your team, in your corner, on your side.

She is a cheerleader, a confidante, an advisor, a shoulder, an advocate, and a fierce warrior for those she loves – in ways and at levels that I pray I will someday come anywhere near to achieving.

Teenage Keri was borderline awful to her – I reveled in finding ways to piss her off and defy her at times in my younger years. To this day (many MANY moons beyond being “teenage Keri,”) I will wake up out of a dead sleep remembering something crappy I did and fight the urge to call her and apologize for the jerk that girl was. (Sorry Mommy, seriously.) Time and time again she chose to see the best in me even when I was showing her only my worst. She chose to lift me up and support and empower me. (I might have chosen to lock me in my room if I was her.)

As her life-long best friend, Karen slowly lost her painful battle with cancer, my mom helped her family coordinate care. She spent days with Karen, helping her and listening to her and being next to her. I know it made her sad. I know it broke her heart.   Standing with someone in the final moments of a life, is impossibly difficult. I believe it is also an honor and a God given opportunity to call upon the strength of your humanity to be a gift for someone you love as their life comes to a close. I know that belief comes solely from my observations of my Mom as she cared for Karen; and for my Grandpa, her “Daddy,” as he slipped away as well. So much of how I view life, and my role in the world, has been shaped by the way I view her in it.

There have been times of profound loss and trial in her life, some at ages younger than I can comprehend experiencing such difficulty. I know they have shaped her, creating in her heart a combination of deep, genuine empathy, and a passion to fight for those she cares for with all she can give.

It leaves me in awe.

She is warm and welcoming, funny, smart, reasonable, supportive, fiery, compassionate, no-nonsense, generous, strong, beautiful, selfless, and so loving.

And so loved.

She is the mom I pray I can be to Jr. She is the person I pray I can become.

Happy Mother’s Day, Maude. Words don’t exist for how blessed I know we are to have you.

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What really happens when the shades go down.

So….

I have a confession.

I own this now.  It belongs to me.

 The suit

Hello, suburban soccer mom warm-up suit.

BUT KERI – what about thisAre you giving in to this?   What about that “I will not be assimilated” stuff?

Didn’t take long for all that to go out the window did it?  How is the minivan shopping going, Ker?

NO NO – but wait!!

I didn’t pick it – I swear!!  I CAN EXPLAIN!

It involves Corporate Keri, and participation, and cuddly 80’s cartoon characters.

No Really.

Each year the office has a blow out Halloween Costume Contest, with different groups and teams interpreting a theme and going all out – costumes, pumpkin decorating, and even (oh yes it’s true,) cube/office decorating.  This year we decided to really go for it – opting for a furry group of cartoon characters from our youth – who shall remain nameless until Halloween because we are THAT crazy serious about the competition.

The next thing I know I am at the Kohls (which is pretty suburban mom of me too, BTW,) in front of a  giant display of semi-fuzzy velourish sweat suits in every conceivable color, making my selection. (What’s that?  You say “velourish” is not a word? That has never stopped me before.) Of course, Black and Grey were the two selections I was drawn to, but alas, these options had no coordinating fluffy characters in the cartoon land to which we are paying our homage.  Unable to stomach the idea of full-body royal purple, or the baby-est of blues, I settled on a light tan that worked well for one of the characters. I  plunked down my debit card (do I have any “Kohl’s Cash”? Um… no,) and left the store with a plastic bag hiding my purchase.

Here is where it gets truly shameful.  While The Mr. was upstairs reading Ten in the Bed for the eleventy billionth time with Jr, I decided to try the situation on “just to see.”  As soon as I zipped that fuzzy jacket up under my neck, a strange and powerful sensation washed over me.  I felt warm, and relaxed. I sunk onto the sofa and stretched my legs out in front of me.  The fireplace toasted my velour suit as I curled into its generously proportioned comfort.

Mmmmm. Cozy.

I was asleep in two minutes.

Uh oh.  The Mom suit has magical powers.  It soothes and swaddles and calms.  It warms the limbs, and the soul.

Crap.

In the days since that first encounter, the pull of the suit’s siren song is strong.  I feel it, luring me after long days on endless conference calls, enticing me as I brace against the fall chill to get home.

Twice more I have given in. The rewards it promises have not gone unfulfilled.

I can’t quit the Mom suit.

Don’t misunderstand me – you aren’t going to bump into me squeezing Asian Pears at the grocery store wearing it or anything.  Hell no.

But…..

The idea of wearing it, on purpose and with good reason, to the office all day on Halloween excites me.

For the rest of the year?  After a long day fighting the “have it all” working mom fight – I might just pour a big glass of wine, close the blinds, and give in to the power of the suit.

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