This Mom thing

In which I have no act to even pull together

I am probably the only parent in the world who is struggling with the start of school. All the other parents are off eating bon bons in their bath and hosting mimosa brunches and, I don't know, turning cartwheels and eating cookie dough right out of the tube. All things I fully support and would be doing myself if I could only GET MY ACT TOGETHER. 

I have a list of things to blame. Obvs. First up is the change in school bell times for the big kids' school. All of Seattle Public Schools switched up bell time to accommodate a later high school start. Most elementary schools are now an hour earlier (because of buses, because of money, it's always money, I will not rant about the boundary issue, I will not). WHICH IS FINE. I am just fine with the kids starting earlier and high school kids going later and I AM A COOPERATIVE PARENT but you GUYS it is HARD to get UP. Possibly because by the end of summer none of us, including the four-year-old, were going to bed until 10. I don't know. The guiding force in our parenting is Sloth, followed closely by Inertia, what can I say. 

Anyway. The lucky thing is that Phillip has to get up for work (no bon bons for him!) and he's always berating himself for not going in earlier and guess what! Now he does! Because we have to get the kids to the bus stop by 7:15. (We were rolling out of bed at 7:15 last year. Sigh.) So this is hard for me. I need my beauty rest. And my beauty rest is more like Just Enough To Speak Coherently Rest, beauty has nothing to do with it. Unfortch. 

In a miraculous display of Thinking Ahead and Using My Smarts, I have been laying out clothes and making lunches the night before. We haven't had to drag the kids out of bed yet, which surprises me (just wait for the gloom and doom of late fall and winter, though) so it's just me wandering around in my jammies and rat's nest hair, barking about being late and put your shoes on and is that a milk mustache on your face? I even made a bunch of breakfast burritos so no one can force me to make scrambled eggs in the morning. 

So far so good. Painful but possible. 

The other stuff is just stupid. Like school uniforms. SO SO STUPID AND YET SUCH A BIG DEAL. 

When we signed Emma up for pre-K at the Catholic school I received a packet of info which included a letter from the teacher saying UNIFORMS WERE NOT REQUIRED. But a dress code was enforced and if we wanted to dress "like" the uniform, to buy certain kinds of clothes and colors. Which I duly did because WHEE! Emma in a little school uniform jumper CAN YOU EVEN? 

About a week before school started I took a closer look at the uniform section in the handbook, which the school staff thoughtfully emailed out to all the parents just in case they hadn't felt like they spent enough money yet, and I realized that the primary age students didn't wear NAVY shirts, only WHITE. And they didn't wear KHAKI skorts and pants, they wore NAVY. Oops. So I took all the wrong things back. And Emma wore navy pants, a white polo, and a little navy hooded cardigan on her first day. 

But allllllllll (ALLLLLLL) the other pre-K kids were wearing the regulation uniform. 

I told myself I was paranoid. 

The next day I picked up Emma and she was wearing the regulation school cardigan. Her teacher said, "I just keep this sweater here and she needed it." 

Ok? 

That same day I noticed that not only were alllllll (ALLLLLLL) the kids wearing brand new regulation uniform clothes, ALL the girls were wearing SKIRTS. I said to myself, "Self, a school cannot POSSIBLY demand girls only wear skirts in 2016. That just cannot be the case." But see above: paranoid and also Rule Follower, so I asked the teacher. "Is it okay if Emma wears pants?" 

And she said, "Hmmmmm... you don't have one of those?" And she pointed at a little girl's jumper. 

OH GOD. 

When I got home I threw all my pride out the window and wrote a panicked whimpering email to the school. WTF IS EMMA SUPPOSED TO WEAR? WHAT DID I DO WRONG? CLEARLY I CANNOT FIGURE OUT, REQUIRE DETAILED ANNOTATED LIST, PREFERABLY WITH LINKS. 

A few hours I received an email from the school. "We are so very sorry! Pre-K IS required to wear the uniform." 

But! Pants are OK. 

You guys, I am ashamed of how stressed I got (sort of still am) this uniform thing. Everyone loves uniforms! I loved uniforms! Why was it so hard! Why didn't I just fork over the $50 per skort and jumper instead of buying the $9 navy skort from Children's Place?! That's what I get for trying to save a little money! That's what I get for assuming the papers in the information packet were correct, even when every single email I received from the school made it pretty clear that everyone wore the uniform! CLEARLY THIS IS ALL MY FAULT. (No.) (But.) (You know.) 

Really, though, there is no easier problem to throw money at. I jumped online, bought a handful of sweaters and vests and one jumper because $50 for a size 5T jumper I JUST CANNOT. The school had a used 4t skort that I could use right away and poor Emma, she's wearing it because 1) her mother needed her to be in uniform RIGHT AWAY and not wait for the jumper to arrive and 2) her mother doesn't care that it's a little tight and a little short. Pull it down below her belly, it's all good! 

We've covered early bell times and uniforms, what else? How about the PTA! You guys, not only am I on the PTA, I am on the PTA BOARD. How did that happen?! I don't know?! I volunteered to do all the newsletter/Facebooky things because, well, I can DO those things and also if I do those maybe I don't have to do anything else. But this board meeting yesterday made me realize what a poor excuse for a human being I am that I am not volunteering at school NOR DO I WANT TO. What sort of stay at home mother AM I? Everyone is so! excited! And I am all... eh. But after I finish this bit of drivel I'm going to figure out how to send HTML emails from Gmail and draw up a production schedule for sending this stuff out and can they do THAT? 

Another blog topic for another time: why, whenever I feel inferior, is my first instinct to hunt around for something in which I CAN feel superior? #poorexcuseforhumanbeing 

But you know the worst thing? And I mean worst in that it's the hardest and also MAKES me the worst? Our bathroom still isn't done (maybe by my 40th birthday?) and after I drop the kids off I can't just go home and go back to bed. BECAUSE THERE'S A DUDE IN MY BATHROOM. Hence the hiding out in a coffee shop this morning and writing to you. Otherwise you know I'd be passed out on my couch. Is there a bigger and more I-should-be-ashamed-of-myself first world problem? NO THERE IS NOT. 

Here's to hoping you are handling the transition back to school with more grace and intelligence than your trusty blogger. 


In which relaxing is bad for the psyche

This morning I'm wondering if it's possible to have a summer that doesn't feel like it's going 90 miles an hour. I feel like I set out to have a slower summer this year, or at least a more thoughtful summer, if that makes sense, and it's still nuts. 

I KNOW, I KNOW it doesn't help that I like to GO 90 miles an hour. But the last year I've tried hard to be aware of how Me Liking To Do Everything affects my family, especially Phillip, and I'm getting better at saying no to things I really want to do and intentionally preserving empty days in our schedule. This year we had several conversations about how terrible the end of last summer was, so we've planned a family getaway for Labor Day, Phillip and I are going to have our own local getaway the weekend after next, and I found a babysitter for sporadic summer date nights. 

BUT STILL! Sometimes I think it's because I have the bakery (though our bakery July is slow indeed) or because both our families are so close and we do so much with them or because I have so MUCH family living nearby. Maybe it's "Northwest Syndrome" where you need to take ultimate advantage any time there's good weather. But it's not like those are bad things or things I want to say no to. 

I signed up the kids for two VBS camps (on back to back weeks, admittedly) and we start swim lessons this afternoon. But that's it. I never got around to signing them up for the Chinese school summer camp and Jack didn't want to do soccer camp. Maybe August will feel slower? 

I'm not complaining. As I may have mentioned ten times in this post already, I LIKE TO BE BUSY. But when I've tried to NOT be busy ON PURPOSE and it isn't happening? That feels... I don't know. Like I messed up somewhere. What would it be like to have a long summer full of very lazy mornings and afternoons at the community pool with all our friends? Yeah, that 1) doesn't exist and 2) those lazy mornings would probably drive me insane. 

Did I mention our bathroom got demo-ed yesterday? HA HA HA

I turned 37 yesterday. I am fond of the odd number ages for some reason. They feel good to me, so I feel good about this upcoming year. But even though I'm younger than most of my local friends and a veritable spring chicken when you look at the demographics of the prayer ministry I'm in, I have this very Three anxiety around How Many Good Years I Have Left To Do Something Awesome. WHICH IS RIDONKULOUS. And yet! It's there! I am copping to it! In the same way I am looking at my rapidly graying hair and wondering whether to be a) the lady who covers her gray or b) the lady who cares not or c) the lady who bleaches it and dyes part of it pink because HEY if you're gonna dye your hair you should just go all out, I feel like I need to sort of plot out this second half of my life. 

My mother is reading this and her eyes have never rolled so far, I just know it. 

A few weeks ago I gave a talk (on prayer) (to a small churchy crowd) and you guys I REALLY LIKED GIVING THAT TALK. Seeing as how the one time I was asked to be a lector at church I nearly barfed all over the ambo, I hadn't really considered Speaker as a possible String to my Bow. But when you super dig what you're talking about and you feel like you're meant to share it - huh! That's different! So is that something I could, you know, DO? I've always thought creating and leading retreats would be fun. What about writing again? How much can I do when Emma is in school every morning? Can I go to THAT conference and THAT retreat and THAT night and... oh, and here we are at 90 miles an hour. Oops. 

Phillip is reading this and thinking 1) GOD NO MAKE IT STOP and 2) Why can't she want to do something that earns money?

I have to head out to an appointment with Emma's nurse, so that will spare you Part Two of this post, where I get navel gazey about a million other things... (seriously - I just deleted it because I don't have time to properly navel gaze. You're welcome.) 

 

 

 


Now the parking lot is empty

I'm a bit sentimental tonight, Internet, there's your warning. There's a last bit of sunlight streaming through the trees in the backyard and the kids are playing in the living room and Phillip is still at a meeting. It's summer, the doors are open, I have our friend Alexa playing old Indigo Girls songs - I wish someone would have told me that all those hours and dollars I spent in used CD stores would get boxed up in a garage for the rest of time and a small black voice-activated cylinder would cater to my every musical whim. 

We got in very late last night from a long weekend in Cincinnati with Phillip's brother and his family. This was our first trip there with kids. In fact, we've only visited one other time and it was about one year after we'd been married. Twelve years ago. We had no kids then. Weird. We've seen them of course - family trips and visits to our side of the country - but it was good to see them in their natural habitat and have the big cousins show the little ones around. The weather was terrible and it felt rushed and I never stopped being tired, but it was one of those things that needed to happen and it was good and important. I'm glad we went, even if it meant we had a two hour layover in Houston, TX at 11pm. 

But you know, home is good too, even if I'm sitting here staring at the calendar wondering how it's all going to work. I think it was February or March that I said to myself, "Self? This summer is NOT going to be crazy." And here it is, looking crazy. People usually give us a week, max, for bakery orders, so it's hard to plan ahead with that. And there are just so many FUN things to do in the summer and I have Want To Do Everything Syndrome. 

Also random things, like I'm giving a little talk tomorrow night for some churchy folks and honestly, it's a good thing I haven't had much time to think about it because now? OH GOD WHY DID I AGREE TO DO THIS? I wrote it on the airplane from Houston and gave it twice in front of my mirror today while the kids ate lunch and dinner, but it's sure to be horrid and embarrassing and dumb. At least there will probably only be, like, 20 people there, so my humiliation won't spread too far. I hope. The thing is that I think I would LIKE to be the sort of person who occasionally gives talks, but, I mean, I take medication to NOT feel like this. 

I don't know for how long I've been thinking, "Okay, after this weekend, I can get my bearings and get it all under control." SO MANY WEEKENDS. And here I am saying that about this weekend and oh, next week is when we'll start REAL summer and I'll get the kids in a routine of swim lessons and library and down time and HA HA HA maybe I should just give up on that. 

Emma's encopresis nurse gave me her steely-eyed "Don't try to con ME, young lady" stare the other day and said, "You know, it's hard to manage this when you're so busy." And I was all TELL ME ABOUT IT, but also am I supposed to shut it all down? Maybe I should shut it down? Am I being a bad mother because I'm going to send everyone to VBS so I can go to Target by myself next week? 

Did I tell you the lady running VBS asked me to play a South American saint during one of the morning skits? HA HA HA. I said yes, of course. It's as close to sainthood as I'll ever get. 

I'm listening to the IG song about airplanes. Emily and the... those folk singer sisters, I can't remember their names. Come on, if you're an Indigo Girls fan you know this song. It's so right on. I'm glad I'm listening to it AFTER our trip. 

Oh, Rachael @Hopejumper was here right before we left. One of the zillion things we talked about was recurring nightmares and I couldn't tell her mine because it would basically spoil the plot of Bloodline (which is an excellent show if you aren't totally creeped and stressed out by creepy stressful TV) but HERS is AIRPLANES and omg she went on and on and on about AIRPLANES and again, it's a very good thing I'm on medication. 

Summer is Indigo Girls time. They used to play a show at the pier every summer and I always went with my friend Amy who I haven't seen in years and it was just How It Is. Now I have kids and an online bakery and the pier hasn't been operation for concerts since God knows when. I just sent an email to the PTA president saying I can't go to the Board Retreat (fawncy!) on Friday because I actually need to tie bows on cookies so I can deliver them Saturday morning and OH WOW somehow I became the Communications Chair for the PTA and learned how to tie bows and wrote a talk on an airplane. 

Things are different. 

At the airport during our layover I became obsessed with a family a few chairs over from ours. They had three kids, an oldest boy and two girls, but they were college and high school aged. Also something like seven feet tall, and six feet of those were legs. Wearing their respective school sweatshirts and ponytails like the ones I had when I played high school basketball. I felt like THEY ARE US (except for the whole height and athletic thing). The parents, the three not-quite-children. Phillip thought the same thing, without me pointing it out. We just looked at each other and went back to watching them. And I wonder. I can imagine what my kids will be like in 10 years. I can sort of see their faces and what they might be into and the ways they'll interact, even if I'm just fitting them into the ways that my brothers and sisters and I became teenagers who hung out in airports with our parents. But I cannot imagine what it will be like for ME in 10 years. Besides the completely gray hair, obvs. I hope I'll have figured out how to give a talk without requiring extra meds by then.

 

 


A Mini Examen

DESOLATIONS

I bought Molly a super cute jean jacket. Tonight I asked her where it was. She doesn't know. We have determined she left it at school the very first day she wore it, which was probably like a month ago. I bet it's gone for good. This is the second jacket she's lost in a matter of weeks. I JUST. 

Jack is still walking around like his arm might fall off and it's making me insane. 

Emma has been SO tired and whiny and awful and maybe it's the heat? But also maybe it's Four and have I forgotten all the random bouts of unpleasantness with the other two? Did I never think Emma might be moody or temperamental or maddening? 

I started losing weight, which was great, but the last month or so has been a standstill because Life and Tired and Meh. I had a goal in mind for when we visit Phillip's brother in Cincinnati and I don't know if I'm going to reach it. 

Our school boundary situation remains unsatisfactory, to say the least, and now a group of parents from lots of schools are gathering on their own to talk boundaries and what to do tomorrow night. Half of me REALLY WANTS TO GO, even though I have to drag the kids along (Phillip is still out of town), because I just want to stay in the know. And then half of me wants to have dinner at a friend's house and let the kids go wild on the trampoline and have actual fun, because now that lots of parents from lots of schools are getting het up about their boundaries, more reason for the school district to look at ours and go, "Oh, we can't change it because of the domino effect." Seattle Public Schools has made me a cynic and I'm mad at them for it. 

SOMEONE in my neighborhood smokes pot outside and stinks up my backyard nearly every night.

I have bug bites.

I am REALLY annoyed about that jean jacket. 

I hate how I can have a great day with the kids, but then homework/dinnertime/bedtime/clean up/teeth/no REALLY we need to CLEAN UP can undo so much of what was good. 

 

CONSOLATIONS

Oh you guys. I HAVE consolations, I was getting ready to write them out, but as soon as I finished typing CONSOLATIONS, Jack tip toed upstairs and gave me this card: 

IMG_2920

I RILLY don't like it when I'm like this EITHER. I'll keep trying to be better, kiddo. 


For the bus stop parents, an explanation of my mood

Pretty sure the parents at the bus stop think I'm the most unpleasant person in the world. But by 7:57 each morning - the last possible minute we can leave for the bus stop - I am already DONE with my day. How many times can one remind her second grader that the field trip form is with her lunch box only to have that second grader totally ignore said forms by the lunch box? How many times can one endure the sorry excuse, "But I didn't have TIME to brush my hair!" And really, how many times can one say, "PUT ON YOUR SHOES!" before one keels over absolutely dead? 

And so, I am a big grouchy grump at the bus stop. Sorry, everyone. 

This weekend is our annual hang-out-with-college-friends-and-talk-about-our-lives weekend, aka our Couples Retreat (that just sounds so goofy, I don't know why, I keep trying to come up with another name for it.) We usually do this over Labor Day, but circumstances require we gather over Memorial Day weekend instead. Most years the week before the retreat is when Phillip and I have our most glorious and breathtaking arguments, hence a weekend of intense couples therapy with the people who know us best. (And thank God, right?) But this year we're not nearly as exhausted and done with each other as our typical end-of-August selves, and so for once I am not gearing up for Massive Character Building. This year I am merely wishing away every single minute until the moment I get to drop off the kids with my in-laws. They haven't been particularly terrible (the kids, not the in-laws, the in-laws are wonderful in every way) and I have a lot farther to go to reach the end of my rope, but I don't feel like I've had an adult conversation with my husband in weeks. I can't remember the last time we went out to dinner with friends and only had to think about ourselves. Sometimes I write things like that and hear judgy voices: "Why should you get to think only about yourselves?" "Who else gets to dump their kids with grandparents as much as you do?" "Oh, do you need a break? You do work so hard, what with your tough blogging schedule and daily coffee dates with your preschooler." 

Eh!

In a bit I'll take Emma to preschool, then I'll come home and clean all the bathrooms, something I'm going to do only because the out of town friends are staying with us. Otherwise I might just let them go until mid-July when our new contractor guy starts the bathroom remodel. Did I tell you that part? That we found someone new? Who only becomes available right smack in the middle of summer vacation when everyone is home and going feral? IT'S GOING TO BE SO FUN!

Yeahhhhh I think we're going to quit this blog post while it can still win the award for most boring on the internet. I mainly wanted to jump on here and go, "WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE AND YOUR ABILITY TO DO THE OPPOSITE OF WHAT I TELL YOU EVERY SINGLE SECOND OF YOUR LITTLE LIVES?!"

I've got that out of my system now, so thanks, have a lovely day yourselves. I will probably opt for a nap instead of bathrooms. (Oooh, the judgy voices are coming back.)


Tiger Dad, overidentification, future therapy - typical parenting blog post

I was glad I had a boy first. I had/have a lot of feelings about being The Oldest Girl in the family and I didn't want to assume my oldest was going to be like me and have all those same feelings. I didn't want to subconsciously attribute or assume things about my oldest. I didn't want to INFECT her. So I was glad I had a boy and I wouldn't have to worry about that stuff. 

But I think I've done it anyway. Especially because I think - at least, I used to think - Jack is a lot like me. In some ways he is. A friend of mine was asking what to get him for his birthday last week and I suggested a binder for organizing his Pokemon cards. "A binder?" she said dubiously. She printed out some Pokemon graphics and his name, slid them into the plastic cover of a binder she already had at home, and guess what present Jack wanted to look at in the car on the way home and take to Grandma's house the next day? Jack and me, we like to collect, categorize, label, and organize. We are introverts who need a lot of time on our own doing our alone things. We would rather die than misbehave at school and we think we know everything. (Although, is it really a matter of thinking you know everything when you really do know everything? I mean.) 

Probably the biggest place where I've assumed he's like me, and treated him accordingly - and am now suspecting I am wrong - is in the Being Good At Everything Department. Which isn't to say that we ARE good at everything. No, it's not actually being good at everything so much as cultivating the image of being good at everything. I mean, you don't fully come into this place of crazy until you are a high school senior being awarded Outstanding Female Student at the end of the year assembly and smiling for pictures while inwardly thinking you might die before you can escape to the land of Anonymous Average Student Who Could Flunk Romantic Lit And No One Would Care, ie: the ginormous state university. Wait, did I reveal too much? 

But it starts when you're little and everyone tells you how good you are at this and that and so mature and such a good example and always the helper and omg, what if you don't get 100% on the spelling test and no one loves you anymore? 

So I have made a point of telling Jack, "You don't have to do that." "You don't have to like that." "I am okay with you if that's not something you want to do." 

I am the OPPOSITE of a Tiger Mom. And I've done it on purpose. And especially with Jack, in whom I see so much of me. 

But then we started piano lessons. 

Jack, as we have observed and as we've been told by his teacher, has a lot of potential to be Quite Good at piano. Phillip and I, being people who think being Quite Good at the piano is something that will only be a wonderful fantastic positive in the rest of one's life, think this is excellent news. And while I have mostly left the teaching of piano to the piano teacher, Phillip has become a bit of a Tiger Dad about it. 

It's funny, because Phillip and I are hopeless wusses when it comes to discipline (I'm sure you're shocked), but not only does Phillip nag and nitpick and criticize and fuss and insist and drive our kids half insane, I am 100% behind him. I have found something that I am NOT okay with them not liking. At least not now. He's going to learn this and he's going to improve and if he still can't abide practicing piano when he's 18, he can quit and go to therapy like the rest of us. 

And as we've become more tiger-y about piano lessons, I'm becoming more aware of how things I've said to my kids, and Jack especially, I said out of fear or anxiety that they would end up with my... fear and anxiety. 

My junior year of high school I took trigonometry. And by then I knew I wasn't good at everything. Like trigonometry. I worked so hard, harder than I ever had at any school subject, and probably harder than I ever did at anything in college where I knew no one cared. And I STILL couldn't get an A. One day my teacher, who I loved, listened to me as I desperately asked her what I could do to improve. And she said, "You know, Maggie, maybe a B is the best you can do and that's okay." 

There are probably a lot of people who think that is a scandalous thing to say. I've told this story to some teachers and they all disapprove. But MY GOD that was the most freeing thing anyone had ever said to me. It was the best thing you could say to someone with my particular brand of crazy. I didn't hear, "You don't have to work so hard anymore because you're never going to get better," I heard, "Getting a B is not the worst thing in the world." I heard, "Maybe you DON'T have to be good at everything." I heard, "Maybe this just isn't your thing." 

(Trigonometry is SO NOT MY THING.) 

And because that mindset, that people only valued me for Being Good At Stuff, had so much to do with my early 20s anxiety breakdown, I really pay attention to how I talk to my kids about what THEY'RE good at. And what I expect from them and what we want them to do. I tell my kids over and over how much more I care that they are kind, generous, empathetic people than being smart and talented. I see how lit up Jack gets when we praise him for school work well done, and I purposefully counteract myself with praising something about his character too. Of COURSE I want them to be smart and "mature for their age" just like everyone said I was. But I am terrified that that's how they'll begin to identify themselves. Good kids who make everyone pleased and impressed. ACK

Just like I have to tell myself that God will not love me more if my pants size gets smaller, I am compelled to tell my kids that all the good stuff they do and how much other grown ups are pleased by them is not why I love them. 

And then I also have to remember THEY ARE NOT ME. 

I suspect Jack cares significantly less than I did about impressing people. I can tell from all the times he says, "Well, I'm just really not that INTERESTED" in whatever I'm trying to get him excited about. And if anything, our job as parents might be to knock his abundant self esteem down a notch. No need to fear Jack doesn't feel loved. (We were watching some PBS show about a piano prodigy and said, "Jack, if you work really hard you might able to do something like that!" and he said, "Well, I can kind of already do that." OOOOOOKAY.)

And as I sit here typing and listening to Phillip berate one of our children at the piano - "No, start over, come on, seriously?, again, start again, why is this so hard?" I feel a snicker coming on, not a tenderhearted urge to stop him. Because those kids WOULD play computer games all day if we let them and it appears that Molly just spent half an hour practicing the wrong song because... she's Molly. You guys, I think I DO have some unsympatheticness in me after all! 

Hopefully the right amount, and for the right things. And at the very least they'll take themselves to therapy for different reasons than I did. 

 

 

 


SAHMing, and realizing the end of an era quickly approaches

I'm feeling extraordinarily proud of my momming today, you guys. I took Emma to the local library story time, which she loved, and then there was crafting, which I actually participated in, and then we picked out books and now we're home eating lunch. I feel like a proper stay at home mom instead of a mom who stays home and spoils her kid in coffee shops every morning and spends too much money at Target. 

Now that it's January I feel acutely aware of how much full time momming I've got left. Emma's birthday is a few weeks past the kindergarten cut off date, but in the opinions of me, Phillip, my former teacher parents, and my current teacher friends, she will be totally ready for kindergarten in the fall. (WITH THE EXCEPTION OF THE POTTY TRAINING ISSUE, which we will discuss in a moment.) So if she actually does go to kindergarten in September, I've only got six months left of Big Kids Go To School, Little Kid Hangs Out With Mommy. I expect All Kids Are At School to be really really different. Moms already in this position tell me that I won't have as much time as I think I'll have, but I still expect it to be DIFFERENT. The preschool driving back and forth, the figuring out what to do with us on not-preschool days, the eating lunch together, the snuggling in bed and waiting until the absolute last second to pick the kids up at the bus stop... those days are quickly flying by and I'm feeling the pressure to Cherish! Every! Moment! 

And I WANT to. I'm not being obnoxious or sarcastic. Even on the rotten days when my kids are horrible and I'm exhausted and out of patience, I've been thankful for the option of being a stay at home mom. I quite enjoy not having a boss or responsibilities to other people besides my family. It's given me space to devote to the not-paid things I'm really interested in doing. I am a terrible housewife and a lazy mom, but I'm good at lots of other things (and other aspects of being a mom!) and I can do all of that because I stay home. I'm suited to it, which really does surprise me, and because I stay home my career-oriented husband has had near complete freedom to pursue his goals. I struggle with not earning money and the paycheck=worth feeling, I sometimes feel useless or not as accomplished as my working mom friends, and the full-time working husband/stay at home wife dynamic can be confusing in 2015. But ninety-nine percent of the time, I'm confident in my role. 

So what will it be like when Emma goes to kindergarten?!?!

I've had MANY more-experienced-parents say to me that as your kids get older it becomes more important to be around for them. I... am not sure about that! I mean, we'll see how it goes, right? But just on a daily taking-care-of-everyone's-needs basis, it seems like things are only going to get simpler. (Until my kids start demanding to be driven to sports and social engagements, I suppose. I'm sort of hoping they are couch potato nerds on that front.) People might start being actual helps in the taking out the garbage department, the cleaning up of the kitchen department, the laundry department, and the - could it BE? - cleaning the toilet department. (All things I am notably lazy and bad at, btw.)

And when all three kids are in school I expect finding time for bakery emails and the gym and meeting up with church people and PTA social media and whatever else I've dipped a toe in to be MUCH MUCH EASIER. I will probably not go back to work, the big reason being that I don't have a Work to go back to. I was "in publishing" (the scare quotes are super valid) before and have no interest in going back. The career-type jobs that interest me (design, coding, user experience stuff) feel very hard to get into at age 36. I think I missed the boat on those things, which is probably just how it goes when you have absolutely no idea what you want to be until you're no longer in your 20s. And the stuff I'm ACTUALLY interested in (almost all church-related things) aren't paid. Ha. Honestly, if I went back to work it'd probably be as a part time admin or a barista or some job at the kids' school, something where I would leave all my work at work and still have enough time to do the things I'm involved in now. And I could see that happening. If something presented itself, I'd seriously think about it. Grad school? HA HA HA. What for? I can't justify however many thousands of dollars for an MFA, which is really the only degree that sounds awesome. Phillip went to the iSchool (I like to think of his master's degree as my third child, Emma being the fourth) which could potentially be up my alley, but again, I don't think I want a Real Job. Maybe some sort of spiritual direction type certificate, but when I'm, like, 50. That's got plenty of time to percolate. 

ANYWAY. ALL THAT TO SAY. These last (hopefully) months with just Emma and me at home, that's an Era coming to an END. I just want to be aware of it and make the most of it, while also reserving my right to fall down foaming at the mouth on Terrible Children Days. Library story time, which I regret to say I didn't even bother to look up until this morning, is every Monday. What if we did the gym after the bus stop and then headed to the library on Mondays? That would be a GREAT routine! Preschool on Tuesdays and Thursdays - more gym and plenty of unpaid-work-that-I-still-have-to-get-done time for me. Wednesdays and Fridays reserved for our typical coffee and shopping, or visiting Grandma, or hanging out with Mommy's friends, or folding clothes in front of TV. 

Maybe all this stuff is also on my mind because of how BIG Emma is getting. She's just a big girl these days, with plenty to say about everything. She's the little spoiled sister in our family, but when it's just her and me I can see how much her brain is expanding: her vocabulary, her ideas, her thought processes. IF ONLY this would extend to the bathroom! I keep saying I'm going to take her to a naturopath, so I should actually get on that. I think I've been slow because in my heart of hearts I suspect this is a LEARNED ATTITUDE, not a physical issue, and I am not going to get the potty training timeline I prefer. What kid do you know who's been dry overnight with nary an accident for 1.5 years, yet will not even TELL you when she needs to go poop? (Sorry Future Emma, but the fact that I have to resort to discussing your habits (or lack thereof) on the blog is YOUR fault, not mine.) I mean, I devoted my Christmas novena to this issue. I AM PRAYING FOR HONEST TO GOD MIRACULOUS HEALING. 

Let us all direct our good juju to the potty training gods and the people who decide whether a four-year-old-but-turns-5-in-3-weeks gets to enter kindergarten in Seattle Public Schools. I thank you for your efforts. 

 


A Lone Wolf Enjoys Her Space

Day Two, Lone Wolfing. 

Oh, didn't I tell you? Phillip is in Vegas for a week [VEGAS] at a company conference. He keeps sending me pictures of dessert spreads and fancy appetizers, so we're not speaking to him. Easy to do when he's not here!

Lone wolfing with three kids ages 8, 7, and 4 is a FAR FAR CRY from lone wolfing with three kids ages 4, 3, and not yet 1. Or even with two little kids and pregnant. What I'm saying is that I did not have one ounce of anxiety over Phillip going away 4am Monday through 9pm Thursday because HELLO, I've got BIG kids. I might even have looked forward to it a tiny bit because does anyone care if I make Real Dinner? Noooo, no one cares, bring on the cereal. 

Don't worry, Phillip, I made them eat green beans with their Honeynut Cheerios.

I did fall right back into that habit of scheduling the crap out of myself for Lone Wolf Week. Tonight is the only night I don't have friends coming over for wine drinking, and that's because tonight I went to the PTA meeting. (FREE CHILDCARE. WHY YES, I SHALL ATTEND.) And even during the day I have done an incredible amount of socializing for a self-proclaimed introvert. Not to make it sound like I'm skipping from social engagement to social engagement, no, more like I spent the entire four hours Emma was at preschool having Meaningful Conversation with the same single person. AND IT WAS GREAT!

Gosh I love Meaningful Conversation. 

Tomorrow, though, tomorrow Emma and I are going to Rest. I am going to lay in bed with Two Dots (HATEFUL HATEFUL GAME) and Emma will snuggle next to me with her fourteen stuffed puppies and her books and the iPad and three blankies and we will only get out of bed for snacks. I will be fully rested for my evening of Meaningful Conversation with the friend coming over when the kids are in bed. 

Ohhh, this is where people get the idea that SAHMs have lunch hours. 

(That was an inside joke. I don't even remember how it started. Someone left a comment on someone's blog? About how THEY wish they could take a lunch hour like a SAHM? And Maureen and EBJ and I will think this is hilarious until the day we die.) 

But you know, sometimes it ain't all bad being a super lazy mom of a super snuggly four-year-old. 

I'm not all lazy. I'll have you know that tonight I 1) volunteered to update newsletters and websites etc. for the PTA and 2) sent an email volunteering to teach homeschool art class as an after school activity. LOOK AT ME JOINING THINGS. 

But I AM lazy. Like I am going to leave alllll the dishes because I will have all the time in the world TOMORROW. Do you know that Barry Louis Polisar song 'Tomorrow'? AKA the Mighty Maggie Theme Song? Yep. Going to bed. xoxo

 


"Normal", church, gyms, anxiety, babies. So. The topics you've come to expect.

SOOOOOO everything should be good, now, right? Kids are in school AND taking the bus, which is pretty neato for all of us. Emma goes to preschool on Tuesdays and Thursdays. She'll start going MWF if a spot ever opens up, but honestly, I'm already over the driving schedule on Tuesdays and Thursdays so I'm not in a huge hurry for her to switch. And when they're all out and occupied I've been grocery shopping, drying and folding laundry (not just leaving it in the washing machine to mold for days on end) (you do this too, don't lie), and also a lot of staring at blank walls which is something I feel I deserve. At least for a little while. 

Like the gym? Yeah. I thought Emma HAD a MWF preschool schedule so I was going to do the gym each of those mornings. But she didn't get a spot (fine) and now I only have TWO Emma-free mornings and that feels like so much less time than THREE Emma-free mornings. Also, on one of those mornings I somehow mostly-committed myself to what I thought was a bible study. At the time I thought Emma could go with me and be in the new co-opy childcare set up (Catholic churches: Y NO BABYSITTERS?) and we would have four out of five mornings nicely scheduled up, but now I'm all WAIT. I'm going to be spending one of my only two kid-free mornings HERE? It's not a bible study either, it's a lay Dominican spirituality class (my church is a Dominican church. Parish. Something or other.) Which is cool if you are into that sort of thing, but I think I am not? I liked the lady leading it, but all the kid noise was distracting and several times I found myself thinking, "I COULD just read a BOOK." Of course, the point was to MEET some of the other women at my church because I'm actually ready to stop being a crotchety run-away-as-soon-as-Mass-is-over Catholic. But I don't know. One of the few women I know at my church is the ORGANIZER of this ministry thing, so I could just say HEY, plz invite me over for talking and wine with the other ladies. Then I wouldn't have to learn about St. Dominic. 

(I'M SORRY ST. DOMINIC.) (#BADCATHOLIC)

Anyway. It will take a bit for me to figure things out, I guess. I decided that next week is the week I make myself go to the gym and get back to the place where I LIKED going to the gym and it felt like a regular part of my week. Oh, this reminds me to update you on my Dosage Lowering Experiment. I was supposed to go down one step, and if I was feeling fine after a month, go down another step. Well, I haven't gone down the second step. It isn't that I'm experiencing anxiety, but I feel like I'm hovering in the place where I could easily tip over the edge. Sometimes it feels like an actual LINE, or a FENCE even, that I'm sitting on top of. A feather could knock me into the abyss. I'm not QUITE on that fence yet, but I feel like going down another step MIGHT put me there. This may not make sense unless you are crazy like me. But I'm trying to reason with myself. I could try it and see what happens. But I could also NOT try. It's not like I HAVE to try. It's not like anyone's out there pushing me to try or shaming me into it... except my own self. I really think the only hope I have for losing this weight is to consume less of this medication. But... it seems I'm not just SAYING "not anxious is better than skinny", but am actually living it out. 

I might take that step down still. I haven't completely decided. My brain doctor is out on maternity leave and there's no appointment set up for me to say definitively what's going on. I have space. I like that.

And quite honestly, the only thing fattening up this much as really changed about my life is that it's much harder to find clothes I feel good in. Which is a big deal, but not the hugest deal. I can still find SOME cute things. I don't ALWAYS feel like a whale. I haven't, you know, lost any friends or been kicked out of parties. 

I suppose there's the looming specter of diabetes. HEH.

All the moms I know are exhausted. We're all feeling a little guilty, because HELLO, school was supposed to solve all our problems. But the starting of school - getting up early, making lunches, homework, piano practice, shoehorning everyone back into that routine - is sort of exhausting! We are HAPPIER, but man we're tired. Phillip wants to take the big kids to do some outdoorsy thing with friends on Saturday and because I avoid outdoorsy things like the plague and Phillip doesn't want to deal with the still un-potty-trained four-year-old, Emma and I are going to have a nice long boring day by ourselves. 

Did I forget to tell you my baby is four? My baby is four. That birth story from hell is now four years old. I know I'm still not over it because every time someone tells me THEIR birth story my whole body contracts in fear. But my baby is FOUR. I am delighted by her every day, and also kind of heartbroken. I've got big kids now. All big kids. I'm good with babies. I'm a good mom to babies. There are a lot of babies in my family, but none close by. No one has a baby I can just borrow for a few hours to tamp that feeling down. I told Phillip last night and he was super jokey and dismissive and I got MAD. This is a real feeling. And I'm not saying I want to have another one, but I also don't feel done with taking care of them. So I don't know what to do with that. 

OKAY I THINK I'LL STOP NOW! Time to throw some pizza at the kids and head to a [deep breath] PTA meeting. WOO HOO!

 


In which I tell my own self how fast it goes

I forgot about our big trip there for a second. Then yesterday I realized we have no tickets for Venice to London and I should probably get on that and then I got frustrated with my options (suuuuuper cheap for an 11pm flight, nearly 3x as much for a daytime flight) and now I'm done again. My dad keeps asking me about cars and car seat regulations and of COURSE I haven't figured that out because that's got to be the most boring part of our trip to research. But we booked the London apartment. We have tickets to cross the Atlantic there and back. The Paris flights are purchased. Big stuff accomplished. 

(Except for the packing. Oh my God, the packing. Every time I start to think about what suitcases or what kind of carryon bag or how many pairs of underwear or if I need to buy the kids new things because maybe they've grown out of their summer clothes I MAYBE start to cry. A little bit. Paging Emily Cassee.)

I was thinking February was going to be a nice drifting back into routine, but NO, have you heard of Valentine's Day coupled with 100 Day and (imagine Jack motormouthing excitedly) PAJAMA DAY TOO! I did not think about Valentine anything (except for bakery stuff, I suppose, and barely even that since I took our store down and we're not shipping anymore SORRY), until maybe yesterday. Oh right! I have to get the kids valentines! (See how I didn't even CONSIDER helping them MAKE valentines?) 

Also 100 Day. Yippee. And Pajama Day is stupid. There. I said it.

Also there are LOTS of February birthdays I 1) have already forgotten and 2) am bound to forget. And did I tell you I'm going on a little road trip with a friend at the END of February? Which is actually not that far away? I did plan out the whole thing and everyone's been notified and I know what's going on, but still, whoa. That's coming up quick. (Church conference. Redding, CA. DRIVING. God help us.)

My parents took Emma overnight last week and it was freakishly quiet for almost 48 hours in my house. I could THINK! I started to wonder if this is what it will be like when she goes to kindergarten. Preschool, when she starts, will just make everything worse. I want very much for HER to go, but it's not a convenient schedule and will involve lots and lots of driving back and forth for pick ups and drop offs. But it can't be worse than the year I had a kindergartner and a preschooler and a BABY, so chin up, Maggie. No, the rest of this year (we're attempting to start her in preschool at the end of February, early March, just until we go on the trip) and all of next will be all about the Annoying Schedules. MAYBE the following year, if we decide not to test her for early entrance to kindergarten (born 3 weeks past the cut off). But the year she DOES go? Whatever shall I do with myself? 

MAYBE the bakery will be ready for world domination and I'll be very busy indeed. Even if it isn't, our hope is that we get busy THIS year and will need a sort of on-call additional baker. That's the goal. So it's entirely possible that even a regular baby bakery will keep me busy. 

But what if it doesn't? Or what if we don't HAVE the bakery then? 

See how I was all whiny about being busy at the start of this post and now I'm freaking out about NOT being busy? I must be excruciatingly difficult to live with. 

My big kids are getting SO. BIG. and my little kid is getting big too - she wanted me to hold her in church and my arms wanted to die. I keep thinking about how when JACK was 3 he was a BIG BOY and I sent him to preschool and he had to be nice to his little sister. And now his littlest sister is 3 but she's still my BABY. Junior high me is severely unimpressed with my lack of attention and care for birth order unfairnesses. 

I was telling my mom how it suddenly got hard staying home with just Emma. I think that has MUCH to do with the fact that she stopped napping, if not EVERYTHING. But also the not being potty trained, the not having a preschool or class or regular outing we do (besides, ah, coffee and pink cake pops.) I've been thinking so much about preschool and mother's helpers and childcare at gyms and stuff like that, but I know from having the older two, once it starts it just keeps going. No more little kids at home with me. 

It hasn't even happened yet and I'm still marveling at how fast it went.