Work


Last weekend I was watching my favorite Sunday morning political news program and I was listening to a politician talking about his view on working mothers.  This caught my attention because I am interested in how the Washington elite view this diverse group of people, many of whom I can relate.  He professed working mothers minimize the accomplishments of stay-at-home mothers (SAHM) because working mothers believe success is made in the workplace, not in the home. 

At first I was completely offended by his assertion.  Working mother’s know how hard it is to be a mom, working in the home or not,  and celebrate the successes of first teeth, first step, first words, first potty use with the rest of the moms of the world.  At the same time, aren’t SAHM working mothers?  My three month maternity leave was hard work!  This politician’s comment uncovered what I have been struggling with for probably two years now.  Why is some guy on the TV telling me and SAHMs how we feel toward each other?  When I thought about it a little more, he wasn’t on the right track, but he was in the right neighborhood.

I have not read Mommy Wars by Leslie Morgan Steiner, but I believe it would capture much of what I feel, as well as those of my SAHM friends experience.  There is a silent battle between mothers of all types based on the choices they make regarding how they raise their children.  The amount of pressure we put on ourselves, because we buy-in to this silent criticism, can be daunting.  It can start from the first book you pick up and read about your pregnancy.  Have we not been in the conversation that went something like “Well, I really liked this book because it was more conversational and less clinical,” all with the undertone that you should read and love that same book.  Does it really matter when you look back on it?  Absolutely not!  If you are reading a book about your pregnancy, you are taking steps to make sure you are educating yourself on prenatal issues.  Now don’t get me wrong, I know there is a LOT of crazy information out there as well and  you need to be getting information from trusted sources.  My point is does it matter if you reading Dr. Sears book or the Mayo Clinic guide? 

How about breastfeeding ladies?  Welcome to the minefield.  I chose to breastfeed both of my boys.  It is free, I get to bond with my boys, it is nutritionally just what they need, and in the middle of the night I do not have to make bottles.  All understandable reasons right?  My best friend in the world chose to bottlefeed because she wanted the freedom that came with bottle, plus she confided she didn’t feel comfortable with the idea of it.  Would you believe that we are still just as close?  Surprise, we are and love each other regardless.  Dealing with the judgement of the public is not as easy.  With Mason I had back surgery 3 weeks into his life and the pain medicine I was put on lead me to have to feed him formula for that long.  Talk about guilt from websites and books about how breast was best.  The looks from some women out in public who saw me feeding him with a bottle were almost as if I was poisoning my son.  I just wanted to say “Look lady, can’t you see I am in sweat pants, my hair is a mess, oh and this wheelchair is probably not a give away that I am not your typical postpartum mother!”  I would go home and cry out in pain from my back and in shame that I wasn’t giving Mason the best.  After I had surgery I would be nursing Mason out in public, completely covered, and ladies would ask me if I could go to the restroom and do that!  Are you kidding me?  I was so upset when one woman said that to me, I asked her “Do you eat in the bathroom?”  She wasn’t too happy with that response.  If I was bottle feeding I was in the wrong with every wanna-be Earth Mother and when I was bottle feeding I was disturbing  every ninny out there.  It was a difficult place to be in during that part of my life. 

This leads me to the choice of  staying at home or going to work.  With Mason I did not have a typical maternity leave, I was cheated.  Thanks L4 – L5 disc, you bastard!  Either way, I loved every minute with Mason.  He quickly became my sunshine and each moment I fell in love even more.  With Owen, my maternity leave was so smooth, for a few seconds I thought about going back to work early.  Temporary insanity.  I cried when I dropped them off for the first time with our sitter.  She is the best by the way.  It was harder dropping them both off together because I knew we would never have that same kind of time together again.  My SAHM friends knew it was hard for me and I was envious of their time at home with their kids.  I could also see a yearning from some of those friends for a little more adult interaction during the day.  We never brought up our choices and which choice is the right choice because we know it goes both ways. 

I do not base my life’s success on my what I do for work, but I sure as hell want my kids to see me as a success in a world where I made the choice to be a working mother.  I am not going to waste my time in a job that I hate just so I may feel good about my performance outside the home.  I want to show my boys the example of how Momma works hard and is great at what she does all while loving them so deeply.  I truly enjoy my job, but I love my kids.  Are there days when I wish I could take my boys to story time instead of sitting in a meeting about another meeting?  Sure!  Guess what I do?  I’ll take some time off during the day or come home early just to squeeze in those special events together.  I wallow in the joy of my weekends and I do grumble on Sunday evenings when I am getting bottles together, but the feeling of hearing Mason yell “MY MOMMA!” and Owen’s cheeky grin when I pick them up in the afternoons makes it all worth it. 

Whether we read the right book, breastfeed, or work outside the home our kids love us.  The old saying “it takes a village” is not far off.  We as mothers need to give each other a break and really internalize the reality each mother, pregnancy, and child will be different.  Embrace each other with understanding and without competitiveness; there will be plenty of time for that when our kids are trying out for sports, applying for colleges, and getting jobs.  Back to basics, we can learn so much from one another’s successes and failures.

I was on my way to work this morning and I saw clouds that look like Mountains.  Have you ever experienced that?  For a split second I was back home in Central Virginia with the changing leaves, apple butter and clean air.  Then I realize, nope here in the Tidewater, which at times has its moments of beauty, particularly when the sun is rising or setting over the ocean or James River.  I love driving over a bridge during that time.   This time is a great escape from the daily stressors. 

Since the middle of August, the command where I work has been hanging in the balance of Washington bureaucrats’ chopping block.  I cannot say the thought of Joint Forces Command downsizing never crossed my mind.  The effort in Washington is to save BILLIONS of defense budgets’ spending, which would kick back into other parts of the economy.  The concept makes fiscal sense.  However, being on the side of a potential job loss, the stressors are there staring you in the face one of them being the mortgage payment.   There is a constant buzz about which organizations within the command will survive and which ones are destined to be erased.  I typically feel confident where I work is important and will be retained somewhere….Though when I actually face the music, it isn’t a great feeling to be working in an environment of speculation. 

First, knowing if they do save the office where I work, they could leave it here where I live have a house, husband, child and step-son, all of which I love; or they could send the work to a bunch of different locations.  My dear colleagues and I know these are all realistic possibilities.  There is daily wringing of hands, which comes in waves, and no one is immune to the feeling.  The phone calls from spouses asking to dust off resumes and launch them on the myriad of job search sites.  The confidence of my job is important being struck down with well their job may be more important than mine.  It is not a fun place to be right now. 

This is the first time I can actually say I feel like an adult.  Being an adult is not as easy as we dream of when we are sweet innocent children dreaming of being astronauts, ballerinas or teachers.  Right now, I would be happy just to know what to do after January. 

Keeping all of that in mind, being this guy’s Momma is the best job ever and that won’t ever change.    

This week’s challenge was super fun!

BUT!  I had to pic my favorite shot. 

My dear husband has a job which puts his happy ass on a boat occassionally to check the equipment on off-shore radio towers used by the Navy.  Just seeing this makes me jealous while I sit in my cube-hell. 

I love him dearly, but man this makes me jealous…except for the white socks and boots!  FAUX PAS dearest love.

No not that club….

So yesterday I traveled to Germany…and you may remember I am still nursing Mason.  Well that was something to try to figure out.  I had a pretty good feeling that at some point I would be pumping in the bathroom either at the airport or in the plane.  Hit that one on the head.  I wasn’t too disturbed by it because I am not saving any of this milk *GAH*, so he wouldn’t be drinking potty milk, yuck!

While waiting for our flight to Germany, I checked out the bathroom at the airport and there were NO electric sockets, phooey.  I have a battery pack to use but I didn’t want to waste them.  I decided I nursed Mason in the airport back in February, so I should be able to pump.  I had my nursing cover so no one would see what was up underneath .  So I did!  I went to the back of a gate that wasn’t being used and got my pump on.  Of course after I set everything up and was pumping along, a freaking herd of people decided to come over and see all the art on the walls.  I sat there and kept going on.  That was that and I got the job done.

On the flight I was more nervous, what the hell am I going to do?  It was so dark at the time when I need to pump I almost just did it at my seat.  It wasn’t like they could kick me off the plane.  I asked my flight attendant and she said I had to go to the bathroom….so I did!

It wasn’t all that bad, other than having to sit on the toilet for 25 minutes.  I did put the lid down, could you image??  I planned it so I only needed to pump once on the plane.  I am happy about that. 

We arrived safely in Germany and I made it to our quarters and found they had 110 volt plugs in our rooms.  GLORY!!!!  So I pumped twice using the 110 and thought I was free and clear from using my battery pack.  WRONG!  After the second pumping session, the plug won’t work!!!!  Curses!  I don’t know if the pump plug burned out or what, all I know is it won’t work.  Luckily the pump works with the battery pack.  I would be in the hurt locker if I burned out the pump, Mastitis anyone?

Enough with the boob and pump talk, I survived the trip and first night.  If there is a will there is a way!  17 more days!

Since coming back to work on the 28th of December 2009 I have known this week was coming…back story…At work I am an instructor for military members on (basically) how to plan.  I love this part of my job.  It reminds me of my teaching days (which seem like EONS ago) and I learn so much each time.  This will be my 14th time teaching the class, however this time is different.  We are going to Germany to teach this class….

I never in my wildest dreams ever thought I would say this, but I do not want to travel with my job right now.  In the past I LOVED traveling and getting on the road.  I got to see new places, eat new foods, blah blah blah, it was great.  However this trip is for 20 days!!!  I am already teary-eyed at night snuggling Mason, before he goes to bed, just thinking that I will miss 20 nights of his life.  GAH! 

I try to put this trip in perspective and realize our military members must pack up and leave their children all-the-time.  Understanding how they feel, makes me appreciate them even more.  Guys at work tell me stories about how they missed the first 8 months of their child’s life.  That makes my heart-break.  I am not ready to leave Mason. 

The last time I was in Germany I was 5 months pregnant with him, feeling his first flutters in my womb.  I still remember those feelings.  He moved for the first time during a planning session….like what we are going to be teaching how to do…which made me smile thinking maybe Mason likes planning as much as momma does….GEEEEEEEKK!  It is now so much different knowing he will be at home in the wonderful care of his Daddy (who really is the greatest) and all will be well, but…what if he forgets me, won’t nurse when I get back,  takes his first steps, says his real first word, gets sick, a boo-boo…the list goes on-and-on.  I don’t want to feel like this at all, I don’t want to go!

A funny side story…knowing this trip is coming up, I have stockpiled breast milk in the kegerator/freezer out back.  The freezer is FULL!  This past saturday I went out to put my latest deposit in the milk-bank and noticed the engine on the frig wasn’t working.  I checked all the milk – all still frozen and screamed “JOSH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  THE FREEZER ISN’T WORKING, SAVE THE MILK!!!!!!”  I had a ton of food I made for him as well, but that didn’t rank as high as the milk.  Oh my goodness, once I shot up that red-star-cluster for help, Josh hopped into action and we did indeed save the gallons of milk, but goodness it took me a while to calm down after that.  It is hard work to pump all that, AND I want him to have a little bit of me (is that weird???) while I am gone!

At the end of the week I will be on a plane headed to the fatherland without my family.  Even though it will be with a great group of guys….I can’t wait for it to start so I can just get it over with.

We have been SO BUSY the last couple of weeks.  With family weddings, graduations and a growing baby boy, the fun never stops.  This is the time I HATE going to work.  Not that I don’t love my job and enjoy the adult interaction, continued learning and paycheck, i MISS my Mason. 

I come home from working 12 hour shifts last week to find him skooting forward and reeaachhhing for the item he desperately wants.  His top two front teeth are soon to make their appearance and I honest hate the thought of it.  I love him right NOW! and I want him to stay like this for just a little while longer. 

At the same time, I feel guilty, or like I am doing something wrong, when I go get him at 5 am so he can nurse and we can cuddle.  I don’t want to “ruin” his sleep routine, I just want a few quiet moments that he and I can share. 

Everyday I leave work and tell the guys I am headed to go see “the best thing that has ever happened to me” and it is so true.  Despite all the fun stuff I miss during the day when he is with Mrs. R, we still find ourselves on the floor every night, playing, laughing, and crawling around the floor just being silly.  I love those moments!

I am leaving to go to Germany for 3 weeks in June, I don’t know how I am going to deal….I just hope work will keep me SO busy that it won’t be that difficult and he won’t have taken his first step without me.   I remember back in the day when this was all just a glimmer in my mind.  I am so glad I took that opportunity to be more involved and singled-out, but even more so, I am SO glad Mason is in my life.  All the schedule juggling, speeding home (hoping to not get a ticket) just to smell that sweet boy’s head is worth all the worry.  I know the busy schedule will come to an end and we will reach another calm in the tempo at work and all will be right in the world. 

For now, I will enjoy those early morning nursing sessions and speedy trips home and forget about “runing’ my baby and just enjoy those moments when we are together!

Holy crap, the last 3 months of my life have flown.  I am so ashamed I haven’t posted anything substantial since Feb 17, letting everyone know I am pregnant.  That has been a ride, let me tell you. 

I hit my official five month mark on Monday, and the next step is to find out if the little sprout is a boy or girl.  That will happen 20 May, and not soon enough.  Honestly, I am alright with either.  WARNING CLICHE AHEAD- Just a healthy baby, is what both Josh and I want.

At the end of Feb I was feeling pretty much like doo-doo each day when I would get home from work, so I felt ZERO like updating a blog.  I was completely exhausted and then the computer is in sniffing range of the kitchen.  The smell of cooking food was enough to send me over the edge.  I distinctly remember running up the stairs crying because I felt so guilty I couldn’t even finish cooking because I felt like I was going to get sick in the pots on the stove.  Fun times! 

At night, I couldn’t sleep through the night.  I was constantly getting up to “run to the bathroom” just to go to sleep for an hour and do it all over again.  Within those amazing 60 min sleep sessions, I would have the wildest dreams about turtles with teeth, the wicked witch from Snow White, and failing at the myriads of tasks new mother’s have to learn.  More fun times! 

The dreams are still occurring, but food isn’t as much of a bother, but the sight of raw chicken still sends me for a loop.  The last month has been much more enjoyable.

The wild part is, most pregnant women can’t say they were deployed to work in a field tent for the US Army for 3 weeks in cold, rainy Germany.  I am just finishing up a 3 week adventure in Grafenwoher, Germany where I am just now getting my hands on a computer that  can reach out to more than just operational stuff.  Days were long and the food was Blah!  I can’t wait to go home….Saturday.

While I was here, I felt the little sprout start moving around inside of me.  What an unreal feeling.  I feel like it is giving me a reverse belly tickle — from the inside.  I wouldn’t really describe it as butterflies, more like bubbles.  It is really moving around in there, let me tell you. 

As for the home-front, Josh is currently renovating our kitchen, from top-to-bottom.  I can’t wait to see it.  New EVERYTHING.  I have always wanted an Apple Green kitchen, and now I am getting it, with new appliances, floors, cabinets, counter-tops, the WHOLE nine yards. 

I should have pictures to share once I am home for more than 1 weekend.  So, despite my long absence, I will soon be back in the game and ready to update on all the kicks of the sprout, successes and failures of kitchen remodeling, and what our next step is.

Its a wild ride!

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