Saturday, February 27, 2010

Car Debate

It's still raging. I want something that's highly fuel efficient. I need something with all-wheel or four-wheel drive. As my kids age, I really need something big enough to tote my kids, their friends and everyone's equipment. I'd say I'll have four to six passengers 80 percent of the time I drive. Occasionally, I'll need to schlep eight.

That means a big vehicle.

I know I'm going to pay for the choice not only at the pump but also with some moral high ground. I don't particularly wish to be the SUV-driving, CO2-emitting stereotypical American.

But my needs - which are very real - seem to make the choice for me.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Baby fever

My youngest child is about to turn four. That doesn't seem that old - really - but it somehow is. We're out of the baby stage. There are no more snuggles while nursing, diapers to change, night-time wakings, first smiles, first steps, first words.

We have kids, not babies. And the lack of tiny cuteness has been depressing.

The only way to avert my current funk is to have another infant. That means three kids, which seems like a small army. I wouldn't have enough arms to corral them all. I'd be starting over - nauseous for months before I get so swollen I hate to look at my fat fingers and ankles. I'd have to buy maternity clothes, a baby carrier, a bigger car.

But I'd have a baby. For a little while, at least.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A funny thing happened

I lost my to-do list. So instead, I read a book.

When I finally found my list again, I'd accomplished half of the things on my list. Now I'm more relaxed and I think I got just as much done. Not bad.

I highly recommend it.

Friday, February 12, 2010

School daze

Is my child well enough for school?

I always thought this would be an easy question to answer before I had kids. Boy, was I wrong.

I definitely do not want to be the mom who spreads the germs to the whole school. But my 4 year old isn't old enough, either, to be a reliable reporter of how well he feels. So I'm making guesses based on his demeanor, his appetite, and his energy level.

My point: It's a tough call. If there's no clear sign of illness—fever, vomiting, diarrhea—you're going to get it wrong occasionally. I think most kids fake it at least once, and every kid has probably come home after school one day and puked all over the rug.

Don't beat yourself up over it. It's never an easy choice.

What criteria do you use to decide whether your kids are well enough for school?

But, Mom

I'm sorry, no. We are not going any further don't that road. It's not that I'm a dictator (all the time); it's that there are things you cannot do for your own safety. Scaling dressers, walking in the road by yourself (without looking), going to a friend's house when I've never met the parent are all items I consider extremely dangerous.

These are items that I will not budge on. Ever. So don't keep pushing. The answer will always be no.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Is preschool good for moms?

It occurred to me as I dropped my preschooler off today that I'm the first generation of mothers to have my kids start school so young. My mother had a two-morning, two-hour program, which was then called the politically incorrect "Mother's Day Out." And, as a tangent, I never understood that name. Two hours does not give a mom a day out. It gives her time to shower and eat breakfast.

But back to preschool. My daughter goes for four hours, three times a week. That gives me a whopping twelve hours of professional time. I can increase that to six hours five days a week, which would allow me to work pretty much full time. But here's a question: Is that a good idea? I'm beginning to think the whole reason some women decide to go back to work at least past time is because of the social push to put kids in preschool. If I had my daughter home with me, I don't think I'd feel as obligated to accept as many (or maybe any) freelance assignments.

Now, I think preschool is a wonderful invention. I love that my child is learning at this point in her life when she's excited and willing to soak up information. I also love the fact she's learning to share and understand the complexities of interpersonal relationships.

But I wonder if preschool is healthy for mothers who then feel the pressure to DO something with their time. Up until 40 years ago, handling the household budget and keeping the house, kids and dog clean was considered a full time position.

What's your point of view? Should we feel the need to immediately find work as soon as there is a break in our childcare duties?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

"Mommy, your work is ruining the day!"

So I quit working fulltime because I was expecting No. 2 and I just couldn't imagine a life were I could give two the total love and focus I wanted to give and work full-time.

But last week, my son said to me, "Mommy, your work is ruining the day!" Oh, how those words crush.

Now, to be fair to me, we'd just wrapped up a two-day visit from his grandpa. He'd spent the morning playing with grandpa before we drove him to the airport. Then we followed up with a special treat--lunch at his favorite restaurant, then a play date with his best friend. While his baby sister was napping, I tried to grab 15 minutes of editing before the big event. We we planned a special night out at the Sesame Street Live performance. But my 15 minutes elicited an angry comment from my son.

Friends, it hurt. I try to only work when my children are sleeping or at preschool (a tall order, as you know!) But sometimes you just need a few extra minutes.

Don't feel bad. When I catalog the attention I give my children every day, I realize the guilt is unfounded. They are always the first priority. But to expect ourselves to always be on—ready to play, ready to be the cargiver, the servant—when our children are awake ... that's not reasonable, either, is it?

Trust me. You are an amazing mother. Your children will have countless memories of the love you displayed. Some will come from events you'll never remember—making the peanut butter and jelly sandwich, helping them make that very special snowman. You can't predict what that moment will be. I know, because I've tried. You just have to give your love every day and trust that they see it in your actions.

So don't stress the small stuff.

I said, "No!"

I'm a writer. I'm a writer of magazine and web articles, corporate web copy and nonprofit press releases. I enjoy writing across these industries and for a variety of clients. But my true love is fiction. And I've finally started querying literary agents.

I've also started racking up the rejection letters. This is not a fun part of the process. In fact, it's downright discouraging. I actually wanted to work for a literary agent so that I would better understand the process. That's me: research and learn as much as you can before you dive into something. Unfortunately, working for an agent wasn't a possibility.

I'm sure I'm learning from this process; I'm just not quite sure what as yet. Any suggestions?