You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Family’ category.

While at work on Wednesday morning, the sky clouded over and rain began lightly hitting my window.  It was cool outside, and nothing like the day before when weather forecasters had predicted that huge tornado-bearing supercells would form and cause massive damage over most of the Midwest.  We expected storms and even tornadoes on Tuesday, but they never came.  On Wednesday, though, we were almost caught unaware.

When the tornado sirens sounded, most of us kept working, despite the fear instilled in most of us by the continued news coverage of the massive devastation in Joplin.  Frequently, the city tests the tornado sirens on Wednesday mornings.  This just seemed like any other test.

On Saturday evening, I had awakened from a half-sleep and shook my husband awake.  We could barely hear tornado sirens sounding in the distance.  My husband shrugged and fell back asleep, but I immediately turned on the television.  Within minutes, the sirens were sounding locally.  I was prepared to grab my shoes and to wake Bear so we could go to the basement when the meteorologist explained that there were no tornado-producing storms over the metro.  Rather, a tornado had been sighted approximately 50 miles away and had just crossed into my county.  I got back into bed, and watched the news until the storms had passed over us with only a little wind and rain.

It is no wonder that sound of tornado sirens has lost its power over many of us.

About five minutes after the tornado sirens began sounding on Wednesday, a co-worker popped his head into my office.  This is the real thing.

What?  I grabbed my phone and my purse and followed the small crowd forming in the hallway.  We headed into the stairwell, and after a few minutes, our business manager burst through the outside door talking incoherently about how the post office had forced her to leave.  She began sobbing.  Her grandchildren had lost their house in Joplin.  Fortunately, they were not there at the time.

I called my husband.  Like the rest of us, he had continued working, oblivious to the situation.  He assured me that he would go somewhere safe, although others in his office opted to stay on their 20th-something floors and continue billing hours.

In the stairwell, we all began searching for news about what was going on.  I texted a teacher in Bear’s classroom at daycare.  I didn’t want to bother her, but I couldn’t imagine where they would take the kids, and I needed to know that Bear was OK.  I received a brief reply that everyone was OK, but then I heard that a tornado had been sighted about 30 blocks from Bear’s daycare.  Other reports indicated that other tornadoes had touched down elsewhere in the city, mostly a little Southwest from Bear, but then word came that tornadoes had been sighted near my home and apparently, were headed toward my office.

Employees of a bank on the first level of my building ushered us out of the stairwell and into a bank vault.  There, we all waited for something to happen.   Because cell phone service was not good, many of us had to leave the vault to get a signal, and every time I stepped outside, I searched for word from Bear’s daycare.

People worried aloud about their homes and their kids.  I realized in that moment, that I didn’t care if my home was destroyed, or sadly, if even my dog got blown away.   I only wanted to leave and pick up Bear so we could be together.  I needed to know that she was alright.

The next time I stepped outside the vault to check for messages, I discovered that Bear’s teacher had called.  The message was a little unclear, but I thought that she said that Bear had gotten hurt.  I quickly called her back, and when she answered, she explained that Bear was not hurt, but that she had gotten “ahold” of some crackers that they were using the placate the kids during the sirens, and these crackers had soy in them.  Oh, thank goodness.  Despite the exposure, Bear was happily drinking both milk and Benadryl, and they thought that she was OK.

I was relieved.  I can handle a food allergy.  And Bear was OK.  Although the sirens continued sounding, a weather report signaled that the tornado warning for our county had expired, and most of us went back to work.  The clouds above us had rotated, but fortunately, no tornadoes touched down near my office.

Later that day, as I drove to get Bear, I was amazed to see no damage at all, even in areas where a tornado had supposedly touched down.  When I picked up Bear, she seemed oblivious to what had happened, expect that she had a lot to say about the crackers she had eaten.  For a kid who gets very little processed food thanks to a soy allergy, she must have thought that those crackers were the best things she had ever eaten.  It was all she talked about that night, and I was thankful that she had been spared the fear that other older children must have felt when asked to crouch in a hallway.

I kissed her and held her that night with a perspective that I rarely have.  Still fresh in my mind are stories from Joplin about a little 16 month-old boy being ripped from his mother’s arms while they took shelter inside of a bathtub, or one told to me by a friend about her former classmate who took his two young boys on an errand to the Joplin Home Depot that Sunday and left his wife without a husband or her two precious children.

I cannot imagine.  We are so lucky.

Advertisements

Bear’s two-year molars have started coming in.  She is still a few weeks away from her 2nd birthday, but they don’t seem to know this.

All week, I watched her perform all manner of tasks with one or two index fingers hanging from her mouth.  She’s developed a rash around her mouth, and for the past two days, she has moped around the house with a low-grade fever.

Owie, Mama, she has been saying all week.  Then, she asks for apple.  I’ve been giving her frozen pineapple cut into small bits for her to chew on, and she seems to agree that the cold helps.  Yesterday, she even let me put my finger into her mouth to feel her sore gums.  The small, sharp corner of her lower, right molar had already cut through.

Last night, she woke up crying.  I went to her and found her standing in her crib with her fingers in her mouth.  I held her for a little bit and told her that if she slept, her mouth would feel better.  I put her back to bed, but a few minutes later, she began crying again.  This time, my husband went to her with our tiny bottle of compounded, non-soy containing pain reliever, which cost us nearly $100.  When he came back to bed, I asked him if she took the medicine.  Yeah, he said, and I gave her a drum stick.  Not the chicken-kind, mind you, but apparently he handed her a plastic toy drum stick from the floor and she plopped it into her mouth.

Either the medicine or the drum stick did the trick, because she slept the rest of the night.  Unfortunately, she woke up this morning feeling just a poorly as she did when she went to bed, and several days of pain has put her in a bad mood.

She asked for a morning snack, and when I insisted that she sit at the table to eat it, she responded by twisting and turning in her new booster seat.  I told her that I was worried that she was going to fall on her head, and she replied, Thank. You.

Then, she told me to eat her foot.

She clocked me in the head this morning, when she was upset with me for some reason.  My glasses went flying and left a red mark on the side of my face.  When I picked her up to explain why we don’t hit, she hit me again.  So, I put her down until her daddy came inside when she ran to him looking for the good guy.

I decided to let her stay with The Good Guy while I went to the grocery store.  When I returned an hour later, she was watching a movie on the couch (another reason why he is The Good Guy), and when she saw me, she got off the couch, and ran and hit me on the leg.

Sigh.

Let’s hope that all four of those two-year molars bust through in the next several days.  Otherwise, I am fearful that none of us are going to survive.

Spooky Moon, originally uploaded by rcbodden, Flickr, Creative Commons.

I had just put Bear down to sleep for the night, and closed her door behind me, when she started screaming. At first, I thought that these were her typical, I-don’t-want-to-go-to-bed screams, but they quickly escalated in pitch, so I turned around and went back into her bedroom.

She stopped crying as soon as she saw me. She was hot – a damp hot. In a few minutes, she had soaked through her fleece sleeper, and her hair felt wet with sweat. She sat straight up in her crib looking at me, whimpering and gasping for air.

What is wrong?

She looked at her bedroom window, the blinds closed tightly against the night outside, and pointed. Her whimpering got louder.

Outside? Did you see something that scared you?

She nodded, and I picked her up. She curved her hot little body against mine and closed her eyes. I sat down in her chair and began rocking her.Bear twisted her body in my arms toward the window and pointed again. She wasn’t going to forget whatever had happened, and I felt a little prick of fear inside of me. What if she really did see something? What if someone was outside her window? I decided that I had to be brave, even though my little toddler pointing insistently at her bedroom window was starting to freak me out.

Do you want me to check to make sure nothing is there?

She nodded again. So, from where I sat, I reached over and quickly pulled back the blinds. Nothing. Either nothing was there, or nothing was there now.

See, honey? There isn’t anything there. You’re fine.

I rocked her for a little while longer, and she seemed to relax. I carried her to her crib and began to lay her down amongst her babies. Her eyes popped open. I assured her that I would be right outside her room, and if she needed me, I would be there. I told her not to worry anymore. She closed her eyes again and rubbed her cheek against her blanket.

But, I was still a little worried. When my husband got home, I asked him to go outside to check. He scoffed at my concerns. She saw a light, or a sweet gum ball probably hit the window, he said. Maybe.

Since that night, about twice a week, Bear will start screaming in the middle of the night. I’ll go into her room, and she’ll be sitting up pointing at the window. I’m fairly convinced that nothing is there, but her insistence is starting to spook me. What if she knows something that we don’t?

Bear has been asking for things lately, and I am having a hard time resisting.

Last week, after someone mentioned ice cream, she kept saying I want ice cream over and over until I agreed.  She’s never had ice cream for obvious reasons, but I was able to find some sorbet that was soy and dairy free.  It was an amazingly warm day, and we took it outside to eat.  Bear sat in a chair like a big girl and let me spoon feed mouthfuls of the stuff into her waiting mouth.  At that moment, her reaction of pure joy seemed reason enough to give her all that she requests.

Last Sunday, Bear watched as I spent an hour and a half untangling two hopelessly tangled necklaces.  When I finished, I put one on, and Bear was immediately fascinated.   She ran her chubby fingers around the chain.   I want a necklace.  My husband overheard her request and suggested getting her one for her birthday.  I began to explain the reasons why she wasn’t old enough, but her little ears overheard.  Pink? she requested.  A pink necklace?  Purple too? 

Aw, the stuff little girl’s dreams are made of.

After some brainstorming, I decided that I could make a necklace for Bear sturdy-enough that she couldn’t choke on it.  Of course, the mere act of her wearing a necklace is somewhat of a choking hazard, but perhaps, I thought, a necklace would be safe enough during supervised dress-up.

Yesterday, Bear and I went to a nearby craft store searching for some unfinished wooden beads that would be so large that she couldn’t put them in her mouth.  We found wooden doll heads, multitudes of small beads, various stones, colored pom-poms, and sheets of felt, but no large wooden beads that wouldn’t pose a choking-hazard.

After entirely too much contemplation, I bought a ball of yarn and two bags of good-sized felt heart stickers, both in Bear’s favorite colors.

At home, I stuck the stickers together so the hearts would be double-sided.  Then, I pulled out the largest needle that I could find, and using a pair of needle-nosed pliers, I began sewing the hearts together.

Sometimes, my imagination is bigger than reality, and while the end-product is cute, I was not sure that it was worth the effort.  That is, until I gave it to Bear.

Now, Bear is asking for a baby, but I think that just like her mommy, she’s going to have to wait for one of those.  Maybe for her birthday?

Yesterday was beautiful.  While Bear napped, I sat in the sun in the backyard and read.  By the time she woke, the afternoon had warmed to the point where I could discard my jacket and even sleeves were no longer necessary.  Bear and I spent several hours outside enjoying the unseasonably warm weather.

Although Bear looks like me, she is her father’s daughter.  As far as I am concerned, the two of them have work confused with play.  Every weekend, my husband creates little projects for himself; ones that I would not find relaxing.  Likewise, yesterday Bear entertained herself by picking up sweet gum balls and collecting them in her wagon.  Unfortunately, she was not content to do this by herself, so I joined her in this unpleasant activity.

As I was marveling on prolific nature of our sweet gum trees, my doctor’s office called.  The nurse gingerly told me that my progesterone was “very low” at 0.6 and that she was sorry but that I had not ovulated.  She promised to call me on Monday with my doctor’s recommendations since my doctor is out-of-town on spring break.

After the call, I found myself thinking over the results as I picked up spiny ball after spiny ball.  The irony was not lost on me.  We have a backyard full of trees that generate millions of these unwanted balls in the name of procreation, and I struggle to generate one tiny, little egg on a semi-regular basis.

Aside from this, Bear and I did have a nice afternoon in the sunshine.  She piled rocks on the back of our ultra-complacent dog.  Then, she attempted to feed them to him.  Finally, she gave him sweet gum balls to munch.  After we had exhausted all of the fun that the backyard could offer, we moved to the driveway where Bear drove her little Cozy Coupe, and we wrote her name in many colors with chalk.

Today, the weather is its normal, fickle March self, but yesterday’s little taste of summer was enough to remind us that winter is nearly at an end.  And, I am ready.

My husband, Bear, and I took a walk this morning to look at a home in a neighborhood across a busy street from where we live.  This home has the size we are looking for.  It has the right number of bedrooms, a finished basement, and updated bathrooms.  It is in the same school district as our current home.  And we can afford it.

The problem, and likely the reason that we can afford it, is that it sits on a street that directly links up with a busy road.  The part of the neighborhood where it sits is not nearly as nice as where we now live.

When we bought our house five years ago, we looked forever.  The day our house came on the market, we left work, toured it, and put a bid on it that night.  Another couple bid on it at the same time, but because we were moving from an apartment and flexible on timing, the seller accepted our offer.  And, then the hard work began.

We spent a full month in the evenings after work removing wallpaper.  We patched walls and painted.  We hired a handyman to pull up the linoleum in the kitchen (which wasn’t difficult because time had worn half of it up) and to replace the old oven.  We started the project of repainting the kitchen cabinets, but we quickly ran out of steam and ended up paying someone to do it for us.  However, within a matter of months, we had a good-looking little house in a fantastic neighborhood.

Now, after having added one child and with the hope of continuing to expand our family in the near future, we are bursting at the seams.  Bear’s toys fill our living room.  At night, I stuff them into a chest that serves as extra seating.  While this works for now, we have no room for a play kitchen or a doll bed, or any of the larger toys that a little girl might enjoy.  Every morning, my husband, Bear, the dog, and I inevitably find ourselves all crammed into the eight by eight foot space that serves as our master bathroom, despite that my husband and I attempt to take turns in front of the mirror and sink.

So, we are planning our next steps.  We can move, but it is doubtful that we’ll find a home that is both large enough and updated in our price range and even more doubtful that we’d find this home in our current neighborhood.  We could buy a house of the right size and for the right price but that needs a lot of TLC, or we could renovate where we currently live.  Lastly, we could move to the suburbs and buy a fantastic house for the same price, but then, we’d leave all of our connections to this part of the city (church, friends, etc.) and increase our daily commuting time.  This is our least favorite option, particularly since my husband works late every night, although looking at those giant, new houses on realtor’s websites makes it a hard option to ignore.

Contrary to her best interest, our realtor thinks that we should renovate our current home.  According to her, we live in the perfect location and will not find anything better in our price range.  She is probably right.  We spoke with an architect however who told us that expanding our home to add bedrooms and a larger master bathroom would increase the price of our house to the extent that we’d need to expand the kitchen and move the laundry room to the main floor.  Unfortunately, this is not something that we can afford.  Even with our original plan – additional bedrooms in the now-attic and a larger master bath – would have to be done in phases.

According to our realtor, if you have a budget, you often have to live by the “80% rule.”  You buy a home with 80% of what you want and live without the 20%.  Right now, we are trying to decide whether we can live with location being part of our 20%.

My husband and I returned for our walk feeling sad.  This other house has what we need, but we would give up our location for a busy street and more traffic.  We will be looking at other houses next week with our realtor, but we have yet to see anything on the market that suits our needs and desires.  However, we are not certain that we are ready financially or mentally for a major renovation project.

I’d welcome thoughts from anyone reading this.  Generally, do you prefer location over size?  What did you look for in buying your own home?  If given our options, what would you do?

While listening to Morning Edition on NPR on the way to work a few days ago, a story of particular interest to me began playing as soon as I drove into the parking lot for my work.  Instead of turning off the car, and going into work, as I should have since I was already late, I sat in the car and listened to this.

I self-congratulated myself as I heard the reporter beg her son to eat his vegetables.  I shuddered a little when she told him that eating his vegetables would make him a big boy.  I thought, that woman needs to talk to Ellyn Satter.

Within a few radio seconds, the reporter was on the phone with Ellyn Satter, a therapist and dietician who has written a number of books about feeding young children, and Ms. Satter began explaining to the reporter that the harder she worked to get her child to eat something, the more likely that he would resist.

When Bear was starting solids, I was at a complete loss at how to feed her.  I felt like her pediatrician gave us very vague guidelines, and as a clueless mom with no previous experience, I took to googling.  Fortunately, I began seeing a pattern of other moms who reported that Ellyn Satter’s book, Child of Mine, was pivotal in forming the way that they fed their children, and so I ordered it.

Shortly before the book arrived in the mail, I found myself engaged in the usual struggle to get Bear to try a new solid.  I put the spoon of sweet potatoes that I had lovingly pureed to her closed lips and she turned her head.  With animated gestures, I tried some and demonstrated how much I liked it.  She took a swipe at the bowl.  I began bargaining with her.  If you just try it, you’ll like it, I told her.  Finally, I stood over her and when she opened her mouth, I shoved in the spoon.  Bear protested and spit sweet potato onto her tray and looked at me like, why, mom?  I did not want my child to become a picky eater.  I am not.  My husband is not, and Bear was not going to be a picky eater either.

Early in the book, Ms. Satter essentially says that forcing your child to eat something means that as a parent, you have a problem with control.  This sentiment pained me.  Was I controlling Bear by trying to get her to try something new?  Was this control hurting her and hurting me?

Quickly, I shifted my efforts at meal time from trying to get Bear to eat to simply providing food for her.  If she did not want it, she didn’t have to eat it.  This approach made meal times so much more relaxed, and I quickly let go of the frustration that I felt inside when Bear refused to eat something.  I would still offer it, but she could choose whether she wanted to eat it or not.

However, this week’s story on NPR made me realize that I am still controlling Bear’s meal times in a way that Ms. Satter would not approve.  She tells the reporter to let her son eat bread, even five pieces of bread at meal time, if this is what her son wants.  In Child of Mine, she suggests putting food on the table and allowing your child to eat as much or as little as the child chooses and to always include some food that you know that your child likes.  Her theory, and that of others I assume, is that children instinctively know how to self-regulate, and they will eat what they need and not over eat what they do not.  According to Ms. Satter, by allowing children the freedom to control how much they eat during a meal, they will begin exercising their internal self-control.

My problem is this:  When I cook, I rarely make enough to put in serving dishes.  I make enough for the meal, and I dish food directly onto plates.  In light of Bear’s restrictive food allergies, sometimes Bear gets different food than my husband and I, although I try to avoid this as much as possible.  I serve Bear her food on a plate, and generally, there is no more of this food beyond what I have given her.  Then, I am comfortable with allowing her to eat all or none of it.  This is her choice.

The issue arises when I serve something that there is more of, like a slice of cheese.  I will cut up pieces for Bear and put them on her plate with the rest of her food.  She loves cheese and will always eat it first.  Then, she’ll turn to the refrigerator and beg for more cheese instead of eating any more of her food.  My husband and I do not indulge Bear in this request, and I wonder if in this way, I am deviating from Ms. Satter’s suggestions.  Perhaps I should cut more slices of cheese and make them available at the table when we sit down to eat.  Then, as Bear finishes what she has, allow her to have more if she wants it. 

This is where I find myself struggling with Ms. Satter’s theory.  I know that Bear will only eat cheese if given the opportunity.  I am comfortable with allowing her to eat the cheese on her plate and then allowing her to choose to eat the rest of her food (or not) with the assumption that if she is hungry, she will eat some of the rest of her food.  If she has an unlimited supply of cheese (at least, unlimited to the extent of what is on the table), I don’t think that she’ll ever reach the conclusion of “I am still hungry.  I have no more cheese, so I’ll eat something else.”

Perhaps, I need to return to Child of Mine.  Perhaps, I need Ellyn Satter on speed dial.  Are any of you familiar with Ellyn Satter’s theories?  Would any of you like to share your thoughts on this or your own battles with toddlers and food?

Without my realizing it, Bear has become a social creature.  She has playmates at daycare and at home, she recites their names lovingly.  She clings to my side for only a moment at the church nursery before running into the arms of her favorite high school girl who will be hers for the next hour.  She says “hi” to strangers in stores and then shyly turns away when they show interest.  Bear is starting to learn about how people interact with each other, and she now craves that interaction with people other than her parents.

Yesterday afternoon, I decided that Bear and I would take a trip to Target.  We had been cooped up inside for the better part of two weeks – first with Bear’s illness and then with the snow – and we both needed to leave the house.  When I told Bear that we were going to Target, she ran to her room shouting, “Shoesies, Momma!  Shoesies!”  She insisted on wearing dress shoes, which weren’t at all appropriate for the snow, but after a few half-hearted suggestions of more practical shoes, I decided to let her choose.  When we arrived at Target, several other children and their mothers were walking from the entrance to their cars.  As we passed each group, Bear shouted, “Kids!  Kids!  Kids!” until they had passed.  I realized then how much she missed playing with her friends.

Today after music class, Bear and I had lunch with a friend and her son, Jack, who is close in age to Bear.  Previously, they had always engaged in parallel play around each other.  They would acknowledge the other’s presence, but developmentally, they played alone.  Today, as I carried Bear to the restaurant, she cried out her friend’s name.  They sat across from each other in booster seats, and one would stand and then the other.  One would shriek and then the other.  One would throw food and then the other.  By the end of lunch, they were standing in our booth, hitting the blinds, and shrieking at the top of their lungs.  No matter what motherly attempts we made to quiet the kids, they would giggle and continue.   They were playing a game with us, and they loved it.  As we stood up to gather our coats, Bear and Jack shot out of the booth and ran to the other side of the fairly empty restaurant.  They cowered giggling in the far corner of the room.  When we made our way to them, Jack ran in one direction and Bear ran in the other.  Once I had corralled my little girl and wrestled her into her coat, I carried Bear to the car.  The entire way, she said, “Dack.  Dack.  Dack.”  She missed her friend already.

When did this happen?  Before I know it, she’ll have a boyfriend.

I felt like I was preparing for the world to end on Monday.  Sixteen inches of snow were forecasted to fall on Tuesday, and since I had been out of the office for most of the prior week with a sick Bear, I didn’t have time for snow.

I left the house that morning in such haste to run several errands before work that I forgot my breakfast and more importantly, my wallet.  I drove first to the bank so I could deposit a check that, for whatever reason, had been repeatedly spit back at me by our friendly, local ATM, but then I discovered that I had no wallet.  So, I drove back home to get it.  Once I got back to the bank, I discovered that they did not open for another ten minutes, or until 8:30, which was not convenient, since I had a client arriving at 9:00.  So, I drove across the street to mail a package at a UPS store.

Inside, an older man was listening to classical music.  He seemed to have been up for hours and clearly had no cares in the world.  I watched him tape a box.  Then, I watched him type something on the computer.  Then, he returned to taping the box.  When he finally looked up at me, I could feel the beginnings of frenzy boil inside of me.  He took my box from me and weighed it.  Then, he wanted to know if there was glass inside.  There was.  More typing.  Then, he wanted to know if the value was greater than $100.  I thought about it for a moment, and said that the value was probably around $130.  Wrong answer.  He began to explain that they would charge me an additional amount for something valued more than $100.  So, I told him that if I were to sell the contents of the box, that I would not get more than $100.  He pursed his lips, but he didn’t argue with me about it.  He then told me that the shipping charges came to $13.  I raised my eyebrows.  Unless, he said, I wanted to use Parcel Post.  I did, I told him.  He began to lecture me about how my valuable items would not be protected through Parcel Post and that UPS was really my best option and that anyone with items as valuable as mine should want to track their progress to ensure that they arrived at their destination.  At this point, I practically threw $13 at him and ran out of the store.

Back at the bank, they had unlocked the front doors, and a line had formed.  One teller was helping the customers in the line, and another, who apparently was assigned the drive-through window, was looking out the window waiting for customers there.  Three other bank employees sat at their desks facing us watching.   When I arrived “on deck,” I watched the woman in front of me as she was being assisted by the teller.  This woman was wearing stretchy Capri pants with tall, Ugg-like boots up to her knees.  She kept bending and stretching and bending and stretching, and her ambivalence was driving me a little crazy.  When I finally reached the teller, she took the check from my hands and began typing at her computer.  She ran it through a little machine.  She wrote something on it.  She typed some more and handed me a deposit slip.  Not once did she look at me or open her mouth to speak.

Once at work, I met with my client, and then called another who was scheduled to come in the middle of the world-ending blizzard the next day.  No, she couldn’t come any other day.  No, she couldn’t come in earlier.  No, she didn’t mind driving through the blizzard.  Fine, I said.  I’ll be here, and I’ll attempt to arrange for childcare, since undoubtedly, Bear’s daycare will be closed.

At this point, my nose had started running.  I began to feel that bone-tired feeling where you want to put on every pair of sweats you own and curl up in a corner to sleep.  I began sneezing every few minutes, just in time for the arrival of my next client.

During this meeting, I missed a call from Bear’s daycare.  When my client and I moved from the conference room to my office so I could access my computer, my husband called.  Bear’s eye was swelling and her legs were covered with hives, so he was on his way to pick her up and he’d arranged for an appointment with her allergist.  Once I’d finished with my client, I “remotely” attended Bear’s appointment.  The doctor explained that she was prescribing Prednisone and explained that Bear likely was having an allergic reaction but that she also seemed to have an infection, so the doctor would also prescribe an antibiotic. 

Poor kid.  I wanted to go home to be with her, and I did not feel well myself.  My eyes were watery, and I felt both hot and cold.  Later that night, after we had put an itchy Bear to bed, I could not get comfortable enough to sleep.  Fever moved in about the time the blizzard started.  It felt like our furnace was losing the battle to the bitter cold outside.  The next morning, I woke up wearing three shirts and a jacket with the hood pulled over my head.  I felt terrible.

At 7:00 that morning, I called my client again, thinking that maybe the reality of the blizzard had caused a change of heart.  No.  She stilled planned on coming.  About that time, I received notice that Bear’s daycare would be closed.  Of course.  My husband volunteered to take more time away from work so I could meet with my client.  I left a message imploring her to arrive as soon as she could, and I left for work three hours before her appointment.

Ten minutes after her appointment was to begin, she called to say that she was “right around the corner.”  Great, I said with my voice full of sickness, because our office was closing, but I would wait for her.

Oh, you’re sick, she responded.  Oh no.  I hope that I don’t get it.  I wouldn’t want my baby to get sick.

Too bad, lady.

I have been thinking a lot about this post by Aisha Iqbal earlier this week.  We, as mothers, do a great job at beating up ourselves and others over parenting.  To work or stay home?  To breastfeed or formula feed?  To co-sleep or not?  Regardless of what side of the coin we find ourselves on, and regardless of whether it is by choice or circumstance, I think that neither realm is free from guilt.

I work part-time as an attorney.  I am fortunate that my employer has given me the option to spend part of the week with my daughter, and I am even more fortunate that this arrangement seems to work.  I have seen other part-time arrangements – particularly in the legal world – where this isn’t the case, and the mother essentially gets paid less to work full-time.

In the early days of my dissatisfaction with my first job out of law school, I remember standing in the elevator one morning with a senior associate, who was a new mother working part-time, and a partner.  The partner asked the associate how late she had been at the office the previous night, and she responded, “I was here until midnight.  When I got home, my son was already asleep, so I went to bed.  A few hours later, he woke up crying, and when I went to him, he said, ‘Mom, thanks for coming home.’”  At this point, we had arrived at my floor, and with a backward glance at her, I stepped off the elevator open-mouthed and headed thoughtfully for my office.  The associate announced that she was leaving the firm a few months later.  After she left, I mentioned what I had overheard in the elevator that morning to a partner, and he replied, “Part-time arrangements never work.  Women shouldn’t even try.”

While I will be the first to admit that my part-time arrangement is as ideal as they come, I am not free from guilt.  When I was on maternity leave after having Bear, my employer hired someone to take my place.  I work at a small firm, and admittedly, my absence created a need for another person.  This new colleague has been helpful and is partly why I can work part-time, however, my boss now refers all interesting and challenging work to her.  Not to mention, I make considerably less than I once did and now rely on my husband to provide most of the support for our family.  By having made the choice to work part-time, I have made myself less valuable to my firm and have limited my career.

I feel guilty that I send Bear to daycare.  Bear loves her class and teachers and, for the most part, we do too.  However, there are days when I pick her up late and the regular care providers have gone home and no one can tell me about Bear’s day.  Sometimes when I pick up Bear after work, she has wet rings around her legs because someone didn’t change her diaper quickly enough.  And, my heart breaks when at home, Bear cries because she does not get to go to school that day and has to stay with me instead.

I also feel guilty when work takes away from my time with Bear.  The fact that I must be available even when I am not in the office is an unavoidable hazard of being a lawyer, I suppose.  For example, Bear was sick on Wednesday.  I stayed home with her and did my best to work from home.  I propped Bear up on the couch, and she watched a lot of PBS that day.  I felt guilty.  When she was feeling well enough to play, she’d pull out her blocks or her books, and say to me, “Sit, Momma.  Sit.”  I felt really guilty.  When she was crying from hunger and nausea, I tried to make her lunch and talk to a client’s accountant on the phone at the same time, accomplishing nothing on either end.  I felt really, really guilty.

While I think that I have the best of both worlds in working part-time, I am afraid that I still find guilt in both of them.  Perhaps regardless of whether a mother is home with her child or whether she works away from her child, there is going to be the occasion for guilt.  Like Aisha, I’d like to shed my guilt, but I find myself asking, “How?”  Is there a way for mothers, who by nature want the best of their children, to mother as the imperfect beings they are and not feel guilt?  After all, we feel guilty because we care.  Maybe guilt just the by-product of motherly love.

Archives

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 3 other followers

Advertisements