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September 2011

Gym Confessions

  • I’ve been hiding in the locker room writing on the cement benches after my workouts because I wasn’t sure if it was okay to leave my kids in the daycare if I wasn’t working out. (Because, God forbid I get in “trouble.”) The confession: I think I’ll keep doing it anyway because it’s quiet and I don’t care about looking “weird.”

  • I always weigh in right after my work out so that even if the number hasn’t changed I’m feeling good. The Confession: I always start at my highest weight nine weeks ago (pregnancies aside) so I keep focused on the long-term gains loss instead of hyper-focusing on whether or not I’ve lost a fraction of a pound in 22 hours.

  • I’m really at the gym for the shower and a few off-mama-duty moments to write. My goal is to work out enough to “deserve” a shower and I always have some work-related thing I’m mentally dealing, kind of like when people go to sleep with a question on their mind intending to wake up with the answer. I never work out without my water bottle and mini-Moleskine. Until yesterday when I ended up writing on my hands, the back of Prevention magazine and on two subscription card inserts. I never cut my hair so short that I can't stick my pen in ponytail - the notes have to be transcribed stat since they are barely legible when I'm toward the middle to end of the EFX/treadmill work outs. The Confession: I lost my notebook. Searched the house and car for it and nearly passed out when I saw it on Norm’s desk at the gym. Ohhh, damn. I opened it to a random page and read:

“Was he your boyfriend?”

“Oh, no we were just friends. I didn’t even sleep with him or anything.”

Except there weren’t quotation marks because I know this is a conversation between my characters. Norm, however, doesn’t.

  • I work out in the gym’s geriatric ward because the people are nicer and I feel comfortable practicing my running. They work out to Tony Bennett and don’t like my music. It’s their room. So I use my iPod and listen to my more modern music. The Confession: this includes the soundtrack to Top Gun, New Kids on the Block, Julio Iglesias, and St. Elmo’s Fire. I used to listen to Eminem until I realized listening to misogynistic music because “I like the beat” is like reading Hustler “for the articles.”
  • Going to the gym has become a habit in the nine weeks I’ve been going four times a week. The Confession: I love it.

Where I’ve been

“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.”

- Robert Frost

My initial absence was a vacation … a wonderful one … then I came home to a little personal drama and as I was recovering from that my computer crashed. So that’s where I’ve “been.”

Thank you to Rosie, Brian, Booker, Jackie and my buddy Bill (who I will be “yelping” soon) Smile for helping me with this particular recovery … and to those of you helping me with the other kinds! I have such amazing people! xo

I have 84,000 posts in my head and drafts box but for now this quick one will have to do … my computer crashed (yes, again) and I may or may not have lost everything (because, no I didn’t back it all up after the last time) and it wouldn’t hurt my feelings at all if you happen to be the prayin’ type and say a little one about helping the people helping me be able to recover my data.

Otherwise, the missing pictures are in my heart and most of what I lost is writing stuff I made up anyway and I can always make up more … it’d just be nice if I didn’t have to. Really, really nice.

I’m off to practice running, do some sanity-saving exercises and then see the fate of my hard drive.

So, more soon – promise!

- {insert signature that used to be on my old desktop here}


Mothers Against the Madness

Here is my most recent column in the News-Register in response to the question what do stay-at-home moms have to be stressed about?

Here's my answer to the underlying question: What is it you do all day, exactly? (Except that I'm pretty sure I made my point by noon).

I beg of you to help stop the madness against mothers by sharing this information with anyone who asks (or doesn't know to ask, but should hear this anyway!)

Thanks so much for helping me spread the word. I'm so done with all the b.s. about pitting women against each other, or women participating in the damaging dialogue, about which choices* are "best." All we get to decide is which choices are best for us. That's it. And, really, that's plenty.

For the record, the choices I'm referring to here include, but are not limited to, the following: Being a stay-at-home mom, mothers dedicated to satisfying careers, mothers working at crap jobs to make ends meet, mothers staying in a marriage other people don't understand, or, leaving a marriage for reasons people don't understand, women who are not mothers by choice or by circumstance.

To be clear: I'm not advocating for or against any of these very personal decisions. I am simply, but strongly, saying that they aren't our choices to make. Eyes on your own paper, people ... eyes on your own paper.


Since you asked ...

A sample day in the life of a stay-at-home Mom*

Between 5 and 7:30 a.m. Wake up to sounds of my husband trying to be quiet. Marvel that my children slept through the night and pray for another hour of quiet before the party starts. Write morning pages, finish a few things for work and make my shake. Empty dishwasher, start breakfast prep, set out stuff for making dinner. Put in load of laundry.

Head back upstairs where Sam finds me stretching in my room so we do a little Yoga together before his brother wakes up. Sam’s the loudest little Yogi ever so Jake’s up before long and hits the ground running. And then falls hitting his knee on an unidentified object since I was being so negligent as to use the bathroom for a moment.

7:45 a.m. I bring some first-aid stuff upstairs to deal with his scrape. Sam insists his brother wants a boo-boo pack and hurries downstairs to get it. He falls too. So there we are, the three of us on the stairs, two-thirds of us in tears. I suggest we start the day over. We get dressed and come down for breakfast.

8:05 a.m. Noticed the box of Band-aids is suspiciously empty. Found them stuck all over Sam’s door. I scraped them off while he explains that he was “just decorating.”

8:10 a.m. Noticed the Neosporin cap is missing, spent the next 15 minutes hunting for it before Jake finds it and choke to death. Change Jake’s diaper. I’m too slow because in the 12 seconds he had the opportunity he manages to pee all over his lovey, Zebra. Luckily I have a spare.

8:25 a.m. The water I’d set to boil for our oatmeal evaporated in the meantime. Almond butter toast and honey it is. (It helps to remember that when Plan A fails, you’ve got 25 more letters to work with).

8:20-8:30 a.m. Managed Sam’s meltdown over not being allowed to watch “Bob the Builder.”

8:32 a.m. Breakfast on the table, bags are packed from the night before we’ll be out the door on time today. For sure. Except I didn’t read Sam’s mind and therefore “messed up” his toast.

8:33 a.m. Manage another meltdown because I cut Sam’s toast into rectangles instead of his “favorite shape, triangles.” FYI: yesterday, the request was for rectangles. Jake, on the other hand, loves the toast, doesn’t care about the shape but thinks it makes a lovely hat.

8:40 a.m. Eat my toast standing up while combing almond butter out of Jake’s hair.

8:55-9 a.m. Clean up (by which I mean the kids not the breakfast dishes, those get thrown in the sink on a good day), wrangle kids into shoes and car-seats. Catch a whiff of stinky realization that I need to change Jake’s diaper. Stupidly smell his pants to see if he needs new ones. He does. Plus, I need a shower because, well, let’s just say I should’ve used my eyes instead of my nose!

9:00 a.m. Load boys up, lock myself out. Get in through super-secret means, tie my shoes while I pee. Yes, multi-tasking at its finest. Sing wheels-on-the bus all the way to the gym, pausing only to look for Cement Mixer Melvin and Rescue Rita. Also, forgot to announce “Time Tunnel approaching folks.” Promise to try to remember tomorrow.

9:30 a.m. Arrive at the gym daycare, breathless after carrying 30-pound Jake from the back-40 and keeping up with Sam who can’t wait to play trains. In the spirit of efficiency, I consider that my warm-up and sign in pleased that we are, for once, on time today. At which point I’m told I was actually signed up for 9 a.m. Cool.

9:45 a.m. Grateful for a cancelation, I am finally able to hit the treadmill, workout and shower all by myself. Even in an itty-bitty shower stall with little privacy and no scented potions from home this time to shower and get ready in peace is such a luxury that I’m willing to work out hard enough to need one after years of boycotting exercise due to the fact that I hate it. A few people have asked me why I go through the trouble of going to the gym when I could just go for a walk with “one of those kid-pusher things.” For those who don’t know, that would be a stroller and I suppose it’s possible that someone who’s never pushed one with two siblings in it wouldn’t understand that is an exercise in both patience and futility but not so much a physical one since you’re always having to stop to give someone his bottle back or pick up the blanket that you just ran over and will now have to wash before bedtime.

11:00 a.m. Stop at the “Tractor Park” on the way home to supervise play and sharing practice. Watch in awe as other parents are able to relax and read as their children fling sand into my kids’ faces. Remind Sam we don’t have a snack bar because we had to leave the store last time due to his not listening. As he starts to throw a fit remind him that if he does that I won’t have the energy to remember to buy them next time either!

11:30 a.m. Bribe the kids back to the car with the promise of lunch and an episode of “Caillou.” Yes, even if it’s sunny. People say television is a babysitter like it’s a bad thing. I’m more of a “most things in moderation” kind of mom. Ad-lib “Wheels-on-the Bus” all the way home to include all of the “Sweet Pickles” characters.

Since I’m already over my word-count, just trust me that the afternoon is a blur of crafty activities, clean up, sharing practice, explaining why it’s not okay to tow each other by the neck, hunting down remaining strangulation hazards, trying to keep one kid relatively quiet while the other naps, prepping dinner, bum-wiping, re-wrapping the toilet paper on the roll, Google contents of Sam’s giraffe and ideas for how to fix his tail, laundry, and the list goes on.

Yeah, that whole bon-bon thing? It’s crap!

Flash forward to the chaos of the day fading into dinner negotiations, bath time fun and subsequent tsunami zone, then stories, songs, bedtime. I SAID BEDTIME!!!

And then I clock out.

Just kidding.

At Bedtime Jake is screaming for Zebra. Oh, did I not mention that as I was filling the tub he decided to toss Zebra in there, giving him a nice soak. Remember this morning when he peed on the other one and I was so glad I had a spare? Yeah. I didn’t get that into the dryer yet.

Motherhood is full of Sophie’s Choices. Do I give him the wet zebra or the one he peed on this morning?

I’ll leave you on that note … I know there are so many things I missed. I’m sure you can help me fill in the blanks. Hopefully this is enough to demonstrate the “bored” is the dumbest adjective to describe this mad-awesome gig.

*After writing this it was brought to my attention that technically I’m a work-from-home mom but as far as I’m concerned, the details here are representative of the stay-at-home mom part and the work-from-home part happens on the treadmill, at the park while supervising sharing practice, between singing rounds of wheels-on-the-bus, and between 9 p.m and 2 a.m.


Stop the madness against mothers already!

 

This is a post to compliment my column running in the News-Register today. By “compliment” I mean, a place to put everything I had to cut to make my word count.

I started writing this article a couple months ago after a few friends asked me within a week of each other if my husband had ever asked me what it is I did all day. Then, my husband happened to come home, survey the day’s damage and wonder out loud what we did that day.

I started taking notes in the margins of my days on ways the day got derailed by minor things (spills, potty accidents, meltdowns and the dog getting out) and major things like falls down the stairs, etc).

As I started to list the things I do on a sample day as a stay-at-home mom, I quadrupled my allotted word count before I even got to noon, at which point the afternoon becomes a blur of crafty activities, clean up, supervising sharing practice, explaining why it’s not okay to tow each other by the neck, hunting down all remaining strangulation hazards, trying to keep one kid relatively quiet while the other one naps, dinner prep, bum-wiping, re-wrapping the toilet paper on the roll, Google contents of Sam’s giraffe as well as ideas for how to fix the tail, etc. So, I decided to make my “day-in-the-life” post it’s own online column.

I meant for this to run last month, the week of my deadline I followed my (at times super inconvenient writer’s intuition) and held it for this month. I didn’t know why at the time, I just knew I needed to. So I wrote about something else I’d been taking notes on for awhile: playground rules for parents. Then, I waited for” the knowing” to make sense.

As I was working out one morning, I happened to catch the co-hosts of “The View” talking about a survey conducted by TheBump.com and ForbesWoman.com. I wish I had the clip so you could see Joy Behar’s face when she said it, but she implied that the only reason stay-at-home moms would be stressed was because of the boredom.

And in that moment it was clear to me why I’d held off on publishing this. Instead of being another rant about being misunderstood, I had a news hook.

You do understand that I’m not complaining about the job itself, yes? I love having the opportunity to do this. I chose it. I’d choose it again tomorrow. The part I have an issue with is the misconception that I’ve got nothing but time. That I’m not really working. That, for the love of all that is holy, I’m bored!

The part that makes me most insane is that choices and circumstances about parenting, particularly mothering—I might argue exclusively about mothering—are turned into some kind of a contest where there are right and wrong answers – there aren’t. It’s personal for every family. What works for mine might not work for yours, and vice versa.

The whole pitting women against each other thing is so old already, and yet we keep participating in the destructive nature of these kinds of debates.

I invite you to join me in stopping the madness against mothers and simply celebrate the fact that it takes all of us doing whatever it is we’re doing to contribute to the community of children we’re creating.

{Hops of soapbox}.

p.s. the survey also addresses a key issue about parenting, resentment about imbalances in co-parenting. Trust me, we’ll revisit this soon!