Give that Job to the mom

If you want to get multiple tasks done quickly and effectively, call a mom. Without a doubt, she will be able to crank out the job better than anyone. 

My Christmas Eve night this week:

Arrived home at 7:30 PM from Cincy.

Unloaded the entire car full of boxes and gifts.

Dragged a mini refrigerator and a huge cozy seat up the stairs and into the kids’ rooms. 

Assisted the kids with unpacking the mini fridge and getting it set up in Mario’s room. 

Assisted the kids in unpacking Maria’s cozy chair and setting it up in her room. 

Cleaned Mario‘s room under his bunkbed and near his closet so that Maria would have a space to sleep. 

Took four loads of clothes and other random items up to the attic. 

Gathered winter clothes from the attic and brought them back downstairs. 

Cleaned the clothes off of Maria‘s floor. 

Hung up my clothes from Cincinnati. 

Cleaned the top of the kitchen counter. 

Fed Rocco. 

Took Rocco on a two-mile walk. 

Helped the kids make sugar cookies. 

Unpacked all of the gifts from Cincinnati and put them in their respective rooms. 

Wrote two letters to family members to put on their gifts. 

Wrapped the remainder of the gifts – seven in total. 

Drove to Walgreens to pick up some last minute items. 

Drove to CVS to pick up other last minute items not found at Walgreens. 

Drove to the liquor store to get a 40 ounce (just kidding – I wish). 

Went to bed at 11:15 pm. 

Seriously, all a mom should have to do is put “MOM” on the top of her resume and the job is hers. In the matter of minutes, we can wrap a gift, cook dinner, solve a math problem and clean up spilled milk. We can also answer any question posed such as “how do you start the dishwasher” or “how many teaspoons are in a tablespoon.” 

Put us in a board meeting and we would run the roost. Give us a managerial position, and we’d bring up the profits. Bottom line: shit would get done – and done well. 

Legal career?

Maria called me last Wednesday evening on my way home from work. She talked excitedly about her day. All was going well over the telephone wires until she asked me if she could come to work with me for National Bring your Child to Work Day. 
Huh? I had not heard anything about this day being Thursday. I had a conference to attend and work to complete. It fell on a bad day; and besides, she just brought it up to me (could she really have been excited for weeks to come to my work as she alleged?)! I told her I didn’t think I could swing it. 

Tears, lots of tears. 

She had a rough week with her crazy allergies. And tears. I couldn’t stand it. I caved and told her that I could take her to work with me in the morning but then she would have to stay home and hang with Morgan. She was thrilled. 

We dropped off Mario in the morning (he thought we were heading to the doctor’s office – little white lie) and headed to High Street. Ri had on her black boots and vest. She looked more stylish than me (not too hard to accomplish). 

We had to head to an 8:30 am meeting. By 8:45, she was begging to go up to my office so she could play on the computer. I made her stay and endure the pain of the infamous “meeting” until 9:10 and then I let her go up to my office. She loved the swipe badge she had to use to get in the office and took every opportunity she had to use it.

We went to Starbucks for a morning beverage after my meeting and then she went to town on cleaning my bookcases – a much-needed task to complete. While she was sorting through binders of junk from 1998 she posed a question: “since its bring your “child” to school day, we should really bring Mario, too. He would be so pumped up, mom.”

Always looking out for her little bro.

So we picked Mario up at his lunch time and took him back to my work. He was pumped. Maria taught him how to use the swipe card and showed him where all my candy was stashed. 

They played in my office and continued to clean. Maria wanted me to sit in another office far away but Mario wanted me to stay. I answered questions about what books to keep and toss and posed legal hypotheticals to them. Mario was intrigued with the hypotheticals; Ri not so much. She was wondering about lunch. We decided to get lunch downstairs at the cafe – they had 50% off pizzas, which Ri knew would make me smile. They wanted to eat in my office so we trekked back upstairs and dug into our discounted pizzas. After another half hour of watching me answer email and research, they were ready to call it a day. 

“Can we go home now” they both pleaded. 

They didn’t last as long as I thought they would but I give them credit for trying. My next career will be much more exciting as a park ranger in Yosemite…

I dropped them off at the house to Morgan and gave them a writing assignment: write a paragraph about whether you think you’d like to be a lawyer when you grow up.

I came home to two paragraphs: one from Ri and one from Mario. They couldn’t have had more different take-aways.

I think Mario was more intrigued with the notion of having his own office and being able to boss people around than actually being a lawyer; although he was intrigued with managing a “case file.” Ri was definitely not a fan of meetings; she still has bad memories of her last “bring your kid to school” experience three years ago where she wrote a poem titled “meetings are boring, boting, boring.” But she loved the perks of an office setting: free food (actually, she didn’t realize that me and others stocked the fridge) and jumbo post-it notes at your beckon call. 

Only time will tell what influence this day had on their future careers. I’m perfectly happy if they choose to run faraway from the legal profession or if they choose to embrace justice. I just want them to be as happy as they were when we were in the car driving to my office that morning. 

You’re fired (not really)!

I had to be at work today by 7:45 so I had to drop the kids off at 7:30 at my friend’s house so she could take them to school. Maria dutifully woke up at 6:45 am to get dressed and I took Rocco for a quick stroll. I returned at 7 am to Mario still lying in bed. 

“Dude, you gotta wake up and get dressed and eat. I have to be at work at 7:45.”

He laid motionless.

After a couple more tries, I pulled out the big guns.

“Mom is going to lose her job if I’m late. And then there will be no house to live in, no vacations, no possibility of a gecko….”

He started to rise. 

I went downstairs to pack snacks for the kids and Mario came tumbling down to the kitchen. Ri was eating cereal.

“Maria, hurry up!” Mario yelled. “Mom is going to lose her job if we don’t get out of here!”

Maria, my no-nonsense daughter, stood up from the table and grabbed her book bag and Mario’s book bag. “Mom, stop making snacks and put on your coat. We gotta go. You can’t lose your job!”

She watched over my every move and scolded me to hurry up. When we were all in the car, the tale grew more ominous.

“If mom doesn’t get to work and gets fired, we will have to get rid of Rocco because we wouldn’t be able to afford food.”

“Yea, or he’d have to eat scraps off the sidewalk. And we wouldn’t ever go on vacation again. And….” All the way to the friend’s house.

Note to self: maybe don’t go so extreme next time. Nonetheless, I guess it shows they understand the importance of a job and not being able to lay around in your pjs all day!


He will be just fine

I’ve been beating myself up all week.

Right blow.
Left blow.

Mario experienced his first Boy Scout camp this week. It’s been a bit of a fiasco since we learned three days before camp that an adult needed to be with him at all times during the 8 am to 4 pm camp. Rack on another “crappy parent” notch to our belts since Jon and I could not take the entire week off to attend camp with him. That’s immediately how I looked at the situation. Jon is a little easier on us. His viewpoint is that we are working parents and we can’t do everything with our kids – we have a sitter that can do these things when we can’t. Real simple. I wish I could steal that gene that doesn’t harp on guilt.
But the problem arose that our sitter also has a two year old son who she tends to through the day along with Ri and Mario. Could we really expect her son to be good and stay by her side for 8 hours while she tended to Mario at camp? I spent the weekend trying to figure a way I could take off a day or two and Jon did the same. I also prepped our sitter about what may be in store for her and asked her to see if her parents could watch her son. I also convinced myself that Mario would probably dislike it any way and not want to go after Monday.

He loved it on Monday.

Jon was able to take him Monday morning, get him registered and acclimated and see him through some initial stations. Mario loved having him there. Our sitter arrived around 10:30 am and relieved him. Mario begged Jon to stay. He did not want our sitter’s son to stay (he’s been having a rough time with our sitter’s son all summer – it’s tough to go from being the youngest in the house to the middle child). But they survived until 4 pm. And he told me all the fun he had that night.
“But can you or dad stay all day tomorrow?”
Of course, the last two weeks have been reasonably calm and I could have gone in late to take Mario to camp. But this week was ridiculous with emergency matters left and right. I talked to Jon – who had to leave town at 5:30 pm Tuesday night – to see if he could take him again on Tuesday. He moved mountains but was able to do it. Mario was so happy. Jon stayed with him until lunch time. Our sitter relieved him at noon and that allowed her to only have to balance her son and Mario for four hours. A small victory. I had hoped to go out on Tuesday afternoon but could not break away from the chaos. It ate me up and pissed me off and I swore I’d get there Wednesday.
I pressured our sitter to find someone to watch her son on Wednesday so that she could be alone with Mario and give him complete attention. She was able to do so, which gave me a little sigh of relief. But I couldn’t make it over to the camp on Wednesday either due to the work madness. I didn’t get home until close to 11 pm that night and I stood at the kitchen counter eating ice cream from the package and staring off into space. I was tired and irritated and missing my kiddos. I walked upstairs to find Ri sprawled out on her bed like a teenager. I jumped on her and bear hugged her and kissed her cheeks and she laid as still as a sweet baby doll. I whispered a goodnight to Mario (who was staying with Patty) and went to bed.
Patty, aka our savior, took Mario to camp Thursday and Friday. What a godsend it was to me – to have peace of mind that he would be with her all day. She is close, if not at, the same level as Jon and I in Mario’s eyes. So he was in heaven at the thought of her attending.
But he did call me and ask if I could try to come so that I could watch him doing activities. That’s it, I thought, I gotta get up there if only for an hour. I struggled to get work done and got some help from my colleague in order to take off at 1 pm and head up to see Mario. I made sure to capture the look on his face as he walked up the path to greet me – pure joy and excitement. Damn, it feels good to be loved that intensely. I made it just in time to creek walk with him. Grandma joined, too. We learned about water creatures and clay rocks and crawfish. It was a wonderful time.




Mario held my hand and walked with me. He gave me kisses. He laughed. It was well worth the effort to get out there.
In the end, all my worry and angst was unnecessary. I couldn’t see that in the moment but after a Mama Mimi’s pizza and some UDF ice cream on Friday night, I could see that 15 years from now, whether our sitter went with him or I went with him, he would turn out fine.
I continue to face the fact that I cannot “have it all.” I cannot always be with the kids when I want. I can’t always produce the most stellar work. Life gets in the way. Emergencies arise. Appointments arise.

When I give myself the space to accept that, life looks pretty good.

I work in a fairly flexible job. Some weeks are insane and some are slow. I get a lot of kid time when weeks are slow. Unfortunately, Mario’s Boy Scout camp was during an insane one. But I tried my hardest to take care of Mario by getting my sitter to go without her son, by working with Jon to flex his schedule, by asking Patty to go a couple of days, and by finding the most opportune time to get out and see him myself.

I shouldn’t be beating myself up, I should be hugging myself.

I think in the end, it is the knowledge that you are loved that helps a kid blossom. Mario feels love from all directions – parents, sitters, grandparents. He will be just fine. And I will, too.


Recognizing the working mom AND the stay-at-home mom

I read an article in Time magazine this morning (Working Moms = Healthier and Happier) as I sat on one of the most boring conference calls of my career.  I had my venti miso and a slice of banana nut bread, however, which I enjoyed thoroughly in my quiet office free of screaming kids.

My initial reaction to the article was one of relief.  After all of these years of battling the guilty mother syndrome, studies vindicated that my decision to work was a smart one.  I would be healthier and happier than my friends who decided to stay at home with their children.  I wanted to call all of my mommy friends and announce the news; throw a party at the office for my mama colleagues.  But after 10 minutes of jubilation, I thought back to an article years ago that reported that studies showed working moms produced less attentive, more needy kids.  I thought about my reaction to that article – how I could not fall asleep that night because I questioned whether I was doing the right thing for M&M.  I doubted my love for M&M if I would choose to work everyday and not be home with them.  I scoured the internet to find articles that affirmed my decision to be a working mom.  And then I took a deep breath.  Turned off the computer. And took M&M out for a bike ride. 

M&M enjoying their bikes

I tune out these articles anymore because in the end, don’t they all say the same thing? The more love and support and encouragement that you provide to your children, the better off they will be in this world.  If I stayed at home all week with M&M, I do not think I would feel as fulfilled and as balanced as I do as a working mom.  I can’t say that for sure, and maybe in another life I will find that being a stay-at-home mom is the most incredible experience ever, but in my current life, this is how I feel.  I have worked hard to get to where I am professionally, and I enjoy the work that I do and the people I meet.  I want to be able to retain my connections and continue to work because I know that I will want that when M&M are older and in their own lives.  When they go off on their own in high school and college, I want to have my career and colleagues intact.  And I don’t feel like because I have my career now that I am forever scarring them. 

Happy Ri

did have my doubts when they were younger, and I still think that in a perfect world moms should be able to stay home for the first year of a newborn’s life (maybe the US will adopt Germany’s approach), but that was not a possibility for me at the time.  I had Maria when I was in the prime time of my career – six years out of law school and gaining expertise in the employment law area.  Again, who knows?  Staying at home at that time may have been better in some ways for Ri or even for me, but decisions have to be made with the facts at hand in the moment, and at that moment, I thought that I should stay in my profession and be a mom, too. 

I don’t like that the articles about stay-at-home moms versus working moms seem to pit one group against the other.  I don’t want to be one of those corporate moms that looks at a stay-at-home mom eating lunch with her kids and chides “Must be nice to stay home all day…huh?”   And I also don’t want to be the stay-at-home mom who shoots a condescending look to the working mom who just divulged that her kids go to day care because she works during the week.  I want to be the mom who sits around with other moms and appreciates that we are all different in our wishes and desires and hopes and dreams – for ourselves and our children.  What is right for me will not be right for everyone and that is OK.  M&M are pretty happy kids (albeit ornery at times, but happy!) and I don’t think that came out of the blue.  Jon and I worked our butts off loving them and holding them (all night long on many a night) and recognizing them and believing in them.  Let’s get some studies that recognize moms for those simple yet indispensable tasks.

Happy Mario